Richard Brody Lists His Perfect Jazz Recordings

It’s in no way a representative list, not at all a roundup of the greats, some of whom are represented several times and some of whom don’t figure at all. (Some musicians, in their peak years, made only truly perfect recordings, one after the other; the recorded heritage of jazz, it should be reëmphasized, is an inestimably great and vast treasure.)

A few notes:

  • With all recordings, the very sound of the recording plays a large role in the psychic image that the music creates—whether it’s the narrow but intimate stage of a cramped studio, a bootleg off-the-air with static that conjures the serendipity of the moment’s preservation, or even a studio with some reverb that artificially suggests a casual public space. Sound recording is itself as much an art as a technique, but sometimes its absolute artlessness is an aesthetic as well.
  • I detect a discographical pattern—a peculiar number of first tracks of LPs, maybe a result of the happenstance of first impressions and frequent exposure, but also because producers and musicians would likely be aware of a special moment in the making.

via The New Yorker.

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