This section includes these milestone recordings, in addition to other important figures in early jazz, swing and big band sounds. Bix Beiderbecke's understated lyricism- in direct contrast to Armstrong- can be found here, as can the jungle and sophistication of Ellington, the hot Kansas sounds of Basie, and the popular swing bands of Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw. Pioneering soloists that emerged from some of these bands included Lester Young, Coleman Hawkins, Ben Webster and Johnny Hodges and their records are here too..
Chord sequences from established tunes were now being used as the basis for newly composed melodies that were frequently played at fast tempos. An intellectual and sartorial elegance was in the air, berets were worn, goatees grown and bebop was born, largely due to Dizzy Gillespie (Diz) and Charlie Parker (Bird). This new music, harmonically and rhythmically complex and regarded by many as esoteric at the time, transformed the way jazz was played and listened to forever. Look here for Diz, Bird and other leading beboppers like Thelonious Monk, Bud Powell, Erroll Garner, Dexter Gordon & Fats Navarro.
Trane formed his own outfit after leaving Miles, creating some groundbreaking music of his own, lots of it taped by Blue Note (only 'Blue Trane' under his own leadership), Prestige (many sessions, including significant dates with Thelonious Monk) & Atlantic Records. Of the discs cut for the latter, 'Giant Steps' and 'My Favourite Things' display an apetite for experiment and a growing authority on both tenor and soprano saxophones. Moved by Ornette, he turned increasingly towards freedom and a search for things more explicitly spiritual throughout the 1960s, this period documented in an incredible series of live recordings and in the studio for Impulse. For these later sides, check out the section 'New York Is Now: Ornette & Free Jazz'.
Similarly so with Ella, possessed of an altogether different set of pipes, mellow, articulate, a fine scatter and one of the greatest performers of popular song. Her early days with Chick Webb were often novelty-orientated, though later, under the direction of Granz, she cut the songbook series for Verve (Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, Harold Arlen etc) and these are simply magnificent and indispensable documents of the singer at her peak.
Look here also for the likes of the underrated Helen Merrill, Blossom Dearie, Sarah Vaughan, Anita O'Day, and Dinah Washington, plus the great Nat 'King' Cole and Frank Sinatra.
Their recordings, made both individually and with the group they founded in 1954, The Jazz Messengers, exemplify those very characteristics and defined the style that Blue Note Records made their own imprint of. Founded in 1939 by Alfred Lion, Blue Note has consistently documented and captured the spirit of jazz in its many forms for over six decades but it was in the hybrid of hardbop that it emerged the most distinctive and fashionable record label in jazz, both musically with its high quality recordings and visually with its impeccable sleeve designs. With a revolving rota of Hubbards, Morgans and Mobleys for each others albums as leaders, these records are absolutely essential in any collection of jazz. Look here also for the best in hard bop from other labels like Prestige and Riverside.
For Columbia Records, Dave Brubeck's cerebral quartet- featuring the glorious alto of Paul Desmond- experimented with time signatures unfamiliar, scoring a hit with 'Take Five' and the album it came off, 'Time Out' (1959). Look in this section too for the likes of Andre Previn, Art Pepper, Bud Shank, Howard Rumsey's Lighthouse All-Stars, and Stan Getz's own brand of cool.
Blue Note continued to tape the funkier strains of soul jazz alongside the more experimental projects, like Dolphy's Out To Lunch, Andrew Hill's Point Of Departure and Sam Rivers' 'Fuchsia Swing Song'. Like Trane and many others, Jackie McLean became fascinated by the free jazz of Ornette Coleman and records like 'Destination Out' display perfectly how the musicians, even as early as 1963, were beginning to bid bop a fond farewell.
Trane was taking his music to even more frenzied heights of expression and spirituality, cutting the seminal 'A Love Supreme' (1964-5) and his own noisy, gestural, almost overwhelming free jazz recording, Ascension' (1965). Within months, his established rhythm section of McCoy Tyner and Elvin Jones could no longer remain in such territories, being replaced by Trane's wife Alice (who recorded her own music for Impulse after her husband's death in 1967) and Rashid Ali. Look here too for the best albums in the discographies of Cecil Taylor and Albert Ayler amongst others.
McLaughlin's brew was not only rock-derived but spiced with a mix of flamenco and eastern music, Corea's danced in classical, free jazz and Latin forms, whilst Zawinul's Weather Report was successful in bringing fusion to a mainstream audience, most notably with the commercially successful album Heavy Weather (1976). Look also in this section for albums by Jaco Pastorius and the funkier fusion of Herbie Hancock.
The 70s, 80s and 90s saw jazz evolving into a truly global music, embracing the influence of many cultures and styles. Jazz in Europe now makes an increasingly important contribution, keenly illustrated by the success of Manfred Eicher's ECM label that mixes its own blend of experimentalism with moody, classical-like ambiences. Look here for significant post-modernists that cut many albums for the label like Jan Garbarek and Eberhard Weber, plus Americans Keith Jarrett and Pat Metheny. You'll also find British modernists in this section like Tommy Smith, John Surman & Tony Coe, plus Canadians Kenny Wheeler, Paul Bley and many more.
Carl Jefferson's Concord label virtually invented the term 'mainstream' and their catalogue is home to artists that have moved swing into the modern age to establish this jazz sub-genre, like saxophonist Scott Hamilton, pianist Monty Alexander, Ruby Braff etc. Look in this section too for the greatest modern purveyors of bebop and older forms like Wynton Marsalis, plus others operating within the tradition like Americans Kenny Garrett and Roy Hargrove, plus British artists like Joe Temperley, Kathy Stobart and others.