Best of 1955: #20 – 11

20. West Coast Jazz

West Coast Jazz.jpg

Artist: Stan Getz

Genre: Bebop

Despite being recorded in California, West Coast Jazz is classic New York bebop played by musicians who originally hailed from back east. Stan Getz leads the way with his Lester Young-influenced phrasing and Charlie Parker-styled rhythm — as far away from the Dave Brubeck school of thought as possible. Continue reading…

19. Les and Mary 

Les and Mary.jpg

Artist: Les Paul & Mary Ford

Genre: Country

Dreamy country pop. I never knew I needed it in my life, but I’m glad I’ve found it. Needless to say, the husband-wife duo of Les Paul and Mary Ford are probably the only ones who ever had it. Les and Mary puts more emphasis on the “pop” than usual, though Paul’s dexterous guitar techniques makes this some of the dreamiest music ever recorded. As always, “country” in name only.

18. Sarah Vaughan

Sarah Vaughan.jpg

Artist: Sarah Vaughan

Genre: Vocal Jazz

This 1955 self-titled LP is probably Sarah Vaughan’s best — a jazzy affair that changes tempo like the singer changes vocal styles. A career benchmark. Continue reading…

17. Hamp and Getz

Hamp and Getz.jpg

Artist: Lionel Hampton & Stan Getz

Genre: Bebop

In this collaboration with 47-year-old vibraphonist Lionel Hampton, Stan Getz returns to the relaxed, Coleman Hawkins-influenced approach that had marked his earliest recordings. Highlighted by the eight-minute “Ballad Medley,” Hamp & Getz remains one of the artist’s hidden gems. Continue reading…

16. Duet 


Artist: Stan Kenton & June Christy

Genre: Vocal Jazz

June Christy’s sultry voice takes center stage, but even more remarkable is Stan Kenton’s ability to dance on the outskirts of melody yet still remain structured and solemn. On this haunting LP, the songs constantly feel like they’re about to fall apart. Continue reading…

15. Diz and Getz 

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Artist: Dizzy GillespieStan Getz

Genre: Bebop

Although Jazz Samba is Stan Getz’s most famous work, I’ve always preferred his bebop material. He’s one of the only saxophonists to prefer understatement to showmanship. Continue reading…

14. Satch Plays Fats: A Tribute to the Immortal Fats Waller

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Artist: Louis Armstrong

Genre: Dixieland

Louis Armstrong is an American icon, leading with charisma, innovation and earth-shattering talent. This loving tribute to ragtime pianist Fats Waller — a major influence on Armstrong’s Dixieland sound — captures the trumpeter at his most magnetic.

13. Dinner in Caracas

Dinner in Caracas - Aldemaro Romero

Artist: Aldemaro Romero

Genre: Venezuelan folk music

Venezuelan composer/arranger Aldemaro Romero takes the traditional native styles of joropo and merengue and updates the approach with western classical strings. The result is a joyous record of catchy melodies and rhythms — Venezuela ain’t so different after all. Continue reading…

12. Brown and Roach Incorporated

Brown and Roach Incorporated

Artist: Clifford Brown & Max Roach

Genre: Hard Bop

Every album released by Clifford Brown & Max Roach is essential to any serious jazz collection. Nevertheless, Brown and Roach Incorporated sometimes gets lost in the shuffle. This underrated LP finds the quintet at its most relaxed and the arrangements at their most democratic. Continue reading…

11. Helen Merrill

Helen Merrill 1955

Artist: Helen Merrill

Genre: Vocal Jazz

Despite her powerful voice, Helen Merrill sings modestly, layering her songs with a touch of empathy. Backed by a Clifford Brown-heavy arrangement courtesy of a young Quincy Jones, this album manages to stand out for its sheer musical professionalism. Continue reading…

#20 – 11 | Top 10

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