25. Count ‘Em 88
Artist: Ahmad Jamal Trio
Relatively unknown yet highly influential, Ahmad Jamal was an early progenitor of modal jazz. Count ‘Em 88 is his defining statement. The pianist 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
Artist: Toshiko Akiyoshi
The Toshiko Trio is perhaps Akiyoshi’s most consistent overall set, an admirable effort from one of the greatest Japanese jazz musicians of her 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
Artist: Chet Atkins
This collection of instrumental standards finds the 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…
Artist: Dinah Washington
Genre: Vocal Jazz
After the intense hard bop of her Clifford Brown & Max Roach collaborations, Dinah! 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 exactly that.
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.