Times are different now, and record companies merely sue children and single mothers. Most business professors would suggest that acting as though you hate any potential customer is bad for business. Most business professors would say that the smart businessman would try to figure a way to motivate people to buy your product instead of stealing an inferior, supercompressed version of it. They may suggest that you're doing something wrong if some people (who obviously have at least a little bit of money) simply refuse to pay for your product. People are passionate about music. It shouldn't be that hard to get people to pay a fair price for it, right? But, never ones to resort to the carrot when there's a nice handy stick (covered with nails and herpes) close at hand, record companies prefer to sue the shit out of their dwindling customer base rather than figure out how to win them back. Good job. Old ads like this one remind us that they're been screwing their customers long before there was a Napster.
Aaaaaanyway, hey look! Christmas albums and year-round favorites! Yep, 1961 was pretty square. But it wasn't all a wonderbread wasteland. There are at least two brilliant jazz albums in there, and here is an explanation why they both make an excellent entry point for those who are jazz-curious, but who are a little intimidated by the weirdness of jazz.
Time Out was the first jazz album to sell more than a million copies. It's an exercise in "odd time" (rhythms with strange counts like five or nine beats per measure). This means it's hard to dance to without spraining your ankle, but don't let that scare you off. Each tune is catchy enough and hummable enough that you won't notice you're humming in a 9/8 time signature. It's structured and rational like Mozart, but still swings too hard to be boring. Once you begin to get your head around the weird rhythms, the deceptively simple melodies and complex time signatures reward those that stare with their ears* on repeated listenings.
Kind of Blue couldn't be more different than Time Out. One hates to say "jazz exploration" with a straight face, but Kind of Blue can help you do it. Its five songs are all blues-structured and ramble loosely to the seven-to-nine minute mark. The bluesiness makes it easy for jazz newcomers to grab on with a minimum of discomfort, being a familiar form. After that, it remains evocative and cool, so once again, you don't get bored. TThis is the album that made Davis famous for saying a lot with very few notes.
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*Catch phrase of Ken Nordine, surviving beat poet and voiceover icon.