I love jazz. I love it whether it is new artists or world famous jazz players that are behind the tunes I feel in sync with my heart. Nonetheless, there are some jazz tunes that stick with you. They are timeless, it is like they never age. It may be because their creators managed to glimpse, for a short time, a profound part of what makes the human nature. Or simply because these tunes are so harmoniously balanced that the human ear cannot go without recognizing them, after hearing them for only a few times. I do not necessarily have an answer to this, but I do have something I want to tell you about: the most essential jazz tunes I believe every man should know.
One of the tracks on what is considered the most influential jazz album of all times, All Blues is the type of tune that should not need an introduction. I will humbly try to say a few things about this track from the Kind of Blue album, signed by the famous jazz artist Miles Davis. Rumor has it that Miles Davis offered his colleagues the scales and the outlines for the piece just before recording, and the second take was already considered great enough to go on the final album. What makes this tune stand out is the use of blue notes, in perfect harmony with the rest. Blue notes represent notes that are flattened or slightly bent. In All Blues, every seventh note is a blue note, which may be why the tune was named as such.
It should be difficult to write a single name under the interpreting artist for this jazz tune, for the simple reason that so many great voices attempted greatness with this one over the years, from Frank Sinatra to Ella Fitzgerald. Nonetheless, Charlie Parker seems to be the one who set the tune as a jazz standard, and for this, he deserves to have his name written next to this title. For those who want to learn to play it or sing it, the piece is more difficult than it sounds at first hearing. The perfect twisted harmonies that make this tune propelled it to immortality.
A perfect and complete artist, John Coltrane should definitely be on your list of must listen jazz players. Blue Train is a tune that stands out above the rest, mainly because of the saxophone solo that John Coltrane masters to perfection. All those who have listened to Blue Train are in an accord that this tune proves, without a doubt, how intertwined Coltrane’s life was with the music he loved so much.
It seems like a huge injustice to pick just one tune from the majestic Duke Wellington, but, since space constraints do not allow me to launch in a dissertation on the biggest creations of this renowned jazz artist, I had to do it. It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing) is one of the best known jazz standards in history and it is the one believed to be the first to ever mention the term “swing”, and I personally think that counts for something.