ABCs of 70s Jazz


Lug 8 2011, 16:18

Cross-posted to A Stable Reference

26 classic jazz albums from the 70s, one for each letter of the English alphabet. Not intended to be an absolute definitive best of, just a fun place to start or pick up some suggestions for further listening. There are certainly a few that I wanted that ended up getting knocked off, including albums by Woody Shaw, Gil Evans, Julius Hemphill, Mahavishnu Orchestra, and Dewey Redman. Also no posthumous John Coltrane albums. Let me know what you think. Which albums would you have instead?

Agharta - Miles Davis (1976 Columbia)
Black Beings - Frank Lowe (1973 ESP)
Conference of the Birds - Dave Holland (1972 ECM)
Dreams So Real - Gary Burton (1975 ECM)
Enchance - Billy Hart (1978 Horizon)
Fort Yawuh - Keith Jarrett (1973 Impulse!)
Gateway - Gateway (1975 ECM)
Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy - Return to Forever (1973 Polydor)
Infinite Search - Miroslav Vitous (1970 Embryo)
Jaco Pastorius - Jaco Pastorius (1976 Epic)
Karuna Supreme - John Handy & Ali Akbar Khan (1976 MPS)
Lookout Farm - Dave Liebman (1973 ECM)
Multiple - Joe Henderson (1973 Milestone)
Nation Time - Joe McPhee (1971 CjRecord Productions/Atavistic)
Old and New Dreams - Old and New Dreams (1979 ECM)
Ptah, The El Daoud - Alice Coltrane (1970 Impulse!)
Quintessence - Bill Evans (1977 Fantasy)
Red Clay - Freddie Hubbard (1970 CTI)
Space Is The Place - Sun Ra (1972 Impulse!)
Tales of Captain Black - James Blood Ulmer (1979 United Artists)
Upon Reflection - John Surman (1979 ECM)
V.S.O.P. The Quintet - Herbie Hancock (1977 Columbia)
Weather Report - Weather Report (1971 Columbia)
Xtensions - McCoy Tyner (1970 Blue Note)
You Can't Name Your Own Tune - Barry Altschul (1977 Muse)
Zawinul - Joe Zawinul (1971 Atlantic)

(Xtensions is actually Extensions, but I couldn't find an album that started with X. Anybody know one?)


  • BlindWilliam

    Strong list. I think I will set it up as a playlist and run it.

    Lug 9 2011, 13:25
  • beelzbubba

    I was surprised to go through my albums and find nothing starting with X. You could use other cheats besides Extensions: eXpansion, also by Tyner, but the others I came up with were not in the 70s. Closest would probably be Rhythm X, where Charles Brakeen, Don Cherry, Ed Blackwell, and Charlie Haden play very Ornettian music. It was recorded in 1968, but iirc, Strata East released it in the 70s, and then Pat Metheny's Song X, another Ornette tribute, but not released til mid-80s. Nice list, brian, with a few I have never heard (and perhaps a few that I would--minor, minor, minor--quibble over inclusion, but it's your list not mine). Highly recommended for anyone new to the subset of 70s jazz: Conference of the Birds, Infinite Search (aka Mountain in the Clouds), Karuna Supreme, Nation Time, Ptah the El Daoud, & Zawinul.

    Lug 24 2011, 15:51
  • brianshazaaam

    Beelz: Rhythm X is definitely a great album and I'm working on an 80s list (90s and 00s lists too), so Song X may show up on that one. I'd love to hear which albums you have quibbles with and why.

    Lug 24 2011, 18:05
  • MusicMagic77 >> >> >> There are two Tyner albums, both at the Blue Note. Expansions (1968) and Extensions (1970)

    Set 16 2011, 3:19
  • MusicMagic77

    Recommendation: Billy Cobham "Spectrum" and try to listen European musicians as Jan Garbarek, Jean-Luc Ponty and others. They are as great as the Americans.

    Set 16 2011, 3:27
  • manhouel

    To my opinion, there's a gem that disserved it's place in your list for the letter X: Xitintoday - Nik Turner's Sphynx Ok, it's generally classified as Space Rock (!? - classification is always a problem with those music explorer) but it's definitively Jazz fusion. It's a kind of Nik Turner's version of the Paul Horn Inside (except that flute here was recorded inside the Great Pyramids of Gizah instead of the Taj Mahal) however the result is not just a copy but a great album. Nik Turner could also disserved this place because he did a lot to introduce jazz lines into prog rock in the early 70's with Hawkwind. By the way, the 1971 Hawkwind album "X In Search Of Space" would be my choice for a Rock list!

    Set 20 2011, 23:11
  • brianshazaaam

    MusicMagic77: I definitely do need to listen to more European jazz, it's not an area I know well at all. I considered some Eberhard Weber for the list and an album by Ralph Towner featuring Garbarek, Weber, and Jon Christensen, but that's about all I had from the 70s, except that Surman album and stuff by ex-pats like Zawinul and John McLaughlin. manhouel: Thanks for that recommendation, I had never heard of that Nik Turner album (though I do know Hawkwind). I'm going to check it out as soon as I can.

    Set 21 2011, 1:00
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