Top 10 Favorite Tracks Featuring Jimmy Cobb

Ironically, I began this list a few days ago as part of a determination to recognize some of my favorite living musicians while they’re still around. Obviously not fast enough in this case, as yesterday was time to say goodbye to maestro Cobb after 91 profoundly productive years. If all he’d ever done was play with Miles Davis for a few years, his place in the history books would be secure, but his pocket was more versatile than that, while at the same time being so swinging that it helped define a musical generation (when I was in my early 20s, I recall observing that there were young drummers on the scene in NY who sounded more like Jimmy Cobb than Jimmy Cobb did). Without any further ado, here is a sampling of some of my favorite Jimmy Cobb moments among many (and with apologies for all I omitted), presented in chronological order.

Continue Reading

Top 10 Favorite Mickey Tucker tracks

Every day is a good day to listen to and celebrate Mickey Tucker’s music, but it’s his 79th birthday today, so it’s a particularly good day for it. In early 1996 I was formally introduced to Mickey Tucker’s music. I don’t always remember precise timings of such things (and had heard several of the recordings…

Continue Reading

Top 10 Favorite McCoy Tyner Tracks

While I knew it was coming, it is surreal to now inhabit a world without McCoy Tyner. If the ONLY thing he had ever done was play in the classic Coltrane quartet, people would be quite rightly eulogizing him left and right. But at the same time, he was playing on some other superlatively important albums, including some of his own, and (with apologies to fans of Paul McCartney, Diana Ross, etc.) I can’t think of a single artist whose work AFTER leaving an acknowledged “supergroup” can match McCoy’s output in terms of sheer amount, consistent quality, and scope of influence. That’s just one way in which he was a singular figure in music.

Continue Reading

Top 10 Favorite Albums of Each Decade

This is my most stupidly broad Top 10 list undertaking to date. As I started to see folks’ Top-10-(whatever)-of-the-Decade lists, I thought “gee, what are MY 10 favorite albums of the decade?” That was harmless enough, except then I thought “gee, I never compiled my top 10 albums of the 2000s either.” And so on, until I realized that I needed to break it on down by decade going ALL the way back to the 1950s, the first decade when LPs were a thing.

Continue Reading

Top 10 Favorite Criss Cross Records Tracks

This weekend came the news of the passing of Gerry Teekens, the head of the Dutch jazz label Criss Cross Records. I never personally recorded on a Criss Cross session, but what I heard about Gerry was pretty consistent: he liked the music he liked, he ran the label how he ran it, and through it all spent nearly 40 years as an important shepherd to so many wonderful jazz musicians, many of them either being given their first opportunities to record or being documented at a time when bigger labels were not interested.

Continue Reading

Top 10 Nat “King” Cole Tracks

I discovered Nat “King” Cole’s trio work early enough in my developmental process that I can’t really imagine my conception of a) swing, b) touch at the piano, or c) jazz as a vehicle for fun without his music. It’s weird for the same musician to be simultaneously hugely famous and totally underrated, but so it goes for the King, a widely-admired singer whose instrumental prowess and influence are known by far fewer. A day after his centennial, I’m still reflecting on some of his music (particularly alongside guitarist Oscar Moore and bassist Johnny Miller in the classic drum-less trio) that particularly shaped my own burgeoning musicianship – here’s some of it.

Continue Reading

Top 10 Favorite Roy Haynes tracks

Any day that Roy Haynes continues to walk the earth is a gift to humanity, and this, his 94th birthday, is a particularly opportune time to acknowledge that. His innovation, creativity, and technical mastery would already put him on the short list of drummers who’ve walked the planet. Factor in his longevity and the correspondingly long and diverse list of vital artists with whom he has played and there is really no parallel that I can think of. That I came up with 10 favorite tracks this happening is one thing, but it’s just kind of ludicrous that I did so while neglecting several of the most seminal albums in jazz history (Oliver Nelson’s “Blues and the Abstract Truth,” Chick Corea’s “Now He Sings, Now He Sobs,” etc.) and other noteworthy music by Lester Young, John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, Stan Getz, Eric Dolphy, and so on. So here are just a few tracks that I particularly enjoy, both in totality and as examples (covering a span of over 50 years) of the wonder of the drumming of Mr. Roy Haynes.

Continue Reading