Released August 17, 1959 this album is widely regarded as the greatest jazz record of all time and one of the most influential albums ever recorded. It’s in the Library of Congress and is the best selling jazz album of all time with at least four million copies sold.
Jason: Let’s start with this very divisive question, Do you like jazz?
Brad: Sometimes but rarely.
Jason: Same. We are off to a great start. I get why people love jazz. It’s rhythmic, and sensual, and free flowing, and Ryan Gosling mansplained it to Emma Stone for 2 hours in that overly celebrated movie but the improvisation is what really irritates me.
Brad: Yeah, it can be meandering at times.
Jason: I listened to this album seven times. And depending on my mood I was either into it or I wanted to tear my headphones off. I really do NOT like the first song (So What). It’s all over the place and it made me anxious..
Brad: Some of the improvised sounds can be irritating. I was surprised that I was mostly into this album but then I would find myself not really paying attention. It was more enjoyable as background music while reading or working.
Jason: I like the underlying melody. The percussion, the quiet high-hat, the piano, the wire brush on the snare, mostly because its consistent and it kind of lulls me into a relaxed trance. Then the trumpet or squeaky saxophone starts and it hurts my brain.
Brad: I get that but I didn’t hear too much that was irritating on this album.
Jason: Listen to So What again. You’ll not thank me later. The improvisation sounds like a completely different tune over top of everything else. I can’t meld the two together. It’s like “Let’s all play Freddie Freeloader.” “Do you have the sheet music?” “No just play whatever you want I’m sure it will be fine.”
Brad: I can totally see that. What’s really impressive to me is that this was recorded in just two sessions.
Jason: Yes, you can tell. This album was hugely influential not just on jazz but on rock and roll, and pop as well because it opened up the instrumentalists to improv a guitar or keyboard solo and just riff in a song.
Brad: It is surprising that this was recorded all the way back in 1959. It sounds like it could have been recorded this week. It holds up really well in that regard.
Jason: Yes. It has a timeless sound.
Brad: I find that I have a greater appreciation for jazz the more I read about Prince and Joni Mitchell. Also, I love the influence it has on current hip hop. But it isn’t something I want to explore too deeply.
Jason: I like the influence too. I think I would appreciate a companion album like “Here is this Prince song that was influenced by that jazz song” and analyzes why and compares the two.
Brad: I would like that.
Jason: Overall, I can appreciate the musicianship of jazz, it’s its own language just not one that I care to speak.
Brad: But this album did remind me that I want to listen to more of the soul singer Betty Davis who was briefly married to Miles in the 60s. She’s pretty great.
Jason: Maybe she will pop up on our 100 list. So, we both respect but also get annoyed by meandering jazz. Letter grade?
Brad: Grading on enjoyment only I would give it a B-
Jason: Yes. I am going to say B- as well and as far as jazz goes, I will stick to Vince Guaraldi Trio: Peanuts Greatest Hits.
Below is the scratch-off artwork from the 100 Bucket List poster.