Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Most Important Jazz Guitar Recording of All Time

I purchased my copy of the "Penguin Guide to Jazz" in 1996. It was the 1994 edition. At the time I was compiling a CD collection of jazz recordings and I used this book to find out what the most classic jazz albums were. The book is defined as follows by Wiki:
The Penguin Guide to Jazz is a reference work containing an encyclopedic directory of jazz recordings on CD which are currently available in Europe or the United States. The first nine editions were compiled by Richard Cook and Brian Morton, two well known chroniclers of jazz resident in the United Kingdom.
The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings is now firmly established as the world's leading guide to recorded jazz and the 10th edition appeared in 2010. Reviewing over 11,000 CDs, some 200 of them have been selected as the "Core Collection", "a basic library of jazz records which readers on a budget or those who wish for only a small holding of jazz CDs might consider as their first-priority purchases". So basically, these albums are considered the most essential jazz recordings.

I could not find the 2010 list but click here for the complete core collection list of the 2008 edition.

Of course, interesting for us jazz guitarists is which jazz guitar recordings are seen as essential enough to appear in the core collection. Well, the answer is a bit disappointing: not that many. Few jazz guitar recordings are seen as important enough to make it to this list. I only found 6 recordings by guitarists:
  • Wes Montgomery: "The incredible Jazz Guitar of"
  • John Scofield: "Quiet"
  • Joe Pass: "Virtuoso" (1973)
  • Grant Green: "The Complete Quartets with Sonny Clarke"
  • Pat Metheny and Charlie Haden: "Beyond the Missouri Sky"
  • Kenny Burrell: "Ellington Forever"
Depending on the edition, the core selection varies a bit over the years but Wes and Joe always seem to make it to it. Surprisingly, Django was not on the 2008 list. My two favourites of this list are "Incredible Jazz Guitar" and "Virtuoso." But there is no doubt in my mind that Wes' "Incredible Jazz Guitar" is the most essential one of the essential jazz guitar ones in the core collection. So here it is for you to listen to. The most important jazz guitar album of all time? There's certainly a number of arguments to be made for this album. But it remains a debatable issue.

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