Jazz 100
Duos & Duels
The Best Jazz Ever Released Digitally


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Lester Young With the Oscar Peterson Trio
Lester Young
1952 [Verve]


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Lester Young ("the Prez") is a much debated figure, with many saying the influential tenor had well and truly lost it after a stint in the army near the end of World War II. Despite drug and alcohol problems adding to the quandary, pianist Oscar Peterson's presence seems to have provided the inspiration for the tenor's superb performance here.





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Roy and Diz
Dizzy Gillespie & Roy Eldridge
1954 [Verve]


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Verve supremo Norman Granz relished the idea of pitting two talented players against each in a showdown of skills. Swing legend Eldridge was noted for his combative style, while bop icon Gillespie (who idolised him) didn't mind mixing it either. Two legendary trumpeters plus one knock-down/drag-out duel equals one great record.





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Study in Brown
Clifford Brown & Max Roach
1955 [EmArcy]


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Brown took the trumpet to new melodic heights the like of which had never been heard before and rarely since. This hard bop date with Max Roach established Brown as a force to be reckoned with and - despite dying tragically in a car accident the following year - an influential figure in the jazz world. Every note is played to perfection.





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Sonny Side Up
Dizzy Gillespie/Sonny Rollins/Sonny Stitt
1957 [Verve]


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A good old-fashioned jam session with Diz reportedly fanning the flames of tenor combat with a few strategically placed phone calls beforehand. Stitt tries to steamroll Rollins with some ferocious blowing on the album's three extended jams. Rollins doesn't take the bait, however, taking a melodically focused approach to every note played.





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Kenny Burrell & John Coltrane
Kenny Burrell & John Coltrane
1958 [Prestige]


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Yet another of Coltrane's seemingly endless jam sessions with other noted players - this time guitarist Kenny Burrell. The moving duet on 'Why Was I Born?' shows how well the two went together when they really tried. One suspects, however, that Coltrane was just biding his time - one step from unleashing the tumultuous freedom inside.





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Bags Meets Wes
Milt Jackson & Wes Montgomery
1961 [Riverside]


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Vibraphonist Milt Jackson (nicknamed 'Bags') took a break from his work with the Modern Jazz Quartet to team up with consummate guitarist Wes Montgomery on this surprisingly cohesive hard bop outing. The record's boundless blues sound terrific next to what is probably the definitive version of the ballad 'Stairway to the Stars'.





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Undercurrent
Bill Evans & Jim Hall
1962 [Blue Note]


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Following a hiatus after the death of his bass player Scott LaFaro, pianist Evans teamed with guitarist Jim Hall to make this classic and somewhat laid-back duo record. The 2002 reissue of the record features 24-bit remastering, the tracks restored to their original order and the graphic-clutter removed from the mesmerising cover photo.





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Smokin' At the Half Note
Wes Montgomery with Wynton Kelly
1965 [Verve]


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An incredible guitar with a piano that's smokin'. Thumb-picking guitarist Montgomery reels off a mind-boggling solo on 'Unit 7' that is worth the price of admission alone. Kelly's trio at the time featured drummer Jimmy Cobb and bassist Paul Chambers - both accomplished players in their own right. An easygoing hard bop set.


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