Here is a list of some music that I like.  I will update this page from time to time.

25 Indispensable Jazz Records

(In alphabetical order)

This is a slightly idiosyncratic list of jazz records that I particularly enjoy.  Many worthy albums (and entire sub-genres) are not on this list, and, in the interest of breadth, I restricted myself to one offering per artist.   I felt obligated to note the alarming number of jazz greats who died tragically young. One can only imagine the incredible music that would have been produced had some of these artists lived longer. 

  1. Cannonball Adderley: Something Else
    Adderley’s exuberant alto is complemented by Miles Davis on trumpet and Art Blakey on drums.  This is Adderley’s finest recording, but I like many of his records including Nippon Soul and catchy debut Presenting Cannonball.  Sadly, Adderley died from a stroke at 46. 
  2. Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers: Moanin
    Blakey’s Jazz Messengers defined hard bop, and this is their most celebrated accomplishment.  Line line up includes Lee Morgan on  trumpet, Benny Golson on sax and Bobby Timmons on piano (who died at 38 from liver damage
    ).  Golson was soon replaced by long-time messenger Wayne Shorter, and the band produced other great records including The Freedom Rider, Roots and Herbs, A Night in Tunisia and Indestructable (with Cedar Walton on piano).  In the band's next best line-up Morgan was replaced by Freddie Hubbard, and essential recordings include Buhaina's Delight, Free for All, and Mosaic.  Also check out the earlier line-up on, Art Blakey's Jazz Messangers with Thelonious Monk, with Johnny Griffin on sax.
  3. Clifford Brown: A Study in Brown
    Trumpeter Brown treated the world to some superb jazz before dying in a car wreck at 25.
    I find this set especially enjoyable.  Another good choice is Clifford Brown & Max Roach, or for a compilation of Brown's early tracks and his moving final performance, check out The Beginning and the End.
  4. Ornette Coleman: The Shape of Jazz to Come
    Absolutely essential free jazz.  Revolutionary, liberating, and utterly enjoyable.  The Shape of Jazz to come is a great introduction to free jazz, because, though unencumbered by by the structual constraints of bop, Ornette is playing is melodic and he has not shed his bop or blues roots.  Ornette has many other great recordings, including Change of the Century and Free Jazz.
  5. John Coltrane: A Love Supreme
    One word: passion.  Giant Steps comes in second for me, but this record is extraordinary for is relentless spiritual fervor.  Coltrane produced many other outstanding records including Blue Trane, Soultrane, Lush Life, and, in the right mood, AscentionColtrane’s zeal killed him at 40, three years after A Love Supreme was released.
  6. Miles Davis: Kind of Blue
    This is astonishing music, often billed as the greatest jazz record of all time.  It is amazingly understated and utterly distinctive.  Like a great painter, Miles understand the importance of negative space.  In many moods, however, there are other Miles records that I am more likely to play.  The Prestige sessions, the collaborations with Bill Evans, the exquisite treatment of Monk’s ‘Round About Midnight, and all of his second classic quintet records between 1965 and 1967.  Bithces Brew is also
    an incredible listening experience, though it may annoy purists.
  7. Eric Dolphy: Out to Lunch
    Dolphy died at 36, the year this flawless record was released.  Enter into Dolphy’s dissonant universe and enjoy.  Dolphy was also a sideman on great records by Chales Mingus, John Coltrane, Oliver Nelson, and Ornette Coleman.
  8. Lou Donaldson: Blues Walk
    You’ll get the first track stuck in your head, but don’t stop there.  There are many gems in this delightful, bluesy romp.  Donaldson is all bop here, but his ability to write a hook also pays off on some of his soul-jazz records that he recorded after this date.  My favorite is Alligator Bogaloo.
  9. Kenny Dorham: Afro-Cuban
    Superb line-up, including Oscar Pettiford, J.J. Johnson, Hank Mobley, Horace Silver, Art Blakey, and Potato Valdez on congas!  This is swinging, high energy jazz.  My other favorite Dorham disks are Whistle Stop, Una Mas, and Matador .  Dorham died of kidney disease at 48.
  10. Duke Ellington: Far East Suite
    Others might have selected an earlier recording, or Newport, or Ellington’s extraordinary tribute to collaborator Billy Strayhorn, And His Mother Called Him Bill.  On Far East Suite, this most American composer looks beyond U.S. borders for inspiration, and the result is innovative, exceptional, and exciting.  For another enjoyable global outing, check out Afro-Eurasian Eclipse.
  11. Stan Getz: Getz/Gilberto
    The ultimate bosa nova.  This is a beautiful, alluring, breezy treat.  The title should have been Getz/Gilberto/Gilberto/Jobim.  The two Gilberto’s are Joao and Astrud, of course.  And Astrud’s debut vocals on Jobim’s Girl from Ipanema make it one of the most memorable songs in recording history.
  12. Dizzy Gillespie: At Newport
    Relentlessly exuberant jazz.  If you want to know what joy sounds like, give this a whirl.  Along with Mingus At Antibes and Ellington At Newport, one of my three favorite live jazz records.  Also check out Jazz at Massey Hall performed by "The Quinet" a ensemble comprising Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Bud Powell, Charles Mingus, and Max Roach.  Along with Theloneous Monk, Gillespie, Parker, and Powell were the most important pioneers of bebop.
  13. Dexter Gordon: Go
    Go, Dexter, go.  This is one of bop’s brightest moments.  I also enjoy Doin' Allright, Dexter Calling, One Flight Up, Our Man In Paris, and other records from the 1960s.  Gordon has been producing fine music for decades.
  14. Johnny Griffin: A Blowin’ Session
    Sizzling.  Hank Mobley and John Coltrane join Griffin in tenor tooting, and Lee Morgan blows his trumpet.  Other great dualing sax sessions include Tenor Madness with Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane and Boss Tenors with  Gene Ammons and Sonny Stitt.
  15. Rahsaan Roland Kirk: We Free Kings
    I really like this early effort from blind the brilliant horn-master, Kirk.  Kirk's Work is also enjoyable, as is Rip, Rig and Panic.  Kirk’s later records are more adventurous than these, and The Inflated Tear is not to be missed.  Also check out the funky, frenzied Blacknuss.  Kirk died from a stoke at 41.
  16. Charles Mingus: Black Saint and the Sinner Lady
    This is mind-blowing, earth-shattering music.  It is one of the greatest records ever made in any musical genre.  Mingus produced a lot of essential music.  Some of his earlier efforts are a bit more accessible than Black Saint, and the best of these is Ah Um
    Other essential Mingus records include Pithecanthropus Erectus, The Clown, Mingus Dynasty, Mingus in Wonderland, and Blues and Roots.  As an introduction, I would recommend Mingus, Mingus, Mingus, Mingus, because it combines Mingus plays some of his best early hooks with the kind of intensity that makes Black Saint so mesmerizing.
  17. Hank Mobley: Soul Station
    Mobley is often said to be overshadowed by other jazz greats.  An easy outcome, when you find yourself nestled between Mingus and Monk on an alphabetical list.  This record won’t hold a up to Coltrane’s most transcendent moments, but it is damn enjoyable.  I like every Mobley record I've ever heard, including Roll Call, Peckin' Time, Workout, No Room for Squares, and Straight No Filter.
  18. Thelonious Monk: Brilliant Corners
    Monk was an extraordinary composer, and the author of many jazz standards.  He also was a seminar figure in bepob, and his precussive piona style is one of the most distinctive sounds in jazz.  Picking just one album is a formidable challenge.  Brilliant Corners is, well, brilliant. Monk’s Music, Monk’s Dream, Criss-Cross, and the Genius of Modern Music volumes are all well-worth the price of admission. For a window into Monk's ecclectic personality (he spent his last ten years suffering from mental illness in seclusion) see the documentary, Straight No Chaser.  
  19. Lee Morgan: The Sidewinder
    Morgan’s records are very enjoyable, and the groovy mega-hit title track of this one makes it a popular choice.  Also noteworthy for an early Joe Henderson appearance.  I also like Morgan's Candy, Cornbread, Charisma, The Gigalo, and, especially, Search for a New Land.  He'd have undoubtedly made other great records if he hadn't been shot to death by his girlfriend when he was 33.
  20. Charlie Parker: Yardbird Suite
    This popular anthology has the virtue of including tracks recorded for several different labels.  Parker changed everything.  Just listen to him fly!  Unfortunately, that flight came to an end when Parker was 34.
  21. Bud Powell: The Amazing Bud Powell, vol. 1
    Powell was one of the great pioneers of bop.  Here is is joined by Fats Navarro, Max Roach, and Sonny Rollins. Un Poco Loco is a poignantly title track.  Powell suffered from debilitating a mental illness and died at 41.
  22. Sonny Rollins: Saxophone Colossus
     An entry on every jazz list. This is a rich, energetic, and highly accessible record.  Every track offers something different.  Rollins begins with Calypso, but moves far beyond, and he has been bringing good things to jazz ever since.  I like many other Rollins records, including The Bridge, Newk's Theme, and Sonny Side Up, with Dizzy Gillespie and Sonny Stitt.
  23. Wayne Shorter: Speak No Evil
    It’s tough to pick a favorite Shorter record.  JuJu, Etc., Adam's Apple, Night Dreamer, The Soothsayer. and Schizophrenia are all great music.  Shorter delivers sophisticated, interesting post-bop.  Speak No Evil is the most quintessential, and Herbie Hancock shines on the ivories.
  24. Horace Silver: Song for My Father
    Soulful atmospheric, and catchy.  A tribute to Silver’s Cape Verde progenitor.  For more in that spirit, check out Cape Verdean Blues.  Some of Silver's earlier records are also great, including Finger Poppin', Blowin' The Blues Away, and Six Pieces of Silver.  Silver began his career as a leader of Art Blakey's band, and Horace Silver and the Jazz Messangers is one of the classic albums of jazz. 
  25. Jimmy Smith: Back at the Chicken Shack
    Soul-jazz is sometimes dismissed because of its pop sensibility.  This record is quintessential soul, but also genre-transcendent.  It's too good to write off.  Stanley Turrentine and Kenny Burrell can be heard along with Smith’s mesmerizing Hammond organ.  Hammond fans should also check out Larry Young's Unity.  Young died from untreated pneumonia at 38.


50 Classic Punk Songs

(In alphabetical order)

Here's another slightly idiosyncratic list.  This time the genre is old-school punk and first-wave hardcore.  Innevitably, I left out dozens of songs that are equally worthy of the list.

American Punk (and Hardcore)

  1. Avengers: Car Crash
  2. The Bad Brains: Sailin’ On
  3. Black Flag: Gimme Gimme Gimme
  4. Black Randy and the Metrosquad: I Slept in an Arcade
  5. The Controllers: Electric Church
  6. The Dead Boys: All This and More
  7. The Dead Kennedys: Holiday in Cambodia
  8. The Demics: New York City
  9. Death: Freakin Out
  10. The Dickies: You Drive Me Ape
  11. The Eyes: Take a Qualude Now
  12. The Germs: Forming
  13. Geza X: The Rio Grande Hotel
  14. The Heartbreakers: I Wanna Be Loved
  15. Human Sexual Response: Jackie Onassis
  16. La Peste: Better Off Dead
  17. The Misfits: 20 Eyes
  18. Mission of Burma: That's When I Reach for My Revolver
  19. Pere Ubu: 30 Seconds Over Tokyo
  20. The Plugz: Mindless Contentment
  21. The Ramones: Sheena Is a Punk Rocker
  22. The Screamers: 122 Hours of Fear
  23. Patti Smith: Rodondo Beach
  24. The Weirdos: We Got the Neutron Bomb
  25. X: Nausea

British Punk

  1. The Adverts: Gary Gilmore's Eyes
  2. The Buzzcocks: Harmony in My Head
  3. Celia and the Mutations: You Better Believe Me
  4. The Clash: Janie Jones
  5. The Damned: Love Song
  6. Eater: Outside View
  7. The Flys: Waikiki Beach Refugees
  8. Generation X: Kiss Me Deadly
  9. The Jam: In the City
  10. The Lurkers: Love Story
  11. Menace: I’m Civilised
  12. Magazine: Shot By Both Sides
  13. 999: Chicane Destination
  14. The Only Ones: Lovers of Today
  15. Penetration: Don’t Dictate
  16. The Rezillos: Destination Venus
  17. The Ruts: Something That I Said
  18. The Sex Pistols: Seventeen
  19. Sham 69: Who Gives A Damn
  20. The Stranglers: Something Better Change
  21. Stiff Little Fingers: Gotta Get Away
  22. The Undertones: Male Model
  23. Wire: I Am The Fly
  24. Wreckless Eric: Whole Wide World
  25. X-Ray Spex: Warrior in Woolworths

10 Proto-Punk Songs

(In alphabetical order)

It's hard to say when punk began because the sound, the philosophy, and even the name were in place before the recognized emergence of the movement.  Perhaps punk began when punk sounding bands stared cutting their hair short.  In any case, these are some proto-punk faves.
  1. The Barbarians: Are Your a Boy, Or Are You a Girl?
  2. The MC5: Looking At You
  3. The Modern Lovers: Modern World
  4. The New York Dolls: Personality Crisis
  5. The Pink Fairies: City Kids
  6. The Pleasure Seakerz: What a Way to Die
  7. The Savages: The World Ain't Round, It's Square
  8. The Stooges: I Wanna Be Your Dog
  9. The Velvet Underground: I’m Waiting For My Man
  10. Television: Marquee Moon

10 Post-Punk Songs

(In alphabetical order)

Here's a list of favorite post-punk songs.  Classification is tricky here, since some bands on the punk list (Magazine, Mission of Burma, Wire, etc.) get classified as Post-Punk, but I tried to restrict this list to bands that departed from traditional punk more fully, and I generally avoided bands that clearly fall under a coherent named movement (no-wave, new romantic, etc.).
  1. Birthday Party: Mutiny in Heaven
  2. The Fall: Totally Wired
  3. Gang of Four: Love Like Anthrax
  4. Gun Club: For the Love of Ivy
  5. Public Image Ltd.: Four Enclosed Walls
  6. Raincoats: Only Loved at Night
  7. The Slits: So Tough
  8. Suicide: Rocket USA
  9. Young Marble Giants: Credit in the Straight World
  10. XTC: Making Plans for Nigel

5 Riot Grrrls and 5 Precursors

(In alphabetical order)

The Riot Grrrl movement was one of the best outgrowths of punk.  Didn't come ex nihilo though, so I split the list with precursors.
  1. Au Pairs: We're So Cool
  2. Bush Tetras: Too Many Creeps
  3. Essential Logic: Wake Up
  4. Frightwig: Only You
  5. Sonic Youth: Cross the Breeze
  1. Bikini Kill: New Radio
  2. Bratmobile: Brat Girl
  3. Huggy Bear: Her Jazz
  4. Sleater-Kinney: Dig Me Out
  5. Team Dresch: Fake Fight