I like Jazz. The problem though, is that Jazz is such a wide genre that it's hard to recommend specific things without knowing what you like. I mean, there's 'classic jazz', 'smooth jazz', 'contemporary jazz', etc.
Dave Brubeck's Time Out
is pretty much a classical jazz standard. As is Miles Davis's Kind of Blue
. Of course there's Sinatra and Bennett. Coltrane, Thelonious Monk, and Louis Armstrong ought to be considered too, though Armstrong is a little bluesy.
If you're after more modern stuff, well, there's a lot of that too. Let me scroll through my iPod for recommendations...
Norah Jones is really great. I use her album Come Away With Me
as pretty much my 'gold standard' for what a voice should sound like on a stereo system. I have it on both SACD and CD, and I've used it dozens of times when demoing systems. It always seems to separate the 'men from the boys'.
Diana Krall (many great ablums, but Live in Paris
is probably my favorite) is another must-have, IMHO. Harry Connick Jr is usually good too. I really enjoy his album NOLA
Other, less known recommendations would be Jane Monheit (Surrender
), Madeline Peyroux (Careless Love
), and Sarah Gazarek (Live at the Jazz Bakery
). All I consider 'stars' in my Jazz collection.
Dave Koz and David Sanborn are also good, but a little more 'c-jazzy' that some might like. I enjoy them. Chris Botti is another favorite - his album Italia
is really lovely. Two other groups that I like are Spyro Gyra and the Rippingtons, though they are both definitely further out into the 'contemporary' jazz genre.
But if you want just generally amazing recordings, check out Chesky Records
. They have a lot of Jazz in their catalog, though none of it will be from very well-known people. Some of it is hit-or-miss with me. The recordings though, my oh my, they are stunning. Rio After Dark
by Anna Caram, and Cantos De Agua Dulce
by Marta Gomez are my two favorite Chesky albums that I own. Cantos De Agua Dulce in particular has spine-tingling dynamics and might be the finest recording - on a technical level - that I have in my collection. All in Portugese, so I have no idea what she's singing about.
But her voice, the percussion, the instruments, all recorded and mastered with great care and precision, it's auditory bliss.