I want to wrap up this little series on the Jazz 100 with my own personal thoughts on the list and some of the comments and questions left by listeners/readers.
There were some thoughts that kept popping up in readers posts. One was “Why didn’t (insert song here) show up on the list?”. Another is “My list would look completely different from this one.” A third was “There is no way that Take Five should be number 1.”
Let me start by saying that my own personal list would also look a bit different from this one. I’ve seen emails and posts from casual listeners to the very jazz educated saying the exact same thing.
Everybody’s list is going to look different. The great thing about this list is that it took the input of about 2,800 different people, and I am not aware of any jazz list out there that has asked and received its construction from such a wide variety of people.
Yes, it was a popularity contest, just like anything else is when you open votes up to the public. That is why you see a song like Take Five at the top. It was extremely popular when it was released, is still in heavy rotation on most jazz radio stations, and is one of the few albums still found in the ever-shrinking “jazz section” at large book and music stores.
I will also say that while I was the one who compiled the votes, I also submitted my vote, and only one song I voted for made the list (Red Clay).
Does it make me angry? No, and for several reasons. The main reason is that no one asked me to make my own list. Therefore why should my own personal musical tastes be reflected throughout the list? Because I host a radio show and write a blog? Therefore I know better and have better taste than the casual listener?
This wasn’t a list offered up to only “jazz experts.” People from all ages and backgrounds voted, and that is why I think this list is unique.
Many people have also asked me what song(s) or artist(s) I think should have been on this list that didn’t make it.
I’ve also been pretty quiet about this one, because again, this isn’t MY personal list.
That being said, I can say that I assumed “A Child is Born” by Thad Jones would make it. I always assumed it was one of the most beautiful ballads in jazz and that my opinion on that was more widely shared. I also figured correctly that females would dominate the vocal recordings that made the list, but I assumed that there would be more of a variety of female vocalists that made the list than what we ended up seeing.
A lot of people also commented on the lack of recent jazz recordings that made the list. While I WISH there were more recent recordings on the Jazz 100, I also understand why there isn’t. Voters had 100 years of jazz to choose from, and in what is inevitably a popularity contest that only allows your favorite five to be submitted, I was not surprised to see the masses choose Miles Davis over Terence Blanchard in a all-time jazz popularity contest (for better or for worse).
Angry voters were in large part angry because their song didn’t make the list, therefore they felt they weren’t represented and their expertise is somehow put into question by the other 2,799 voters.
To those unhappy voters: don’t take it personally. In fact, have fun with it and discuss it. That is what opinion-based lists are for, typically. In fact, let it inspire you to create and post your own list, for comparison. It will allow you to listen to a ton of great music that you enjoy at the same time!
Finally, people have asked me what songs would be on MY list. While I am going to choose to not create a top 100 list (mainly because I feel like it could drastically change by next week), I will share some of my favorites that would always be on my list, that didn’t make our Jazz 100.
A Child is Born – Thad Jones/Mel Lewis
I Remember Clifford (A variety of versions)
A Mis Abuelos – Arturo Sandoval
Tumbleweed – Michael Brecker
Straight Life – Freddie Hubbard
Thanks again for all of your feedback, and keep it coming!
The Jazz 100 (Part 4 – Responding to listener questions and comments)
The Jazz 100 (Part 3 – Thoughts from Robin Lloyd and Abe Beeson
The Jazz 100 (Part 2 – An Audio Discussion with KPLU’s Kirsten Kendrick)
5 Replies to “The Jazz 100 (Part 5 – Final Thoughts)”
Kevin, I agree with you, it was interesting and I am sure didn’t fit everyone. I enjoyed it and it proved a point that I have made for over seventy years. Jazz was not to be vocal ( the Blues yes) and not by but a very few male vocalist. Most suck . Maybe you guys should have a 100 jazz song you shouldn’t have to hear.
keep up the good work, rally enjoy you all down here on the Oregon Coast
Thanks for this series, Kevin, and for all your hard work on the Jazz 100!
I agree with you that this was not meant to be a critically approved list of the 100 greatest jazz songs, but rather something of a popularity contest. That said, I found most of the elected songs good and representative of jazz, even if they’re not my personal list of the 100 greatest. (In passing, all five of my selections made it, although for Summertime I’d voted for the Sidney Bechet version. The others were Take the A Train, One o’Clock Jump, West End Blues, Night in Tunisia.) I’m only a little surprised (pleasantly) at Charlie Brown songs making it, a confluence of the two great American art forms, jazz and comic books. But I think Glenn Miller shouldn’t have been there: he wasn’t a jazz musician by any proper definition of jazz.