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Favourite jazz albums

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Here are details of my favourite jazz albums. Some may think this is a misnomer as almost all of them are fusion albums but all were led by respected jazz artists. I am not a critic or an especially informed music analyst so I don’t claim these are the greatest jazz albums of all time or something similar – these are just personal opinions. I always like reading or hearing about what people like or dislike. Whether we agree or disagree with their judgements it can provoke thought and further enquiry. These are not listed any particular order of merit but simply alphabetically.

Chick Corea (1972) Return To Forever

An excellent fusion album with great work in particular from saxophonist / flautist Joe Farrell and bassist Stanley Clarke. Chick later formed a group of the same name which went in a more rock / Latin direction which didn’t particularly appeal to me.

Miles Davis (1970) Bitches Brew

A hugely important and well-known jazz rock album and deservedly so. Miles is really the man to whom we owe the jazz rock genre. The original six track album is excellent but the expanded version including many out-takes and material from related sessions is also splendid. It includes my favourite track of his - “Lonely Fire” - which includes Indian instruments among the rock and jazz elements. I am a big fan of Eastern (especially Indian) influences on jazz as will be seen below.

Herbie Hancock (1971) Mwandishi

Herbie had just done an excellent album called “Fat Albert Rotunda” within the soul-jazz genre but then switched to this remarkably experimental sound. The follow-up album Crossings is just about as good but this gets the edge for being first and for having a wonderfully-stark cover.

Joe Henderson (1973) The Elements

Tenor saxophonist Joe Henderson worked here with Alice Coltrane. She was very influenced by Indian music and it is to the fore on this brilliant album.

Quincy Jones (1970) Gula Matari

Quincy is probably best known today for his work as soul / funk producer, most notably with Michael Jackson, as well as his 1950s and 1960s work as a band leader and soundtrack writer. However he did a couple of fusion albums in 1969 and 1970 – Walking in Space and Gula Matari. Both are first class but this just has the edge for me, most notably its stunning gospel-influenced version of “Bridge Over Troubled Water”.

Hubert Laws (1971) Afro-Classic

An outstanding linking of jazz rock with classical influences. Right from the first track – a cover of James Taylor’s “Fire and Rain” – it demands attention. Another highlight is the cover of “Theme From Love Story” which takes a nice but rather sentimental tune and gives it a darker edge.

Carlos Santana and John McLaughlin (1973) Love-Devotion-Surrender

I’m not normally a fan of the rockier guitar sound within jazz but this is very much an exception. Two outstanding guitarists collaborating superbly.

Tony Scott (1959) Music For Zen Meditation and Other Joys

Many may not regard this as jazz at all and I understand why, although Tony Scott is an acclaimed jazz clarinettist. On this album he works with Japanese musicians to create some extraordinary sounds. A few years later he did a similar fine album – “Music for Yoga Meditation” – with a more Indian influence but the earlier one is the best for me.

Ben Webster (1959) Meets Oscar Peterson

The only “straight” jazz album among my favourites but I could have picked many others by Ben and other tenor players. Oscar Peterson is probably the better-known performer but I think his work here as a side-man contributes to some wonderful sounds.

I'd be interested of other people's favourites, whether it's just a single album or a larger number.

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Here are a few jazz rock/fusion albums that I have heard and enjoy - unlike @Sanctuary  These albums combine jazz with other influences, notably rock, folk, symphonic or psychedelic. More information can be found here http://www.progarchives.com/subgenre.asp?style=30

Santana - Abraxas (1970)

Santana - Caravanserai (1972)

Miles Davis - Bitches Brew (1970)

Herbie Hancock - Crossings (1972)

Mahavishnu Orchestra - Birds of Fire (1973)

Mahavishnu Orchestra - The Inner Mounting Flame (1971)

Ayres Rock - Beyond (1976)

Blood, Sweat & Tears - Child is Father to the Man (1968)

Sloche - Stadacone (1976)

Modry Efekt and Radim Hladik (1974)

Modry Efekt - Svitanie (1979)

Out of Focus - Out of Focus (1971)

Opus-5 - Contre-Courant (1976)

If - If 2 (1970)

If - If 3 (1971)

If - Waterfall (1972)

Arco Iris - Sudamerica (1972)

Arte e Mestieri - Tilt (1974)

Zingale - Peace (1977)

Brother Ape - Karma (2017)

Lot Lorien and Theodosii Spassov - Live in Ohrid (2009)

Eela Craig - Eela Craig (1971)

Deux ex Machina - Cinque (2002)

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Thanks for that list Nesf. I know some of the artists and the Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock albums are huge favourites of mine but there's a lot of undiscovered territory there for me - I shall try to check out some of those sounds as I'm sure there's some excellent material there.

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