|Long Shot's Top 15 Albums of 1954|
Second verse, same as the first. The LP is on the cusp of really coming into its own as an art form at this point, with jazz in particular benefiting from some really terrific releases. Also note the increasing prominence of Latin music, both in a more traditional form and merged with jazz/African traits. (I promise there will be more interesting anecdotes/write-ups in future lists, but I'm sort of trying to catch up to where I actually am in the deep dive, so we'll have to make do for now, eh?)
|1||Clifford Brown and Max Roach|
Clifford Brown and Max Roach
Probably the gold standard of ensemble playing until the first classic Miles Davis lineup started recording. Brown and Roach are standouts here, but they don't dominate the record so much as contribute to an overall ensemble feel that is nigh untouchable.
Track pick: "Delilah"
Thelonious Monk Trio
Why, oh why, do so many sleep on this man when rattling off the list of all-time jazz greats? Maybe he wasn't as innovative as Parker and Davis, but damn if his music isn't equally as enjoyable, and arguably more so at this stage.
Track pick: "Monk's Dream"
One of be-bop's architects takes a swing at Afro-Cuban jazz, and boy, does he do a mighty fine job with it.
Track pick: "Caravan"
With The Oscar Peterson Trio
Absurdly good saxophone playing with a great backing band to keep things in order.
Track pick: "Ad Lib Blues"
Chet Baker Sings
Never an excellent example of technical brilliance, but the innocence and youth in Baker's delivery sells it, differentiating him from the more mature crooners of his day.
Track pick: "My Funny Valentine"
Songs for Young Lovers
The album that returned Sinatra to relevance, and one that set the stage for his landmark In the Wee Small Hours the following year. Already the difference between Sinatra's Columbia records and his new output is very stark.
Track pick: "A Foggy Day"
Brazilian samba music set for voice and guitar. Couldn't be lovelier.
Track pick: "O mar"
A remarkably under-appreciated singer whose name should be far more widely known.
Track pick: "Lullaby of Birdland"
Plays W.C. Handy
Perhaps the best Dixieland album of all-time, and certainly a sign that Armstrong's relevance in the 1950s was not solely due to his cheesing in films with Bing Crosby.
Track pick: "St. Louis Blues"
A Night At Birdland Vol. 1
Blakey knew how to put together a strong ensemble from the beginning, and this star-studded lineup (featuring Clifford Brown and Horace Silver) shines in this live recording.
Track pick: "Split Kick"
Track pick: "Lullaby"
Track pick: "Just One of Those Things"
The Amazing Bud Powell, Vol. 2
Track pick: "Autumn in New York"
A Night At Birdland Vol. 2
Track pick: "A Night in Tunisia"
Track pick: "Something Cool"