Best of 1955: #10 – 1

10. Thelonious Monk Plays Duke Ellington (Thelonious Monk)

Thelonious Monk Plays Duke Ellington

Genre: Bebop

“Monk’s playing is typically visionary — blocky, offbeat chords that zig and zag where more conventional pianists might bip and bop. With the backing accompaniment of Oscar Pettiford (double bass) and Kenny Clarke (drums), Monk completely transforms these ageless swing standards into something new and prophetic.” (<<<LINK>>>)

9. Julie is Her Name (Julie London)

Julie Is Her Name

Genre: Vocal Jazz

“Her album’s just as good as her hourglass figure. Julie is Her Name, a remarkably mature debut, showcases her immense vocal talent…The sparse arrangements, led by Barney Kessel’s distinctive electric guitar blush, perfectly match London’s relaxed and unhurried pace.” (<<<LINK>>>)

8. Clifford Brown with Strings (Clifford Brown)

Clifford Brown with Strings

Genre: Bebop

“…Makes for one of his most original — and most unlikely — LPs. The throwback sound works perfectly with the orchestra, which is never flashy and always complementary.” (<<<LINK>>>)

7. Blue Moods (Miles Davis)

Blue Moods

Genre: Cool Jazz

Blue Moods is one of the more underrated releases in Miles Davis’ extensive catalogue. A short LP at 4 songs, 26 minutes, the record boasts an all-star lineup that also features Charles Mingus and Elvin Jones. Yet all performers, Davis included, are upstaged by vibraphonist Teddy Charles, whose eerie presence brings a sense of unease not often heard in Davis’ early ‘50s recordings.” (<<<LINK>>>)

6. Concert by the Sea (Erroll Garner)

Concert by the Sea - Eroll Garner

Genre: Stride

“While diminutive in stature, Garner’s style is impossibly large — his thunderous swells are often as vast as the ocean itself, of which the 6-minute rendition of “Autumn Leaves” is a swelling instrumental benchmark.” (<<<LINK>>>)

5. In a Romantic Mood (Oscar Peterson)

Oscar Peterson In a Romantic Mood

Genre: Bebop

“Oscar Peterson’s piano is expressive yet quaint — never saying too much, but never saying too little. And never enough is never a problem…It is, without a doubt, his finest studio LP and one of the more underrated hidden gems in the jazz catalogue.” (<<<LINK>>)

4. Study in Brown (Clifford Brown & Max Roach)

Study in Brown

Genre: Hard Bop

“While not as immediate as its predecessorStudy in Brown remains one of the defining works of early ‘50s jazz.” (<<<LINK>>>)

3. Dinah Jams (Dinah Washington)

Dinah Jams

Genre: Vocal Jazz

“By far the best female vocal jazz LP of 1955 was the searing live set recorded by Dinah Washington, Dinah Jams. Opening with a fiery rendition of “Lover, Come Back to Me” and closing with an 11-minute “You Go to My Head,” Washington’s passionate vocal intensity is matched only by the hard bop fury of Clifford Brown & Max Roach.” (<<<LINK>>>)

2. Thelonious Monk and Sonny Rollins (Thelonious Monk)

Thelonious Monk continued his hot streak into 1955

Genre: Hard Bop

“The hard bop saxophone commentary provides perfect counterpoint to the askew piano phrasings, a perfect mixture between two distinct styles of modern jazz. Thelonious Monk and Sonny Rollins is a bona-fide classic.” (<<<LINK>>>)

1. In the Wee Small Hours (Frank Sinatra)

In the Wee Small Hours - Frank Sinatra

Genre: Vocal Jazz

“The rest of the LP flows by in a graceful manner, full of extreme depth and emotion. Sinatra’s singing was never better — so much control and expression in his voice. Yet the thing that really makes the record so special is the musical accompaniment, which is a perfect match to the melancholy subject matter. Nelson Riddle’s lush, dreamlike arrangements recall Bernard Herrmann at his best.” (<<<LINK>>>)