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3:AM Top 5: Rhys Tranter


Rhys Tranter blogs on literature, film, philosophy and critical theory at A Piece of Monologue. He has just launched One Down, One Up, a jazz website. He writes: “Listening to music often taps into my impatient side, so my favourite tunes are changing all the time. Here are a small selection of tracks that, for one reason or another, I keep returning to:”

1. ‘Generique’ – Miles Davis
It’s difficult to pick a Miles track from such a huge selection, but this piece from the soundtrack of Louis Malle’s Ascenseur Pour L’Echafaud is a perfect demonstration of Davis’ artistic restraint and introspective style. There’s also something undeniably urban about it, which I love.

2. ‘Song of the Underground Railroad’ – John Coltrane
Breaths life and urgency into contemporary American myth. The Africa/Brass Sessions are all just superb, but something about this second tune gets me every time.

3. ‘Blue Monk’ – Thelonious Monk
Beautiful and deceptively simple. This was my first step into Monk’s music: quintessential night-listening.

4. ‘Blues Walk’ – Lou Donaldson
Light-hearted, upbeat and inventive. I think Donaldson remains an underrated alto-saxophonist to this day, but there’s no denying his talent or accessibility of this early Blue Note record.

5. ‘Blowin’ The Blues Away’ – The Horace Silver Quintet and Trio
I’ve always associated this tune with Art Blakey’s statement about the lasting appeal of jazz as a cleanser, washing away the dust of everyday life. Relentlessly energetic, Silver’s piano playing is filled with wit and exuberance. I’ve always loved this one.

First posted: Wednesday, December 16th, 2009.

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