The list with edited prose is on page 75. The full list is below.
I spent a lot of time wrestling with the assignment before coming to the conclusion that the list should be idiosyncratic and personal. Ask twelve critics each to do a list like this and you'll probably come up with 144 different albums. I kept having to remind myself that this isn't intended to be the 12 "best" albums of the last 40 years, just the 12 most indicative of the city. Of course New York City is the jazz capital of the world, so that makes it tougher. The 40 year cutoff made it very tough too since Coltrane's Vanguard sessions, Sonny Rollins on the Bridge, and other key NYC events took place in the years before 1968.
Also its idiosyncratic because what New York City means changes from New Yorker to New Yorker.
Nonetheless it was a fun assignment and I'm delighted that it ran so vividly.
Ornette Coleman – Of Human Feelings (
The last track is called “
Arthur Blythe –
In the ‘70s,
Miles Davis – On The Corner (
The cover looks like a caricature of
The Jazz at
World Saxophone Quartet – Live at BAM (Black Saint, 1985)
Born in the lofts of the ‘70s, WSQ was equal parts soulful pop energy and avant garde elusiveness; they prefigured the entire late ‘80s/early ‘90s Knitting Factory scene, Medeski, Martin and Wood, and Sex Mob.
Brad Mehldau – The Art of the Trio 3: Live at the Village Vanguard (Warner Bros, 1998)
When pianist Brad Mehldau started doing Live at the Village Vanguard albums, jazzheads wondered WTF? With his third volume, he proved worthy of the mantle of Evans, Rollins, Coltrane, and the many others who have used that title. Also with a repertoire that began claiming creative pop as grist for improvisational flights, he pointed jazz toward a post-millennial future.
Jerry Gonzales and the
During the ‘80s, you had to live in a pretty exclusive part of
Dave Holland Quintet – Prime Directive (ECM, 2000)
The precise arrangements of this stellar combo vividly recall the panoramic gleam of Wagner era midtown and the sun drenched Saturday mornings of contemporary Greenmarkets with equal ease.
Abbey Lincoln – Abbey Sings Abbey (Verve 2007)
On a record where jazz’s best living singer proves she’s also its best living songwriter, spare arrangements liberate vocal jazz from the ballroom and the cabaret and move them to a quiet corner of
In the early ‘90s, John Zorn created the ultimate downtown music: the Ramones at CBGB meet Ornette Coleman at The Five Spot and play with Eastern European ghetto harmonies and melodic structure. The only thing more bizarre than the recipe is how well it works.
Jason Lindner – Premonition: (Stretch, 2000)
Jazz isn’t learned on the bandstand anymore; it’s studied in conservatories. In the mid ‘90s, just as those institutions were flooding
Jenny Scheinman – Crossing the Field (Koch, 2008)
An album that grew from jam sessions in Red Hook squats and became the epicenter of the new