Top 10 Most Life Altering Jazz Concerts

Note: stay tuned over the coming months each of these “plain” lists is replaced with a full blog post with commentary on the items on the list (and, in some cases, the items that didn’t make the cut).

Presented in chronological order. Not necessarily the “best” (though many would make that list too), but the ones that had the most impact on me at the time.

  1. Max Roach Quartet, with Cecil Bridgewater, Odean Pope and Tyrone Brown
    New Haven Green, New Haven, CT, 1990
  2. Ray Baretto (featuring Jairo Moreno, Hector Martignon and others) and Pappo Lucca (y El Sonora Poncena), with guest soloist Hilton Ruiz.
    Village Gate, NYC, 1991
  3. McCoy Tyner Trio, with Ron Carter and Al Foster
    Fat Tuesday’s, NYC, 1992
  4. Arthur Taylor and Taylor’s Wailers, with Abraham Burton, Willie Williams, Jacky Terrason and Tyler Mitchell
    Village Vanguard, NYC, 1992
  5. Brad Mehldau Trio, with Ugonna Okegwo and Leon Parker
    Village Gate, NYC, 1992
  6. Tom Harrell Quintet, with Don Braden, Danilo Perez, Ray Drummond and Leon Parker
    Visiones, NYC, 1993
  7. Cedar Walton Trio, with David Williams and Billy Higgins
    Sweet Basil, NYC, 1995
  8. Kenny Barron Quintet, with John Stubblefield, Eddie Henderson, David Williams and Victor Lewis
    Sweet Basil, NYC 1996
  9. James Williams and Intensive Care Unit, with Steve Wilson, Bill Pierce, John Lockwood, Yoron Israel, Miles Griffith and Roger Holland
    Visiones, NYC, 1997
  10. Ahmad Jamal Trio, with James Cammack and James Johnson
    Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT, 2001

3 ResponsesLeave one →

  1. Ben Mattison

     /  April 7, 2010

    I remember that Max Roach Quartet concert! It was, indeed, life-changing.

    Another life-changing Max Roach performance: a performance for New Haven schoolchildren at Yale in the ’80s — it must have been part of the Duke Ellington Fellowship. I didn’t actually remember that it was Max Roach until a few years later when I saw him play a snare drum solo on the Tonight Show and it suddenly jogged this memory of him playing up and down the stand at Sprague Hall. Also, the buses were late in picking us up and Max chatted with the crowd. At one point he introduced my junior high school social studied teacher, Russell Baril, who was a well-known jazz collector.

  2. admin

     /  April 7, 2010

    thanks ben, that sounds like it was great. i remember there were several impressive jazz shows on the green that summer too. i enjoyed randy brecker’s fusion-y thing (though it was not particularly life-altering). and i probably would’ve been blown away by tony williams’ quintet the week after max . . . but i didn’t go, opting to do something stupid with friends instead. ah, the folly of youth.

  3. anonymous

     /  March 20, 2015

    I’m so very pleased that the Ahmad Jamal you chose had that wonderful drummer I remember so well (from Pittsburgh too, right?) James Johnson!
    And, of course, it must be James Cammack for the best later Jamal. (I was knocked out, seeing Jamal in Rio de Janeiro last year: James Cammack walked out – he was back! Although maybe only for that tour…?). I do so wish it had been just trio, and with James Johnson too.
    I never got to see Arthur Taylor – which pains me terribly. But I did, once only, and for 2 sets, see that same Cedar/Happy/Higgins trio – in 1987. After that many times without Higgins. But Cedar always profoundly wonderful, of course.
    Kenny Barron I’m so lucky to have seen many, many times over – the last being on the day of his 70th birthday! But seeing Kenny Barron is nothing less than a luxury, of course…
    Nearly saw Max, but it wasn’t to be (performance was cancelled – it was to be a solo set, in Birdland, if I remember right).

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