Look, I know as much as the next person how irritating jazz can be, how daunting and frustrating it is to get into. You’re first told to try Miles Davis, then Coltrane, then Monk. Nothing clicks and you’re stuck in a perpetual loop of trying to resonate with pieces that just aren’t meant for your ears, aren’t meant for your new age rapid lifestyle. But you and I both know how desperately you want to get into the genre, to feel every note and to enjoy the technical brilliance hidden with the layers of emotion. Well, you’re in luck, for there are contemporary and new age Jazz works that speak to a more modern audience and soul. If you’ve never liked jazz but want to get into it, these albums are for you.
Kamasi Washington – The Epic
Probably the most famous Jazz piece to come out in the decade, this grandiose piece of work lives up to its name in every way, clocking in at over 3 hours of groundbreaking musical ideas. Kamasi Washington acts both as saxophonist and bandleader to the group of musicians he’s known since high school, bringing together the big band to create both originals and modern covers of classic pieces. It may seem daunting at first, but rest assured that even just listening in the background will allow for an instrumental appreciation unlike ever before.
Friday Night in San Fransisco – Paco De Lucia, Al de Meloia, John Mclaughlin
If there’s any jazz to really revert your expectations of the genre, it’s this album. Played by three acoustic guitarists on one night of a worldwide tour. The musicians endlessly improvise and riff off each other in a flow of technical proficiency and emotional perfection. Each brings their own brand of flair to the stage, each being from different parts of the world and of different generations, allowing everyone to find a guitar to resonate and find meaning with. As well, the entire album spans no more than an hour at length, truly opening the door to get a taste while not committing to anything intense.
BadBadNotGood – IV
Undoubtedly the youngest on this list, BBNG has been making a name for themselves over the past few years after dropping out of the Humber Jazz program in Toronto. They began by covering pieces unseen in jazz, such as hip-hop, video game music and movie soundtracks. Eventually, they began to produce music for big-name artists like Daniel Caesar and Kendrick Lamar and even got the chance this year to play at the Spring/Summer 2019 Louis Vuitton fashion show. With ‘IV’, BBNG has produced their own set of original works that does at times include vocal performance, touching on emotions that the youth resonate with and can finally feel understood through.
Ryo Fukui – Scenery
For this last album, we’re going across the globe, all the way to Japan. Ryo Fukui is a legend for the only beginning to play piano at 22, eventually releasing this masterpiece at 26 and cementing himself as a jazz essential. While mostly built around his piano playing, he often brings in a band to accompany his improvisation and well-formed motifs. While it may seem like another piano-based piece of jazz, it is anything but, feeling instead like youthful innocence personified within every note and chord that happens to come to his head.
While Jazz as a whole may not be for everyone, there will always be one album amongst them all that will speak to your soul and bring emotion forward you never knew existed. In these 4 albums you may have found nothing, or the world entire. But no matter what, they’re a realization that the genre is not as old school and tradition based as it may seem, have options for all who may even have the slightest urge to get a taste of the genre.