Best of 1955: #20 – 11

20. West Coast Jazz (Stan Getz)

West Coast Jazz.jpg

Genre: Bebop

West Coast Jazz, despite being recorded in California, is straight-ahead bop played by musicians who originally hailed from back east. 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.” (<<<LINK>>>)

19. Les and Mary (Les Paul & Mary Ford)

Les and Mary.jpg

Genre: Country

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

18. Sarah Vaughan (Sarah Vaughan)

Sarah Vaughan.jpg

Genre: Vocal Jazz

“The 1955 self-titled LP is probably Vaughan’s best — a jazzy affair that changes tempo like the singer changes vocal styles…Undoubtedly, it is her career benchmark.” (<<<LINK>>>)

17. Hamp and Getz (Lionel Hampton & Stan Getz)

Hamp and Getz.jpg

Genre: Bebop

“A collaboration with 47-year-old vibraphonist Lionel Hampton, the music finds Getz returning to the relaxed, Coleman Hawkins-influenced approach that had marked his earliest recordings…Highlighted by the eight-minute “Ballad Medley,” the LP remains one of the artist’s hidden gems.” (<<<LINK>>>)

16. Duet (Stan Kenton & June Christy)


Genre: Vocal Jazz

“Christy’s powerful, sultry voice takes center stage, but Kenton’s piano is remarkable for its ability to dance on the outskirts of melody while remaining structured and solemn — the songs constantly feel like they’re about to fall apart.” (<<<LINK>>>)

15. Diz and Getz (Dizzy Gillespie & Stan Getz)

Diz and Getz.jpg

Genre: Bebop

“While the later Jazz Samba (1962) and ensuing collaborations with João Gilberto are his most popular works, I always tend to prefer the bebop-oriented Stan Getz. He’s one of the rare saxophonists who prefers understatement to showmanship.” (<<<LINK>>>)

14. Satch Plays Fats: A Tribute to the Immortal Fats Waller (Louis Armstrong)

Satch Plays Fats.jpg

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 (Aldemaro Romero)

Dinner in Caracas - 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 familiar melodies and rhythms — Venezuela ain’t so different after all.” (<<<LINK>>>)

12. Brown and Roach Incorporated (Clifford Brown & Max Roach)

Brown and Roach Incorporated

Genre: Hard Bop

“Every LP released by the duo of Clifford Brown & Max Roach is worth owning, and essential to any serious jazz collection. Nevertheless, Brown and Roach Incorporated somewhat gets lost in the shuffle…The playing finds the quintet at its most relaxed, and the arrangements their most democratic.” (<<<LINK>>>)

11. Helen Merrill (Helen Merrill)

Helen Merrill 1955

Genre: Vocal Jazz

“Despite her full tone and warm huskiness, Merrill sings modestly, making her songs the most empathetic of her contemporaries. Backed by a Clifford Brown-heavy arrangement courtesy of a young Quincy Jones, Helen Merrill manages to stand out for its sheer musical professionalism.” (<<<LINK>>>)