Jazz 100
Keys to Jazz
The Best Jazz Ever Released Digitally


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Michel Plays Petrucciani
Michel Petrucciani
1988 [Blue Note]


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A full set of original compositions from superlative pianist Michel Petrucciani. As one might expect, regardless of the tempo, the playing is always complex but cohesive. Two rhythm sections are utilised, the most noted being the Gary Peacock/Roy Haynes unit on the album's first half. Guitarist John Abercrombie appears on two tracks.





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Annette
Paul Bley
1993 [hatART]


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Although he occasionally lets his avant-garde tendencies out the box, this is a relatively restrained effort from pianist Paul Bley. The album is a tribute to the music of Annette Peacock, Bley's former wife and also previously married to bassist Gary Peacock. The other key contributor is Austrian Franz Koglmann on trumpet and flugelhorn.





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Bye Bye Blackbird
Keith Jarrett
1993 [ECM]


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When former employer Miles Davis died the Keith Jarrett Trio quickly got together to make this farewell record. The album's somewhat sombre cover belies what is within, as Jarrett's piano playing is often cheerful and lively. The Gary Peacock/Jack DeJohnette rhythm section is in their usual outstanding form keeping things humming along.





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All For You
Diana Krall
1996 [Impulse!]


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Before she achieved crossover mega-stardom pianist/vocalist Diana Krall recorded two terrific jazz records for the Impulse label. 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 massive popular success singing romantic pop ballads.





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Linus & Lucy
George Winston
1996 [Windham Hill]


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This solo piano effort from George Winston featuring the music of cool icon Vince Guaraldi. It is probably fair to say that Winston's playing is much more restrained and pointed than Guaraldi's, the main reason being that he wasn't making soundtracks for cartoon character Charlie Brown's television specials. Nice album, but the originals preferred.





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Nothing Ever Was, Anyway
Marilyn Crispell
1997 [ECM]


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Bassist Gary Peacock makes a habit of performing on tribute albums to his former wife Annette Peacock, perhaps because much of her music is readily adaptable to a jazz idiom. This time it is pianist Marilyn Crispell's turn, and she doesn't disappoint. Drummer Paul Motian is the other trio member, with Annette taking vocals on one track.





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The Art of the Trio, Volume Three
Brad Mehldau
1998 [Warner]


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An achingly romantic set from Bill Evans-inspired pianist Mehldau. Half the record consists of originals, with the rest an inspired selection of standards and covers. The Jorge Rossy/Larry Grenadier rhythm section provides capable support, making this an excellent place to start exploring the work of this fine contemporary pianist.





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Viaticum
Esbjorn Svensson Trio
2005 [Spamboolimbo]


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A diving accident in June 2008 has robbed the world of one of its most talented jazz pianists-Swedish-born Esbjörn Svensson. Svensson's trio has achieved legendary status in Europe, in the process proving that jazz doesn't need to continually reinvent itself in order to sound fresh and vibrant. A superb follow-up to 2003's Seven Days of Falling.





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Book Of Angels: Astaroth Vol. 1
Jamie Saft Trio
2005 [Tzadik]


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Probably the best of a series of albums by various mostly New York-based artists playing out sets of compositions from John Zorn's Masada repertoire. Keyboardist Jamie Saft, a veteran studio musician, is in sensational form here, giving credence to his growing reputation as one of the best in the business. Zorn has to be happy with this.





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The Bright Mississippi
Allen Toussaint
2009 [Nonesuch]


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Take a 70-year-old rock and roll hall of famer from New Orleans and it is a sure bet he knows something about jazz. This record is simply saturated with laidback piano that cleverly infuses classic New Orleans sounds into a modern jazz context, with able support from clarinetist Don Byron, trumpeter Nicholas Payton and guitarist Marc Ribot.


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