Is A Love Supreme the best Jazz album ever recorded?
It depends what your personal preferences are, of course, but I think there’s a lot in its favour.
The musicianship on display is simply out of this world. In particular, I love the drumming, which is slightly inhuman in its dexterity. This display along ought to rank Elvin Jones as one of the all time greats.
It’s hard to pick between the constituent songs which make up A Love Supreme, and perhaps it’s better to consider the album as one cohesive work. It’s a deeply spiritual undertaking, something that comes across best on the first and last songs. The first piece in particular has a messianic quality due to the repetitive vocal.
But I like this one because it showcases the brilliant piano, bass and sax, on top of those golden drums.
This one came out in 1965 – at this stage I probably don’t need to tell you which album it appears on…
In the 50s, a style of classical music called “Easy Listening” became popular. Instead of multi-part epics of the traditional vein with complex musical motifs, you had short, light pieces with easy melodies.
It’s just kind of, well, easy to listen to. In this piece, from 1954’s I Love Paris, we are treated to a breezy selection of light strings and floating flutes. It’s like a sonic mojito – resplendent with summery goodness.
Legrand was only 22 when he wrote this album, kicking off a fruitful career spanning most of the 20th century, over which he created over 200 soundtracks and albums. He won three Oscars and five Grammys, plenty enough for anyone!
At the heart of this success, I think, is a natural understanding of how to create music that’s truly and utterly nice!
Sugar Minott is one of the all time greats in reggae. To me, he represents a period in reggae history where dancehall and reggae were still very much intertwined. So he tends to sing on heavier riddims, but still sings.
“Hard Time Pressure” came out in 1979. I’ve opted for the full release here, with added dancehall toasting from Captain Sinbad, and the dub. The riddim’s great, so why not!
That warm bass, the chugging drums – it’s been brought together perfectly, so it’s perhaps no surprise that the legendary Prince Jammy had a hand in producing this!
Seems crazy to think that this is 7 years old now. At the moment, beach parties and boat raves are off the table – but to be honest, this will still be lighting up tropical DJ sets for quite some time in the 21st century…
Ninetoes is actually German, from the uber cool city of Stuttgart. But typical German techno production is not on show here. This has a bright, sun kissed bounce which seems to speak to Ibiza, Brazil, Trinidad.
A lot of that is due to the earworm steel drum hook that has given this song its anthemic status. There’s even a radio edit and a music video…
It’s instantly recognisable in the mix, but one of my favourite things about the song is the way the simplicity of the bassline works so well. It’s a rhythmic, deep, undulating wave, with only a couple of notes.
And when that bassline kicks in at the two minute mark, you know you’re in business!