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Classical Music & Jazz: For Those Who Listen to Both

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Initial post: Sep 2, 2012 6:22:56 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 2, 2012 10:06:31 PM PDT
WH says:
Amazon has a "Classical Music Forum" and a "Jazz Forum"-as though the two genre necessarily had two separate audiences. But I have found that many classical music fans also listen to a fair amout of jazz and many jazz fans also listen to a fair amount of classical. At one level, that's odd since the origins, traditions, instrumentation, and aesthetic of the two are so different. Perhaps, the real similiarity is that both are extremely sophisticated musics, requiring sophisticated performance skills in the musicians and sophisticated listening skills in their audiences. The crossover extends not simply to listeners but also to composers (e.g. Ravel, Stravinsky, Gershwin, Martinu, and Ligeti on the classical side; Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Bill Evans, John Coltrane, Wayne Shorter on the jazz). Over the last 20 years, I've spent more time listening to (and studying) jazz, though in the last two years that balance of listening (and studying) has shifted over to classical music. I'm interested in the intersection between the two musics.

Here's my initial questions:
(i) List some classical records (or box sets) that are representative of the range of your recent listening (say, in the last year or so). I've listed 20 below, but list however many you wish, 5 or 10 or 20.
(ii) List some jazz records (or box sets) that are representative of the range of your recent listening (again, in the last year or so). Once again, list as many as you wish.

Here's the 20 classical records / collections that I've probably listened to most in the last year (roughly in chronological order by composer):

1. Beethoven: The Symphonies -- Osmo Vänskä / Minnesota Orchestra
2. Beethoven: Complete Piano Sonatas -- Paul Lewis
3. Beethoven: Late String Quartets -- Takács Quartet
4. Liszt: Piano Sonata in B minor -- Marc-André Hamelin
5. Fauré: Piano Quintets -- Schubert Ensemble
6. Debussy: Complete Works for Piano, vol. 1-4 -- Jean-Efflam Bavouzet
7. Debussy / Fauré / Ravel: String Quartets -- Quatuor Ébčne
8. Stravinsky: Petrouchka / Le Sacre du printemps -- Pierre Boulez / Cleveland Orch.
9. Prokofiev: The Piano Concertos -- Vladimir Ashkenazy / André Previn
10. Ravel: Complete Solo Piano Music -- Steven Osborne
11. Bartók: Concerto for Orchestra / Music for Strings, Percussion & Celesta -- Fritz Reiner / Chicago
12. Bartok: Six String Quartets -- Takács Quartet
13. Janáček: Cunning Little Vixen / Sinfonietta -- Charles Mackerras / Czech Philharmonic
14. Shostakovich: The String Quartets -- Fitzwilliam Quartet
15. Reich : Music for 18 Musicians
16. Ligeti: Works for Piano -- Pierre-Laurent Aimard (György Ligeti Edition vol. 3)
17. Lutosławski: Orchestral Works I-II -- Edward Gardner / BBC Symphony
18. Rautavaara: The 8 Symphonies -- Leif Segerstam (and others)
19. Osvaldo Golijov: La pasión según san Marcos
20. Jennifer Higdon: Violin Concerto -- Hilary Hahn / Vasily Petrenko

Here's 20 of the jazz records that I've listened to most in the last year (again in rough chronological order of performer / release date):

1. Miles Davis -- Kind of Blue (Columbia)
2. Bill Evans -- Explorations (Original Jazz Classics)
3. Horace Silver -- Cape Verdean Blues (Blue Note)
4. Andrew Hill -- Point of Departure (Blue Note)
5. Miles Davis Quintet -- Live in Europe: The Bootleg Series, Vol. 1 (Columbia)
6. Woody Shaw -- Little Red's Fantasy (Muse)
7. Keith Jarrett -- Solo Concerts : Bremen / Lausanne (ECM)
8. Ralph Towner -- Solo Concert (ECM)
9. Brad Mehldau -- Art of the Trio: Recordings 1996-2001 (Nonesuch)
10. Dave Holland -- Prime Directive (ECM)
11. Dave Douglas -- The Infinite (RCA)
12. Pat Metheny / Brad Mehldau -- Quartet (Nonesuch)
13. Marcin Wasilewski Trio -- January (ECM)
14. Ben Allison -- Little Things Run the World (Palmetto)
15. Diego Barber -- Calima (Sunnyside)
16. John Zorn / Bar Kokhba -- Lucifer: Book of Angels, Vol. 10 (Tzadik)
17. Medeski, Martin & Wood -- Radiolarians I-III (Indirecto)
18. Darcy James Argue's Secret Society -- Infernal Machines (New Amsterdam)
19. David Sánchez / Stefon Harris / Christian Scott -- Ninety Miles (Concord Picante)
20. Vijay Iyer -- Accelerando (ACT)

I'll be interested to see others' choices, the cross-section or intersections of people's classical interests and jazz interests.

Posted on Sep 2, 2012 7:26:24 PM PDT
John Spinks says:
1. J.S. Bach -- Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 -- Vladimir Feltsman
2. Ralph Vaughan Williams -- Sym. No. 2, "London" -- Previn/LSO
3. Ralph Vaughan Williams -- Sym. No. 4 -- Bernstein/NYPO
4. Ralph Vaughan Williams -- The Lark Ascending -- Barenboim/ECHO; Pinkas Zukerman
5. Beethoven -- Piano Sonatas -- Richard Goode
6. Schubert -- Piano Sonata in B flat, D. 960 -- Alfred Brendel (1971)
7. Schubert -- Winterreise, D. 911 -- Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau; Gerald Moore
8. Ravel -- Le Tombeau de Couperin -- Ozawa/BSO
9. Debussy -- Trois Nocturnes -- Abbado/BSO
10. R. Strauss -- Four Last Songs -- Karajan/BPHO; Gundula Janowitz
11. Mahler -- Sym. No. 4 -- Haitink/RCOA; Ameling
12. Mahler -- Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen -- Kubelik/BRSO; Fischer-Dieskau
13. Rachmaninov -- Preludes (various) -- S. Richter
14. Shostakovich -- Sym. No. 11 in G minor, "The Year 1905" -- Petrenko/RLPHO
15. Nielsen -- Sym. No. 4, Op. 29, "Inextinguishable" -- Blomstedt/SFSO

1. Arturo Sandoval -- I Remember Clifford
2. Dennis Rollins (Velocity Trio) -- The 11th Gate
3. Bill Watrous & the Manhattan Wildlife Refuge -- also album name
4. Dizzy Gillespie -- The Best of Odyssey, 1945-1952
5. Django Reinhardt -- Djangology
6. John Coltrane -- Giant Steps
7. Luciana Souza -- Duos II
8. Miles Davis -- Kind of Blue
9. The One O'Clock Lab Band (University of North Texas) -- Lab '75 "Lizard"
10. Pat Metheny Group -- Imaginary Day
11. Wynton Marsalis -- Standard Time, Vol. 1
12. Spyro Gyra -- Morning Dance
13. Stephane Grappelli -- Jazz Masters 11: Stephane Grappelli
14. Toots Thielemans -- The Brazil Project, Vol. 1
15 Weather Report -- Heavy Weather

Posted on Sep 2, 2012 8:01:22 PM PDT
Soucient says:
Good thread.

As a young person taking singing lessons and hoping for an operatic career, I was introduced to jazz via my brother-in-law who wrote and arranged for Stan Kenton. I had fancied myself above all that "comon, pop" stuff until I realized what depth, texture, and sheer beauty jazz could have.

I'm not sure that Kenton's music is actually jazz. Is it?

Posted on Sep 2, 2012 9:24:20 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 2, 2012 9:24:58 PM PDT
WH says:
John, Great lists. I had guessed from various earlier discussions that our tastes overlapped a fair amount in both classical and jazz. I'm a fan of Metheny's Imaginary Day and Weather Report and various Latin jazz artists. I've tried to figure out connections between my own tastes in jazz and in classical. One link, I believe, is my preference for chamber works (on the classical side of things). In both classical and in jazz, I tend to especially enjoy trios, quartets, quintets. Part of it, I think, is that I can follow each line of music in ensembles of that size. Jazz, because of its reliance of improvisation, tends to lean on smaller groupings.

Souciant, Welcome. If you explore jazz, you will discover its sophistication--but, as I noted, its aesthetic is very different. Yes, Stan Kenton is a jazz artist / composer, older generation, prior to what both John and I listen to.

Posted on Sep 2, 2012 9:29:19 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 2, 2012 9:40:06 PM PDT
Larkinfield says:
Kenton, jazz? Yes, and he was a great mentor to any number of West Coast (CA) legends, such as Art Pepper, Maynard Ferguson, Frank Rosolino, Conti Condoli, and arrangers such as Pete Rugulo (who later did the "Fugitive" soundtrack staring David Janssen), Bill Holman, and Geri Mulligen.

Kenton also made his entire book of commercial arrangements by himself and others available to selective universities, such as North Texas State, and was enormously generous and influential in jazz education. I got to know him during my college career in CA, the Junior Neophonic Orchestra, which used the same arrangements he commissioned for his own Neophonic Orchestra put together with some of the finest studio musicians in Hollywood for a series of progressive concerts performed at the Music Center many years ago. He wasn't considered great as a pianist, but he had an ear for talent and helped launched some great soloists who went on to have their own illustrious careers. I've barely scratched the surface of his enormous impact on jazz.

In terms of ability and dedication, I place the truly great jazz artists on the same level as some of the truly great classical musicians, such as Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn, Art Tatum, Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, Bill Evans, Lester Young, John Coltrane, Louis, Armstrong, and others, because their genius included the ability to spontaneously CREATE music in the moment, and that ability was no longer part of the classical scene, such as improvising one's own cadenzas, and the greatness of the jazz players kept the art of improvisation alive, though within a different genre of music.

I have the greatest respect for jazz musicians, having meet a number of name players over the years and playing with some of them, and I consider the creative genius of the black musicians, going back to the days of the plantations and minstrel shows, at the root of truly American music that has had a great deal of influence on the classical music of Europe, including Delius, Dvorak, just for starters, and many other European composers I could name. `Swing' was an American invention and our great contribution to the evolution of music globally, and the evolution of jazz corresponds very closely with the historic epochs in American history, something Ken Burns went into in his `Jazz" series he did for PBS. - Lark ♬

Posted on Sep 2, 2012 9:39:07 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 2, 2012 9:41:40 PM PDT
WH says:
Lark, Thanks for the perspectives on Kenton (especially the personal reminiscences).

You listed some of the great jazz artists / composers of the 50s and 60s. Both Miles Davis and John Coltrane used to study scores of Stravinsky's works (and Bartok's, if memory serves me right); Wayne Shorter drew from Sibelius; and Bill Evans was much indebted to Debussy and Ravel. But, as you note, their genius was / is spontaneous creation. Some, such as Keith Jarrett, can spontaneously create huge musical forms on the spot. Some, such as Dave Holland, have this extraordinary talent for writing for wind instruments, really complex fugal patterns.

Have you explored the contemporary generation? I'm in awe of their abilities. While jazz no longer has the culture cache it did in the 50s and 60s, the talent level is extraordinary.

Posted on Sep 2, 2012 10:03:49 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 2, 2012 10:15:30 PM PDT
Larkinfield says:
Have you explored the contemporary generation?
Hi WH, to a limited extent, yes. But I also feel that jazz took a disastrous but inevitable turn in the late '60s because of the dominating and enormous influence of John Coltrane (not his fault), have misunderstood and distorted his legacy, and so many sax players now have undeveloped, coarse sounds that lack the individuality and distinction he had.

I would also add that a great number of contemporary jazz players sound more like they are playing for each other, out of an enormous sense of their own self-importance, rather than truly connecting with the audience, and they seem to have lost their sense of lyricism and beauty of tone. But of course, there are still the exceptions, such as Candy Duffer, who has a gorgeous sound and can play with tremendous feeling. So at this stage of my life I'm conservative but I remain open to be pleasantly surprised, and I'm aware that there are some gifted young players worth hearing, including Hiromi Uehara, who started out in classical music at age 6 and played with the Czech Philharmonic at age 14. The baton has been passed on to a new generation and it's keeping this great art form alive. ♬

Posted on Sep 2, 2012 10:24:54 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 2, 2012 10:43:01 PM PDT
WH says:

I've heard your perspective about jazz losing its way in the 60s. I disagree, in part, but the directions of the late 60s-70s are not where the sound has been for the last 15 or so years. I have to say that there's a new generation out there who are doing amazing things without much support from the music industry and without venues (like jazz clubs) that that earlier generation relied to support their work.

Let me suggest an artist on my list: Darcy James Argue. He's in the process of re-inventing big band. Here's a good story about him and his band on National Public Radio:
It has links to a couple of tracks. Check out "Transit". His record "Infernal Machines" was chosen as one of the best records of 2009 (and got a Grammy nomination):
Also here's a pretty good quality YouTube which will give you a glimpse into his work:

A second suggestion: Dave Holland. His quintet, especially from 1997 to 2003, was arguably the finest working group in jazz. Its vocabulary is a bit like Mingus-- i.e. a group led by a bassist who is also a composer who has a knack for writing brilliantly for horns. I looked for some decent YouTube links. Here's a couple, but not sure that they are the most representative of the group's sound:

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 2, 2012 10:57:06 PM PDT
JohnS - Thanks for mentioning Reinhardt, and Dizzy Gillespie! Your list, and that of WH, have virtually no, other great jazzmen from the pre-WW2 era, so it's nice to have a few of the "older" greats (listed). No surprise - no mention of Bix Beiderbecke, the late cornetist. Bix died young, but was familiar-with classical music, also. Bix's piano composition "In A Mist", is Debussyan! Bix's cornet solos, of course, are the reason that his legend is so alive, even now. Mention should also go to John Lewis (piano) and the Modern Jazz Quartet. John had some compositions that tried to straddle jazz and classical music ... as did some others.

Posted on Sep 3, 2012 1:04:18 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 3, 2012 1:06:51 AM PDT
Soucient says:
My bro-in law who wrote stuff for Kenton ("Trajectories" was one of his) used to vow that he was a member of "The John Burke's (or "Birkes) Society," telling me that it was a jazz musician's nose-thumb at the "John Birch Society." He said that John Burke was the first and second name of a famous jazzman, but that he was better known by some other name which I no longer remember.

Anybody know whom he meant?

Posted on Sep 3, 2012 10:37:35 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 3, 2012 10:38:13 AM PDT
carnola says:

That would be John Birks "Dizzy" Gillespie.

Posted on Sep 3, 2012 10:55:32 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 3, 2012 9:53:20 PM PDT
John Spinks says:
Ignore this list if this sort of thing is tedious to you, but I wouldn't want to pigeonhole my taste in jazz based on the few I listed at the beginning. So here are some of the rest of the artists in my jazz collection:

Airmen of Note (Don't count out the Air Force jazz group until you've heard them!)
Al Di Meola
Bill Evans
Billie Holiday
Bob Mintzer Big Band
Brian Bromberg
Bud Powell
Coleman Hawkins
Dave Brubeck
Dexter Gordon
Diana Krall
Duke Ellington
Elian Elias
Ella Fitzgerald
Louis Armstrong
Charles Mingus
Charlie Christian
Charlie Parker
Chet Baker
Chuck Mangione
Clark Terry
Clifford Brown
Flora Purim
Freddie Hubbard
Gerry Mulligan
Ben Webster
Glenn Miller
Herbie Hancock
Michael Brecker
Roy Hargrove
Jan Hammer Group
Jean-Luc Ponty
John Klemmer
Jon Faddis
Lionel Hampton
Manhattan Transfer
Maria Schneider Orchestra
Stan Getz
Stan Kenton
Terence Blanchard
Thad Jones
Thelonious Monk
Tommy Dorsey
Frank Sinatra
Brad Mehldau
Christian McBride
Antonio Sanchez
Red Rodney
Sarah Vaughan
Sidney Bechet
Sonny Rollins
Mark Isham
Maynard Ferguson
McCoy Tyner
Mel Torme
Mike Stern
Milton Nascimento
Ornette Coleman
Paquito D'Rivera
Vince Guaraldi
Woody Herman
The Yellowjackets

(Some of it verges on to a popular sort of jazz, but there are many of the classic performers as well)

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 3, 2012 7:36:19 PM PDT
Soucient says:
Thank you, Canola. That rings a bell.

Posted on Sep 3, 2012 8:30:38 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 3, 2012 8:50:08 PM PDT
WH says:
John, Thanks for the great list. It is very helpful. Let me pass on a similar list, grouped historically. The largest portion of my collection is in the Blue Note era and in jazz of the last decade. I'm not a completist by temperament, but I've got most of Miles Davis' work. In any case, here's the list of artists.

The All Time Greats: Charlie Parker, Duke Ellington, Miles Davis; John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk, Charles Mingus, Ornette Coleman, Bill Evans

The 60s: The Blue Note Era: Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Joe Henderson, Art Blakey, Lee Morgan, Freddie Hubbard, Horace Silver, Dexter Gordon, Donald Byrd, Dexter Gordon, Eric Dolphy, Kenny Burrell, Andrew Hill, Bobby Hutcherson, Kenny Dorham, Yusef Lateef, Jackie McLean, McCoy Tyner, Larry Young, Gary Burton, Wes Montgomery, Grant Green, Oliver Nelson, Stan Getz

The 70s & 80s: Fusion & ECM: Herbie Hancock, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Weather Report, Jaco Pastorius, Return to Forever, Woody Shaw, Dave Holland, Pat Metheny, Keith Jarrett, Enrico Rava, John Abercrombie, Ralph Towner, Oregon, Steve Tibbetts, John McLaughlin, Tomasz Stanko, Marc Johnson, Kenny Wheeler, Jon Hassell, Benny Maupin

The 90s: The Young Lions: Wynton Marsalis, Terence Blanchard, Joshua Redman, Roy Hargrove, Kenny Garrett, Michael Brecker, Tom Harrell, Steve Turre, John Scofield, Bela Fleck & the Flecktones, Enrico Pieranunzi, Either / Orchestra

The 2000s: Post-Modern Post-Bop: Dave Holland Quintet, Brad Mehldau Trio, Pat Metheny, Bill Frisell, Dave Douglas, John Zorn (and his various groups: Masada, Bar Kokhba, The Dreamers), William Parker, Matthew Shipp, Medeski Martin & Wood, Vijay Iyer, Nels Cline Singers, Scott Amendola, Jeff Gauthier, Todd Sickafoose, Chris Potter, Donny McCaslin, Claudia Quintet, Christian Scott, Jason Moran, Greg Osby, Charlie Hunter, Kurt Rosenwinkel, The Bad Plus, Aaron Parks, Diego Barber, David Binney, Alex Sipiagin, John Moulder, Wayne Escoffery, Joe Locke, Adam Rogers, SF Jazz Collective, Marcin Wasilewski, Anouar Brahem, Wolfert Brederode, Nik Bärtsch' Ronin

Posted on Sep 3, 2012 9:00:13 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 3, 2012 9:02:02 PM PDT
T. Anderson says:
for some modern, funky jazz, there's a great band out of england called down to the bone. amazing group, spearheaded by a guy named stuart wade, who doesn't even play an instrument. he sort of sings licks, and the guys in the band convert it to music, which he produces, etc. it's amazing stuff.

i tend to like more modern stuff by people that have been around for a while, like chick corea's newer releases; or some others like herbie hancock, jean-luc ponty (his live from chene park in detroit is incredible - i was supposed to go to that concert, but ended up not being able to; long story), john scofield, larry carlton, pat metheney.

some others many would find surprising: prince & sheila e. before you laugh, check out sheila e & e train (writes of passage) and prince's xpectation & n.e.w.s. also, prince did some stuff in the '80's under the name madhouse; never officially released, but there may be some on youtube. here's one from xpectation, called xogeneous (prince on guitar):

of course, i do like the classics like coltrane, davis, monk, and so many others.

Posted on Sep 3, 2012 9:55:00 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 3, 2012 10:18:01 PM PDT
WH says:
T., If you like more contemporary stuff, check out some of the names on my 2000s list. Or look up at my list in the opening post, the second half, which are mainly contemporary artists (Brad Mehldau, Marcin Wasilewski, Darcy James Argue, Ben Allison, Diego Barber). If you like new releases by classic artists, check out Andrew Hill's "Dusk" and "Timelines" (the latter released just before his death); or see my earlier post about Dave Holland, who played bass on Miles Davis' Bitches Brew, and in the late 90s up through the mid 2000s had arguably the finest working band in jazz. Pat Metheny, who can be a bit uneven, has one of the best new releases of the year: Unity Band (Nonesuch, 2012).

Here's a couple of YouTube links:
Marcin Wasilewski Trio, January (ECM, 2008):

Brad Mehldau, "Exit Music (for a Film)" (a cover of the Radiohead song. Here's a concert version (and various versions appear on several of his recordings):

John Zorn / Bar Kokhba, "Gevurah", a live version. The studio version is on their record The Circle Maker:

Posted on Sep 3, 2012 9:58:33 PM PDT
John Spinks says:

Thanks for your great list, too. How'd I miss Eric Dolphy and Gary Burton? Especially helpful is the way you grouped your list. It will help when I experiment with artists new to me.

Posted on Sep 3, 2012 10:04:51 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 3, 2012 10:07:08 PM PDT
WH says:
John, Glad you like it. I think historically / chronologically. It's imperfect for an artist like Wayne Shorter who has been active since the late 1950s and has several major releases in the last 10 years (and his band is still on the road making waves). As you can see, once I got my collection of classic artists more or less in place, I've spent most of my time trying to explore new artists--something that carries over to some extent in my explorations of classical. Those recents artists are pretty mainstream in their sound, but there's often a touch of avant-garde here and there (but I generally don't care for the noisy free jazz, with exceptions like William Parker).

Posted on Sep 4, 2012 5:23:12 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 23, 2013 3:53:02 AM PDT
carnola says:
Not much into contemporary jazz, although I've tried some--just doesn't make my top 20. Ditto for classical (restricted to one work/set of works for composer). Classical represents about 80-90% of listening. Jazz, Rock, Pop, Broadway, Standards the remainder.

1. Monteverdi: 1612 Vespers--Parrot/Schneidt/McCreesh and Gardiner-DVD
2. Purcell: Anthems--Leonhardt (Teldec Das Alte Werk)
3. Bach: Violin Concertos--Mutter/Accardo
4. Handel: Concerti Grossi Op. 6--Leppard/ECO
5. Haydn: London Symphonies--Davis/Concertgebouw
6. Mozart: Piano Concertos--Perrahia/Uchida plus individual ones by Haskill, Curzon, Rubinstein and others
7. Beethoven: String Quartets, Op. 59--Tokyo and Alban Berg Quartets
8. Schubert: Piano Sonatas--Uchida/Kempff/Lupu/Andsnes/Haskill/Schnabel
9. Schumann: Fantasie, Op. 17--Lupu/Moisewitsch/Horowitz/Freiere/Arrau
10. Wagner: Orchestral excerpts from the operas--Furtwangler
11. Brahms: Symphonies--Furtwangler/Steinberg/Klemperer/Wand/Abbado/Toscanini/Szell/Mengelberg
12. Brahms: Clarinet Quintet--Leister/Amadeus
13. Bruckner: Symphony #9--Schuricht/Abendroth/Haitink/Walter/Wand
14. Dvorak: Symphonies (mainly 5-9)--Kertesz/LSO; Neumann/CPO + others of 7-8-9
15. Sibelius: Symphony #3--Vanska/Barbirolli/Davis-Boston
16. Mahler: Symphony #4--Szell/Abbado/Haitink/Bernstein/Walter
17. Debussy: La Mer--Abbado/Haitink/Martinon/Mitropoulos/Markevitch /Szell
18. Puccini: La Boheme (Beecham/Bjorling/de Los Angeles/Merrill)
19. Stravinsky: Petrushka--Ansermet/Monteux/Haitink/Stravinsky/Boulez
20. Prokofiev: Symphony #5--Karajan/BPO
1. Louis Armstrong--Hot Fives & Hot Sevens (JSP)
2. Duke Ellington--Blanton-Webster Band (RCA)
3. Sidney Bechet--Best of (Blue Note)
4. Benny Goodman/Gene Krupa/Teddy Wilson/Lionel Hampton--After You've Gone (RCA)
5. Count Basie--The Complete Decca Recordings (1936-39) (MCA)
6. Ella Fitzgerald--The Songbooks (Verve)
7. Art Tatum--Complete Pablo Solo Masterpieces (Pablo)
8. John Coltrane--Giant Steps & My Favorite Things (Atlantic)
9. Stan Getz/Joao Gilberto--Getz/Gilberto (Verve)
10. Miles Davis--Kind of Blue (Columbia--now Sony)
11. Horace Silver--Song for My Father (Blue Note)
12. Art Pepper-- meets the Rhythm Section (OJC)
13. Wes Montgomery--Incredible Jazz Guitar (Riverside)
14. Thelonious Monk--Best of the Blue Note Years (Blue Note)
15. Art Blakey--The Jazz Messengers (particularly "Nica's Dream") (Columbia)
16. Ahmad Jamal--at the Pershing: But Not for Me (Chess)
17. Oscar Peterson--Porgy and Bess (Verve)
18. Nancy Wilson/Cannonball Adderly--Nancy Wilson & Cannonball Adderly (Capitol)
19. Sonny Rollins--Saxophone Colossus (Prestige)
20. Smithsonian Anthology of Jazz

Posted on Sep 4, 2012 6:34:29 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 4, 2012 6:35:02 AM PDT
A timely thread for me... I spent most of the last few years exploring classical music, and cumulatively it has been the most musically satisfying times of my life. However, I hit sort of a wall a few months ago and have increasingly found myself listening to jazz. My classical needs have been basically satisfied listening to Beethoven piano sonatas and Mahler symphonies (a bizarre combination, I know) and I have been learning about jazz from the 50s and 60s. I agree that jazz and classical are quite different but that they have in common largely instrumental palettes and an interest in exploring and probing musical possibilities. Classical in general has more structure and complexity whereas jazz is very focused on rhythm and spontaneity.

Some items from my playlists of the last few months:
1) Beethoven: Piano Sonatas (Gulda and Arrau)
2) Mahler: Symphonies 3-5 (Bernstein DG, Sony, DG respectively)

1) Miles Davis: Milestones, Kind of Blue
2) John Coltrane: Blue Train, Giant Steps
3) Charles Mingus: Pithecanthropus Erectus, Mingus Ah um
4) Dave Brubeck: Jazz Goes to College, Time Out
5) Kenny Burrell: Midnight Blue
6) Jaga Jazzist: A Livingroom Hush (contemporary)
7) Getz/Oscar Peterson Trio
8) Gerry Mulligan meets Ben Webster
9) Cannonball Adderly: Somethin' Else

Nothing too out there really... although my tastes in rock are pretty out there I have found that in classical and jazz I tend towards the mainstream.

Posted on Sep 4, 2012 9:07:15 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 4, 2012 9:42:48 AM PDT
WH says:
Carnola, Thanks for the listing. I appreciate, on the classical side, your listing the multiple performances. That's helpful. I probably do the same thing on the jazz side of things (Miles Davis doing the same classic--say "Footprints"--with multiple groups in multiple settings). I noticed that you have Wes Montgomery on your list. Original Jazz Classics / Riverside has been reissuing remasters of Montgomery. The new sound is significantly improved: The Incredible Jazz Guitar of Wes Montgomery (Note: the "Keepnews Collection"); Full House. I can't get enough versions of Debussy's La Mer: Haitink, Dutoit, Boulez, Gergiev. I need to get the Munch as well, and explore a couple of yours.

Gwac: As for jazz of the 1950s and 1960s, you might consider exploring Blue Note Records. Beginning in 1999, the original recording engineer, Rudy Van Gelder, began overseeing the remastering of several hundred of the classic Blue Note recordings. So keep an eye out for "RVG edition" or "Rudy Van Gelder Edition." That indicates that it's probably a work of interest. On your list, Coltrane's Blue Train, Burrell's Midnight Blue, and Adderley's Somethin' Else are all Blue Note RVG remasters. By the way, I need to lift your fine summary: "Classical in general has more structure and complexity whereas jazz is very focused on rhythm and spontaneity."

Posted on Sep 4, 2012 10:14:21 AM PDT
Yes. I'm not a big fan of "elevator" jazz - in fact is that really even jazz in spirit?

I like to think of jazz being a living artform that inspires the player to improvise. Most of the jazz records from the 50's and 60's were jams based on standard tunes that were in the public mind.

Charlie Parker put a great deal of energy into taking "*rhythm changes" and applying a wide range of variations on the basic idea. *(based on the song "I Got Rhythm" : in C it would be: |: C am dm G7 | C am7 dm7 G7 | C am7 dm7 G7 |1. am7 am7 D7 G7 :|2. dm7 G7 C C | <repeat> | E7 | A7 | D7 | dm7 dm7 G7 G+ | then repeat the first 4 bars with the 2nd ending. These are the most basic chords and a great deal of variations were used by Parker and his compatriots, generally either extensions like 9ths, 11ths, Augmented, diminished, etc., or chord substitutions such as tritone substitutions as in Eb7 for A7 and Db7 for G in the part of the song that follows "<repeat>". So instead of the circle of 5ths E7 A7 D7 G7, you get movement by descending half steps E7 Eb7 D7 Db7. These are the most elementary ideas that were commonly used)

In the 60's and 70's Miles Davis and John Coltrane were on the cutting edge of a new movement in jazz that falls under the misleading term "Fusion". It was thought to be the infusion of rock idoms into jazz but beyond the rhythms, the melodic language was more attuned to impressionism than rock. Coltrane experimented with modes and far reaching cyclic progressions as with the outlining of augmented triads in Giant Steps. This is most challenging to solo over. The usual diminished scales, Lydian mode and embellished Blues Scales are not adequate and the soloist must find a way to create a meaningful melody where one isn't easily suggested.

Miles Davis, who has several times invented new ideas that were so powerful that whole movements were created, hit another of his brilliant peaks with the albums "Jack Johnson" "In a Silent Way" and later the double album "Bitches Brew". His ability to collaborate with a wide range of musicians of different styles gave birth to brilliant music that in my mind is as meaningful as icons of Classical Music. The music on these albums was completely new. Some of the music was modal without any discernible chord changes. The energy was created with polytonal chording, dissonant intervals and group soloing using minimalist melodic fragments. Unusual instrumentation, such as bass clarinet, percussion elements from African and South American origin, multiple drummers playing together and guitarist John Mclaughlin sometimes playing in a different provocative key (He in Eb vs. D for the band) brought sounds closer to Stravinsky than Gil Evans.

This music impelled me and for a time was my life blood and religion. We put together musicians to play this music, of course falling short but putting every bit of our being into it in our attempts. It taught us a series of wide ranging lessons about playing together - the value of space in music, not stepping on the other guy's toes, using your ears at all times, stretching your musical vocabulary melodically and harmonically, finding new beats to play on thus creating new phrasing ideas. It was a glorious time in my life.

During this time I was enrolled in the music school, studying classical music. Also back in those days, I discovered the techniques and methods of Bartok and his music, Haydn's wonderful piano sonatas and trios, Mozart's more obscure and dark works and the actual structural elements that make up Stravinsky's Rite of Spring. I thought that the musical impulses and sounds that brought Stravinsky's Rite of Spring to life were comparable in sound and structure to Miles Davis' album "Bitches Brew".

So the answer to the question is yes. I listen to both. I play both. I love both. They are awesome things and I'm most gratetful that we have them to hear, appreciate and learn from.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 4, 2012 10:50:33 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 4, 2012 10:57:19 AM PDT
Thanks WH,

I am aware of the meaning behind the RVG editions - certainly I have found them to be among the better sounding recordings of the period and their artistic value is unquestionable. However, my favorite album from a purely sonic standpoint is currently "Gerry Mulligan meets Ben Webster" on Verve. It's crazy to think that this level of sound quality was achieved in the late 50s. Generally I have found classical chamber recordings from the period to be inferior, though I wonder to what extend that is due to the instruments involved.

Posted on Sep 4, 2012 4:40:47 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jan 27, 2013 12:16:57 PM PST
Joe Anthony says:
While classical music was my first love, I went through a profound jazz phase during my college years. Now, I don't listen to jazz as often as before. However, I have gravitated towards Gospel music which is related to jazz in that both genres share an African-American heritage.

As a rule, I begin my day with Gospel music, which is what I listen to during morning exercises. After that, it's all classical music for the rest of the day.

Off the top of my head pick no more than ten classical and jazz recordings that might represent my tastes for comparisons:


1. Barber: "Knoxville: Summer of 1915" (Leontyne Price/Thomas Schippers/NYPO)
2. Wagner: "Seigfried Idyll" (Herbert Von Karajan/Vienna Phil. Orch.)
3. Mahler: "Dad Lied von der Erde" (Fritz Wunderlich/Dietrich Fischer-Diskau/Josef Krips/Vienna Symphony Orch.)
4. Mussorgsky/Rimsky-Korsakov: "Boris Godunov" (George London/Alexander Malik-Pashaev/Bolshoi Theatre Orch.)
5. Rossini: Overtures/Wagner: Overtures/Strauss family waltzes (Herbert Von Karajan)
6. Shostakovich: Symphony #5 (Mstislav Rostropovich/National Symphony Orchestra)
7. Prokofiev: "Alexander Nevsky" (Andre Previn/London Symphony Orch. & Chorus)
8. Copland: "Billy the Kid", "Rodeo", "Appalachian Spring" (Leonard Bernstein/NYPO)
9. Bernstein: "Age of Anxiety" (Lukas Foss/Leonard Bernstein/NYPO)


1. Charles Mingus: "Ah Um"
2. Charles Mingus: "Black Saint and Sinner Lady"
3. Roland Kirk: "Domino"
4. Dave Brubeck Quartet: "Jazz Impressions of Japan"
5. Oscar Peterson Trio: "Canadia Suite"
6. Ella Fitzgerald sings Harold Arlen Vol I and II
7. Miles Davis and Gil Evans: "Sketches of Spain"
8. The Modern Jazz Quartet: "The Last Concert" (really wasn't a last concert)
9. The Buddy Rich Big Band: "Big Swing Face" (the one with the 'West Side Story" Medley)

Posted on Sep 4, 2012 5:33:21 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 4, 2012 5:53:20 PM PDT
WH says:
David Friedlander wrote: "During this time I was enrolled in the music school, studying classical music. Also back in those days, I discovered the techniques and methods of Bartok and his music, Haydn's wonderful piano sonatas and trios, Mozart's more obscure and dark works and the actual structural elements that make up Stravinsky's Rite of Spring. I thought that the musical impulses and sounds that brought Stravinsky's Rite of Spring to life were comparable in sound and structure to Miles Davis' album "Bitches Brew"."

David, I too have long felt that there were structural similarities between Bitches Brew and Rite of Spring. I'm glad to hear someone else making that connection. In fact, because I had listened to Rite of Spring enough, somehow Bitches Brew made sense to me immediately--while most traditional jazz fans never could seem to connect with it. I'm not sure on the exact recording dates, but doesn't "Jack Johnson" as a record actually post-date the release of "Bitches Brew"? (If I remember right, the "Jack Johnson" has some pieces from "In a Silent Way" spliced in it). Have you heard the recent release called "Bitches Brew Live"? Your mention of trying to play it some of that live must have been an adventure. The "Bitches Brew Live" has Miles' group playing at the Isle of Wight concert, which I gather was a sort of British Woodstock. It's an amazing performance. Glad to hear that there's another electric Miles fan around here.

You say you were in music school at the time. I was in college roughly the same period. My "music school" was my roommate who was (and is) a fine cellist and gave me and my other roommates a wonderful education in classical music, from Mozart to Beethoven to Mahler to the then avant-garde serialists (e.g. Rochberg) to the just emerging minimalists. My own tastes, at the time in terms of classical, concentrated more on Renaissance and Baroque, but also 20th century (Stravinsky, Bartok, Ravel). But jazz was also part of it. All the best.
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