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Jazz Gem Made in '57 Is a Favorite of 2005

Published: December 21, 2005

My favorite jazz record released this year, and one of my favorites of any year, was made in 1957. I first heard "Thelonious Monk Quartet With John Coltrane at Carnegie Hall" (Blue Note) at the Library of Congress in April, after the news of its discovery had been made public. It sounded pretty good then, but you can never really tell when hearing something over a high-quality sound system in front of interested parties. I have listened to it repeatedly since, and it seems to be much better than I first thought - solid, juicy, truly great.

Herb Snitzer/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images
John Coltrane performing in 1961. Recent
jazz releases featuring Coltrane illustrate the value
of live performances, and its impact on the genre.

Another of the year's new jazz records - John Coltrane's "One Down, One Up: Live at the Half Note" (Impulse) - was made in 1965. It disqualifies itself from consideration for my list of the year's best jazz albums only because it has been heard, in bits and pieces, on illegal tapes for 40 years. (I got mine from a great saxophonist who wanted to spread the word.) But it is also, I think, a masterpiece.

There's a reason why these records stand out as the year's best, and I get the sense that many people feel they know that reason. ... [MORE]




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