Commentary

Ten Jazz Albums to Listen to Before You Die

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Because there are multiple decades of jazz, it's almost impossible to pick the top 10 albums of all time; the hip cats with their canes and cool shades will throw their used saxophone reeds in my direction and call me a young whippersnapper. The debate is so polemic that I might as well write about the top 10 abortion clinics. But so many people out there, young or even a bit older, are curious about jazz, and they're not exactly sure where to start. So, this list will highlight albums you must listen to before you die.

10. Ornette Coleman, The Shape of Jazz to Come This album title, when it came out in 1959, was the equivalent of Babe Ruth pointing to the fences or Muhammad Ali proclaiming he was the greatest. It was an album that said, you hear this sound, you hear what I'm laying down, everything is about to change. Fort Worth's Ornette Coleman went from playing the sax to the trumpet, and he received scorn from Miles Davis, who publicly questioned Coleman's sanity and technical ability. And because the album is often credited as being the anchor to avant-garde jazz albums, it might just sound a bit strange to the newbie's ear. But Coleman was trying to move away from tradition, shattering conventional ideas of harmony and axing the piano, to create a new dimension of sound.

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Joseph Lapin
Contact: Joseph Lapin