Twelve jazz albums to send to Mars

I have just finished reading “Incontri con musicisti straordinari –La storia del mio jazz”di Enrico Rava,maybe the first Italian musician who played with famous jazzmen in US and all over the world,such as Steve Lacy,Don Cherry,Joe Henderson,and Gato Barbieri.

I found the book very entertaining and informative,and it’s surely a recommended reading if you can read Italian. (BTW,its title could be translated as “Meeting extraordinary musicians –The history of my jazz”,in case the book is ever published in US.).

Among the many stories that Rava tells,he reports that many journalists have asked him about the 10 albums he would ship to Mars to let Martians know about jazz. The question is quite weird,IMHO,but the answer is interesting,even if he mentions a little more than just ten records.

1) Louis Armstrong and His Hot Seven (1927) – Satchmo at his best,with the absolute masterpiece Potato Head Blues. According to Woody Allen,one of the reasons for which life is worth living. More info here,and this is the Amazon page for buying it.

2) I’m coming Virginia – by Bix Beiderbecke and Frankie Trumbauer (1927),a demonstration of how modern Bix’s sound and phrasing are. Can be found in this collection.

3) Duke Ellington and the Blanton-Webster Band – The orchestra with Ben Webster and Jimmy Blanton that was active between 1940 and 1942. According to Rava,Cotton Tail,Concerto for Cootie,Ko Ko,and Conga Brava are the real jewels of this band,and can be found in the Never No Lament – The Blanton-Webster Band remastered album.

4) Any album by Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie – Rava doesn’t make any specific recommendation,but I’d suggest The Complete Savoy and Dial Master Takes,a 3-CD box that includes all Bird’s early studio recordings.

5) Billie Holliday with Teddy Wilson’s Orchestra and Lester Young (1939) – The most charming singer in jazz history,says the author. I don’t own this record and unfortunately Rava doesn’t provide more details about it. After a search on Amazon,I guess he means this album.

6) Birth of the Cool (1949-50) –by Miles Davis of course,with Gil Evans,Gerry Mulligan,John Lewis,Lee Konitz,and others. A break from bebop and the inspiration for all the West Coast jazz that followed.

7) Solo Monk – All Thelonious Monk’s records are compelling,thus picking just one is quite arbitrary.

8 ) Any recording by Gerry Mulligan and Chet Baker – It’s easy to find re-edited versions of this music,so I selected the one that returned from an internet search,The Best of the Gerry Mulligan Quartet with Chet Baker.

9) All albums by Miles Davis – Having to choose just one,Rava selects Porgy and Bess,with Gil Evans Orchestra.

10) Tijuana Moods – Charlie Mingus’ journey on this Mexico town near the border with the States.

11) Study in Brown – by Clifford Brown and Max Roach,but all records by Brown are a must-have for any trumpet player.

12) This Is Our Music – by Ornette Coleman,with Don Cherry,Charlie Haden,and Ed Blackwell. One of the best examples of the free jazz revolution.

It’s apparent that the fact that Rava is a trumpet player has affected his choices. Nevertheless,I found this list very interesting and I am going to grab the CDs I don’t have already.

I don’t listen to much pre-bebop jazz (shame on me!) thus my list would be quite different. Sooner or later I am going to publish it in this blog. By the way,what are your favorite albums?