29 January 2011

List: Jazz and the Single Man

Floating around social networks this week was an essay by Jason Moran listing five essential jazz albums (recorded by living musicians - so you could actually see them live) every man should own. Why should he own these albums? To impress women,* of course. Here is Moran's list. I think it's a good start, but it veers into jazz boyfriend territory (Ornette? Free Jazz? I don't know many people of either sex who can handle Ornette, bless their simple hearts and minds). So in the interest of choice, here's my list of 5 jazz albums every single man should own.

Robert Glasper, Double Booked. Moran and I agree on this one. Glasper's deftly amalgamated jazz, with flourishes of hip hop, fusion, funk, and postbop, can hook anyone who claims ignorance on modern jazz. I've been touting this album to my friends for the past two years, and it connects with just about everyone. Plus, Glasper tours with Maxwell, a spoonful of sugar to hide preconceived notions about jazz if ever there was one.

Greg Osby, Jason Moran, et al, New Directions. Sadly out of print, but there are copies to be had on Amazon. Not a bad choice to play for someone who is at least a little familiar with jazz, since they would likely recognize a few of the reworked classics from the Blue Note era on this disc. I highly recommend the Moran-Stefon Harris duet on Sam Rivers' Beatrice.

Sonny Rollins, Saxophone Colossus. Moran picks a great Wayne Shorter album, but I was always more of a Sonny guy myself, and if a lady can't dig Newk, then she is most definitely not worth your time.

Paul Motian, Joe Lovano and Bill Frisell, Time And Time Again. For quiet moments, you can't beat the master of subtle intensity. Frisell's atmospheric guitarisms set the mood for Lovano's gruff tenderness. This trio to me embodies a particular strain of masculinity that is equal parts vulnerable and assertive.And no other group better demonstrates the sublime intensity of free improvisation, despite playing such pretty music.

Medeski Scofield Martin & Wood, Out Louder. Sometimes you have to dance. This should do the trick.

*Would a list of jazz albums for women to impress men look a lot different? What about jazz for gay men or lesbians? Obviously the answer is yes, but I'm pleading ignorance here.

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