Which composer or performer would you recommend as an introduction to jazz? Explain your reasons for your choice.

Stereophile's picture
Continuing with the theme started with last week's question: Which single composer or performer would you recommend to introduce someone to jazz music? And why?
Which composer or performer would you recommend as an introduction to jazz? Explain your reasons for your choice.
I'd start with
84% (108 votes)
Haven't a clue
16% (20 votes)
Total votes: 128
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Pradeep's picture

I would give him or her four or five records to listen to and ask him/her to listen to them a few times to figure out what they like. My list would be: Dave Brubeck: Time Out; Miles Davis: In a Silent Way; Bill Evans Trio: Waltz for Debby; Herbie Hancock: Head Hunters; The Pat Metheny Group. If it's only one, then Dave Brubeck's Time Out.

Michael Wolfe's picture

Bill Evans and his various trios. Very tasteful—introspective, with beautiful chording and melodies. Evans' music keeps your attention.

K Peter's picture

Classical music, then jazz: Pat Metheny's instrumental jazz, or Keith Jarrett's piano solo concerts (Solo Concerts: Bremen and Lausanne is obligatory).

Mark's picture

I would start with Charles Mingus. His sense of melody is accessible, yet well developed and sophisticated enough to hold up to repeated listening. He would also blend classical and blues styles into his music so anyone with an appreciation for one or the other will find themselves in familiar territory. He also has a good sized catalog of releases to explore.

Andy's picture

Miles Davis' Kind of Blue & Bitches Brew would make a good starting point. Also, a few John Coltrane albums are worth mentioning.

Sherwood's picture

If were to introduce jazz to a younger person I would start with Return To Forever and work my way backwards. I think jazz fusion is more accessible to the younger crowd as it has elements of rock and jazz. Thats how I got into it and I am now enjoying Coltrane, Davis, and several other jazz icons.

Jim Dandy's picture

Ahmad Jamal. That's what got me started....try Ahmad's Blues ( taken from his Argo period when he recorded live in small clubs ) Great light jazz, mostly standards, that is very well recorded for the era. If you can get it in mono, all the better because that's how it was intended to be heard.

DSK's picture

Sonny Rollins' Saxophone Collosus.

Jimmy's picture

Miles Davis. He "reinvented" the genre in the late '40s with The Birth of the Cool and is responsible for discovering many of the most famous musicians jazz has ever seen.

djl's picture

Dave Grusin. Because he has a long line of albums and has had a lot to do with the format with his GRP label and its family of artists. He covers a lot of ground with new jazz and old-school jazz.

David L.  Wyatt jr.'s picture

Depends on where they are coming from musically, but it would either be Miles Davis or Dave Brubeck. Either can be approached by the casual music fan, yet they produced years worth of vital, original music.

Nick A.'s picture

Bill Evans

Tim K's picture

Miles Davis without a doubt. He has a huge catalog and worked with the greatest musicians and composers across multiple eras. He may not have invented jazz, but he re-invented it. Twice. Is there anyone else that even comes close to his legacy?

John Paul, Noo Zillund's picture

Before the gorgeous ballads of Miles, 'Trane, or Monk, I would take somebody into jazz via Frank Zappa. Getting punters into interested listening is easy through the amusingly outrageous lyrics, and soaring rock guitar licks, which often evolve into slick improvisational jazz (or modern chamber) forms. These gently teach proper jazz melodic and harmonic form development, while still cleverly grooving along.

Johannes Turunen, Sweden's picture

It very much depends who is asking. For cocktails I'd say Diana Krall. Red wine would go with Nils Landgren. Marcus Miller suits beer drinkers.

Woody Battle's picture

Louis Armstrong. He created a huge catalog of fine material that is immediately assessable to everyone.

John Hancock's picture

Thelonious Monk because his playing style defines the improvisational nature of true jazz.

Doug Bowker's picture

Miles Davis. Go early, which is very accessable, on up to whatever era that keeps your interest. Mine ends around 1969, but before that he's the man in every sense of the word.

Chris's picture

I'd probably start with Duke Ellington, because many of the melodies are recognizable already. Beautiful music and a perfect primer.

chuck's picture

Miles' Kind of Blue.

mike eschman's picture

Solo Monk by Thelonious Monk—probably the best jazz album i've ever heard.

Bevensee's picture

Miles Davis. That's how I got started. He played with virtually everybody, so his records serve as a fine introduction to other jazz musicians. I started with the live album My Funny Valentine from 1964. Other good starting points are Kind of Blue or 'Round About Midnight.

Al Marcy's picture

Anyone currently playing somewhere close. Please God, do not let people learn about jazz from machines. Sex, OK, who cares, but jazz? Go, man, go!

Jack Clark's picture

Weather Report. So much variety, so much emotion, so well played.

EP's picture

It would have to be Miles Davis because of his influence on jazz over so many decades, his huge catalogue of songs and the majesty of his music. Listening to Miles, you also get to listen to the many other great musicians that played with him such as John Coltrane, Jimmy Cobb, Herbie Hancock. After Miles, I might go with Coltrane and eventually work back to earlier jazz greats before moving forward to the current era.

B.Parker's picture

John Coltrane. Takes a little time and patience, but when the music hooks your emotions, you realize greatness. This will be around when we are all dust (sorry).

Ben W.'s picture

I'd recommend Miles Davis. Not only an excellent improviser, he is very communicative and often easy to understand emotionally. It is also easy to introduce one to other artists through Miles due to the musicians that have been in his bands, those on recordings, the bands he himself has taken part, and those he cites as influences. There is surely a starting point for nearly everyone in his discography.

Don Vieweg's picture

Ask questions first. Interested in melody and harmony? Comfortable with experimentation? Try these: Walk on the Wild Sideby Lou Reed. Has acoustic bass, discordant vocal, a sax solo, sparse arrangements, and an edgy topic. Migrate to Patricia Barber's Companion and then ask more questions. Guide accordingly. Avoid Zappa's "Eric Dolphy Memorial Barbecue" or the music it imitates. That's an acquired taste for later.

mk thot's picture

Cannonball Adderley—soulful, melodic, accessible.

Tom Gonzales's picture

Cannonball Adderly

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