Ten Jazz Albums to Hear Before You Die
4. The Dave Brubeck Quartet
This 1959 album was the soundtrack for parties in New York City and the staple in any bachelor pad. Without it juicing the sophisticated and artsy minds of New Yorkers and beatniks alike, many of us probably wouldn't have been born. At the time, it was considered an artsy piece, but today, the deviation from standard time and the hip swing might just feel traditional. Songs like "Take Five" have been ubiquitous in our culture -- movies, television, and (sadly) malls. It's an album that screams Don Draper and nightcaps. Check it out and find yourself whisked away to another time and place.
3. Charles Mingus
Charles Mingus is the godfather of the upright bass, and in 1959, he put out Ah Um, which many consider to be a masterpiece and cemented his status as a legendary composer. He combined elements of gospel and blues. The opening track, "Better Get It Into Your Soul," is not just a ruckus jubilation; it's a command -- the driving brass, the dixie-land rapture and the voice calling out in joy -- to stop doing whatever you're doing and take into your heart and body this music. It's a roller coaster ride through fast and slow tempos, cacophony and perfect harmony, and a touch of madness.
2. John Coltrane
John Coltrane is clearly one of the leaders of the jazz identity. If you think about the course of hip-hop, then can you really imagine groups like Tribe Called Quest or even someone like Tupac without a cultural and musical prophet like Coltrane? Of course, A Love Supreme is an incredible album, but Blue Train just has so much life and color that it's impossible to ignore. Recorded in 1957 on Blue Note, Blue Train was Coltrane's favorite album. It will likely become one of yours soon, too.