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The Best Jazz Ever Released Digitally


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Maiden Voyage
Herbie Hancock
1965 [Blue Note]


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Miles Davis disciple Hancock shows he learned his lessons well on this outstanding set of original tracks. With Davis' band in support it is no surprise that the album's modal hard bop is played with faultless precision and efficiency. The added bonus of Freddie Hubbard on trumpet allows the record to hum with a true spirit of adventure.





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The Far East Suite
Duke Ellington
1966 [Bluebird]


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An official 1963 goodwill tour spanning the Asian sub-continent and the Middle East inspired this outstanding set from Ellington's later years. Johnny Hodges' legendary alto solo on 'Isfahan' is one of the most memorable moments in jazz - and tenor Paul Gonsalves' contribution to 'Mount Harissa' isn't too far behind. One of the Duke's best.





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The Real McCoy
McCoy Tyner
1967 [Blue Note]


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Tyner's time with John Coltrane's quartet established him as one of the most influential pianists of the post-bop era. Despite struggling for commercial success throughout much of his solo career, he managed to produce a clutch of topnotch Blue Note recordings that helped cement his reputation as one of the greats. Recommended.





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Piano Starts Here
Art Tatum
1968 [Columbia]


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Critic Scott Yanow wrote, "Tatum's quick reflexes and boundless imagination kept his improvisations filled with fresh (and sometimes futuristic) ideas that put him way ahead of his contemporaries." This remarkable record features Tatum's first four studio tracks from 1933 and another nine tracks from a 1949 solo concert. Breathtaking.





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Ptah, the El Daoud
Alice Coltrane
1970 [Impulse!]


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While nowhere near as riveting as the following year's Journey in Satchidananda, this is still an all-too-often overlooked gem from pianist Alice Coltrane. Her first album to feature horns prominently, tenors Joe Henderson and a somewhat reserved Pharoah Sanders both rise to the occasion. Spiritually Eastern, yet musically very cosmopolitan.





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Journey in Satchidananda
Alice Coltrane
1971 [Impulse!]


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John Coltrane's second wife was a fine jazz musician in her own right. Inspired by the teachings of Swami Satchidananda, this record is a certified world jazz gem. As a classically trained pianist and jazz devotee, Alice put her experience playing in her late-husband's final lineup to good use. Pharoah Sanders is a standout on soprano sax.





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Light As a Feather
Chick Corea & Return to Forever
1972 [Polydor]


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The title says it all - Feather is light and listenable electric jazz, with a touch of Latino thrown in for good measure. The recently released 2CD set contains the original album in its entirety on the first disc. This is quite simply wonderful music, with Stanley Clarke's seemingly effortless transition to electric bass an aural delight. Recommended.





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The Survivors' Suite
Keith Jarrett
1976 [ECM]


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Pianist Keith Jarrett's 'American Quartet' of the mid-70s - including Dewey Redman, Charlie Haden, and Paul Motian - is fast emerging as his superior group from that period. This record consists of two extended tracks that frequently stray into free-jazz territory, while elsewhere display a remarkably soothing sense of melody.


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