What are your all time favorite Jazz recordings and artists?

Bobberman

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For my first thread of the new year i thought i would turn the spotlight on Jazz and its many forms my tastes vary from the classic sounds of Dave Brubeck & Cal tjader in the 50s Wes montgomery. Jobim. And others from the 60s and the various fusion groups and artists from the 70s and 80s such as Weather Report. Bob James. John Klemmer. Chuck mangione. George Benson. Spyro gyra Larry carlton Lee ritenour Tom scott. And some obscure instrumentalists from the 80s and 90s and the early days of smooth jazz such as the Rippingtons. Kilauea. David Benoit. Etc up until the late 90s there are too many favorites of mine to list here. But now Here is where you all get to chime in. And who knows some of you just might introduce me to something different. The instrumental side of jazz has always been my favorite kind ( and some jazz vocalists are also pretty good too) So Let the proceedings begin.....
 

Rudy

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I may have to do this in multiple parts if I wanted to cover the highlights. :laugh:

I'm not much into vocals, but a couple of them are favorites and I'll get them out of the way first. Mel Tormé has done some great things, especially with the Marty Paich combos (the Dek-tette). Mel Tormé Swings Shubert Alley is one I would take to a desert island. He does sing words, but he treats his role in the band like one of an instrumentalist--his phrasing, especially. And he steps out of the way so the soloists in the band can "trade eights."

Female vocalists are a hard sell on me. I do like Diana Krall (yes, for her vocals :laugh: ), partly because she can play a piano, and also because she sings in a lower register. Others that sing in a higher register or screech--forget it. Bebel Gilberto is more in the Brazilian mode with her music, but she's another I like.

I grew up with a few jazz records in the house. My mother was into Cal Tjader, had those CTi Paul Desmond records, and a few other things, and I still like those. We had a great local radio station, WJZZ, that played a lot of the contemporary releases in the 70s and 80s, so that opened my ears a bit. Jean-Luc Ponty became a favorite when I was a teen, back when Cosmic Messenger was his newest, and I've bought everything since (and worked backwards). In other fusion, I have liked Herbie Hancock's trio of albums Head Hunters, Thrust, and Man Child. I've also been getting into Return To Forever, and some (but not all) of Chick Corea's other works. I've been a Yellowjackets fan since 1987 when Four Corners came out and have followed them since. Crusaders is another one, and I've enjoyed much of Joe Sample's solo works as well.

The crowd I ran with back then was big into the funk/jazz scene in the late 70s/early 80s, so some of those records by George Duke, Stanley Clarke, Lenny White, etc. had as much play among us as Earth Wind & Fire and their contemporaries. Maybe not strictly jazz but I don't care what it's called--music is music. Don't need a label if you like it. :)

Pat Metheny has been a big influence here as well, as much as Jean-Luc Ponty. Other than Zero Tolerance for Silence, I can't really think of anything he's ever done that I haven't liked in one way or another. A recent discovery of mine from the 90s was Jack DeJohnette's album Parallel Realities, which featured Herbie Hancock and Pat Metheny--a lot of it plays like one of Pat's albums.

I played in a couple of jazz bands in school, so that got me into that sort of music. We played some Maynard Ferguson charts, which were very popular in the 70s and 80s, so I found I liked many of his records. Some of his releases on Columbia were turds (like Hot!), but the MF Horn discs are excellent. One great investment I made was for the Mosaic 10 CD box set of his complete recordings on the Roulette label, when he was arguably in his prime. Somewhat related, I've also become a fan of some of Stan Kenton's recordings.

Shorty Rogers is another favorite, in a completely different, more easy going style than Kenton. And while he is not really known for it, Henry Mancini had a lot of great albums that were pretty much pure jazz all the way through, and utilized many of those same west coast players that Shorty had in his Giants. The two Peter Gunn albums, Combo!, Mancini '67, The Blues and The Beat, and my all-time favorite big band recording of his, Uniquely Mancini, all have a lot of good playing on them. He has had other jazz tunes among his other albums, especially on soundtracks where he might toss in one or two to use behind various scenes (like "Wiggy" from The Party soundtrack, which is spinning at the moment).

Piano trio/quartet has been a big influence for me as well--big Bill Evans fan here. And one keyboardist I enjoy a lot is Lyle Mays (who was in the Pat Metheny Group)--he was directly influenced by Evans, and I've liked all of the (sadly very few) recordings he has made. Vince Guaraldi had some great albums, and of course, plenty of Brubeck here (the box set of his complete Columbia studio albums is a treat). David Benoit has made some good albums, but some weren't quite to my liking. Albums like Waiting for Spring and Letter to Evan are two strong favorites, since they are primarily in that piano trio format I like.

For something different, some of those ECM recordings are on my favorites list. Some of Metheny's earliest recordings were on ECM, but they also have Ralph Towner, Oregon, John Abercrombie, and Eberhard Weber (among many others). Some have labeled it as "chamber jazz" and at times it seems like a precursor to New Age music (although it has far more "meat" on it than most New Age ever did).

I run hot and cold on Miles Davis. The early bebop, to me, is just boring--can't take the endless noodling. When he got to Kind of Blue, I liked that album (and I realize some of it is due to Bill Evans' participation). Not a big fan of Gil Evans, so I don't have much use for Miles Ahead, Sketches of Spain, Porgy and Bess, etc.. His second quintet was a good one, and have enjoyed the transitional Seven Steps to Heaven. I like In A Silent Way and Bitches Brew if I am in the right mood. Jack Johnson is a major highlight. Some of those 70s albums were a bit out there, like On The Corner but they still have a few tracks I like. I'm a bit of an outlier in that I liked two of those albums he did for Warner (Tutu and Amandla), and Doo-Bop was kind of a fun diversion like Herbie's North on South St.

In recent finds, I've been listening to Nicola Conte (an Italian DJ and jazz guitarist), Praful, and Four80East (out of Toronto). And I'm forgetting some.

I've liked a handful of the artists who recorded for GRP (I have many here), but to be honest, Rippingtons were kind of boring after a while. Curves Ahead was a good recording (the track "Aspen" is a favorite), but they got too repetitive. I saw them (featuring Eric Marienthal) on a really odd triple-bill with David Benoit and Jean-Luc Ponty. (Odd because the Rippingtons/Benoit crowd were the khakis and loafer types, while the Ponty fans were in the 70s t-shirts and had the long hair. :laugh: ) Benoit opened and sadly was not able to play too long of a set. Ponty's band kicked everything up a few notches, well worth seeing. As for Rippingtons...sadly, one song sounded the same as the next, and the song titles were all variations on tropical themes, and at least half of the audience left during their set. We stuck it out.

Glad we did, too--they totally floored the audience when during the encore, they ripped into a version of "Purple Haze" that gave Hendrix a run for his money. Freeman burned it up on guitar, and I think that entire band expended more energy on that one tune than they did their entire set. I think everyone had a chance to solo on that one, so it ran for maybe ten or fifteen minutes. So I can't knock them as musicians at all, but the music? They didn't even play "Aspen" which is arguably their most famous track. And the rest of it all sounded the same!

I'm probably leaving out a lot. Memory's not what it used to be. :D
 

Bobberman

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I love the GRP artists too i have a bunch of them I prefer Dave Grusin's GRP albums to everything else he ever did. I like some of the ECM and Early Pat Metheney My favorites are New Chautuaugua and Offramp. I also like some of Herbie Mann and sometimes Some of Sergio Mendes instrumental Jazz as a way of taking a break from his Brasil65 to 88 and other vocal albums i too have a Brubeck box set called," FOR ALL TIME" which has his " time out cd and other related concept albums that really helped me build my Brubeck collection i also have A Japanese import cd of "Bossa Nova USA" another personal favorite. Among many. Like you Rudy i have so much that im leaving out too. But i Love My Jazz too though.as far as The rippingtons i only have their first decade of Cds from " Moonlighting" to Black Diamond i lost track of them afterwards. I prefer their earlier stuff anyway. But i would say if they would stretch out and do something like" purple haze as Rudy described like they did live in concert but also on their albums i think they would be more versatile and more people would listen to them. But thats just my opinion.
 
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Captain Bacardi

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As Rudy says, I'll definitely have to do this in multiple posts after giving some thought to it.

Since I'm a trombonist I had started out looking for the best bone players. J.J. Johnson was the beginning for me. He was one bone player that actually has an extensive catalog. I have the Mosaic box set called The Complete Columbia Small Group Sessions, which is superb. J.J. Inc., Dial J.J. 5, the Eminent J.J. Johnson (Volumes 1 & 2). All are top notch. The Great Kai & J.J.! is the best of the Johnson/Winding dates.

Bill Watrous came on the scene in the mid-70's with his big band albums The Manhattan Wildlife Refuge and Tiger Of San Pedro. Totally mind-blowing sessions! He also did some solid small group albums on the Famous Door label, the best being 'Bone Straight Ahead.

Urbie Green was a huge influence in high school as well when I ran across the two volumes of The Persuasive Sound of Urbie Green. Another fave is Let's Face The Music And Dance. These are all big band stuff. He also did an interesting project called 21 Trombones that Enoch Light produced. Like the title says, there were 21 trombones playing on every track.

Then there was Frank Rosolino. The first time I heard him was on an album with trumpeter Conte Candoli called Conversations. That's a desert island disc for me. Other faves are his are I Play Trombone, Frank Rosolino Quintet, Free For All, and Turn Me Loose, where he also sings. He was an excellent scat singer. He also played on some Supersax albums - Chasing The Bird is my favorite. Rosolino was an extraordinary player who unfortunately had some issues.

Grachan Moncur III has a classic album on Blue Note called Evolution that I love.

A unique album by Albert Mangelsdorff, drummer Alphonse Mouzon and bassist Jaco Pastorius called Trilogue! is one not to be missed if you're into a more freer jazz sound.

More contemporary bone players I love include Steve Turre (who's in the Saturday Night Live band), who also plays sea shells. A couple of great albums are Steve Turre (on Verve) and Lotus Flower. He's an amazing composer as well. Michael Davis is another superb bone player, who has his own label called Hip-Bone Music. Absolutely love Bonetown (with Bill Reichenbach) and both volumes of Absolute Trombone, which utilizes many different bone players as well. Conrad Herwig is another amazing player. With Every Breath, New York Breed and his Latin concepts albums are great. John Fedchock leads the New York Big Band and have this great album called On The Edge that's not to be missed.

Carl Fontana is another tremendous bone player, but doesn't have many albums under his name. For years he was a Vegas guy playing in all the top big bands. He has one solo album called The Great Fontana, which is my favorite.

As I'm writing this I keep thinking "how can I forget this guy?" Just remembered Curtis Fuller, who played on Coltrane's Blue Train album (a classic!). Fuller has had some important albums such as Blues-Ette and Soul Trombone. He did a more fusiony album called Crankin' that I really like.

I know I'm forgetting some others but this should do for now as far as bone players go.
 

Captain Bacardi

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i too have a Brubeck box set called," FOR ALL TIME" which has his " time out cd and other related concept albums that really helped me build my Brubeck collection i also have A Japanese import cd of "Bossa Nova USA" another personal favorite. Among many.

Last year I bought the Columbia Studio Albums Collection 1955-1966 by the Brubeck Quartet. I got it fairly cheap as far as large box sets go and is definitely worth looking for if you're a big Brubeck fan like me. 19 total albums.
 

Bobberman

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Last year I bought the Columbia Studio Albums Collection 1955-1966 by the Brubeck Quartet. I got it fairly cheap as far as large box sets go and is definitely worth looking for if you're a big Brubeck fan like me. 19 total albums.
Is it availible on CD Captain?( And incidentally i forgot to mention i also like Brubeck's trio recordings on the Fantasy label which feature Cal Tjader and Ron Crotty.)
 

Rudy

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as far as The rippingtons i only have their first decade of Cds from " Moonlighting" to Black Diamond i lost track of them afterwards. I prefer their earlier stuff anyway. But i would say if they would stretch out and do something like" purple haze as Rudy described like they did live in concert but also on their albums i think they would be more versatile and more people would listen to them.
They pretty much stuck to recent recordings when I heard them. And I honestly can't say the music was bad, but it was not at all memorable.
 

Rudy

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Rosolino was an extraordinary player who unfortunately had some issues.
That's an understatement. :sigh: Another buddy of mine who was with the Air Force Bands is a big fan of Rosolino and I later found out that he attended the same school my dad attended, only a couple of years apart. (Cass Tech in Detroit.) He certainly is one of my favorites--easily recognizable. For lack of a better explanation, I always thought of his playing as "bursting with energy." He gets some nice solos on the Mel Tormé Shubert Alley album.

Dick Nash is another I like--he and his brother, saxophonist Ted Nash, were mainstays on Mancini's jazz albums throughout the 50s and 60s and both busy in the Hollywood movie and TV scene. Mancini wrote the track "The Brothers go to Mother's" from the Music from Peter Gunn album as a feature for them (they play the melody in tandem before splitting off for solos). And I didn't realize it until just now what the "brothers" in that song title meant. :doh: :laugh:
 

Bobberman

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They pretty much stuck to recent recordings when I heard them. And I honestly can't say the music was bad, but it was not at all memorable.
I understand but nowadays in my opinion the Rippingtons first decade cds are more memorable to me and last time i checked many of them were either out of print or very hard to find but i still enjoy their earlier music more today. Just my personal preference
 

Rudy

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I understand but nowadays in my opinion the Rippingtons first decade cds are more memorable to me and last time i checked many of them were either out of print or very hard to find but i still enjoy their earlier music more today. Just my personal preference
Yep, that's what I meant. :wink: The newer ones are the tunes which aren't so memorable. IMHO they have nothing since their GRP days like the radio favorite "Aspen" that is instantly recognizable. And I won't mention any names, but a former group member recorded some solo CDs and I had to review them. It was sad--the music was perfectly played, the sound was excellent...but the songwriting was so bland.

I wish at the time that I'd had more spare cash. We had a Barnes & Noble outlet store up in a strip mall near my house on the other side of town at the time. When Universal completely took over the GRP/MCA Jazz operations, they literally dumped the label. Most of the artists got cut from the roster, except for the high profile artists like David Benoit. They put most of the GRP catalog into cutout status. This outlet store at its best had all of those cutouts at 2-for-$5. :bigeyes: Cassettes were 2-for-$4. I did buy some CDs, but I wish I had bought more. Like you say, so many are now out of print, and other than slapping together the occasional compilation, most of these artists will likely never see their works reissued, nor can they get back their masters. (Provided they weren't incinerated in the latest Universal fire, or dumped at Iron Mountain.)

GRP was very A&M-like. Grusin was the music man, and Larry Rosen was the businessman. The label also had a unique sound, and was a strong independent up until they became part of Universal. (They first took over the MCA Jazz catalog, but then the parent company consumed both and did its massive housecleaning.)

The only label I can think of today in a similar situation is our local label Mack Avenue Records (literally three miles down the road from me). While I can't say they have a "house sound," they have signed very many major contemporary jazz artists to the label, and have three subsidiary labels. Stanley Clarke was one of the more recent acquisitions. Kevin Eubanks, Danilo Perez, Yellowjackets, Christian McBride, Stanley Jordan, Jonathan Butler, Richard Elliot, Kirk Whalum, Kyle Eastwood, Patti Austin, are all part of the family.
 

Rudy

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Last year I bought the Columbia Studio Albums Collection 1955-1966 by the Brubeck Quartet. I got it fairly cheap as far as large box sets go and is definitely worth looking for if you're a big Brubeck fan like me. 19 total albums.
I picked that one up a couple of years ago. The price was so cheap that it made sense to grab it. Even today, the lowest priced marketplace seller on amazon has it for $58.50 plus $3.99 shipping. That is just over $3 per CD. So even though it duplicated a half dozen or more that I already owned, it made getting the remaining albums much cheaper.

My Bill Withers box was similarly inexpensive. I believe it was under $30, plus shipping. Yet it included nine albums, and a booklet. I paid nearly $30 for one import CD only a year or two prior.

That Miles Davis box from the UK (?) was another killer deal when it first came along. Missed that one. And it was another where the cost per disc was around $3. But I have a couple dozen SACD titles to make up for it, including eight on Mobile Fidelity. Not $3, though. :wink:
 

Bobberman

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Yep, that's what I meant. :wink: The newer ones are the tunes which aren't so memorable. IMHO they have nothing since their GRP days like the radio favorite "Aspen" that is instantly recognizable. And I won't mention any names, but a former group member recorded some solo CDs and I had to review them. It was sad--the music was perfectly played, the sound was excellent...but the songwriting was so bland.

I wish at the time that I'd had more spare cash. We had a Barnes & Noble outlet store up in a strip mall near my house on the other side of town at the time. When Universal completely took over the GRP/MCA Jazz operations, they literally dumped the label. Most of the artists got cut from the roster, except for the high profile artists like David Benoit. They put most of the GRP catalog into cutout status. This outlet store at its best had all of those cutouts at 2-for-$5. :bigeyes: Cassettes were 2-for-$4. I did buy some CDs, but I wish I had bought more. Like you say, so many are now out of print, and other than slapping together the occasional compilation, most of these artists will likely never see their works reissued, nor can they get back their masters. (Provided they weren't incinerated in the latest Universal fire, or dumped at Iron Mountain.)

GRP was very A&M-like. Grusin was the music man, and Larry Rosen was the businessman. The label also had a unique sound, and was a strong independent up until they became part of Universal. (They first took over the MCA Jazz catalog, but then the parent company consumed both and did its massive housecleaning.)

The only label I can think of today in a similar situation is our local label Mack Avenue Records (literally three miles down the road from me). While I can't say they have a "house sound," they have signed very many major contemporary jazz artists to the label, and have three subsidiary labels. Stanley Clarke was one of the more recent acquisitions. Kevin Eubanks, Danilo Perez, Yellowjackets, Christian McBride, Stanley Jordan, Jonathan Butler, Richard Elliot, Kirk Whalum, Kyle Eastwood, Patti Austin, are all part of the family.
I agree GRP was a Lot Like A&M they had a great roster and i agree with you rudy Universal Gutted and Trashed It Just Like what they and Polygram did To A&M and all the more reason to hold on to all GRP recordings ( which i will) i think many of them were lost in that fire some years back and or dumped at Iron mountain to be forgotten about and disintegrate. In any case Its A tragic Low down Dirty shame with what happens to Great music which is why im so glad i have what i have i always said i may never be able to get them again. And i had people try to tell me " Oh Of course you will". But sadly they really don't Know what we know about how things really are. And by the way the Rippingtons " Aspen " is one of my all time favorite songs I still Love it and stilll very memorable
 

Rocketman

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Began my record collecting in 1966 with Hang on Ramsey!, picked up at an early Kmart on 7 mile rd. in Detroit (my reward for a good report card :)). That and The In Crowd are still my favorite jazz albums. Love the original Ramsey Lewis Trio with Eldee Young and Red Holt; great when recorded live.

Then there is Dave Brubeck, especially Time Out, Time Further Out, and Jazz Impressions of Japan. Remember I was able to get the mono LPs at the time for $2 each. Didn't have stereo in the house till I was 18!

By the late 60's I was into the Don Ellis Orchestra-Electric Bath, Autumn, Shock Treatment, Live at Monterey.

And finally, I still find myself playing Vince Guaraldi's 'Cast Your Fate to the Wind' over and over and over.
 

Rudy

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Began my record collecting in 1966 with Hang on Ramsey!, picked up at an early Kmart on 7 mile rd. in Detroit (my reward for a good report card :)).
A former "local"! :wave: There is not much down on 7 Mile these days! And that K-Mart is probably long gone. In fact, the last K-Mart in Detroit was a newer "Super K" at 8 Mile and Telegraph, and it closed many years ago. There is one near our house, but it is very old and tired looking inside. It is no wonder they are failing. I heard they are even going to close the original location in Garden City.

I do like Ramsey Lewis, incidentally. Some of his "electric" albums on Columbia I liked due to the connection to Earth, Wind & Fire (like the tunes "Tequila Mockingbird" and "Sun Goddess").
 

Bobberman

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A former "local"!

I do like Ramsey Lewis, incidentally. Some of his "electric" albums on Columbia I liked due to the connection to Earth, Wind & Fire (like the tunes "Tequila Mockingbird" and "Sun Goddess").
I like Ramsey Lewis as well He kept improving with time my favorite album from the 80s is "Keys to The City" from 1987 i was lucky to get that when it was originally released and today i enjoy it even more the music was a good variety of styles sometimes funky sometimes mellow and laid back. And sometimes very upbeat. Ramsey really delivered the goods for me on that album
 

Rudy

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Goin' Latin is a favorite of mine from his Chess era, and was one of his albums to feature Maurice White on drums.
 

Rocketman

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Hello Rudy :wave:. Grew up near 7 Mile and Southfield. Shocked a couple years ago when I checked Wikipedia for my old high school, Redford, only to see they tore it down!

Just finished listening again to Hang on Ramsey! That 9 minute take on Billy Boy and Hi-Heel Sneakers really gets me going. And then the finish with the audience singing along to Hang on Sloopy. Great album.
 

Rudy

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They've torn down a few of the high schools, and replaced them. Nearer to me on the east side, they took down Finney and replaced it. The historic Cass Tech high school downtown was also replaced. The district is still a mess, but at least they are trying to get things sorted.

Google Street View is a good way to "tour" the area. 7/Southfield area probably isn't too bad yet, but there are areas, like where my grandmother lived, where most of the houses on the street are gone now.

Not sure if you heard about it yet, but they recently tore down Northland Mall. The great Hudson's became a Macy's, and they closed the store which pretty much signalled the end of the mall. Macy's just announced that they will now be closing the Westland and Eastland locations. (If I'm not mistaken, Eastland was the 2nd largest, after Northland.) Eastland is already pretty much in decline, but Westland Mall has always been bustling when I've gone there. That mall was built around the Hudson's. It certainly won't be good for it!

Small world...
 

bob knack

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Smokin' at the Half-Note, Wes Montgomery and Wynton Kelly Trio.
California Dreamin, Wes Montgomery
Winelight, Grover Washington Jr.
Chameleon, Maynard Ferguson
Larry Novak Plays, Larry Novak Trio
And All That Jazz, The Steve Allen All-Stars
Woody Herman Live at the Concord Jazz Festival
 

DeeInKY

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Ramsey Lewis, there's a blast from the past.

Also, I have a fondness for the old big bands - Glenn Miller, Artie Shaw, Duke Ellington. Dad played a lot of that, and I grew to love it.
 

Bobberman

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Thread Starter
Smokin' at the Half-Note, Wes Montgomery and Wynton Kelly Trio.
California Dreamin, Wes Montgomery
Winelight, Grover Washington Jr.
Chameleon, Maynard Ferguson
Larry Novak Plays, Larry Novak Trio
And All That Jazz, The Steve Allen All-Stars
Woody Herman Live at the Concord Jazz Festival
Now there's a Variety for you i have two of those Wes Montgomery "California Dreaming" and "Winelight by Grover Washington Jr( And other albums by Him) i dont have chameleon but i have other Maynard Ferguson titles here. I was saddened by Grover's sudden passing in 1999.
 

bob knack

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I forgot Swiss Movement by Les McCann and Eddie Harris. Someone actually played a cut from it on the radio last night.
 

toeknee4bz

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Well I guess I'm kinda the odd kid out on this one, because all of my favorite "jazz" recordings come from the fusion/contemporary period of the 70s and 80s, and into the early 90s before Broadcast Architecture started dictating the Snooze fest of the "smooth jazz" format into Sominex muzak. After the mid-late 90s I just lost all interest in the genre altogether. Turn on a satellite radio channel playing contemporary sounds and it's all generic elevator music.
At any rate, I was pleasantly surprised to see Grover Washington's WINELIGHT album listed in a few others' favorites lists. The following aren't necessarily my absolute 'favorites', but they're some of the first and favorite 'jazz' albums that come to my mind (in no particular order):

WINELIGHT; TIME OUT OF MIND - Grover Washington, Jr.
WISHFUL THINKING; SUDDEN BURST OF ENERGY - Earl Klugh
TOUCHDOWN - Bob James
ONE ON ONE; TWO OF A KIND - Bob James & Earl Klugh
EUPHORIA; CALIENTE - Gato Barbieri
OUT OF THE SHADOWS; MIGRATION - Dave Grusin
PORTRAIT; EARTH RUN - Lee Ritenour
HARLEQUIN - Dave Grusin & Lee Ritenour
FEELS SO GOOD; FUN AND GAMES - Chuck Mangione
NIGHT CHARADE; MANGO TANGO - Tom Grant
MORNING DANCE - Spyro Gyra
AMERICAN GARAGE; STILL LIFE TALKING - Pat Metheny Group
NOCTURNAL PLAYGROUND - Russ Freeman
SAHARA; TOPAZ - The Rippingtons
RATAMACUE - Harvey Mason
FOURPLAY; BETWEEN THE SHEETS - Fourplay (Yeah, I know... but those first Fourplay albums were actually some "smooth jazz" albums which were really good, IMHO.)
 
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