Jazz 100
50s Piano
The Best Jazz Ever Released Digitally


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Concert By the Sea
Erroll Garner
1955 [Columbia]


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A bestseller in its day, if Concert By the Sea isn't Garner's best record it is certainly the one that people most remember. Garner was almost unique in the jazz world of the mid-50s in that he didn't read music and wasn't afraid to use a little showmanship in order to gain popularity. Concert bops and swings its way through 11 topnotch tracks.





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Brilliant Corners
Thelonious Monk
1956 [Riverside]


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With Max Roach and Sonny Rollins on board, this record is fraught with all the eccentricities and tensions that one might expect from such a gathering of iconoclasts. Nevertheless, it works brilliantly. Despite the complex mathematical nature of Monk's playing, Corners possesses more than enough to satisfy even the toughest of critics.





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April in Paris
Count Basie Orchestra
1956 [Verve]


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An important album in Basie's catalogue, Paris showed that he knew how to move with the times while keeping traditional orchestral jazz alive and well. The superb title track gave the band the hit it needed to keep going - and the support from guitarist Freddie Green and trumpeters Thad Jones and Joe Newman is outstanding.





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Tatum Group Masterpieces, Volume 8
Art Tatum with Ben Webster
1956 [Pablo]


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Pianist Tatum's frenetic style fits surprisingly well behind Webster's cool tenor tones. Nearly blind at birth, Tatum was one of most innovative pianists in jazz history. This record is the pick of the many fine sessions recorded by Norman Granz before Tatum died in 1956 and a great tribute to one of the most influential jazz pianists of all time.





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Monk's Music
Thelonious Monk
1957 [Riverside]


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John Coltrane cameos while Coleman Hawkins and Art Blakey contribute enough to make this record sound like a veritable explosion of ideas. An extended engagement at the Five Spot club with Coltrane on tenor was what finally put Monk over the top. Try the At Carnegie Hall (2005) set on Blue Note for more Monk/Coltrane genius.





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At the Pershing/But Not For Me
Ahmad Jamal
1958 [Chess]


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Jamal may have been completely forgotten were it not for his profound influence on Miles Davis. This is a straight reissue of his trio's chart-topping 1958 live set. The record stands out from the pack thanks to Jamal's use of silence and meticulous manipulation of volume. Well worth having, despite the short 32-minute playing time.





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Cool Struttin'
Sonny Clark
1958 [Blue Note]


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A classic Blue Note hard bopper that gets better with age. Pianist Clark is joined by young-guns Jackie McLean on alto and trumpeter Art Farmer, while the legendary Paul Chambers/Philly Joe Jones rhythm section tops things off. Clark only made a handful of records in his drug-shortened life. Struttin' has emerged as a favourite.





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Portrait In Jazz
Bill Evans Trio
1959 [Riverside]


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Bassist Scott LaFaro only had time to make two studio albums with pianist Evans before his untimely death in 1961. 'Autumn Leaves' shows how good they were together, while drummer Paul Motian shines on 'Come Rain Or Come Shine'. Although basically a set of standards, this music impresses with its inventiveness and vibrancy.


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