meta-scriptNo Accreditation? No Problem! 10 Potential Routes To Get Into Jazz As A Beginner |
Bassist Charles Mingus (1922 - 1979), drummer Roy Haynes, pianist Thelonious Monk (1917 - 1982) and saxophonist Charlie Parker (1920 - 1955) perform at the Open Door, New York, New York, September 13, 1953.
(L-R) Charles Mingus, Roy Haynes, Thelonious Monk & Charlie Parker

Photo: Bob Parent/Getty Images


No Accreditation? No Problem! 10 Potential Routes To Get Into Jazz As A Beginner

Don't listen to the snobs and gatekeepers: Jazz is for you if you want it to be. Setting the pivotal figures and desert-island discs aside, here are ten ways of approaching the music that might help you finally get into it — once and for all.

GRAMMYs/Apr 13, 2022 - 04:26 pm

The search query "How do I get into jazz?" may elicit almost three billion results on Google, but here's what virtually none of the articles will tell you: the negative associations have a lot of truth to them.

Despite scores of wonderful participants, this community can look more like a bloodbath to an outsider. From finger-tenting critics and homicidal Discogs commenters to the hyper-competitive New York jazz scene, the impossibly complicated and diverse arena of jazz can seem impossible to perforate, much less enjoy. Throw in the politics, the pedagogy, and how it's all encased in academia, and other niche interests start to look mighty attractive — maybe building model airplanes.

But this is also true: you should forget all that and keep going. Because this is music, and the rest is noise. Approach it without reservations, and jazz might reveal itself as a fount of pleasure in your life. Any music blog or record-store clerk will tell you to check out the desert-island discs — Time Out, A Love Supreme, Kind of Blue — yet there's no playbook you're required to follow or mandate from the Jazz Police. If you want to kindle a relationship with jazz, the only boundaries involve what you enjoy and what you don't.

So, do you want to take the Wikipedia route and follow the history chronologically over the last century and change? You can certainly do that, although it might put you to sleep. Watch "Ken Burns Jazz" front to back and take notes? That's a classic docuseries, but it sure leaves a lot out. Take a music-appreciation course? It might be interesting, but you can also just open a streaming service and go nuts — especially if you don't feel like learning what a flatted fifth is.

The question remains: How do you get into jazz? Simple: whatever route makes you happiest.

At its core, this music is about the magic of extemporaneous human expression — which involves a spectrum of emotions, chief among them joy. So if your jazz journey feels more like a slog than a skip or a saunter, it's best to recalibrate and try again. Identify whatever makes you hate the process and dispose of it. Being lectured might be a mainstay of the jazz experience these days, but it's ultimately antithetical to the mathematical-yet-freewheeling soul of the music.

There are thousands of musical styles to enjoy in this life, but none of them will have the particular patina of Sonny Rollins at the Village Vanguard. Or Dave Brubeck at Carnegie Hall. Or Lee Morgan at Van Gelder Studio. A life without Louis Armstrong, Mary Lou Williams, Duke Ellington, Hank Mobley, John Coltrane, Wes Montgomery, Herbie Hancock, Benny Golson, Geri Allen, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Ambrose Akinmusire, Joel Ross, and everyone else — past, present, and future — is missing something significant from the garden of earthly delights.

One can't comprehensively discuss it in a hundred books — much less a single article online — and there's no perfect way to digest the canon in its entirety. So you'll never reach the bottom because no one has. And that's one of the best parts.

With that in mind, here are ten possible routes to appreciating and understanding jazz — and for heaven's sake, enjoying it — as part of your day-to-day listening.

Ask Yourself What You Want From Jazz

First, it's worth examining why you've read this article thus far and what compels you to want to get into this world. Are you looking for sheer athleticism or pure feeling? The wildest, craziest technique, or the most tasteful and soothing? Are you looking for melodies? Anti-melodies? Brazen experimentation? Adherence to tradition?

One could list artists all day in response, but let's throw out a few basic names regarding the first two qualities.

Chances are, you'll want to enjoy athleticism and emotional communication in tandem. So who had both? For the sake of argument: Charlie Parker did. So did John Coltrane. And drummer Art Blakey. Where do you start with those artists? Type "best recordings" or "best albums" into Google, plus their names. Easy. You could spend months or years checking out their work.

What of artists who leaned more on feeling than technical display? Let's talk trumpeters. Chet Baker is a perfect example — while technically limited, he could strip melodies to their essences. While Baker mostly stayed in one lane for his entire career, Miles Davis famously reinvented himself several times. Right there, you've got hundreds of albums to check out. (Though you'll probably want to head for Chet and Kind of Blue first.)

You've got numerous online resources at your disposal for those other qualities — if you haven't used Bandcamp, it's an incredible tool for jazz discovery. So the point is: first, ask what you want from this music. Because if you go looking, the chances are that you'll receive it.

Follow The Cover Art

A spectacular record is like another world you get to live in for a while, and ideally, a record cover should be a window into that space. And when it comes to jazz, it's often a hipper, more sophisticated plane of expression. And classic jazz labels — especially Blue Note Records — deliver on the album-art front.

Almost all jazz labels offer great covers, but it's worth zeroing in on Blue Note — especially since they provide some of the building blocks of the music. Go through their database and find something that catches your eye. Chances are, the contents will be worth hearing at least once.

Hank Mobley, looking relaxed, with his tenor sax hanging behind his shoulder? That's Soul Station, one of the most effortlessly elegant post-bop records ever. The monumental typography of Larry Young's Unity will lead you to one of the most majestic organ-jazz albums ever recorded. And the otherworldly cover of Melissa Aldana's 12 Stars showcases one of today's most celebrated young tenor saxophonists.

Just use the visual cues, and follow your instincts. If something doesn't click, keep looking. You'll find something captivating before you know it.

Read More: Hank Mobley's Soul Station At 60: How The Tenor Saxophonist's Mellow Masterpiece Inspires Jazz Musicians In 2020

Pick An Instrument And Go

Tenor, alto, soprano and baritone saxophone, trumpet, trombone, piano, bass, drums, vocals synthesizer, et cetera — which one do you gravitate to the most? Why not use that as a prompt for where to begin with jazz?

Then, think of the emotions you'd like that instrument to communicate. Want some fiery tenor saxophone? Coleman Hawkins is your man. Some soothing tenor? Check out Lester "Prez" Young.

And did you know both those players were at the helm of entire schools of thinking about the instrument? (Respectively, those are the "Hawk school" and the "Prez school.") Use the magic Google button and follow those lineages through the 20th century into today.

Follow Any Thread To Its Logical Limit

Jazz is a particularly fitting interest for completists and collectors — those with a nerdy streak. So once you digest the essential Herbie Hancock records, like Empyrean Isles, Head Hunters and Thrust, you can go down a rabbit hole of everything he played on, past and present. Even if something doesn't live up to the classics, it'll be fun to hear at least once.

Another fun mental game: find a goalpost and see if you can leap it in your research. Sure, you love Hank Mobley — but is there an even mellower saxophonist? Roy Brooks was a monster, but is there an even fierier drummer? Have two musicians more audibly hated each other on a joint recording than Chet Baker and Stan Getz on Stan Meets Chet?

Find what inspires, astonishes or tickles you, and keep ratcheting it up. Jazz will always deliver.

Take Critics With A Grain Of Salt

It's tempting to begin with just the masterpieces when it comes to jazz. But remember: the most vaunted selections were chosen by people just like you and us.

Case in point: if you disregard everything on Allmusic that got three stars or less, you've missed out on unrevolutionary yet totally worthwhile gems like Lou Donaldson's Hot Dog, Donald Byrd and Pepper Adams' Motor City Scene and Kenny Burrell's Soul Call.

This also applies to musicians themselves. Just because they're not venerated as once-in-a-lifetime innovators doesn't mean you shouldn't spend a lot of time with them.

"Jazz has its geniuses, but not everybody can be a total original. You need really good musicians who can do their thing in a way that is accessible to people and of a high quality," GRAMMY-winning jazz historian Dan Morgenstern said in the 2022 GRAMMYs program book, while discussing the saxophonist and composer Benny Golson.

"If everybody was a total original," he continued, "music would be very difficult to digest." As usual, it's wise to go with Morgenstern on this one. Seek out the slightly undersung players.

Begin At The Threshold Of The 1960s

For myriad reasons that can't be contained in this article, the period loosely spanning between 1958 and 1962 is a particularly sweet spot for recorded jazz.

From Sonny Clark's Cool Struttin' to Stanley Turrentine's Look Out! to Wynton Kelly's Kelly Blue, there are so many rewarding and listenable entries from this nexus point in the music — between producer extraordinaire Rudy Van Gelder's two studios, between the hard-bop and modal eras.

If you want a few particular years to dig around in, perhaps go with the end of the 1950s and beginning of the '60s — before you head backward and forward from there.

Find A Storied Club & Drop In

There are great jazz clubs all over the world — but if you're in or near New York City, you're particularly lucky. Any night of the week, there's bound to be something cutting-edge and captivating at the Village Vanguard, Smalls, Blue Note, Birdland and other venues. Drop in blind, and you probably won't be disappointed.

But if NYC isn't accessible to you, simply find the most talked-about spot near you. Because even if you don't care for what you find, identifying what you don't like is similarly important for forming your tastes.

Find Holes In Your Knowledge & Fill Them

Before we continue, did you notice that virtually all the performers in this article have been small-group jazz? Wait — what about big bands? What about crossover jazz performers? What about singers? 

Realizing something's missing from your knowledge bank isn't a bad thing — those voids are where understanding grows.

For instance: if you want to know more about '90s jazz, find an artist like trumpeter Brian Lynch, or pianist Brad Mehldau, then look up who they played with. Then who they played with, and so on.

If you don't know much about big band performers, find the essential Count Basie and Duke Ellington recordings. Then look up who played in their bands. Again, who else did they play with? Then find the other major big-band arrangers and players and ask the same questions.

Just stay curious and diligent, and you'll get where you need to be.

Read More: John Coltrane's Unearthed A Love Supreme: Live In Seattle Is A Revelation. Without This Little-Known Figure, It Wouldn't Exist.

Unthaw The Icons

This brings us to the handful of progenitors that tend to be talked about more than listened to — at least by average listeners. Why is this? It could be recording quality, or just tastes changing with time — but certain genius artists from the early- to mid-20th century can get a little frozen in time.

Do your best to hear them as human beings and not encyclopedia entries — and seek out the recordings that sound the most vital to you.

Louis Armstrong's version of "Hello Dolly!" might not be your bag, but Louis Armstrong Plays W.C. Handy is a bluesy, burning gem that remains powerful today. You may not think you like "jazz with strings" albums, but Charlie Parker With Strings contains some of his most exquisite and lyrical soloing in an accessible setting. Lionel Hampton's explosive vibraphone playing on Benny Goodman's The Famous 1938 Carnegie Hall Jazz Concert shows how he was jazz's consummate rock 'n' roller.

Becoming an "icon" over the course of decades can be a double-edged sword for pioneering musicians — so do your best to approach the greats with fresh ears.

Above All, Enjoy Yourself

Is something not clicking for you, even though you "should" like it? Quit banging your head against the wall, wondering why your tastes aren't refined enough. (There are innumerable classics that this jazz writer never puts on around the house.)

Too many times, jazz becomes a chore for people when it should be a source of pleasure. The dip and sway of an exquisite saxophone solo, a ride cymbal skipping like a stone, and a commanding vocalist at full tilt engage the heart and body even more than the head.

And if you keep trying and jazz doesn't speak to you — great! There are so many other styles of music to cherish in this life, and nobody can make you feel less-than for not feeling it.

But at the risk of pulling the "you just haven't heard the right jazz!" card, you're encouraged to try all the doors before you give up for good. There might be some you didn't even know existed. And as soon as one swings open, you're welcome inside for life.

Virtuosos, Voyagers & Visionaries: 5 Artists Pushing Jazz Into The Future

Miles Davis
Miles Davis performing at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1969

Photo: David Redfern/Redferns/Getty Images


5 Less-Discussed Miles Davis Albums You Need To Know, From 'Water Babies' To 'We Want Miles'

Despite not being mentioned nearly as much as 'Kind of Blue' or 'Bitches Brew,' these five albums are highly recommended — some for Davis neophytes, some for diehards.

GRAMMYs/Nov 3, 2023 - 09:00 pm

Joe Farnsworth couldn’t believe what he was watching. The leading straight-ahead drummer was sitting with the revered tenor saxophonist George Coleman, and a Miles Davis documentary happened to come on TV.

“This documentary went from Coltrane straight to Sam Rivers,” Farnsworth told LondonJazz News in 2023 — referring to the tenormen the eight-time GRAMMY winner and 32-time nominee employed in his so-called First and Second Great Quintets, respectively.

“What happened to ‘Four’ & More? What happened to My Funny Valentine? What happened to Seven Steps to Heaven?” Farnsworth remembered wondering. “Not a mention, man.”

Granted, Coleman’s tenure represented a transitional period for Davis’s group; his choice of tenorist would solidify in 1964 with the arrival of the 12-time GRAMMY winner and 23-time nominee Wayne Shorter. With pianist Herbie Hancock, bassist Ron Carter and drummer Tony Williams as the rhythm section — 18 GRAMMYs between them — the result was one of jazz’s all-time classic groups.

But Farnsworth’s point is well taken: in the recorded canon, jazz tends to lionize the rulebook-shredders and boundary-shatterers, at the expense of merely excellent work. But there’s not only room for both; in order to exist, the former requires the latter, and vice versa.

And given that Davis is, in many respects, the quintessential jazz musician, this wholly applies to him and his formidable discography — where the capital-P pivotal ones, like Kind of Blue and Bitches Brew, get the majority of the ink.

After you check out Seven Steps to Heaven and the like — and absorb Coleman’s important contributions to Davis’s story — take a spin through five more Davis albums that deserve more attention.

Water Babies (rec. 1967-1968, rel. 1976)

Axiomatically, anything Davis’ Second Great Quintet — and keyboardist Chick Corea and bassist Dave Holland, to boot — laid to tape is worth hearing.

But Water Babies should be of interest to any serious Miles fan because  it reveals the connective tissue between Davis’ acoustic and electric eras.

The first three tracks, “Water Babies,” “Capricorn” and “Sweet Pea” — Shorter compositions all — were retrieved from the cutting room floor circa 1968’s Nerfiti. (Tellingly, that turned out to be Davis’ final fully acoustic album.)

Tracks four and five — “Two Faced” and “Dual Mr. Tillman Anthony” — add Corea and Holland to the mix; on electric piano, Corea adds a celestial drift to the proceedings. For reasons both

Miles in the Sky (1968)

Miles Davis and George Benson on record? It happened — lucky us. The 10-time GRAMMY-winning, 25-time nominated guitar genius can be found on two tracks from the 1979 outtakes compendium Circle in the Round, and on “Paraphernalia” from Miles in the Sky.

While Water Babies is something of a dark horse for the heads, Miles in the Sky — also featuring the Second Great Quintet —is a fleet, aerodynamic stunner and one of the most unfairly slept-on entries in his discography.

Outside of the Shorter-penned “Paraphernalia,” Miles in the Sky features two Davis tunes in  “Stuff” and “Country Son,” and a Williams composition in “Black Comedy.”

It’s sterling stuff, right at the tipping point for fusion — and its obfuscation says nothing about its quality, but speaks volumes as to the volume of masterpieces in Davis’ discography.

Agharta (1965) and Pangaea (1976)

Two primo dispatches from Davis’ experimental years, capturing two concerts from the same evening in Osaka, Agharta and Pangaea are amoebic, undulating wonders.

Across the nearly 100-minute Agharta and 88-minute Pangaea, Davis and company — including alto and soprano saxophonist Sonny Fortune, and guitarists Reggie Lucas and Pate Cosey — conjure everything we expect from electric Miles.

Abstracted drones, worldbeat textures, Davis’ trumpet funneled through twisted wah-wah: check, check, and check. One critic characterized the music as “ambient yet thrashing,” compared it to “Fela Kuti jamming with Can,” and identified hints of Stockhausen, and nailed it on all three counts.

Fans of thick, heavy, electrified Miles typically reach for Bitches Brew or On the Corner first. But if those don’t completely whet your thirst, there’s a whole lot where that came from.

And given that Davis put down the horn, ravaged by illness, for six years afterward, Agharta and Pangaea represent something of a culmination of Davis as the intrepid deconstructionist.

We Want Miles (1982)

Despite what you may have heard, ‘80s Miles — his final full decade on earth, and the one where he drew heavily from pop sounds and songs — is nothing to sniff at.

From 1981’s The Man with the Horn to 1983’s Star People to 1989’s Aura, Davis produced a number of rough-hewn gems. And despite Davis’ bulldozed health during its recording, the live We Want Miles, recorded in ‘81, is among them.

Despite requiring oxygen between songs and wearing a rubber corset to keep playing, Davis is in fine form.

Plus, he’s flanked by heavyweights, from saxophonist Bill Evans (no, not that Bill Evans) to six-time GRAMMY-nominated guitarist Mike Stern and two-time GRAMMY-winning bassist Marcus Miller.

We Want Miles proves that Miles never lost his ability to produce inspired, inspiring work — no matter what his failing body or, erm, ‘80s textures threw at it.

Davis passed away in 1991, and we’ll never see his like again — so savor everything he gave us, whether illuminated or obscured by shadow.

Bird And Diz At 70: Inside Charlie Parker & Dizzy Gillespie's Final Studio Date — An Everlasting Testament To Their Brotherhood

Kendrick Lamar GRAMMY Rewind Hero
Kendrick Lamar

Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic


GRAMMY Rewind: Kendrick Lamar Honors Hip-Hop's Greats While Accepting Best Rap Album GRAMMY For 'To Pimp a Butterfly' In 2016

Upon winning the GRAMMY for Best Rap Album for 'To Pimp a Butterfly,' Kendrick Lamar thanked those that helped him get to the stage, and the artists that blazed the trail for him.

GRAMMYs/Oct 13, 2023 - 06:01 pm

Updated Friday Oct. 13, 2023 to include info about Kendrick Lamar's most recent GRAMMY wins, as of the 2023 GRAMMYs.

A GRAMMY veteran these days, Kendrick Lamar has won 17 GRAMMYs and has received 47 GRAMMY nominations overall. A sizable chunk of his trophies came from the 58th annual GRAMMY Awards in 2016, when he walked away with five — including his first-ever win in the Best Rap Album category.

This installment of GRAMMY Rewind turns back the clock to 2016, revisiting Lamar's acceptance speech upon winning Best Rap Album for To Pimp A Butterfly. Though Lamar was alone on stage, he made it clear that he wouldn't be at the top of his game without the help of a broad support system. 

"First off, all glory to God, that's for sure," he said, kicking off a speech that went on to thank his parents, who he described as his "those who gave me the responsibility of knowing, of accepting the good with the bad."

Looking for more GRAMMYs news? The 2024 GRAMMY nominations are here!

He also extended his love and gratitude to his fiancée, Whitney Alford, and shouted out his Top Dawg Entertainment labelmates. Lamar specifically praised Top Dawg's CEO, Anthony Tiffith, for finding and developing raw talent that might not otherwise get the chance to pursue their musical dreams.

"We'd never forget that: Taking these kids out of the projects, out of Compton, and putting them right here on this stage, to be the best that they can be," Lamar — a Compton native himself — continued, leading into an impassioned conclusion spotlighting some of the cornerstone rap albums that came before To Pimp a Butterfly.

"Hip-hop. Ice Cube. This is for hip-hop," he said. "This is for Snoop Dogg, Doggystyle. This is for Illmatic, this is for Nas. We will live forever. Believe that."

To Pimp a Butterfly singles "Alright" and "These Walls" earned Lamar three more GRAMMYs that night, the former winning Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song and the latter taking Best Rap/Sung Collaboration (the song features Bilal, Anna Wise and Thundercat). He also won Best Music Video for the remix of Taylor Swift's "Bad Blood." 

Lamar has since won Best Rap Album two more times, taking home the golden gramophone in 2018 for his blockbuster LP DAMN., and in 2023 for his bold fifth album, Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers.

Watch Lamar's full acceptance speech above, and check back at every Friday for more GRAMMY Rewind episodes. 

10 Essential Facts To Know About GRAMMY-Winning Rapper J. Cole

Caroline Davis' Alula
(L-R) Chris Tordini, Caroline Davis, Tyshawn Sorey, Val Jeanty

Photo: John Rogers


10 Albums That Showcase The Deep Connection Between Jazz And Electronic Music: Herbie Hancock, Flying Lotus, Caroline Davis & More

Jazz has long stretched the parameters of harmony, melody and rhythm — and when electronic music flows into it, the possibilities are even more limitless.

GRAMMYs/Sep 7, 2023 - 05:03 pm

A year and change before his 2022 death, the eminent saxophonist Pharoah Sanders released one final dispatch. That album was Promises, a meditative, collaborative album with British electronic musician Floating Points and the London Symphony Orchestra.

Promises swung open the gates for jazz and electronic music's convergence.. Not only was it an out-of-nowhere critical smash, earning "universal acclaim" as per Metacritic; it acted as an accessible entrypoint for the hipster set and beyond. 

As Pitchfork put it, "One of the year's most memorable melodies consists of a seven-note refrain repeated, with slight variation, for more than three quarters of an hour." (They declared Promises the fourth best album of the year; its neighbors included Turnstile; Tyler, the Creator; and Jazmine Sullivan.)

Since then, jazz and electronic music have continued their developments, with or without each other. But Promises struck a resonant chord, especially during the pandemic years; and when Sanders left us at 81, the music felt like his essence lingering in our midst.

Whether you're aware of that crossover favorite or simply curious about this realm, know that the rapprochement between jazz and electronic idioms goes back decades and decades.

Read on for 10 albums that exemplify this genre blend — including two released this very year.

Miles Davis - Live-Evil (1971)

As the 1960s gave away to the '70s, Miles Davis stood at his most extreme pivot point — between post-bop and modal classics and undulating, electric exploits. Straddling the studio and the stage, Live-Evil is a monument to this period of thunderous transformation.

At 100 minutes, the album's a heaving, heady listen — its dense electronic textures courtesy of revered keyboardists Keith Jarrett, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, and Joe Zawinul, as well as the combustible electric guitarist John McLaughlin. The swirling, beatless "Nem Un Talvez" is arguably Live-Evil's most demonstrative example of jazz meets electronic.

For the uninitiated as per Davis' heavier, headier work, Live-Evil is something of a Rosetta stone. From here, head backward in the eight-time GRAMMY winner and 32-time nominee's catalog — to In a Silent Way, Bitches Brew or Jack Johnson.

Or, move forward to On the Corner, Get Up With It or Aura. Wherever you move in his later discography, plenty of jazz fans wish they could hear this game-changing music for the first time.

Herbie Hancock - Future Shock (1983)

In the early 1970s, Herbie Hancock delivered a one-two punch of fusion classics — 1973's Head Hunters and 1974's Thrust — to much applause. The ensuing years told a different story.

While the 14-time GRAMMY winner and 34-time nominee's ensuing live albums tended to be well-regarded, his studio work only fitfully caught a break from the critics.

However, in 1983, Hancock struck gold in that regard: the inspired Future Shock wittily and inventively drew from electro-funk and instrumental hip-hop. Especially its single, "Rockit" — shot through with a melodic earworm, imbued with infectious DJ scratches.

Sure, it's of its time — very conspicuously so. But with hip-hop's 50th anniversary right in our rearview, "Rockit" sounds right on time.

Tim Hagans - Animation • Imagination (1999)

If electric Miles is your Miles, spring for trumpeter Tim Hagans' Animation • Imagination for an outside spin on that aesthetic.

The late, great saxophonist Bob Belden plays co-pilot here; he wrote four of its nine originals and produced the album. Guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel, synthesist Scott Kinsen, bassist David Dyson, and drummer Billy Kilson also underpin these kinetic, exploratory tunes.

The engine of Animation • Imagination is its supple and infectious sense of groove, whether in breakbeat ("Animation/Imagination"), boom bap ("Slo Mo") or any other form.

This makes the drumless moments, like "Love's Lullaby," have an indelible impact; when the drums drop out, inertia propels you forward. And on the electronics-swaddled "Snakes Kin," the delayed-out percussion less drives the music than rattles it like an angry hive.

Kurt Rosenwinkel - Heartcore (2003)

From his language to his phrasing to his liquid sound, Rosenwinkel's impact on the contemporary jazz guitar scene cannot be overstated: on any given evening in the West Village, you can probably find a New Schooler laboriously attempting to channel him.

Rosenwinkel's appeared on more than 150 albums, so where to begin with such a prodigious artist? One gateway is Heartcore, his first immersion into electronic soundscapes as a bandleader.

Throughout, the laser-focused tenor saxophonist Mark Turner is like another half of his sound. On "Our Secret World," his earthiness counter-weighs Rosenwinkel's iridescent textures; on "Blue Line," the pair blend into and timbrally imitate each other.

Q-Tip of A Tribe Called Quest co-produced Heartcore; it's as unclassifiable as the MC's most intrepid, fusionary works. "This record — it's jazz," Rosenwinkel has said. "And it's much more."

Graham Haynes - Full Circle (2007)

Cornetist, flugelhornist and trumpeter Graham Haynes may be the son of Roy Haynes, who played drums with Bird and Monk and remains one of the final living godfathers of bebop. But if he's ever faced pressure to box himself into his father's aesthetic, he's studiously disregarded it.

Along with saxophone great Steve Coleman, he was instrumental in the M-Base collective, which heralded new modes of creative expression in jazz — a genre tag it tended to reject altogether.

For Haynes, this liberatory spirit led to inspired works like Full Circle. It shows how he moved between electronic and hip-hop spheres with masterly ease, while being beholden to neither. Featuring saxophonist Ravi Coltrane, bassist Shahzad Ismaily, drummer Marcus Gilmore, and other top-flight accompanists, Full Circle is wormholes within wormholes. 

Therein, short-circuiting wonders like "1st Quadrant" rub against "Quartet Circle" and "In the Cage of Grouis Bank," which slouch toward ambient, foreboding kosmische.

Craig Taborn - Junk Magic (2004)

Steeped in brutal metal as much as the AACM, the elusive, resplendent pianist Craig Taborn is one of the most cutting-edge practitioners of "creative music." Some of his work resembles jazz, some is uncategorizably far afield.

Strains of electronic music run through Taborn's entire catalog. And his Junk Magic project, which began with his 2004 album of the same name, is a terrific gateway drug to this component of his artistry.

Junk Magic has a haunted toyshop quality; tracks like "Prismatica," "Bodies at Rest and in Motion" and "The Golden Age" thrum with shadowy, esoteric energy.

If these strange sounds resonate with you, 2020's sinewy Compass Confusion — released under the Junk Magic alias — is a logical next step. So is 2019's Golden Valley is Now, an electronics-inflected work of head-spinning propulsion and kineticism.

Flying Lotus - You're Dead! (2014)

Spanning spiritual jazz, devotional music, the avant-garde, and so much more, Alice Coltrane has belatedly gotten her flowers as a musical heavyweight; she and her sainted husband were equal and parallel forces.

Coltrane's grandnephew, Steven Bingley-Ellison — better known as Flying Lotus — inherited her multidimensional purview.

In the late 2000s, the GRAMMY-winning DJ, rapper and producer made waves with envelope-pushing works like Los Angeles; regarding his synthesis of jazz, electronic and hip-hop, 2014's You're Dead marks something of a culmination.

Flying Lotus was in stellar company on You're Dead!, from Kendrick Lamar to Snoop Dogg to Herbie Hancock and beyond; tracks like "Tesla," "Never Catch Me" and "Moment of Hesitation" show that these forms aren't mutually exclusive, but branches of the same tree.

Brad Mehldau - Finding Gabriel (2019)

As per the Big Questions, pianist Brad Mehldau is much like many of us: "I believe in God, but do not identify with any of the monotheistic religions specifically." But this hasn't diluted his searching nature: far from it.

In fact, spirituality has played a primary role in the GRAMMY winner and 13-time nominee's recent work. His 2022 album Jacob's Ladder dealt heavily in Biblical concepts — hence the title — and shot them through with the prog-rock ethos of Yes, Rush and Gentle Giant.

Where Jacob's Ladder is appealingly nerdy and top-heavy, its spiritual successor, 2019's Finding Gabriel, feels rawer and more eye-level, its jagged edges more exposed; Mehldau himself played a dizzying array of instruments, including drums and various synths.

The archetypal imagery is foreboding, as on "The Garden"; the Trump-era commentary is forthright, as on "The Prophet is a Fool." And its sense of harried tension is gorgeously released on the title track.

All this searching and striving required music without guardrails — a marriage of jazz and electronic music, in both styles' boundless reach.

Caroline Davis' Alula - Captivity (2023)

Caroline Davis isn't just an force on the New York scene; she's a consummate conceptualist.

The saxophonist and composer's work spans genres and even media; any given presentation might involve evocative dance, expansive set design, incisive poetry, or flourishing strings. She's spoken of writing music based on tactility and texture, with innovative forms of extended technique.

This perspicuous view has led to a political forthrightness: her Alula project's new album, Captivity, faces down the horrific realities of incarceration and a broken criminal justice system.

Despite the thematic weight, this work of advocacy is never preachy or stilted: it feels teeming and alive. This is a testament not only to jazz's adaptability to strange, squelching electronics, but its matrix of decades-old connections to social justice.

Within these oblong shapes and textures, Davis has a story to tell — one that's life or death.

Jason Moran/ Gilmore - Refract (2023)

At this point, it's self-evident how well these two genres mesh. And pianist Jason Moran and drummer Marcus Gilmore offer another fascinating twist: tape loops.

For a new album, Refract, the pair — who have one GRAMMY and three nominations between them — partnered with the tape loop visionary Tyler Gilmore, a.k.a.

The seed of the project was with; producer Sun Chung had broached the idea that he work with leading improvisational minds. In the studio, acted on a refractory basis, his loops commenting on, shaping and warping Moran and Gilmore's playing.

As Moran poetically put it in a statement, "I have always longed for an outside force to manipulate my piano song and drag the sound into a cistern filled with soft clay."

The line on jazz is that it's an expression of freedom. But when it comes to chips and filters and oscillators, it can always be a little more unbound.

10 Albums That Showcase The Deep Connection Between Hip-Hop And Jazz: De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest, Kendrick Lamar & More

Nas performing in 2002
Nas performing in 2002, the year of his now-iconic Webster Hall performance that will be available on vinyl as part of Record Store Day 2023.

Photo: L. Cohen/WireImage


10 Record Store Day Releases You Need This Year: Taylor Swift, Nas, Dolly Parton & More

Celebrate Record Store Day this April 22 by stocking up on new, exclusive LPs from Taylor Swift, Björk, The Rolling Stones and more at your local participating record store.

GRAMMYs/Apr 18, 2023 - 02:34 pm

From Post Malone to Peppa Pig vinyls, record stores around the world are stocking up on limited exclusive releases for Record Store Day 2023.

Held annually every April since 2007, the event honors independently owned record stores and the unity of fans and artists. This year, many stores will globally welcome more than 300 limited, exclusive records ranging from rock to jazz to rap on April 22.

With former official ambassadors including Taylor Swift, Metallica, Ozzy Osbourne, Jack White, Chuck D, and St. Vincent, Record Store Day celebrates music of all genres. And that's exactly the case with this year's lineup of special releases, spanning from Miles Davis to Beach House.

In honor of Record Store Day 2023, get excited about these 10 limited, exclusive releases dropping in your local participating store.

The 1975 — I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it: Live With The BBC Philharmonic Orchestra

Serving as the official Record Store Day UK Ambassadors this year, the 1975 take us back to 2016 with their second LP, I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it — this time, along with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra. Available for the first time on double clear vinyl, this orchestral version of the British rock band's second studio album also features a version of their breakout hit, "Chocolate."

Miles Davis — TURNAROUND: Unreleased Rare Vinyl from On the Corner

Miles Davis' album On the Corner celebrated its 50th birthday last October, and its innovation takes yet another turn on Record Store Day. Titled Turnaround, this sky-blue vinyl features four cuts from the expanded 2007 album The Complete On The Corner Sessions, also offering appearances from Herbie Hancock, Dave Liebman and Bennie Maupin.

Björk — the fossora remixes

Fill your record collection with some flora and fauna — natural, eccentric scarlet and green patterns adorn each vinyl sleeve of Björk's exclusive the fossora remixes. The release features two dynamic songs: A1 Ovule featuring Shygirl (Sega Bodega remix) and A2 Atopos (sideproject remix).

Beach House — Become

Fourteen months after psychedelic pop duo Beach House unveiled their eighth studio album, Once Twice Melody, they continue the story with a new EP. Titled Become, the five-song project — which is available on crystal-clear vinyl on Record Store Day — features five formerly unreleased songs from their 2022 LP.

Nas — Made You Look: God's Son Live 2002

Just over 20 years ago, Nas gave a spectacular performance at Webster Hall in New York City, further solidifying his status as a legend of East Coast hip-hop. The spirited 20-song concert now appears on vinyl for the first time, with familiar artwork calling back to its original DVD release in 2003.

Dolly Parton — The Monument Singles Collection 1964-1968

More than six decades into her career, Dolly Parton joins the Record Store Day fun with a celebration of her early years. The country legend's remastered singles from the 1960s are hitting record store shelves, and the special first-time collection also features liner notes from two-time GRAMMY nominee Holly George-Warren.

The Rolling Stones — Beggars Banquet

As the Rolling Stones sang of "a swirling mass of grey, blue, black, and white" on "Salt Of The Earth," the rock band's upcoming limited vinyl for Beggars Banquet will be pressed with a swirl pattern of the same four colors in tribute. The group merges classic rock with their blues roots on Beggars Banquet, and the vinyl of their 1968 critically-acclaimed album features the original artwork and window display poster.

Taylor Swift — folklore: the long pond studio sessions

In September 2020, Taylor Swift's GRAMMY-winning album folklore was reimagined at New York's Long Pond Studio with a pair of the singer's closest collaborators, Aaron Dessner (The National) and Jack Antonoff (fun./Bleachers). And in November that year, fans got to witness those sessions in a Disney+ documentary. Now, more than two years later, the serene album's acoustic studio sessions are available on vinyl for the first time, including four sides and bonus track "the lakes."

'Ol Dirty Bastard — Return to the 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version

ODB's memory lives on in the vinyl rerelease of his iconic 1995 debut album, Return to the 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version. Featuring the 2020 remasters of 15 tracks, this drop is the first posthumous release from ODB since 2011, but not the first time fans have heard his voice since then: SZA's SOS track "Forgiveless" concludes with a previously unreleased verse from the late rapper.

Donna Summer — A Hot Summer Night (40th Anniversary Edition)

This year marks the 40th anniversary of Donna Summer's momentous Hard For The Money Tour. This exclusive vinyl celebrates the Queen of Disco in all her glory, capturing her live concert at Costa Mesa's Pacific Amphitheatre from August 1983. The vinyl offers performances by special guests Musical Youth, her sisters Dara and Mary Ellen, and her eldest daughter Mimi.

The Vinyl Shortage, Explained: How Long Waits, Costly Materials & High Demand Are Changing What's On Your Turntable