Vocal Jazz

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Probably the easiest genre to define of all as the title says it best. Obviously here is where you will find vocalists who sing in a distictive jazz style, or styles I should say because although there is a similarity of delivery in the jazz nuances of these listed singers, the performing era and genre style of singers you will find here ranges from Billy Holliday to Doris Day and on to Norah Jones.

vocal jazz top albums

Showing only albums and live's | Based on members ratings & JMA custom algorithm | 60 min. caching

FRANK SINATRA Come Dance With Me! (with Billy May And His Orchestra) Album Cover Come Dance With Me! (with Billy May And His Orchestra)
FRANK SINATRA
4.81 | 7 ratings
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FRANK SINATRA Watertown Album Cover Watertown
FRANK SINATRA
4.91 | 4 ratings
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DIANA KRALL The Girl in the Other Room Album Cover The Girl in the Other Room
DIANA KRALL
5.00 | 2 ratings
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BOBBY MCFERRIN The Voice Album Cover The Voice
BOBBY MCFERRIN
4.98 | 2 ratings
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FRANK SINATRA My Way Album Cover My Way
FRANK SINATRA
4.76 | 4 ratings
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FRANK SINATRA It Might As Well Be Swing Album Cover It Might As Well Be Swing
FRANK SINATRA
4.95 | 2 ratings
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FRANK SINATRA A Swingin' Affair! Album Cover A Swingin' Affair!
FRANK SINATRA
4.82 | 3 ratings
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FRANK SINATRA Come Fly With Me Album Cover Come Fly With Me
FRANK SINATRA
4.67 | 5 ratings
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FRANK SINATRA Come Swing With Me! Album Cover Come Swing With Me!
FRANK SINATRA
4.52 | 3 ratings
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NORAH JONES Come Away With Me Album Cover Come Away With Me
NORAH JONES
4.42 | 5 ratings
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JONI MITCHELL Don Juan's Reckless Daughter Album Cover Don Juan's Reckless Daughter
JONI MITCHELL
4.50 | 2 ratings
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KURT ELLING The Gate Album Cover The Gate
KURT ELLING
4.41 | 3 ratings
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This list is in progress since the site is new. We invite all logged in members to use the "quick rating" widget (stars bellow album covers) or post full reviews to increase the weight of your rating in the global average value (see FAQ for more details). Enjoy JMA!

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Hard to Imagine
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ALEMAY FERNANDEZ
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Harlem On My Mind
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CATHERINE RUSSELL
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Do Right
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SARI KESSLER
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Walkin' By The River
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MARTY ELKINS
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Live At Montreux 1993
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AL JARREAU
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Call Me Lucky
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ALEX WEBB
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Elemental Harmony
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AKIKO
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Answer July
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SENRI OE
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Long After Midnight
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LISA LINDSLEY
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Between The Music & The Moon
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MAGGIE HERRON
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Ellington at Night
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NANCY HARMS
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En Vie
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Sing Me Back Home
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PAT KELLEY
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Live at Rosy's
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SARAH VAUGHAN
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Whirlwind
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REBECKA LARSDOTTER
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Ballads
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THE IDEA OF NORTH
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Out of the Past: Jazz & Noir
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LAUREN WHITE
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Sound of Red
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RENÉ MARIE
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Blue Note, Chicago March 1956
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JERI SOUTHERN
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Utopia
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PETER JONES
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Maybe Tomorrow
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ZEETEAH MASSIAH
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Twelve O’Clock Tales
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CLARE TEAL
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My Funny Valentine
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REDORA CARUSO
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Me
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DARBY WILLIAMS
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Upward Spiral
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BRANFORD MARSALIS
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Aerials
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LINA NYBERG
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Stranger in a Dream
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STACY SULLIVAN
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He Was The King
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FREDDY COLE
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Comin' Home Baby
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LES DEMERLE
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Stan's Hat Flapping In The Wind
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WILLIAM PARKER
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For You
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LOU TAVANO
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All My Treasures
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LAUREN BUSH
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Anandi
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ANANDI
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United
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DENA DEROSE
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Take Me To The Alley
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GREGORY PORTER
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Lost Love Songs
Boxset / Compilation
CHERYL BENTYNE
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Cafe Blue - Unmastered
Boxset / Compilation
PATRICIA BARBER
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Live In New Orleans
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ERNESTINE ANDERSON
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The Theory of Joy
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IAN SHAW
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Moonshadow Dance
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REBECCA KILGORE
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Invitation
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NICOLAS BEARDE
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Live at Cotton Club
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HALIE LOREN
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Let's Get Lost
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CYRILLE AIMÉE
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A Little Bit of Ella (Now & Then)
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MICHÈLE HENDRICKS
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After Dark
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CHAMPIAN FULTON
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Photographs
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MARY FOSTER CONKLIN
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Tenderly
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STACEY KENT
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vocal jazz Music Reviews

REBECCA KILGORE Moonshadow Dance

Album · 2016 · Vocal Jazz
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Carmel
Rebecca Kilgore is a song stylist extraordinaire, known for her effortless portrayals of the Great American Songbook, with more than 40 recordings to her credit. She has appeared with Michael Feinstein at Carnegie Hall and on “A Prairie Home Companion,” and has been a frequent guest on National Public Radio’s “Fresh Air” with Terry Gross. She was inducted into the Jazz Society of Oregon’s Hall Of Fame in 2003 and to the Oregon Music Hall of Fame in 2010. What is so uniquely keen about this project is it marks her debut as a songwriter, partnered with a pillar of the Portland jazz community Ellen Vanderslice; (though an architect by trade) she is an accomplished and prolific composer as well. The two are united with fellow songwriter, vibraphonist and pianist Mike Horsfall for a delightfully engaging offering entitled Moonshadow Dance.

The album traverses from romance to heartbreak to full of fun, and lyrically hints to her great pal Dave Frishberg, none is a better example than the sardonic “I Live in a Condo,” filled with swinging precision and instantaneous chuckle, penned by Horfsall it’s a delightful way to open the disc and set the mood. A rumba version and Kilgore’s original “Birthday Song, Generic” further endeavors the easy going, breezy feeling. What an injection of joy this album can bring to any day of the week, but don’t let the seemingly deceiving easy going vibe fool you, the musicians are top-shelf and the songs are so standard similar, you almost have to pinch yourself to remember you are listening to originals.

A highlight for me was “Aeolian Shade” a harmonically dark tune, gave me a chance to hear Kilgore represent a smoky timber of her voice. Penned by Vanderslice and Horfsall, Kilgore effortlessly shines; she is introspective and poignant and dips down deep in her range and floats effortlessly atop the accompaniment. Other highlights include and passionate “I’m Not Susceptible to You,” an up-tempo Latin take on “Cantando o Amor,” be sure to note there is also a reprise version of this track which is scaled down to voice and guitar with Marco de Carvalho at the helm of nylon strung guitar. This is particularly delightful, as you can hear each intent of the notes sung by Kilgore and played by de Carvalho. Moonshadow Dance does not disappoint, Kilgore continues to show why she is such a consummate jazz vocalist, her swing is effervescent, her tone of voice is timeless and she is an effortless technician. Truly another highlight to add to your collection, highly recommended.

DARIA Strawberry Fields Forever - Songs By The Beatles

Album · 2016 · Vocal Jazz
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js
A jazz tribute to the Beatles is not unusual, there are many out there, but what is more selective is a tribute that tries to re-shape the Beatles’ original music, and does so successfully, and that is what we have in Daria’s creative re-structuring of the ‘fab four’ on her new album, “Strawbwrry Fields Forever (Songs by the Beatles)”. Daria and her crew of San Francisco jazz artists take on several Lennon-McCartney classics, and do so fearlessly as they dare to re-harmonize some of pop culture’s most treasured melodies. It’s a bold move, but it pays off as this CD is much more interesting than yet another more faithful ’by-the-numbers’ rendition. You’ll easily recognize every tune on here, but as the songs unfold, you will be intrigued by changes in harmony, melodic line, and rhythm. It’s the changes in rhythm on ‘Strawberry’ that may be the album’s most striking feature, as the Beatles’ original pop/rock beats are replaced with syncopated rhythms from Brazil, Cuba, Jamaica and New Orleans.

An interesting thing happens when you transform the music to a well known Beatles song, once the background becomes less familiar, the lyrics come shining through in a new way and you are reminded that these guys not only wrote good tunes, but they were often very capable modern poets as well. You may not think “Come Together” can work as a samba, but the new rhythms isolate Lennon’s flow of consciousness nonsense lyrics and takes them to new heights (of silliness?). Some other highlights include a horn driven New Orleans funk version of “Helter Skelter”, and a nu-jazzy psychedelic version of title track “Strawberry Fields”.

Production and arrangement on “Strawberry Fields Forever” is excellent and they keep things interesting by varying the ensembles from piano quartet, to Steely Dan styled mini-big band, Afro-Cuban ensemble or other variations. Many guest musicians offer a variety of horns, guitars, keyboards and percussion. Daria is an excellent singer and her treatment of these well known classics is thoughtful and delivered with insight

MARY FOSTER CONKLIN Photographs

Album · 2016 · Vocal Jazz
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js
With so many female jazz vocalists performing these days how can an artist stand out? While other instrumentalists may use pyrotechnics to impress, this is not always a wise route for vocalists where extreme performance can be more annoying than endearing. On her new album, “Photographs”, Mary Foster Conklin wisely avoids any attempt to grandstand with her voice, but instead pulls you in with her ability to convey a story as she presents an interesting and complex personality that you want to hear more from. Some compare Conklin’s sense of story to cabaret, and there is some truth to that, but she has more in common with story oriented folk-jazz artists like Joni Mitchell and Paul Simon than old school cabaret.

It helps that care was taken to give each song its own sound. There is a core rhythm section on most tracks, but many songs also feature additional instrumentalists, on sax, muted cornet or guitar, who intertwine with Conklin’s voice. The song selection is also superb with very few overplayed selections. Five tracks feature the lyrics of beat poet Fran Landesman, while other tracks feature writers like Paul McCartney, Joni Mitchell and Oscar Brown Jr. “Photographs” will grow on you, and that’s mostly because of Mary’s personality. She is a master of conveying world-weary bitter sweet emotions, tempered with an odd unlikely sense of optimism.

DEBORAH SHULMAN My Heart's in the Wind

Album · 2007 · Vocal Jazz
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js
It takes a lot of courage for a vocalist to record an album of all ballads, no other song form puts a vocalist’s skills on the line like a slow moving test of one’s ability to not only develop a melodic line, but to do so with a convincing emotional tone. On “My Heart’s in the Wind”, Deborah Shulman doesn’t shy away from this challenge and delivers a successful collection of mostly quiet and introspective vocal reflections. Only two numbers on here hit any kind of toe-tapping tempo, all the rest are delivered in a vocalist-centered legato rubato with an intuitive laid back combo backing every word. Shulman’s main accompanists on here are Larry Koonse on guitar and Terry Trotter on piano, both of whom support her with imagination and sensitivity. The way the two instrumentalists interact with each other is joyfully loose and even somewhat cluttered in a good way. Its nice the two are not overly polite and sterile in their interactions. Both musicians also deliver a couple of clever solos as well.

Much of Shulman’s emotional conviction comes across in these songs because she hand picked each one as a personal reflection of not only her own life, but also the lives and love of her departed parents. Tracks such as “Loving You” and “You are There” are tributes to her parent’s relationship and the memories of Shulman’s family life. The non-pretentious tone of this album is furthered by the fact that every track was recorded live without a trace of studio trickery. Summit Records in general should be praised for their ongoing commitment to production values that put an artist’s personal skills over studio gimmicks.

The material covered on here is well considered and devoid of anything overplayed. The 'Great American Songbook', Broadway and movies are all sources for Schulman's selections, with a few surprises included, such as "This Hotel", from the film, "Hotel". Top track may be the infectious "Sleepin Bee". This is a great vocal album that sets a mood for those long winter nights that surround us during this time of year.

JOHN HÉBERT Rambling Confessions

Album · 2015 · Vocal Jazz
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snobb
After excellent "Floodstage",released on Portuguese Clean Feed label last year, advanced American bassist John Hébert comes with very different new album on American label. If "Floodstage" was a sophisticated piano trio album (with most interesting modern French pianist Benoît Delbecq and busiest American drummer around Gerald Cleaver),"Rambling Confessions"(Sunnyside Records) is modern avant-garde vocal jazz quartet inspired by vocalist Carmen McRae legacy but doing all things on unorthodox way.

With no doubt,vocalist Jen Shyu is a key figure of this new release. US-born(to Taiwanese and East Timor parents) experimental vocalist, composer, multi-instrumentalist, dancer, and Fulbright scholar becomes an significant artist on modern jazz scene. Few days ago she sung in Paris as Steve Coleman band member and her new solo album will be released next week. Jen combines jazz vocal techniques with South East Asian improvisational singing, classical vocals and experimental wordless vocalize.

For listener unfamiliar with Jen Shyu singing,this music from very first seconds is a new experience (which probably could be compared with Jeanne Lee or Irene Aebi singing even if all three vocalists are very different). All-acoustic instrumental trio works perfectly as singer's minimalist accompanists with a few soloing but it would be great to hear more their musicianship besides of pure vocalist's support - from artists of that level listener expects more, especially on album where bassist,not singer is stated as leader.

Main album's attraction is to listen how inventively Jen reworks jazz standards - often on the very border,but never crossing the thin red line.The only factor why this album isn't a true masterpiece is that that all songs are of same slow to mid-tempo and despite of unique singing manner after some time "sameness" factor hampers to appreciate really great music.

One of the strongest candidate to the best experimental vocal jazz album of the year.

vocal jazz movie reviews

JONI MITCHELL Shadows And Light

Movie · 1980 · Vocal Jazz
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Slartibartfast
Joni Mitchell meets The Pat Metheny Group.

What can I say? This was my real introduction into the music of Joni and what a place to start! She had really entered a new phase and the tracks offered span from Court And Spark up to Mingus (and of course, the song Shadows And Light, exclusive to the live album).

The concert was an outdoors affair at the Santa Barbara County Bowl. The liner notes say that "this concert catches Joni at the height of her artistic excellence." Having explored her albums after and before this era, I can wholeheartedly agree with that. Jaco Pastorius, who had a reputation at that point of being erratic in live situations, seems to be in a good mode. The camera work is good and the concert is now available on DVD with 5.1 Dolby Digital Audio all of which make for a show worthy of revisiting from time to time.

Artists with Vocal Jazz release(s)

JMA TOP 5 Jazz ALBUMS

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Albums with 30 ratings and more
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JOHN COLTRANE
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CHARLES MINGUS
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MILES DAVIS
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