Top 10 Albums of 1953

The Top 10 albums of 1953, a year which featured two of the greatest live albums of all time.

10. New Concepts of Artistry in Rhythm (Stan Kenton)


Genre: Avant-Garde Jazz

New Concepts is the most upbeat and welcoming album of the entire Kenton catalogue.” (<<<LINK>>>)

9. Introducing Paul Bley (Paul Bley)


Genre: Bebop

Introducing Paul Bley certainly shows potential. Already, the canuck prodigy is one of the most talented pianists in the world; he needs only develop his own sense of style…One of the finer debuts of the year.” (<<<LINK>>>)

8. The Hit Makers! (Les Paul & Mary Ford)


Genre: Country

The duo’s cover of “How High the Moon” may be their finest recorded moment ever, while the rest of the LP is Paul & Ford as usual — beyond-perfect vocal melodies backed by unbelievable guitar. An early benefactor of multitrack recording, Ford’s extensive use of doubling gives her singing a dreamy clarity, while hubby Les is able to conjure a miniature jazz band from his guitar layering.

7. Portraits on Standards (Stan Kenton)


Genre: Big Band

Example #2 of why Stan Kenton may be a better arranger/conductor than composer. This collection of covers features soft and subtle arrangements, which make the brass climaxes all the more volcanic.

6. An Evening with Billie Holiday (Billie Holiday)


Genre: Vocal Jazz

Only an evening?? (Highlights: “Yesterdays,” “Tenderly”)

5. This Modern World (Stan Kenton)


Genre: Avant-Garde Jazz

“…Kenton has always been a Cubist painter using bright Impressionist colors; here, he fully embraces cynical abstraction. And the music becomes warmer as a result. Imagine that.” (<<<LINK>>>)

4. The Duke Plays Ellington (Duke Ellington)


Genre: Stride

…A critical re-evaluation finds this as one of the most unique releases of his legendary career…A once-in-a-lifetime record from a once-a-genre artist.” (<<<LINK>>>)

3. Jazz at Massey Hall (The Quintet)


Genre: Bebop

May 15, 1953. Toronto. Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Charles Mingus, Bud Powell and Max Roach. The Quintet. The greatest one-off collective ever assembled gave one of the greatest concerts ever performed. A historical occurrence.” (<<<LINK>>>)

2. Jazz at Oberlin (Dave Brubeck Quartet)


Genre: Cool Jazz

On some nights, there is a certain magic in the air. It becomes palpable — only a select few live albums can make you feel like part of the crowd, as if you were there. The Quintet’s May 15th date in Toronto. Duke Ellington’s 7/7/56 set at Newport. The Brubeck Quartet’s night at Oberlin College also goes down as one of jazz music’s greatest performances.

Jazz goes to college and an underground movement was born. Brubeck’s wildly imaginative piano chords, coupled with Paul Desmond’s wispy alto sax solos, gave white hipsters across the country something to write home about. It was like Columbus Day for the Jazz-is-Art crowd.

1. Black Coffee (Peggy Lee)


Genre: Vocal Jazz

Call it the Court and Spark of the early ‘50s…” (<<<LINK>>>)

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