Jazz 100
West Coast Cool
The Best Jazz Ever Released Digitally


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BO the Gerry Mulligan Quartet With Chet Baker
The Gerry Mulligan Quartet
1952-53 [Pacific Jazz/Capitol]


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Matinee idol looks and the coolest trumpet in the west helped launch Baker to stardom while a member of Gerry Mulligan's quartet. All except one of the tracks here were recorded over an 11-month period in 1952-53. Baker's drug addiction guaranteed that the road ahead would be a rocky one - dying in suspicious circumstances in 1988.





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Django
Modern Jazz Quartet
1955 [Prestige]


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MJQ's oft-criticised popular sound also has more than its fair share of admirers. This record catalogues the pre-1955 version of the group when Kenny Clarke was still the drummer. While pianist John Lewis is generally acknowledged as the group leader, it was clearly Milt Jackson's vibraphone which defined its trademark sound.





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The Jimmy Giuffre 3
Jimmy Giuffre
1956 [Atlantic]


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With reliable backup from guitarist Jim Hall, Giuffre moves effortlessly between saxes and clarinet on several tracks. While conveniently pigeon-holed as cool, Giuffre himself liked to think of this music as "folk jazz". Cool credentials were confirmed when 'The Train & the River' featured in opening credits of the movie Jazz on a Summer's Day.





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My Fair Lady
Shelly Manne & his Friends
1956 [Contemporary]


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A cheerful band leader who knew how to cool his heels, drummer Manne made his best records for the Contemporary label from 1955-62. This one was a huge hit in its day, thanks largely to the traditional piano trio format with André Previn at the ivories. Always open to new ideas, Manne went on to work in films and run his own nightclub.





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Art Pepper Meets the Rhythm Section
Art Pepper
1957 [Contemporary]


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A chance opportunity led to altoist Art Pepper meeting up with Miles Davis' rhythm section for a 1957 jam session at LA's Contemporary Studios. The album's track listing follows the order the songs were played in the studio - giving it an undeniable sense of breathtaking spontaneity and emotion. Pepper's finest and highly recommended.





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Chet
Chet Baker
1959 [Riverside]


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After his early years with the Gerry Mulligan Quartet, followed by a successful singing career - ultra-cool trumpeter Chet Baker made a string of fine albums that are only now getting the attention they deserve. This one is an instrumental effort with pianist Bill Evans and guitarist Kenny Burrell in sensationally dreamy support.





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Time Out
The Dave Brubeck Quartet
1959 [Columbia]


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In retrospect hard to understand why this album drew so much criticism on release, but Brubeck's white middle class origins and obvious interest in classical music managed to shake more than a few conventional foundations. Brubeck penned all the record's numbers, with the exception of the mega-hit 'Take Five' by Paul Desmond.





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A Charlie Brown Christmas
Vince Guaraldi Trio
1965 [Fantasy]


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As the soundtrack for a CBS children's special, some misguided critics wrote this off as lightweight fluff. The album was voted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2007 and in 2012 made the Library of Congress's National Recording Registry list of "culturally, historically, or aesthetically important" American sound recordings. Cool as it gets.


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