Jazz Geek Picks: 3 Classic Blue Note Albums For $5 Each

Jazz as a whole is still the most misunderstood and easily dismissed of any music in any genre. Most folks patiently let jazz zealots play their endless amounts of records for them (the jazz genre has multitudes upon multitudes of releases) and quickly denounce them as background soundtrack noise, jumbled notes, and arrangements better heard during shopping at convenience stores or waiting to be whisked up in elevators, than to give it the proper attention it deserves. For the most part, it’s one of the few musical genres that is decidedly rooted in American roots, and that’s not a statement of jingoism, simply pride. Jazz divides people like no other. Other than the rare popular jazz release or its usage in another forms of medium, (Miles Davis’ “Kind of Blue,” John Coltrane’s “Giant Steps,” Herbie Hancock’s electronic “Rockit” or hip hop artists that liberally sample jazz sounds for example) ultimately, it seems like either one likes jazz music or they don’t.

To cap, as Frank Zappa so eloquently and hilariously put it as only he could on his 1974 Roxy and Elsewhere album, “Jazz is not dead, it just smells funny.”

As part of Amazon’s monthly $5 MP3 Album Deal for May 2012, there’s a great deal on three classic jazz albums in MP3 format right now for only $5 each, and all are encouraged to check them out before the sales ends.

Moanin’ by Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers
Somethin’ Else by Cannonball Adderley
Speak No Evil by Wayne Shorter

Maybe these three releases listed above will help to soften the hard-edged, hard-nosed attitude most folks have with this music. They are all from Blue Note Records, who was and still remains, a major player in the jazz record industry, and all from the Rudy Van Gelder collection. Gelder is a recording engineer who has recorded thousands of jazz artists. The following three are just a small ripple in the huge body of jazz water he filled.

Moanin’ – Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers: Blakey was a great jazz drummer who led his Jazz Messengers on many, wild musical adventures on vinyl and live, great swinging rollercoaster style music which colors many moods at once. The late great Lee Morgan on trumpet accents each song and arrangement within the song like exclamation points, cutting through grooves and creating his own with a style that almost apes all other trumpet players in his wake. Songs like the title track and others like “Drum Thunder Suite,” “Blues March” the classic romantic aches of “Come Rain or Come Shine” and “Along Came Betty” have a boisterousness and ferocity to them. Maybe this record is quickly dismissed as your granddad’s music, but it just proves how friggin’ hip granddad might have been after all.

Somethin’ Else – Cannonball Adderley: Adderley is best known for two things: playing saxophone side by side on Miles Davis’ masterpiece and piece to the masses Kind of Blue album and his playing on the jazz crossover hit “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy.” He then, like so many other jazz musicians who originally were sidemen to artists, recorded multitudes of solo albums. Here, on Something Else, which also has Miles Davis on trumpet and Art Blakey on drums, Cannonball comes across just like one, with a heavy accented yet sublime and blues-soaked sweetness about his playing here. While the presence of Miles does dominate for sure, Adderley still throws one-two punches throughout, as heard on standout tracks such as “Something Else,” “One for Daddy-O,” “Bangoon,” and the standards “Love for Sale” and “Autumn Leaves.”

Speak No Evil – Wayne Shorter: Shorter, another great saxophonist who still plays venues and small jazz clubs to this very day, released 7 albums during the mid-1960s, including Speak No Evil, an unbelievable sense of prolific artistry for sure. Breaking through earlier jazz conventions (like swing and bop) with more of a focus on the instrumental sounds and ambiance that John Coltrane was doing with his stretching further each time releases, Shorter does the same here on “Speak No Evil.” Pianist Herbie Hancock, bassist Ron Carter (the two of them plus Shorter would be Miles Davis’ backup band for most of the 1960s as well), the great Freddie Hubbard on trumpet, and Coltrane’s drummer Elvin Jones, who’s hyper rhythms and loud muscularity on his instrument puts him on par almost with Buddy Rich, propel Shorter’s sax musings over the top. Songs like “Witch Hunt,” “Speak No Evil,” “Infant Eyes,” and “Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum” are highlights.

So head on over to Amazon right now, where they are a part of 100 MP3 albums on sale this month for only $5 each, and give this stuff a fighting chance and a listen. You never know, like all good things, sometimes they hit you when you least expect it, the same could happen with the jazz genre.

Note – when you purchase MP3s through Amazon, it stores your purchases to Amazon’s Cloud Drive; from there you can stream the music right from their online player. Also, if you have a Kindle Fire, your MP3 purchases will automatically be available for you to stream on your device. All your purchases are backed up and available for you to download at any time. You can download the files to your computer to load to an MP3 device and to your iTunes account if you have one. If you’d like to gift these MP3 purchases, you can – just click the “Give album or song as gift” button on the right on the product page. From there you enter the recipient’s email address and then select either specific songs to gift or the entire album.

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