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Thelonious Monk

I’ve loved Monk’s work for many years.  Sometimes called “percussive” or “dissonant”, it demands one’s attention and we never know quite what is coming next.  For sure not one of the smooth, lyrical pianists, Monk had a way that is always enjoyable to follow.

Stan Getz

Getz had an unmistakable sax sound that I first got interested in while in college.  About that time Getz was gaining recognition for pairing up with various South American artists for “Girl from Ipanema” and other Brazilian music.  He did an album with Chet Baker that’s a favorite of mine also.  A tough personal life, but Getz had had a sweet sound.

Paul Desmond

“Take Five” by the Dave Brubeck Quartet was the first jazz record to really hit I big on the broad pop charts.  Written in 5/4, it gave the world a new look at rhythm and it was Desmond who did the sweet alto sounds on that.  Both with Brubeck and later with his own groups, he is always smooth and I listen often to my Desmond albums still.

Dizzy Gillespie

With the kooky looking horn, the puffy cheeks and tunes like “A Night in Tunisia” Dizzy  was a bebop pioneer and forever the best with the trumpet. His “Groovin’ High” album gets a lot of play around our house.

Miles Davis

“Miles Smiles” came out during my first year of college and was the first of many albums of his I would have.  His “Autumn Leaves” is epic.  I always had more of a yen for Dizzy, but Miles brought a lot of new ideas and an awesome style to the table.

Chet Baker

This guy had a largely tragic life but his horn playing and vocals (“Let’s Get Lost” ) are  very memorable.  I have an album with him and Getz that is a special favorite.  A trumpet player very different in style than Dizzy or Miles;  a smooth, nice lyrical phrasing that I really like.

Lester Young

One of the influential earlier tenor players, I enjoy his style and tone a lot. I have several compilation albums from the 40s and 50s.  Another tough life and early death, but never forgotten.

Bill Evans

He shared the self-destructive drug habit of many jazz greats, but was perhaps the most harmonic and lyrical of piano plays.  His “Here’s That Rainy Day” is a personal favorite.

Diana Krall

I don’t follow many current players, but Diana Krall is an exception.  Like Nat King Cole, she’s a piano player who sings.  I love her “Maybe You’ll Be There” among others.  She devotes some albums to old standards, which I appreciate.

Bela Fleck

It’s not exactly all jazz, nor is it folk or bluegrass.  It is just Bela, who with the Flecktones forms a part of our listening almost every day.  With albums like “Flight of the Cosmic Hippo” and “UFO Tofu” these guys bring originality and pure musicianship to what they do.  Victor Wooten is an awesome bass player and it just all goes together perfectly.

Joe Pass

No better guitarist and one who’s work I amaze at. Another victim of drugs, but he came out of it to do some great solo albums and group work.

Rodrigo  y Gabriela

While not a jazz duo, their music with its flamenco roots is a fusion of many things, and I have a number of their albums where they really wind it up with power and style.  I really recommend these two.