Jazz Lover’s Holiday Gift Guide

Jazz lovers have great taste — and high standards — which can make them difficult to shop for during the holidays. If you find yourself wondering what to get the jazz fan in your life this season, JAZZIZ has you covered, no matter your budget.

From limited-edition vinyl to once-in-a-lifetime VIP festival packages, you’re sure to find something to warm the heart of even the pickiest jazz aficionado.

Of course, the absolute best gift you can give a jazz fan is a subscription to JAZZIZ Magazine. Sign up here to give the gift of engaging jazz journalism, award-winning photography and great music.

For the Straightahead Jazz Fan:

Harold Mabern, The Iron Man: Live At Smoke (Smoke Sessions)

Pianist Harold Mabern is jazz’s original Iron Man, still going strong at 82. His prolific career as an artist has spanned the blues joints of his native Memphis to the concert halls of New York City and beyond, and he’s played with some of the most storied musicians in jazz, from Lee Morgan to Sarah Vaughan. His latest project for Smoke Sessions Records is a treat for any music lover interested in live jazz. The Iron Man: Live At Smoke is a double-disc recording that collects highlights from Mabern’s three-week, 63-set residency at Manhattan’s Smoke jazz club in December 2017, featuring a mix of blues-tinged originals and sizzling jazz standards that will delight jazz fans of every stripe. Listen to this 2-CD collection with a nice cold drink and the lights turned low, and you’ll swear you were sitting in the front row of Smoke’s intimate Upper West Side jazz club.

$15.79 for CD; $11.49 for digital. Available on Amazon, iTunes, and other streaming services.

Gary Burton, Take Another Look: A Career Retrospective (Mack Avenue)

Fans of modern jazz surely know Gary Burton, the vibraphone legend who broke ground as an artist on both musical and social terms. Burton may have retired from music in 2017, but through his influence, mentorship and prodigious discography, he continues to have an impact on the direction of jazz. Now, a more complete portrait of Burton’s legacy is available courtesy of Mack Avenue Records. The label’s recently released Take Another Look is a deluxe, five-LP box set encompassing the entirety of Burton’s half-century career in jazz, from his attention-grabbing early releases for RCA Victor through his wide-ranging sessions for Atlantic and his iconic ECM recordings, on to his fusion-era reinvention on GRP and his eclectic and generation-spanning efforts for Concord and Mack Avenue. Also available in digital format.

$149.98 for LP set. Available on mackavenue.com or Amazon.

For the Jazz Avant-Gardist:

The Art Ensemble of Chicago and Associated Ensembles (ECM)

The Art Ensemble of Chicago was one of the most important ensembles of the free-jazz movement, mixing elements from pre-jazz African folk music with a limitless vision of what jazz can become. This box set from ECM Records is a 21-CD limited collection that features prime selections from the group’s historic tenure with ECM Records, including their debut on the label, Nice Guys, and the widely acclaimed The Third Decade. The beautifully designed box set also incorporates a 300-page book comprising all original album covers; liner notes; poetry by Art Ensemble of Chicago member Joseph Jarman; quotes from Art Ensemble members and the press; new texts by Craig Taborn, Vijay Iyer and George Lewis; a preface by ECM founder Manfred Eicher; an essay by Steve Lake; and many photographs and archival documents. Serious fans of progressive jazz will love this set.

Available in the United States on November 30. Pre-order on ecmrecords.com.

For the Blue Note Completist:

Blue Note Review: Volume Two – Spirit & Time (Blue Note Records)

Spirit & Time marks the second edition of Blue Note’s highly lauded vinyl box set subscription series. This time, the focus is on drummer Tony Williams. Included in the box set is a two-LP compilation of current drummers from the Blue Note roster (Brian Blade, Kendrick Scott, Tony Allen, Chris Dave, Nate Smith, Eric Harland and Rob Turner) paying tribute to Williams by re-interpreting compositions from the drummer’s historic Blue Note run. The LP culminates with a previously unreleased recording of Williams’ quintet performing his tune “Juicy Fruit” from a 1992 live set in Tokyo.

Also included are 180g vinyl audiophile reissues of Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers’ album Africaine and Bobby Hutcherson’s album Patterns.; two 12×12 lithographs of Art Blakey and Elvin Jones by photographer and Blue Note co-founder Francis Wolff; a set of 20 Topps Blue Note Trading Cards; the zine Out Of The Blue featuring insightful essays, photos, poems and comics; the book Spirit & Time: Jazz Drummers On Their Art; and a Blue Note Carbon Fiber Anti-Static Record Brush.

Available November 26. $200 for a Blue Note Review subscription. Become a subscriber at bluenotereview.com

Wayne Shorter, Emanon Box Set (Blue Note)

This new box set by saxophone guru Wayne Shorter includes a triple-album and an 84-page graphic novel penned by Shorter himself. The deluxe triple-LP, 180-gram vinyl set contains four studio tracks performed by Shorter’s quartet (with pianist Danilo Perez, bassist John Patitucci and drummer Brian Blade) and the expansive, 34-piece Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, in addition to a six-track live album featuring the quartet itself. In her introduction to the box set, bassist and frequent Shorter collaborator Esperanza Spalding writes, “After reading and listening to Emanon, you might begin to notice alternative realities glimmering beneath the everyday world around you.”

$174.99 for the deluxe edition. $74.99 for standard. Order at https://wayneshorter.lnk.to/Emanon

For the Jazz Bookworm:

Help! The Beatles, Duke Ellington and the Magic of Collaboration by Thomas Brothers (W.W. Norton & Company)

In this thought-provoking new book, Duke University musicology professor makes the convincing argument that The Beatles and Duke Ellington’s Orchestra stand as two of the greatest examples of collaboration in music history. Through vivid detail, illuminating anecdote and penetrating analysis, Brothers brilliantly links the creative processes of Ellington and the Fab Four, illustrating how Ellington’s penchant for composting to the strengths of his orchestra acts as a strong parallel to Lennon and McCartney’s unique writing process.

$17.00 on Amazon.  Available in digital, audio and hardcover editions.

Sophisticated Giant: The Life and Legacy of Dexter Gordon by Maxine Gordon (University of California Press)

Sophisticated Giant presents the life and legacy of tenor saxophonist Dexter Gordon, one of the major innovators of modern jazz. Author Maxine Gordon has completed the book that her late husband began, weaving passages of his writing into her own research and reflection. Gordon led a long and fascinating career — as a musical pioneer, a jazz legend and even an Academy Award-nominated actor — and this book offers a rare vantage point into the life of one of jazz’s most cherished figures.

$26.95 on Amazon. Available in digital and hardcover editions.

For the Audiophile On the Go:

Deezer Gift Account

Deezer is the streaming service for music fans with far-ranging tastes. The easy-to-use platform allows you to find new songs and old favorites from over 53 million tracks and provides you with all the tools necessary to build the perfect playlist or browse curated collections by genre. Other features like “Flow” offer an endless curated stream of your favorite songs, plus new recommendations picked just for you. Plus, Deezer is fully mobile. Simply download your favorite songs, playlists and albums onto your mobile device using WiFi then find them all in one place to listen to later. A century’s worth of great jazz is available on all your devices, all the time, even without WiFi or 4G.

Plans range in price. Visit deezer.com for more information.

Sennheiser HD1 Free

Sennheiser’s HD1 Free is the company’s most compact Bluetooth headphone ever, packing classic Sennheiser style and substance into a highly portable design. The headphones deliver immaculate wireless hi-fi sound thanks to Bluetooth 4.2 and Qualcomm® apt-X™ and feature a highly ergonomic machined stainless steel design that ensures a comfortable listening experience all day long. (Also, apt-X™ Low Latency lets you enjoy your videos more, by keeping audio perfectly in sync with the visuals.) An integrated microphone and a six-hour continuous battery life make the HD1 Free the perfect companion for the mobile lifestyle. The headphones come with a luxurious leather case for storage and safekeeping.

$119.95. Available at en-us.sennheiser.com or Amazon.

Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT Wireless Over-the-Ear Headphones

Audio-Technica’s M50xBT wireless over-the-ear- headphone harnesses the classic M50x studio sound for an exhilarating wireless listening experience, with exceptional clarity and deep, accurate bass response. Using Bluetooth wireless technology and 45 mm large-aperture drivers with rare-earth magnets and copper-clad aluminum wire voice coils, the M50xBT brings the coveted sonic signature of M50x to a compact, mobile design. Other features include 40-hour battery life, touch control, a built-in mic and music and voice controls built into the earcup.

$199. Available on audio-technica.com or Amazon.

For the Aspiring Jazz Producer:

Zoom Q8 Handy Video Recorder

Capture your favorite jazz artists like the pros. Film your performances with the highest fidelity. Record your very own jazz video series. You can do it all with the ZOOM Q8. Combining high-definition video with high-resolution audio, this handy recorder is the perfect device for aspiring music and video creators everywhere. Its 160-degree wide-angle lens and digital zoom ensure that you will always get the right shot. Combine that with ZOOM’s groundbreaking interchangeable mic capsule system and two XLR/TRS combo inputs for even more options and you’ll see why the Zoom Q8 is your first choice audio-video recorders.

$359.99 on Amazon.

For the Home Audio Aficionado:

Bang & Olufsen Beoplay M3

The Bang & Olufsen Signature Sound Beoplay M3 delivers authentic sound quality for an authentic listening experience. Crafted with natural materials, this stylish wireless speaker produces an immersive listening experience with resonant bass, pure mids and vivid highs. It’s also a visual treat. The simple lines of the Beoplay M3’s minimalist design will flow seamlessly and elegantly into your space. Exchangeable front speaker covers come in a choice of colors and materials to match your style, and Beoplay M3 connects easily to other B&O wireless speakers or services like AirPlay for multi-room listening. You can personalize your preferences and create music profiles with the Beoplay App.

$299. Available on the Bang & Olufsen website or Amazon.

Sonos ONE

Compatible with Amazon Alexa and iOS AirPlay, the Sonos ONE is the smart speaker for music lovers. The speaker itself is backed by a pair of Class-D amplifiers and custom-built drivers, tuned for rich, room-filling sound. What’s more, two Sonos ONEs can be paired together in the same room for instant stereo-sound experience. Plus, the Sonos ONE offers you complete privacy via an LED indicator light that illuminates when the receiving microphone is on or off. All you need is Wi-Fi and a power source to play all the most popular streaming services, on-demand Internet radio, podcasts, audiobooks, or whatever else you may want to indulge your earbuds.

$199. Available on sonos.com or Amazon.

For the Jazz Gourmand:

Macallan 12 Years Old Sherry Oak Whisky

There’s no better spirit than whiskey to enjoy the smooth and sophisticated sounds of jazz. And there are few better whiskeys for the price than the Macallan 12 Years Old Sherry Oak. This distinguished whiskey is a part of Macallan’s series of single malt whiskeys matured exclusively in hand-picked sherry seasoned oak casks from Jerez, adding a distinct richness and complexity. A matured character, the 12 Years Old delivers rich wood spice and dried fruits and a natural rich gold color. Enjoy neat, on the rocks, or in your favorite mixed drink. No matter how you take it, be sure you’re sipping alongside your favorite jazz album.

$59.99. Available at Total Wine & More and other alcohol retailers.

For the Jazz Festival Fanatic:

New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival VIP Ticket Package

Help your jazz-loving friend or relative cross this bucket-list festival off their list in style with these luxurious VIP ticket packages. Running from April 25 to May 5  (and celebrating its 50th anniversary!), the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival offers several exclusive ticket passes: The Big Chief VIP Experience provides special viewing access at most stages; the Grand Marshal VIP Pass allows for up-close access at the three major stages; and the Krewe of Jazz Fest VIP Pass entitles patrons to special covered seating at the Acura Stage audience area. Last year’s festival featured pop icons like Aerosmith, Jimmy Buffett and LL Cool J alongside jazz mainstays such as Jon Batiste, Christian Scott Atunde Adjuah and Charles Lloyd. This year’s lineup is expected to be released in December.

VIP package prices vary. Visit http://www.nojazzfest.com/tickets/ for more information.

Tucson Jazz Festival Tickets

By the time January rolls around, you’ll be glad you booked your tickets to the sunny Tucson Jazz Festival. Running January 11-21, this festival features world-class jazz artists ranging from straightahead to contemporary jazz performing on multiple venues in Tuscon’s beautiful downtown core. Headliners include Bobby McFerrin, Jane Bunnett, Pink Martini, Sheila Jordan, The Hot Sardines, Trombone Shorty, Joey Alexander and many more. A free Downtown Jazz Fiesta will close out the festival on January 21, featuring performances on two outdoor stages, food vendors, craft stalls, beer, wine and plenty of warm vibes, and lodging is available at area hotels. It’s a jazz winter wonderland, minus the snow.

Ticket prices vary. Visit http://tucsonjazzfestival.org/ for more information.

Third Annual GroundUp Music Festival VIP Pass

The GroundUP Music Festival provides the perfect opportunity for the Miami Beach vacation you’ve been waiting for. This artist-centric and attendee-focused fest, which runs February 8-10, is one of the country’s most intimate and immersive, with only about 1800 tickets available per day. The fest features two performance stages with no overlapping sets, as well as masterclasses/artist talks on the beach. VIP holders can enjoy access to the newly outfitted Beachfront VIP & Artists’ Skylounge with ocean breezes sweeping across the wrap-around balconies that provide shaded seating and premium viewing of the Park Stage performances. Picture yourself mingling, eating and drinking with the musicians throughout the festival in this air-conditioned space that offers floor-to-ceiling glass with breathtaking ocean and festival views and luxurious bathrooms. Sure beats shoveling the driveway.

General Admission $85 per day/$225 for three-day pass. VIP tickets $170 per day/$450 for three-day pass. Visit festival.groundupmusic.net for more info. 

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