Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The 50 Most Important Tenor Saxophone Albums in Jazz History

I love lists, especially “best of” lists.  In the June 2012 issue of JazzTimes, there is a list of “the 50 most important tenor saxophone albums in jazz history."  I’m reproducing here this list from JazzTimes.  It provides a nice “canon” for aspiring tenor players.  It's not exactly a "best" list; the compiler (Evan Haga) didn't have specific criteria for the voters for this list but sent this direction: "The albums simply need to be great performances that helped shape the jazz tenor saxophone tradition.  Influence and innovation are important."  

I’ve heard a lot of these recordings, probably most, but I’ve got some catching up to do.  If anybody thinks some recording belongs on this list as much as any of the others, please send a comment here.  Even better, if you think a recording deserves to be on the list more than one of the others, send a comment with the artist and title of both your preferred recording and the one that should be removed.

1.       A love supreme – John Coltrane
2.       Saxophone colossus – Sonny Rollins
3.       Giant steps – John Coltrane
4.       Body & Soul – Coleman Hawkins
5.       Classic Columbia, Okeh, and Vocalion – Lester Young
6.       Speak no evil – Wayne Shorter
7.       The bridge – Sonny Rollins
8.       Ellington at Newport – Duke Ellington (Paul Gonsalves)
9.       Crescent – John Coltrane Quartet
10.   Way out west – Sonny Rollins
11.   A night at the Village Vanguard – Sonny Rollins
12.   Lester Young Trio
13.   The complete live at the Plugged Nickel – Miles Davis (Wayne Shorter)
14.   Sonny side up - Dizzy Gillespie/Sonny Rollins/Sonny Stitt
15.   Kind of blue – Miles Davis (John Coltrane)
16.   Ornette on tenor – Ornette Coleman
17.   Inner urge – Joe Henderson
18.   John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman
19.   Picasso: 1929-1949 – Coleman Hawkins
20.   Go – Dexter Gordon
21.   Our man in jazz – Sonny Rollins
22.   Mode for Joe – Joe Henderson
23.   JuJu – Wayne Shorter
24.   The complete 1961 Village Vanguard Recordings – John Coltrane
25.   In ‘n out – Joe Henderson
26.   Sonny meets Hawk – Sonny Rollins and Coleman Hawkins
27.   Forest flower – Charles Lloyd
28.   Our man in Paris – Dexter Gordon
29.   Getz/Gilberto – Stan Getz and Joao Gilberto
30.   The state of the tenor: Live at the Village Vanguard – Joe Henderson
31.   Cottontail: The best of Ben Webster 1931-1944 – Ben Webster
32.   Blowing in from Chicago – Clifford Jordan and John Gilmore
33.   Coleman Hawkins encounters Ben Webster
34.   Soul station – Hank Mobley
35.   People time: The complete recordings – Stan Getz and Kenny Barron
36.   Page one – Joe Henderson
37.   Live at the Village Vanguard – Joe Lovano Quartets
38.   Tough tenors – Johnny Griffin and Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis
39.   The chase! The complete Dial sessions, 1947 – Dexter Gordon (with Wardell Gray and Teddy Edwards)
40.   Lush life – John Coltrane
41.   Jazz samba – Stan Getz/Charlie Byrd
42.   Spiritual unity – Albert Ayler Trio
43.   Lester Young with the Oscar Peterson Trio
44.   Karma – Pharaoh Sanders
45.   Savoy jam party – Don Byas
46.   Classic Chu Berry Columbia and Victor sessions – Chu Berry
47.   Subconscious-Lee – Lee Konitz (Warne Marsh)
48.   Complete original quintet/sextet studio recordings – Al Cohn/Zoot Sims
49.   Fuchsia swing song – Sam Rivers
50.   The In Sound – Eddie Harris

On edit: Though I pulled this list from a print issue of JazzTimes, I learned from A Blog Supreme that JazzTimes has the list on their website as well, and, well, it looks prettier than mine, and it includes some commentary from the pros.  Here it is.

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