I do not pretend to have a great knowledge of jazz but I play more of it than anything else and more jazz ballads than any other type. I do my most intense writing to the comforting groves of jazz. These are all CDs I put on to start the day, end the day, or when I need to focus my writing. They are all good enough that I can just hit the replay button when I am in the middle of something. Each one is simply instrumental, which helps with the concentration. They are listed in alphabetic order as I cannot choose another order.
They are all by well known musicians who are popular for more than ballads. I will not try to summarize their extensive personal histories but link to sites that do. I picked a variety of different sites for this. I limit each artist to one CD for variety but certainly play many others by them.
John Coltrane (tenor sax) – Ballads – recorded in 1961-1962 with McCoy Tyner, Jimmy Garrison, and Elvin Jones. This one has an intensity that makes it much more for late at night than early morning. It was one I played a lot in college.
Miles Davis (trumpet) – Kind of Blue – probably his greatest, at least my favorite, recorded in 1959 with Cannonball Adderley, Paul Chambers, James Cobb, John Coltrane, Bill Evans, Wynton Kelly. These various side men appear in a number of my selections. I think the cut is one that can best write and think to with its easy flowing chorus.
Tommy Flanagan (piano) – Moodville – recorded in 1960 with Tommy Potter on bass and Ray Haynes on drums. I heard Tommy Flanagan at the Litchfield Jazz Festival in the late 1990s and picked up this CD at a table outside. It goes well with dinner.
Stan Getz (tenor sax) – Bossas and Ballads: The Lost Sessions – recorded in 1989 with Kenny Barron on piano, George Mraz on bass, and Victor Lewis on drums. It was released for the first time recently. It is not all ballads but the bossa novas are soft and flowing. This also good writing music.
Keith Jarrett (piano) – The Melody at Night, With You – recorded in 1999 these pianos solos are perfect when you want to wake up slowly. This was the first of many Keith Jarrett CDs I have purchased but the others are more upbeat, but not at all disappointing.
On Wednesday, I cover CDs by Gerry Mulligan, Charlie Parker, Art Pepper, Sonny Rollins, and Stanley Turrentine.