We’re all about helping you discover the best new music that the 21st century has to offer - and trust us, we know a thing or two about it. Sometimes, it’s only right to revisit the sounds of the old school era and celebrate the artists that paved the way for the musicians of today.
Just for you, we’ve delved deep into the vaults of the historic world of jazz and picked out 5 of our favourite albums. We highly recommend that you add these to your vinyl collection if you have one!
It’s true, nothing can beat that iconic crackling sound of a record spinning around a turntable, especially if you’re listening to a jazz legend. So, if there’s just one thing that you manage to do today, make sure it’s acquiring a piece of musical history in the form of a plastic circle.
Put your jazz coat on and come vibe with us.
1. BILLIE HOLIDAY - BILLIE HOLIDAY SINGS
Her first album offering of the 1950s, as well as her first record featuring only original material, Billie Holiday Sings presents 26 minutes of raw intensity and painstakingly mixed emotions. From pure pain, anguish, and heartache, to romance, reverie, and devotion; Holiday, or otherwise known as Lady Day was one of the greatest jazz singers of the 20th century.
Tracks such as ‘Solitude’ unearth feelings of despair and hopelessness, Holiday’s trembling voice echoing through the track like a desperate plea for help…
“With gloom everywhere
I sit and I stare
I know that I'll soon go mad.”
Pair this album with a gloomy Sunday, a glass of Cognac and a heartbreak that needs to bask in self-sorrow for a little while.
2. THELONIOUS MONK - STRAIGHT, NO CHASER
Recognised as one of the main pioneers of Bebop and the second-most recorded jazz composer in the world, Thelonious Monk provided music and inspiration to millions worldwide. He most notably inspired 7 time Grammy winner, and musical legend in her own right, Amy Winehouse.
His 1967 album Straight, No Chaser is the staple album every jazz lover should have in their collection, with the title track being a celebrated standard that is still played to this day. The record is so quintessentially Monk, with its unconventional melodies nestled between great rhythmic ideas and developments, dissonant chords, and sublime musicianship.
It’s no wonder this album has stood the test of time. A complete Monk masterpiece, Straight, No Chaser is an essential jazz album, which truly begs the question: Was Monk ever capable of making a mediocre album?
The answer is no.
3. NINA SIMONE - LITTLE GIRL BLUE
Here’s something for all you smokey jazz club lovers.
The remarkable debut album from Miss Simone is one of intimacy, sophistication, and soul. Her sultry vocals penetrate through each track, with her piano styles alternating from jazz affairs to almost baroque like performances.
Stand out tracks that elevate the hairs on the back of your neck include ‘Don’t Smoke In Bed’ and of course the title song ‘Little Girl Blue,’ Simone never losing her trademark deep, soulful, and husky tone. It’s almost impossible to fault the Simone catalogue. Her often tragic and astonishingly unique life story resonates through her work like a Shakespearean tragedy.
Listen whilst soaking in a rosewater bubble bath with a glass of your favourite red.
4. THE FABULOUS SARAH VAUGHAN WITH COUNT BASIE AND HIS ORCHESTRA
There’s no denying that Sarah Vaughan may have had one of the most perfect and purest voices ever to grace this planet. Quite fittingly, she was often referred to as the ‘Queen of Bebop’, her vocal virtuosic ability still leaving listeners in awe to this day.
The album is home to an array of standards, all possessing that vivacious Vaughan vibe. Notable tracks include ‘Perdido’, where her improvisational scats reflect the technical abilities of advanced instrumental solos, and ‘Alone’, where the deeper and more vulnerable side to her three-octave vocal range is explored.
From start to finish, the album whose accompaniment comes in the form of Count Basie’s incredible orchestra is a force to be reckoned with - but are you really surprised? Both Basie and Vaughan were phenomenal talents, so it’s no wonder this album made our list.
5. JULIE LONDON - JULIE IS HER NAME
The stunning debut from the pinup model and actress, Julie Is Her Name, set the American beauty up for a career that spanned over four decades. It introduced London to the world as a sultry, unhurried performer whose vocals oozed sex and sensuality.
The 13-track album is so perfectly simple, the minimalist approach of the laid-back electric guitar and bass allowing space and movement for London’s iconic smoky refrains.
Her interpretation of ‘I Should Care’, the second track from the list of jazz standards, is just as seductive as the album cover, her breathy tones inducing shivers from head to toe.
If you fancy yourself a romantic candlelit dinner filled with poise and glamour, then this is the record to vibe with.