Jazz 100
Contemporary Vocal
The Best Jazz Ever Released Digitally


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Blue Light 'Til Dawn
Cassandra Wilson
1993 [Blue Note]


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Despite being on the Blue Note label, Wilson treads a fine line between jazz and pop. Well-credentialled jazz players like Don Byron on clarinet and Olu Dara on cornet add a jazz feel, but in the end there's no escaping Wilson's commercial focus. The version of Robert Johnson's bluesy 'Come On In My Kitchen', however, is outstanding.





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All For you
Diana Krall
1995 [Impulse!]


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Before she achieved crossover mega-stardom Krall recorded two terrific jazz records for the Impulse label, the other being 1997's Love Scenes. Therefore it is ironic that All For You is a tribute to the Nat King Cole Trio. Cole too was one of the brightest stars in jazz before achieving huge popular success singing romantic pop ballads.





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New Moon Daughter
Cassandra Wilson
1996 [Blue Note]


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Critics who claim Wilson abandoned jazz with this record simply don't know what they are talking about. The set kicks of with a postmodern version of Billie Holiday's disturbing 'Strange Fruit', moving on to chart an eclectic course through tracks by the likes of Son House, Neil Young, Johnny Mercer and the Monkees… and it sounds terrific.





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Love Scenes
Diana Krall
1997 [Impulse!]


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Krall's commercial success has not dimmed her jazz pedigree in the slightest. Mega-hit Love Scenes sees the pianist/vocalist in a trio accompanied only by guitarist Russell Malone and bassist Christian McBride. No modern jazz collection would be complete without at least one of her albums - and this one is a pretty safe place to start.





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Modern Cool
Patricia Barber
1998 [Premonition]


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Urban pastiche made up mostly of originals sporting pianist/vocalist Barber's delightfully witty lyricism. While the earthier Verse from 2002 would go on to critical acclaim, Modern Cool remains a favourite with her fans. Trumpeter Dave Douglas jazzes things up and Barber proves that intelligence can work in just about any context.





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Live in Paris
Diana Krall
2002 [Verve]


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The riveting filmed version of this concert emphatically reasserted Krall's jazz credentials after a couple of overly-commercial efforts. The singer/pianist is backed by a small group for the most part, with two tracks getting the full orchestral treatment. Michael Brecker and Christian McBride cameo on Billy Joel's 'Just the Way You Are'.





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Careless Love
Madeleine Peyroux
2004 [Rounder]


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The enigmatic Peyroux waited eight years to follow up her superb Dreamland album because she "took a breather". Careless Love was worth the wait, however, with producer Larry Klein showing that he knows how to make a jazz singer sound popularly modern. The Billie Holiday influence is obvious, but not overbearing.





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Twentysomething
Jamie Cullum
2004 [Verve]


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Love him or hate him, it is hard to deny that singer-pianist Jamie Cullum has certainly made a splash. The debate is over whether or not he deserves the 'jazz' label at all. His many fans don't really care. Cullum is an energetic crooner infusing elements of jazz into what is basically a pop idiom. Jazz purists will definitely want to steer clear.


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