Best of 1956: #25 – 21

25. Count ‘Em 88

Count_'Em_88

Artist: Ahmad Jamal Trio

Genre: Bebop

Relatively unknown yet highly influential, Ahmad Jamal was an early progenitor of modal jazz. Count ‘Em 88 is his defining statement. Jamal vamps over spare accompaniment and minimalist chord changes, which somehow results in an extremely relaxing and comfortable listen. This lo-fi recording finds the underrated songsmith at his absolute best.


24. The Toshiko Trio

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Artist: Toshiko Akiyoshi

Genre: Bebop

The Toshiko Trio is perhaps Akiyoshi’s most consistent overall set, an admirable effort from one of the greatest Japanese jazz musicians of the era. Other than Thelonious Monk, no other pianist used strategic silences quite as often and effective. It’s for this reason that “Kyo-Shu” and “Soshu No Yoru” are my two favorite tracks.


23. Finger Style Guitar

Finger Style Guitar

Artist: Chet Atkins

Genre: Country

This collection of instrumental standards finds Tennessee-born guitarist channeling the country-folk-Americana of Merle Travis. While not as brazen as his idol, nor as innovative as his lone contemporary, Chet Atkins serves a clean-cut, technically-accomplished helping of classic country & western that really hits the spot. Continue reading…


22. Dinah!

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Artist: Dinah Washington

Genre: Vocal Jazz

After the intense hard bop of her Clifford Brown & Max Roach collaborationsDinah! returns the dynamic singer to a more traditional swingin’ pop setting. Her voice is more subdued, though she can still erupt into fiery passion at any second. The best parts of the album are when she does just that.


21. Fontessa 

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Artist: The Modern Jazz Quartet

Genre: Cool Jazz

Milt Jackson and The Modern Jazz Quartet provide a masterclass in restrained showmanship. Eerie, sophisticated and slightly pretentious, but in all the right places.

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