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The most influential jazz compositions .... ?


Tusker

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I was having a conversation with a friend, and this question came up ...

 

Which, in your view are the most influential jazz compositions of the 20th century ...? I am not thinking of show and pop tunes that became jazz standards ... but of pieces written by jazz musicians for jazz (however you would define that). Thanks,

 

Jerry

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Hmm, I've never considered this before, but then I'm not a 'musicologist.'

 

This could be a LONG list, which I may come back to later. But some initial songs that come to mind:

 

"'Round Midnight" - definitive Monk original

 

"All Blues" - Miles' simple majory blues melody and bass groove. (This could be any Miles tune from his earlier period that started a more sophisticated jazz era.)

 

"Take Five" - because it popularized jazz for a wider audience

 

"Night In Tunesia" - Dizzy's tune became like the National Anthem of bop

 

"Satin Doll" - only as one of the many enduring Duke pieces

 

"Oleo" - I don't know when the first new melody on "I've Got Rhythm" or "rhythm changes" happened, but Sonny Rollins's tune helped lead the way for that chord progression to be almost endlessly explored.

 

"Cantaloupe Island" - only as Herbie's precursor to fusion, such as the later "Chameleon." Earlier tunes signaled fusion before this, like Herbie's "Watermelon Man" and Lee Morgan's "The Sidewinder." I just list them because of the term "influential."

 

"Birdland" - Zawinul's influential fusion hit, like his earlier popular "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy."

 

"In The Mood" - popularized big band jazz, as did many other songs like Woody Herman's "Woodchopper's Ball", etc.

 

"Spain" - Chick's written many influential songs, going back to his early stuff like "Windows"

 

... and of course, many, many more. I listed these for their influence, not necessarily as all favorite pieces of mine.

 

I didn't include conceptual pieces like Coltrane's "Giant Steps" or Ornette's tunes like "Lonely Woman" and "The Blessing" which became foundations for different 'schools' of jazz musician development. I also wouldn't include Errol Garner's "Misty", although popular, it wasn't compostionally influential in style. Also not included, non-jazz "jazz standards" like "On Green Dolphin St." or "Girl From Ipanema" - the introduction of the bossa to America and the jazz world.

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Im the furthest from an expert in this area, but Ill throw a couple of tunes against the wall for consideration/fodder:

 

Ornithology by Charlie Parker - lick used in countless jazz improv

 

Tune Up by Miles Davis classic ii-V-I exposition

 

"We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing."

- George Bernard Shaw

 

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The entire Kind of Blue album from Miles can be considered among the most influential in the entire jazz idiom. I especially like "So What" and "Blue in Green".

 

"Round Midnight" by Monk. 'nuff said.

 

"West End Blues" King Oliver - Huge influence on the likes of Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn.

 

"King Porter Stomp" - Jelly Roll Morton

 

"Goodbye Pork Pie Hat" - Charles Mingus

 

"Congeniality" - Ornette Coleman

 

"Maiden Voyage" - Herbie Hancock

 

"Bitches Brew" (the song) - Miles Davis

 

"Moment's Notice" - John Coltrane

 

There are many more, but time just doesn't permit inclusion at the moment.

 

 

 

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Giant Steps (Coltrane). So What (Miles). Some of Monk's tunes. Because whole book chapters, probably whole theses, have been written about them. If you get a set of chord changes or a voicing named after a tune I think it qualifies as influential.

Keys: Hammond SK2, Hammond SK1, Hammond SKpro, Korg Vox Continental, Waldorf STVC

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Wow. Thanks guys. I am a little awestruck by your love for this great music.

 

SK, that's a seminal list. I would include Giant Steps (for example) because of it's influence within jazz. :thu:

 

Please keep it coming.

 

Jerry

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I would like to include something by Bill Evans. A great composer.

"Waltz for Debby"

"The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench; a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. ............ There's also a negative side"

 

 

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Louis Armstrong "Struttin' With Some Barbeque", though I could have pick an one of dozen numbers from the Hot Fives/Sevens era.

 

Benny Goodman's "Sing Sing Sing" @ Carnegie Hall 1938

 

Duke Ellington w/Mahalia Jackson "Come Sunday"

 

Billie Holliday "Strange Fruit"

 

 

 

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Likes this thread.

 

If it didn't derail the thread too much it'd be interesting to see which tunes are most influential to each particular persons jazz piano playing as well.

 

Off the top of my head for me it'd be things like Begin the Beguine/Yesterdays by God himself, Giant Steps/West Park Central, West Coast Blues by Wes Montgomery, Maiden Voyage/Dolphin Dance, I Love Music by Ahmad Jamal. And I'll throw in Epistrophy/Pannonica by Monk to finish.

 

All those tunes have had a large part to play in shaping my style.

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Wow. Thanks guys. I am a little awestruck by your love for this great music.

 

SK, that's a seminal list. I would include Giant Steps (for example) because of it's influence within jazz. :thu:

 

Please keep it coming.

Jerry

Yeah, later I thought I should have included "Giant Steps" too.

 

I was trying to narrow it to jazz songs that impacted beyond jazz circles, shaping broader musical direction. So it wouldn't be so long, I tried not to fall into personal favorites, or listing influential albums like "Bitches Brew." So instead, I might think of "In A Silent Way."

 

For influential jazz compositions (but not a 'jazz tune'), I guess Gershwin's "Rhapsody In Blue" should be included.

 

Interesting idea for a thread, Tusker. :)

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All great replies.

 

I'll throw in my love for Duke Ellington compositions...Prelude to a Kiss, Come Sunday, Sophisticated Lady, I got it Bad, In a Sentimental Mode (maybe my favorite Duke tune)

 

Can't leave out Billy Strayhorn.....A Train, Lush Life, Ishfahan, Upper Medical Manhattan Medical Group ( last tune he wrote while in the hospital), Chelsea Bridge.

 

Didn't see the Benny Golson songbook mentioned....

Whisper Not, Along came Betty, Stablemates, I remember Clifford, the infamous Killer Joe.

 

Bird stuff-the aforementioned Ornithology, Confirmation, Yardbird Suite (1st real jazz tune I ever learned), Donna Lee, etc, etc,

 

Can't leave out maybe the King of modern jazz compositions, Wayne Shorter- Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum, Footprints, Speak No Evil, Nefertiti, El Gaucho, Black Nile, ESP, etc, etc.

 

Joe Henderson's Inner Urge & Recorda Me can't be left out either.

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I would like to include something by Bill Evans. A great composer.

"Waltz for Debbie"

 

Certainly one of my favorite jazz "songs" of them all, but I believe it is spelled "Debby." ;)

 

You know who's becoming a fine jazz "song"writer as well? John Scofield, that's who. Check out something like the ballad "Easy for You." I actually wrote lyrics for that one, I was so moved by its song-iness. John doesn't know about our collaboration yet...

Check out the Sweet Clementines CD at bandcamp
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What? No Fats Waller love? "Ain't Misbehavin'" has to be on this list.

 

"Straighten Up and Fly Right", "Sweet Lorraine" or any number of tunes by the Nat King Cole Trio. Very big influence on Tatum and Oscar.

 

"Tea For Two" by Art Tatum set the bar for jazz piano virtuosity.

 

The albums "Bright Size Life" and "As Falls Wichita So Falls Wichita Falls" by Pat Metheny

 

The album "Aja" by Steely Dan"

Instrumentation is meaningless - a song either stands on its own merit, or it requires bells and whistles to cover its lack of adequacy, much less quality. - kanker
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Off the top of my head for me it'd be things like Begin the Beguine/Yesterdays by God himself,

It's a mark of his influence that no one has had to ask who Kayvon is referring to!

Instrumentation is meaningless - a song either stands on its own merit, or it requires bells and whistles to cover its lack of adequacy, much less quality. - kanker
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The Kind Of Blue album (So What came to mind first, then Flamenco Sketches), Giant Steps, but some of Miles' 2nd quintet as well, I guess... Footprints, Nefertiti, E.S.P. ...

 

Weather Report/Joe Zawinul did some ground breaking work in the fusion and world music realm: stuff like Nubian Sundance, Mysterious Traveller, Freezing Fire, Black Market, Havona, Fast City... maybe even earlier, on their first albums, which are somewhat less accessible to my ears.

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A musician from Belgium, Toots Thielemans, plays chromatic harmonica. He wrote Bluesette, a nice jazz waltz that pianist Kenny Werner re-harmonized.

I interviewed Toots years ago.

Interview is posted on my web site

http://www.melodicas.com/jazz_keyboard_interviews.htm

"The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench; a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. ............ There's also a negative side"

 

 

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Most influential jazz composition(s) for fretless bass players: "Teen Town" and Jaco's take on "Donna Lee".

 

The albums "Bright Size Life" and "As Falls Wichita So Falls Wichita Falls" by Pat Metheny

+1 on "Bright Size Life" but might say "San Lorenzo" or "Phase Dance" on "the white album" (not to be confused with "The White Album" ;) ) influenced more musicians than, say, "AFWSFWF". I know those greatly influenced me.

 

Didn't see the Benny Golson songbook mentioned....

I remember Clifford

One of my favorite renditions of "I Remember Clifford" from Roy Hargrove. Luscious.

 

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Bobby Timmons composed a pair of jazz standards in "Moanin'" and "Dat Dere".

 

Tadd Dameron composed "If You Could See Me Now", "Good Bait", "Hot House" and "Lady Bird".

 

Great thread idea. :thu::cool:

PD

 

"The greatest thing you'll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return."--E. Ahbez "Nature Boy"

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For influential jazz compositions (but not a 'jazz tune'), I guess Gershwin's "Rhapsody In Blue" should be included.

 

 

Yup, for many reasons. A lot of the Great American songbook, "I got Rhythm" and "Jeepers Creepers", "The Peanut Vendor" were influential to the average Joe.

 

For the modern era, "Birdland", "Watermelon Man". I'm sure that TV themes like "Barney Miller" and "Sanford and Son" influenced many a young man in "Stage Band". :rimshot:

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I have a slightly tangent question (Dave broached it above a bit)- I and I'm sure many others consider Wayne Shorter to be one of the most influential Jazz composers ever but what compositions would you all choose in this discussion? Hmm....

 

A lot of people mentioned Giant Steps and that came to me first when I saw the topic too. Giant Steps/Countdown changes have influenced so many people it's kind of neat- in this decade I've played with Saxophonists in their 70's, 60's, 50's, 40's, 30's, and 20's and they all have something in common- lol that progression effed them up so much that they are still playing and writing it into their own music! I love it. :)

 

Naima is not a bad one either to add to the topic- I'm sure not the first out there with the pedal happening but surely an influential example.

 

What about for the organ crowd? The Sermon or Back At The Chicken Shack perhaps?

 

 

Steve- I'm definitely jealous (ok well, for many reasons but just this time)- I am a Clarence Penn fan, would love to play with him sometime.

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