Graham Reid | | 3 min read
As we noted previously about these budget price five CD sets, the advantage are many: You get a better overview of the artist concerned; you can pick up classic albums dirt cheap (and get another couple thrown in); and song-per-song they work out cheaper than downloading through legitimate channels.
It's also useful to note -- especially with these below -- that many of these albums were created at a time when the album was actually the important format for the artists, and jazz didn't work on singles (even though some of the tracks from these records did get airplay on jazz and sometimes rock radio)..
So, with Sony Music packaging up five CD sets for just $20 at JB Hi-Fi stores here, these are some starting points to fill your shelves and ears.
And if jazz is new to you, then these are excellent introductory sets.
Dave Brubeck: Time Out/ Countdown, Time in Outer Space/Time Further Out/Time Changes/Time In
The late Dave Brubeck not only popularised jazz -- he was the first jazz musician to be on the cover of Time, much to his embarrassment -- but also defined a particular style which was cool, intellectual, thoughtful and often swinging. He also wrote many memorable tunes, not the least Blue Rondo a la Turk, Three to Get Ready and Pick Up Sticks on the classic Time Out album.
The hit from that album -- and it was that rarity, a jazz hit -- was Take Five written by saxophonist Paul Desmond. It's the track you can use to explain how jazz works to people who are little bewildered by it.
He'd run out of variations on “time” in the titles but the classics Time Out and Time Further Out should be in any serious record collection, and once they've hooked you (and they will) then the others will deliver cool, swinging, sophisticated and really, really clever music.
Jazz with tunes you remember.
Weather Report: Weather Report/Tail Spinnin'/Heavy Weather/Mr Gone/Weather Report
A genuine jazz supergroup which over the years included (on these scattered albums from their 71 debut to their 10th a decade later) the great Joe Zawinul and Wayne Shorter (founders), exceptional bassist Jaco Pastorius (the Hendrix of his instrument), drummer Peter Erskine, founder bassist Miroslav Vitous . . .
Where real jazz met rock, world music, avant-garde and all the rest.
Some key albums
omitted (they are available in the first volume of the series), but this is an excellent starting point.
Stanley Clarke: Stanley
Clarke/Journey to Love/School Days/Modern Man/Clarke-Duke Project
Outside of the fusion band Return to Forever with Chick Corea, bassist Clarke made some commanding jazz-rock albums with the cream of the crossover artists (guitarists John McLaughlin and Jeff Beck among them).
He also stretched into areas of orchestration (Spanish Phases for Strings and Bass on that self-titled album) and delivered his Concerto for Jazz Rock Orchestra on Journey to Love.
The first album here (actually his second under his own name) finds him with keyboard player Jan Hammer, guitarist Bill Connors and drummer Tony Williams; Journey to Love bring in Beck, Duke, Corea and others; School Days has McLaughlin, pianist David Sancious (briefly in Springsteen's E Street Band), Duke, Steve Gadd and more . . .
Hooking up with George Duke he got his funk-groove on. A respected talent, but too seldom heard these days.
Elsewhere has previously pointed to this Original Album Classic series (reserving the right to say not every album in these sets is a "classic").
But if you care to check here you wil see how we've critically introduced Bargain Buy collections by Elvis Presley, New Zealand artists Che Fu, Dave Dobbyn and Dragon, a set by Johnny Cash, some terrific pop collections (Lovin' Spoonful, Teenage Fanclub etc), one by the exceptional Harry Nilsson, cornerstone Patti Smith . . . and Lou Reed ??