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ESSENTIAL JAZZ RECORDINGS OF THE 20TH CENTURY

By Mike Zwerin

PARIS, 7 January 2000 - Here are some essential jazz albums as of the end of the 20th century. It is meant to be a good start more than a complete list - the best at their most consistent and communicative best. Do not leave for Mars without them.

Most names are of the original individual LPs - sometimes collections of 78s to begin with - as reissued more or less intact on CD. Multiple-box compilations can get flabby filling out extra time; recommended box sets are muscular.

Lester Young once said that if he were the leader of a big band he would hire Billie Holiday and Frank Sinatra as his vocalists and in deference to The President they are the only vocalists on the list. (Essential recordings requiring specific acquired culture to appreciate are omitted.)

It gets complicated. Even reissues are reissued these days. Names and programming evolve along the way and between countries. And albums go out of print. The French are excellent collectors of this music; the two French compilations cited are unusual if not unique and worth a detour.

For alternatives and more detail consult the web site www.allmusic.com.

LOUIS ARMSTRONG - "Hot Fives and Sevens" (JSP/4CDs)

COUNT BASIE - "Atomic Basie" (Blue Note)

CLIFFORD BROWN "...With Strings" (Verve)

ORNETTE COLEMAN - "The Shape of Jazz To Come" (Atlantic)

JOHN COLTRANE - "The Classic Quartet - Complete Impulse! Studio Recordings (Impulse!/8CDs)

MILES DAVIS - "Porgy and Bess," with Gil Evans orchestra (Columbia)

MILES DAVIS - "Kind Of Blue'" (Columbia)

MILES DAVIS - "Tutu" (WB)

DUKE ELLINGTON ORCHESTRA - "Such Sweet Thunder" (Columbia)

"DUKE ELLINGTON & JOHN COLTRANE" (Impulse!)

DUKE ELLINGTON/CHARLES MINGUS/MAX ROACH - "Money Jungle" (Blue Note)

BILL EVANS - "Waltz For Debby" (OJC, Original Jazz Classics)

STAN GETZ - "Serenity" (Verve)

BILLIE HOLIDAY with LESTER YOUNG - "Lady Day & Pres, 1937-1941" (Fremeaux, France/ 2CDs)

KEITH JARRETT STANDARDS TRIO -"Tribute" (ECM/2CDs)

CHARLES MINGUS - "Mingus Ah Um" (Columbia)

THELONIOUS MONK - "Plays Duke Ellington" (OJC)

THELONIOUS MONK - "Alone In San Francisco" (OJC)

MODERN JAZZ QUARTET - "Dedicated To Connie" (Atlantic/2CDs)

LEE MORGAN - "The Best Of..." (Blue Note)

"THE BEST OF THE GERRY MULLIGAN QUARTET WITH CHET BAKER" (Blue Note)

CHARLIE PARKER, "Yardbird Suite, The Ultimate Charlie Parker Collection" (Rhino/2CDs).

BUD POWELL - "Jazz Giant" (Verve)

DJANGO REINHARDT - "L'Essentiel" (EMI France/3CDs)

SONNY ROLLINS - "The Bridge" (RCA)

ZOOT SIMS - "For Lady Day" (Pablo)

FRANK SINATRA - "...At The Sands," with Count Basie and his Orchestra, arranged and conducted by Quincy Jones (Reprise)

ART TATUM - "The Standard Sessions, 1935-1943" (Storyville/2CDs)

WEATHER REPORT - "Heavy Weather" (Columbia)

BEN WEBSTER - "Music For Loving," with strings (Verve)

LESTER YOUNG - "...Trio," with Nat "King" Cole (Verve)







An edited version of this article first appeared in the International Herald Tribune

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