Best of the Best!

The Best Albums from the Greatest Artists in Jazz!

Copyright © 1996, 2000 by David Reitzes




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Looking for advice on the best albums from the greatest artists in jazz, artists like Wayne Shorter, Frank Sinatra, Nina Simone, Horace Silver and Matthew Shipp and more? You came to the right place.

What follows are my picks for the very Best of the Best. As of this writing, every CD listed is available for sale at, and clicking on an image will take you directly to the appropriate page, where you can listen to free audio samples with RealPlayer.



Matthew Shipp

DNA (Thirsty Ear)

Matthew Shipp is one of the most dynamic pianists on the scene today, and DNA is a crackling and often remarkably introspective duo recording with Uber-bassist William Parker, synthesizing Shipp's love of Thelonious Monk and Bud Powell with his deep feeling for the blues, folk music and the avant-garde.


Wayne Shorter

Speak No Evil (EMD/Blue Note)

This sultry session is considered by many -- Wynton Marsalis, to name one -- to be among the greatest jazz albums ever recorded. Featuring Herbie Hancock, Freddie Hubbard, Ron Carter and Tony Williams. Includes "Infant Eyes."


Horace Silver

Song for My Father
(EMD/Blue Note)

The greatest album from one of the kings of soul jazz (and jazz piano in general), featuring the oft-sampled title cut. (Sound familiar, Steely Dan fans?)


Nina Simone

Verve Jazz Masters

Intriguing and intense, no one grabs ahold of a song like Nina. This CD is drawn from the early years of her career, and ranges from jazz ("Don't Explain") to soul ("Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood") to French chanson ("Ne Me Quitte Pas"). A must-have.


Frank Sinatra (The Columbia Years)

I've Got a Crush On You

Before he was the Chairman of the Board, he was The Voice. His Columbia years (1943-1952) gave us some of the most sensuous, romantic performances of all time, the best of which are collected on this single CD.


Frank Sinatra (Best of the Capitol Years)

All the Best

Sinatra's recordings for Capitol Records (1953-1961) are unanimously considered the best of his career, as he blossomed into the Sinatra we all know, effortlessly combining joyous swing with romantic tenderness. These 2 CDs collect much of his best work from this period, including such classics as "I've Got the World on a String," "Witchcraft," "Young at Heart," "I've Got You Under My Skin" and "In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning," all digitally remastered especially for this set.


Frank Sinatra (Greatest Swingers)

Songs for Swingin' Lovers (EMD/Capitol)

Will Friedwald notes, "Film critic Ethan Morden once described Bing Crosby as a 'healer.' His function in depression and wartime America was to soothe and reassure. Frank Sinatra's mission has always been the opposite. Sinatra shocks. Sinatra jolts. Sinatra gets our pulses to race and our brains to click. He desecrates the innocence of a ballad with an all-knowing gesture or inflection that suggests there is no innocence. He taints the most cheerful of up tunes with the melancholia of the angst that requires this release. When we cry for simple black-and-white sentiment, he gives us instead a synthesis of reality -- as channeled through an extraordinary perception and technique -- that explodes in full color." What can one add but . . . PRECISELY!!


More swingers from Frank Sinatra

A Swingin' Affair!


Frank Sinatra (Greatest Ballads)

Sinatra Sings for Only the Lonely

Writes Nancy Sinatra, "In a time of nothing but brilliance, how does one album outshine the others? It seems to be a personal thing, like knowing exactly where you were and who you were with when you first heard a particular song. But many Sinatra fans feel Only the Lonely was his greatest album of ballads. This album is the one people remember today." What can one add but . . . EXACTLY!!


More classic ballads

In the Wee Small Hours


Frank Sinatra (The Reprise Years)

The Very Best of Frank Sinatra
(WEA/Warner Brothers)

Sinatra left Capitol to form his own label, Reprise. Here he scored some of the biggest hits of his career, including "Strangers in the Night," "Summer Wind," "It Was a Very Good Year," "My Kind of Town (Chicago)," "That's Life," "My Way" and "Theme from New York, New York." This excellent collection is the only CD to include all of those hits, plus "Luck Be a Lady," "The Way You Look Tonight," "Send in the Clowns," "Fly Me to the Moon" and many more.



Sun Ra

Super-Sonic Jazz

The All Music Guide writes, "Pianist, bandleader, composer, Celestial traveller and master of the swing tradition, Sun Ra remains the most wonderfully confounding figure in the entire spectrum of jazz (or, make that music in general). Rocketing out of Chicago in the mid-'50s, the Arkestra created sounds that defied their time and place, with perhaps a closer kinship to the great Black orchestras of the pre-war era than the then-current bop stylings. With his exhaustive catalog finally being unravelled, the time for the discovery of Sun Ra is here and now." The expertly remastered Jazz in Silhouette is the ideal introduction to this underrated figure, featuring some of his greatest swing masterpieces, as well as a taste of things to come. Recommended to all.




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