About the Catalogue
Originally when asked for jazz recommendations, I would send people a long list of youtube links. It eventually became unwieldy, so I organized it into this website. For the full list in plain text, along with any other (non-jazz) albums in my music collection, click here.
I am always looking to broaden my musical horizons, so I would be glad to hear your listening suggestions. Feel free to contact me through my main website.
Notes and Omissions
A fundamental characteristic of jazz is improvisation, so attending live events is a must for jazz fans. That being said, I don't go to as many as I would like to, and there's nothing wrong with having your own collection of favorite albums!
My jazz library has a lack of various periods and sub-genres, including early jazz (eg. pre-30s, ragtime, New Orleans, dixieland), vocal jazz, post-70s jazz (eg. avant-garde, free jazz, fusion) and modern/active musicians.
Recommended Books and Movies
Jazz: A Film by Ken Burns
Running at over 1000 minutes, this 10-part documentary series contains tons of information and interesting stories. Although its treatment of post-50s material is somewhat unbalanced, it does a great job covering the beginnings of jazz up through the start of bebop. It’s a bit of a time investment, but I definitely think it’s worth the watch.
Directed by Clint Eastwood, this biopic follows the amazing music and troubled life of Charlie Parker. It focuses on Parker’s development as a musician, issues with drugs, his family life and his relationship with Dizzy Gillespie.
Charles Mingus: Triumph of the Underdog
This documentary provides insight into what drove Mingus to compose and play such a wide variety of music. It features great interviews with people close to Mingus and Mingus himself, along with rare clips of live performances.
The Niven Collection of Early Jazz Legends
This massive collection of music and commentary was put together by David W. Niven, a high school teacher from New Jersey. All 1000 hours+ of content is available for free. Unfortunately, the format of the collection is not the easiest to browse through, so I have not taken advantage of it much. However, even from the limited sampling I have done, I found David’s knowledge of jazz and the breadth of this collection astounding.
The All Music Guide to Jazz
Although AllMusic’s website is an excellent resource for all types of music, and far surpasses the amount of information that could be kept in a book, it is nice to have a physical copy of the All Music Guide to Jazz to browse through. Aside from reviews of 18,000 albums, it also has some essays on jazz history and genres, artist biographies, and book recommendations.
Miles: The Autobiography
Very raw, opinionated, and lots of fun, Miles’ Autobiography had me laughing out loud within the first few pages. Aside from Miles’ interesting opinions on jazz music (both his own and that of others), Miles talks candidly about his personal struggles and shares anecdotes about his time spent with Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Herbie Hancock, and other musicians.
Thelonious Monk: Straight, No Chaser
This documentary features live performances and posthumous interviews with Monk’s friends and family. Lots of the clips show Monk’s interesting and idiosyncratic communication style, both on and off the stage.