In what I guess, in hindsight, was another New Year’s resolution I bought the first of the series of Jazz at 33 1/3 RPM way back in January 2016. The €4.99 introductory offer obviously helped.
That first issue was, of course, Miles Davis’ classic ‘Kind Of Blue’.
Week two, at a slightly more expensive, but still discounted offer, was Coltrane’s ‘Blue Train’. I missed that in the local shop. Week three, now at the full €19.99 was Billie Holiday, which at the time didn’t grab me, so I left it on the shelf.
Obviously the local uptake wasn’t great, and that’s where the series ended in this particular shop.
I took home my copy of ‘Kind Of Blue’, listened to it occasionally (my first time ever hearing it), then it sat on the shelf, not to be touched for more than a year.
It was some time in late 2018 when I pulled it off the shelf again and gave it another go. This time something clicked with me. Maybe it was the mood I was in, but I guess I *really* listened this time. I played it pretty constantly over a period of a week or so, while also googling reviews and articles on the making of the album itself. I think this was the first time I actually read the booklet that came with the album too.
Epiphany is probably a bit over the top, but there was certainly a dawning on me that there was this whole section of music that I, as a music lover, had completely dismissed – not just a niche genre. To me it was almost equal to claiming to love music but having never dipped your toe into something as expansive as Rock, or Soul.
Anyway, back to Google I went.
The Art of Manliness gave a nice overview of the timelines / sub-genres of jazz (AoM is a site and podcast that I often use, and would highly recommend).
I found numerous articles giving the top 10/20/50 Jazz albums of all time ( LA Weekly, for example) and an interesting take from Revive Music called Order is Everything, where they walk you through the order you should purchase albums from a few key players (more on this in another blog post).
And so it began.
I’m still a complete novice, but I’m trying to keep some structure on my listening – progressing through the development of the ’50s and ’60s; exploring deeper into genres I like, but still listening outside these genres too.
So far I think my strategy has worked. I know if I jumped straight in to some ’70s free jazz or something it would put me right off it. I feel I have to build up to that.
I went out the week after my ‘Kind of Blue’ immersion and picked up Billie Holiday’s Strange Fruit, perhaps by way of atonement for leaving her on the shelf earlier. Armstrong, Gillespie, Parker followed. Then ‘Birth of The Cool’, then into the late ’50s, and all that is on offer there.
So far, my only blip was perhaps tackling ‘Out to Lunch’ too early in my journey. But I won’t admit defeat with it yet!