Saturday, September 27, 2014

Perfect Jazz Recordings

I haven't been making enough lists lately. Oh, I've got working lists all over the place--lists of songs to add to playlists, lists of songs to delete from the Magic Jukebox, lists of albums and artists to investigate, my lengthy, constantly growing list of books to read, the lists I keep of what I read, what I listen to, what I watch--but I still feel the need to compile and post more targeted lists, like the list of favorite John Gilmore solos that I am forever refining in my mind.

All of this is spurred on in part by Richard Brody's list of 66 perfect jazz recordings in the New Yorker--itself inspired by Sasha's list of perfect recordings (which I haven't looked at; it seems to be on Twitter or on Spotify--so sue me). I actually got to Brody's list via a post from the blog Include Me Out, 33 Perfect Jazz Tracks (which might be closer to my own personal tastes). At any rate, I eat this stuff up. I love going through other lists and the mental dialogue that ensues between myself and the listmaker (how could you leave this out? what on earth were you thinking? good god, I can't believe you included that; yes, why doesn't everybody see that this belongs on everybody's list, etc.), and I love starting to think about what my own list would look like (even if I rarely follow through with an actual list).

Should I then even try to compile my own list of x amount of perfect jazz recordings? Damn, I'm tempted. But my sense is that it would take too long, and time is something I don't have much of these days.

Years ago, there was a similar discussion somewhere about great jazz albums of the '70s, and I put together my own list and posted it on New Loft's old Myspace page. I went back to the Myspace graveyard to see if it was still there; they've revamped the site, and while some of our old content is still there, it looks like they blasted the blog portion. So I need to do some archaeology and find out if I've got that list floating around anywhere (hopefully with some link back to the original list that prompted it--it may be been some jazz board discussion).

Anyway, the point is that I recall that list taking a fair amount of time to compile--it involved going through all my collection as well as other lists to try to make sure I didn't miss anything. I can't just throw a list like this together off the top of my head. I get obsessed with getting it right and covering all the bases. I can't depend on just my memory anymore; I need visual and aural refreshing.

But I may cogitate over this and throw up a list at some point in the future. If I do, I won't stick to Include Me Out's self-imposed limitation of one piece per artist (sorry: five songs by Sun Ra or Mingus are worth more than one by Art Blakey). Some kind of limitation will have to be in effect, though, or else the list will just be too unwieldy. Just not that one. So watch this space. If you make one of your own, be sure and let me know!

Update: my list is here.

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