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I don’t talk about my love for jazz enough on this blog so I figure jazz appreciation month is the perfect time to do so. 

I have to admit that my knowledge is lacking. Mama Vivrant Thang was never really into jazz so it wasn’t played much around the house.  She did love Kenny G though and I remember his being one of my first live performances. I also “inherited” several of his albums during my last crate digging mission.

The number of jazz albums in my collection is unusually slim. Seems strange for someone who has attended the Capital Jazz Fest (rain or shine) for five years running; for someone whose favorite Saturday night date place is an intimate spot known for its strong drinks and impromptu jazz jam sessions; and for someone who had a lead role in a college production about Charlie “Bird” Parker.

Time for my collection to reflect it.

Question is – where to start?

Jazz is like a tree which has sprouted many, many branches since the beginning of the 20th century. If I was to include the music of some of those branches like smooth jazz, acid jazz, latin jazz, or nu-jazz, I could say that my collection is indeed more reflective of my love for the genre

However, what I’m talking about is the absence of the music of the forefathers and foremothers – the artists whose music shaped and defined the genre and gave birth to the many fusions that are more popular today.

I need more Thelonious Monk, Nina Simone, John Coltrane, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Miles Davis, Dizzie Gillespie, Louis Armstrong, Dinah Washington, Cab Calloway, Charlie Parker, Bessie Smith, Sarah Vaughn, Billie Taylor, Billie Holiday (large black and white poster of her on my wall. Sin not to own any of her albums.)

I plan to attend a few events this month at the Smithsonian where I hope to connect with some jazz lovers and expand my knowledge. I have a few essential pieces like Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue (as Q-Tip says, “It’s like the Bible – you just have one in your house), Ken Burns Jazz : The Story of American Music collection, and a couple of coffee table books on the subject.


Jazz lovers, help me out. What do you consider the essential albums any jazz lover should have in their collection? Agree or Disagree with this list or the picks on the All About Jazz Forum’s Guide to Building Your Jazz Library?

Thought I’d share just a few of the songs that have been on repeat for me this month. I’ve been having some stressful days at work lately and jazz has always had a soothing effect on me.

Coltrane, Naima Live in 1965

Miles Davis, So What Live in 1959

Nina Simone, I Want A Little Sugar In My Bowl

For those that are just getting into jazz or perhaps only have a couple of tracks here and there on your playlists, share those as well in the comments.