Blogger Sean J. O’Connell (who used to freelance for me when I was music editor at OC Weekly) has compiled a useful primer for jazz neophytes to get a quick grounding in the genre. O’Connell is a jazz keyboardist himself and a learned scholar of the music, too.
While it’s impossible to do jazz thorough justice in a mere 10 titles, O’Connell adequately introduces noobs to some crucial, not always obvious, works. Of course, everyone will point out glaring omissions, but the piece offers provocative stimuli for rigorous debate. (No Alice Coltrane, Don Cherry, or Mahavishnu Orchestra?!?! Blah blah blah yadda yadda etc.)
Mr. O'Connell's 10 steps to jazz literacy are: Sarah Vaughan’s Live at Mr. Kelly’s, Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers’ Free for All, Ray Bryant’s Alone With the Blues, Ambrose Akinmusire’s When the Heart Emerges Glistening, Jaco Pastorius’ Jaco Pastorius, Duke Ellington/Charles Mingus/Max Roach's Money Jungle, Miles Davis’ A Tribute to Jack Johnson, Thelonious Monk/John Coltrane’s Thelonious Monk With John Coltrane, Wes Montgomery w/ Wynton Kelly Trio’s Smokin' at the Half Note, Dizzy Gillespie’s At Newport.
Alice Coltrane belongs in the jazz canon, people.