10 Jazz Albums to Listen to Before You Die
This 1959 album was the soundtrack for parties in New York City and the staple in any bachelor pad. Without this album juicing the sophisticated and artsy minds of New Yorkers and beatniks alike, many of us probably wouldn't have been born. At the time, it was considered an artsy piece, but today, the deviation from standard time and the hip swing might just feel traditional. Even if you've never intentionally heard this album, a song like "Take Five" has been so omnipotent in our culture -- movies, television, and (sadly) malls -- that you'll instantly recognize this classic. It's an album that screams Donald Draper and nightcaps. Check it out and find yourself whisked away to another time and place.
Charles Mingus is the godfather of the upright bass, and in 1959, he put out Ah Um, which many consider to be a masterpiece, and it cemented Mingus as a legendary composer. He combined elements of gospel and blues. The opening track, "Better Get It Into Your Soul," is not just a ruckus jubilation; it's a command -- the driving brass, the dixie-land rapture and the voice calling out in joy -- to stop doing whatever it is that you're doing in your life and take into your heart and body this music. Ah Um is a roller coaster ride through fast and slow tempos, cacophony and perfect harmony, and a touch of madness.