Jazz 100
Worldly Pursuits
The Best Jazz Ever Released Digitally


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Fairytales
Radka Toneff & Steve Dobrogosz
1982 [Odin]


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Norway's best selling jazz album of all-time is a lilting affair laced, as its title suggests, with the country's folk influences. Tragically, vocalist Radka Toneff committed suicide weeks after its original release. Regular pianist Steve Dobrogosz forms the other half of the duo, playing with restraint suitable to Toneff's quavering fragility.





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The Spirits of Our Ancestors
Randy Weston
1991 [Verve]


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Pianist Randy Weston set out to make an album reflecting the traditional music he had heard in Morocco using local musicians. The plan fell through due to the Gulf War and instead he moved the project to New York and recruited the likes of Dizzy Gillespie, Pharoah Sanders, Dewey Redman, Idris Muhammad and Idrees Sulieman.





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Blue Camel
Rabih Abou-Khalil
1992 [Enja]


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Lebanese oud player Rabih Abou-Khalil enlists the help of trumpeter Kenny Wheeler to produce a stunning mix of Middle-Eastern sounds and modern jazz. It's so good that AllMusic reviewer Kurt Keefner said, "In both mood and scope, it can almost be characterised as a new Kind of Blue." Maybe not quite so lofty, but outstanding nonetheless.





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Buena Vista Social Club
Buena Vista Social Club
1997 [Nonesuch]


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Ry Cooder was the catalyst for bringing together some of Cuba's most renown jazz musicians and - as old as some of them were - their spirits were still well and truly alive. Vocalist Ibrahim Ferrer and pianist Rubén González are standouts. The ensuing concert tours are now legendary, especially for any lucky enough to catch one.





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The Prosthetic Cubans
Marc Ribot
1998 [Atlantic]


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Using the Latin backing band Los Cubanos Postizos, guitarist Marc Ribot brought modern sensibilities to traditional Cuban jazz in this tribute to experimental composer Arsenio Rodriguez. The more relaxed tracks on the album are the most pleasing, but the others have plenty to offer too, particularly the original composition Postizo.





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Isla
Portico Quartet
2009 [Real World]


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English outfit Portico Quartet play a soothing blend of modern creative jazz. Percussionist Duncan Bellamy provides the group with some distinction courtesy of the Hang, a Swiss invention that involves two steel sheets that are glued together to look a bit like a UFO. Well deserving of their meteoric rise in the international jazz world.





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(OST)
Lloyd Miller & the Heliocentrics
2010 [Strut]


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The perfect pairing of ethnomusicologist Dr. Lloyd Miller with UK collective The Heliocentrics makes for a listening experience that is hard to beat. This infectious brew of jazz with traditional Asian sounds might appear like kitsch on the surface, but when mastered like this is quite simply… well… groovy. What is there not to like?





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Shadow Theater
Tigran Hamasyan
2013 [Verve]


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Pianist Tigran Hamasyan's music is strongly influenced by Armenian folk tradition, and Shadow Theater is almost certainly his most jazz-oriented and most pleasing album. Mark F. Turner's review for All About Jazz commented that, "...the common thread is the inventive way the music balances ethnicity with a modernist verve."


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