From the solitary lyricism of Bill Evans to the experimentation of Robert Glasper, the jazzman Justin Kauflin picks some of his favourite albums
Listen: Five albums by jazz pianists to check out
20th Century Piano Genius by Art Tatum (1996)
This is a double-CD based on a live performance that he did. I think it accomplishes what any pianist would want to strive for when it comes to being a complete musician. Every aspect is present within this recording when it comes to mastery of the instrument. For me this is the pinnacle and people still can’t touch him.
Alone by Bill Evans (1968)
This is a solo piano record that illustrates heartbreaking lyricism. The album is a pretty emotional experience. It blew my mind when I heard it and now its appeal to me lies in how it is nostalgic. This album is what helped draw me in to jazz.
West Side Story by the Oscar Peterson Trio (1962)
There are a few albums by the trio that are worth checking out but this is one is special. It shows the best of what can be achieved by a trio who is as tight as they were. There is some swing in there and some sweet arrangements.
Double Booked by The Robert Glasper Trio (2009)
This one has the quality that I always liked about Glasper and that’s how he showcases the two sides to him, the one where is he is trained in jazz, as well as the other side where he remains true to himself by experimenting with electronic elements to his work.
Live at Yoshi’s, Vol 1 by Mulgrew Miller (2004)
This album transports to me to the live show, where jazz is best experienced. It also catches Miller at his best and most relaxed. There is such a raw energy to this album because it is Mulgrew playing with two young musicians who come from the hip-hop world. The album shows that his roots are in the blues and gospel but also displays a modern sensibility.