This Sunday Elder Music column was launched in December of 2008. By May of the following year, one commenter, Peter Tibbles, had added so much knowledge and value to my poor attempts at musical presentations that I asked him to take over the column. He's been here each week ever since delighting us with his astonishing grasp of just about everything musical, his humor and sense of fun. You can read Peter's bio here and find links to all his columns here.
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As with my previous Top 10, my criterion is a single album per artist although I rather stretch that somewhat today (almost to breaking point, some might say) as will be seen later.
This is a purely subjective list and I can't imagine anyone else's being the same (although there could be several in common). These tend to be older albums, ones I remember from when I was young.
I'm sure I could compile a column from more recent albums, and I might do that some time.
THELONIOUS MONK is THE bebop pianist.
He is represented by "Monk's Dream" but also "Criss-Cross" and others could be considered. A lot of others. But from Monk's Dream here is the title track.
♫ Thelonious Monk - Monk's Dream
MILES DAVIS could fill in the top 10 all on his own.
Naturally, "Kind of Blue" has to be present. I would also include "Someday My Prince Will Come", "Sketches of Spain", "In a Silent Way", "Bags' Groove", "Milestones" and his rock & roll album "A Tribute to Jack Johnson". Many more could also be considered.
Although I recognise that "Kind of Blue" is the great jazz album, I've decided to go for the very first Miles album I ever owned, and that is "Someday My Prince Will Come" and I'll go with the title track. Coltrane is present as he is further down.
♫ Miles Davis - Someday My Prince Will Come
My favorite JOHN COLTRANE album remains "Live at the Village Vanguard.”
This has been released in several versions over the years from the initial single album to a later double album release. Then various CD versions until it finally saw the light of day in a terrific 4 CD set of his complete 4 day stay at the venue.
Complete-ists like me had to have that one, of course. The track I've chosen is rather long, but that pretty much goes without saying. There's a quote in Miles's autobiography where he says something along the lines of, "John, not every tune has to be two hours long.”
This isn't quite that long, it's called Spiritual.
♫ John Coltrane - Spiritual
The DAVE BRUBECK QUARTET is present with their best known album, the second biggest selling album in jazz history, "Time Out.” Miles pipped them.
I will also suggest "Time Further Out", "Time Changes", "Son of Time Out" and "Grandson of Time Out" (okay, I made up those last two). Several others deserve to be included as well.
Here is one of the lesser known tracks from the album, called Kathy's Waltz.
♫ Dave Brubeck - Kathy's Waltz
It was difficult to decide whether to have a vocal or instrumental album from CHET BAKER.
Either would be acceptable but I've gone for the all instrumental album "Chet". This shows off his considerable melodic skill playing the trumpet. It also has Pepper Adams on baritone saxophone sounding awfully like Gerry Mulligan.
Chet's tune is If You Could See Me Now.
♫ Chet Baker - If You Could See Me Now
I played Coltrane earlier, but he's here under a different guise when he made an album with JOHNNY HARTMAN.
It's hard to imagine anyone who had a better singing voice than Johnny. It's not too surprising as he was classically trained as a singer but like many who did the same he turned to jazz.
Speaking of classics, this album certainly was one, and from it we have the Lush Life.
♫ Johnny Hartman - Lush Life
While we're on a Coltrane kick, here's another album he made with one of the greatest musicians in the business, DUKE ELLINGTON.
This is such a fine album I wish they'd done another but as far as I know they didn't. With all the complete releases that the record companies come out with these days, it's probably all there is. Oh well, let's be happy they made this one.
The tune I've selected is In a Sentimental Mood, written by Duke way back in 1935. It was turned into a song when Marty Kurtz wrote some words for it, but it's just the tune today.
♫ Coltrane & Ellington - In a Sentimental Mood
BILL EVANS was yet another jazz muso who was classically trained. In his case it was the piano.
Bill first came to my notice as the piano player on Miles's "Kind of Blue" album. Miles held him in high regard and built a number of his tunes around Bill's playing.
When Bill left Miles, he mostly played as a trio with bass and drums accompanying him. From his most popular and best selling album "Waltz For Debby" this is the title tune.
However, this isn't the version on the vinyl release; when the CD came out there were extras and this is one that I prefer to the original.
♫ Bill Evans - Waltz For Debby (Take 1)
I discovered this album by MEL TORMÉ because the track I've chosen was played quite often on the jazz program on radio station 3XY here in Melbourne back in the sixties.
I didn't ever have a vinyl copy of the album (but I discovered that Norma, the Assistant Musicologist did). However, I have it on CD. The album is "Mel Tormé at the Red Hill". The track is Mountain Greenery.
♫ Mel Tormé - Mountain Greenery
I only had one album by GERRY MULLIGAN when I was growing up and that was "Jeru".
This album came after the fine work he did in his original quartet with Chet Baker. I've since acquired a multi-CD set of those and they're terrific but my rule is original albums (The A.M. thinks I'm too inflexible, but I like to follow my own rules. That is, until I don't).
The track from "Jeru" is Blue Boy, and it has Tommy Flannagan playing some nice piano on it.
♫ Gerry Mulligan - Blue Boy