12 May 2008

"Essential Jazz" - Missing a Chance

Also at The New Yorker you can find "100 Essential Jazz Albums" - a list drawn up by David Reminick and "meant to provide a broad sampling of jazz classics and wonders across the music’s century-long history." Fair enough, I suppose. But I have to say that I hate this list. Why? Because Remnick didn't actually pick albums. He picked a bunch of sides from collections and reissues and greatest hits ~ "The Complete ... or Best of ... X," "The Genius of Y," "The BBB Sessions ... or Years ... or Whatever" - and so forth. Almost always such "albums" are littered with "alternate takes," previously unissued tracks, and other detritus from the company vaults. The result is a sort of nerdy revivalism.

These are a handful of the actual albums from Remnick's list:
16. Duke Ellington, “Money Jungle” (Blue Note Records, 1962).

43. Miles Davis, “Kind of Blue” (Sony, 1959).

53. Charles Mingus, “Mingus Ah Um” (Columbia, 1959).

74. John Coltrane, “Ascension” (Impulse!, 1965).

96. Charlie Haden and Hank Jones, “Steal Away” (Polygram, 1995).
Way too much of the rest of the list is an indiscriminate compilation of canonical figures from the more or less distant past. Why not try to actually make choices? And then try to justify what you've included and why ~ however briefly? Remnick missed an opportunity. Too bad.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Choices? Justification? Well? We're waiting... :-) ...edN

13 May, 2008 06:47  
Blogger Jim Johnson said...

Hey there. The difference between Remnick and me is that he is getting paid to do that! Unlike him, I have a day job. But remember the saying "Be careful what you ask for"? I will try to get up some comments on the five records I picked out soon.

13 May, 2008 08:13  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, if you're in a shopping mood, be sure to look at "My Funny Valentine" (Miles), any one of the Miles Davis / Gil Evans collaborations (I'm partial to "Quiet Nights" and "Sketches of Spain"), and maybe "Art Pepper + Eleven." But then maybe *I'm* talking too much (nor have I cracked the seventies.)

Looking forward. ...edN

13 May, 2008 12:29  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Add to that list Charles Mingus' Mingus Plays the Piano (especially the first track "Myself when I am real" on that album is a rare gem).

18 May, 2008 15:50  

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