Music of the week: Three views of the blues, through jazz

Jul 10, 2007

My three favorite jazz-based blues albums, all timeless:

First, Ahmad Jamal's Ahmad's Blues -- the best mellow piano trio jazz/blues album ever, a live 1958 performance in an intimate nightclub setting that just wraps around you and envelops you in a mellow, sensual world of the blues. My favorite album for just relaxing at home. Instantly puts you at ease. You also immediately feel like you've been listening to it your entire life.

Second, Ray Bryant's All Blues -- wonderful straight-ahead jazz/blues piano trio, lead by the incomparable Ray Bryant, who plays with an assured rhythm and style all his own. This one always cheers me up. Great music to work to -- toe-tapping yet mellow enough to not be distracting.

Third, Miles Davis's Kind Of Blue -- perhaps the best jazz album ever, also happens to be one of the best blues albums ever. It so routinely makes the top 10 (or top 1) lists of jazz albums that you forget just how perfect it is in almost every way. Miles, John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderley, Bill Evans, Wynton Kelly -- some of the best jazz musicians of all time, in one place, playing the twentieth century's most beautiful music. This album is my refuge -- the one that's guaranteed to take me away to a place where everything just fits right.