'If I picture myself at the start of a movie, walking down a sunny street on a Saturday morning with the whole day laid open and money in my pocket - this is the soundtrack I'm hearing as I walk...'
I was a latecomer to jazz. As a youngster, I used to think jazz was the stuff you saw Dixieland guys performing, in striped blazers and straw boaters, on Saturday night television specials. Kenny Ball and Louis Armstrong and all that. Then I bought this Blue Note compilation album called ‘A Sample of Blue Notes’ in a bargain bin at a record shop, with Cannonball Adderley, Lou Donaldson, Horace Silver, Thelonious Monk and Herbie Hancock on it… and the world changed colour slightly.
Here’s a selection of five jazz albums I wouldn’t be without (as always with these things, ask me in a few weeks and it will be a different list:
Miles Davis Quintet – Workin’
Miles has so many incarnations, not all of them easy to listen to. But my favourite period is this Quintet, with Coltrane on sax and Red Garland on piano, Philly Joe Jones on bass and Paul Chambers on bass. And I love this one for the inclusion of the ravishing ‘It Never Entered My Mind’.
Cannonball Adderley – Them Dirty Blues
Pick any Adderley album and you’ll hear the soul and the liquid joy in his playing. I also love Mercy Mercy Mercy and Love for Sale, but this one swings beautifully.
Bill Evans – You Must Believe in Spring
One of the last album the genius recorded, and it has that melancholia and sweetness of Evans at his best, all of it delivered with such gorgeous technique… it’s a must-have.
Hank Mobley – Soul Station
My single favourite jazz track of all time is on this collection – This I Dig of You. If I picture myself at the start of a movie, walking down a sunny street on a Saturday morning with the whole day laid open and money in my pocket - this is the soundtrack I'm hearing as I walk. The rest of it is glorious. Mobley was regarded as one of the middleweights of jazz saxophone, but he had such a supple and soulful approach, he was irresistible at this best. And this, I believe, is his best. Wynton Kelly on piano and Art Blakey on drums... what's not to like?
Ella & Louis on Verve
A wonderful pairing that lasted two or three albums and is a perfect mellow Sunday morning thing – those voices and the lovely band that backs them – The Oscar Peterson Quartet. What’s not to like?