Five More Classic Jazz Songs For Your Classic Rock Friends

This is a continuation of my previous post “Five Classic Jazz Songs For Your Classic Rock Friends” (  In that post, I was talking about classic jazz tunes that might appeal to your friends who are more inclined to listen to classic rock. The songs highlighted tended to be hard bop tunes that shared with classic rock, elements of blues, gospel and R&B along with a driving groove. So, here are five more classic jazz tunes for your classic rock friends.

“The Sidewinder” by trumpeter Lee Morgan is considered one of the defining recordings of Soul Jazz. It was actually a crossover hit in 1965 with an edited version released as a single. This is definite head bopping music. On a perverse biographical note, Morgan was killed at the East Village jazz club, Slugs’, where his band was performing, when he was shot by his common law wife between sets.

Lee Morgan – The Sidewinder

The general consensus is that Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme” is his masterpiece but for the non jazz listener I would suggest starting with some of his earlier hard bop recording, in this case “Giant Steps”. Coltrane was the jazz saxophone version of what is referred today as a shredder, a hot virtuoso player. The tune Giant Steps has become something of a rite of passage for aspiring jazz players. The tune has a incredibly difficult chord progression to play over and is played at a very fast tempo. Like listening to your favorite hot guitar solo, it’s a thrill ride.

John Coltrane – Giant Steps


Drummer Art Blakey and his group The Jazz Messengers were considered to be the quintessential Hard Bop band and no tune exemplified this more than “Moanin'”. Written by pianist Bobby Timmons, the song, like last post’s Mingus tune “Better Get It On Your Soul”, wears it’s gospel influences out front, with it’s call and response melody and “amen” chords. It then segues into some great swinging blues based playing with Blakey’s drums kicking ass and taking names. In some ways the Jazz Messengers remind me of the bands of British blues legend John Mayall. Mayall’s bands featured players like Eric Clapton, Peter Green, Mick Taylor, Mick Fleetwood and others, The Jazz Messengers alumni include players Lee Morgan, Benny Golson, Wayne Shorter, Freddie Hubbard, Chuck Mangione, Keith Jarrett, Wynton and Branford Marsalis.

Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers – Moanin’

Thelonious “Sphere” Monk (his middle name was Sphere ’cause he was the opposite of square, daddy-o). There is so much I want to say about Monk but I’m going to save that for a later post (or three). For now, let me limit it to this particular tune, his classic (as is most of his tunes),”Straight No Chase”. First off, a great catchy riff for a melody (actually the melody is a short five note motif that is rhythmically displaced across a twelve bar blues progression). The rhythm section is just grooving as is Charlie Rouse’s sax solo. Then there is Monk’s piano playing. I’ve always thought of it as the art of beautifully making square pegs fit round holes. There is just something about his playing that makes me smile whenever I hear it.

Thelonious Monk – Straight,No Chaser


Finally, The Duke. Like Monk, so much to say with no amount of words able to do proper justice to the man’s musical genius. So again, let’s focus on the tune. Starting as just a piano trio before signaling the rest of the orchestra to come in. This tune interweave so many cool little riffs so seamlessly that it’s easy to miss cool little details in the writing like the way the opening melody played by the reeds are answered by the brass in the background. To listen to this tune is to hear joy.

DUKE ELLINGTON – Rockin’ in Rhythm

I think that if you put the songs I recommended in these last two post together into a playlist, you would get a pretty good introduction to jazz for your rock friends and a great playlist to listen to as you bop your way through this crazy world. Good luck.

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Posted in Jazz, Music Appreciation and Analysis

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