Reprinting this from my Facebook page— I encourage you to head over there and add me as a friend. There's a thing going around where musicians list ten albums that were most important in their development. The idea of narrowing it down to just ten albums is absurd, so I'm not really trying. Mainly I was trying to do things other drummers had not already listed. These are all very, very important records to me, but there are 100+ more albums that are equally important. Here are numbers 1-5:
1. George Duke / Reach For It
My brother gave me a bootleg cassette of this that I listened to all through high school. It's got Ndugu Leon Chancler on drums. Great 70s LA Latin/fusion/funk, with a couple of soul ballads. High points are Omi, a high energy Afro 12/8, which began my very long engagement with that type of groove, and Watch Out Baby!, a sort of quasi-pornographic funk epic featuring Stanley Clarke— here's my transcription of Chancler's playing on that.
Here is Omi— I made a loop of the bulk of this tune, which is included in my massive zip of practice loops, which is still available to download free.
2. Bill Frisell / Before We Were Born
Got a cassette of this in a mall in Puerto Rico. I knew about Bill Frisell from the Marc Johnson Bass Desires record, but it was the first I heard of Joey Baron. Includes a pretty radical 13 minute John Zorn arrangement, and Arto Lindsay on one tune. I played these gigs in central Oregon, on the other side of the mountains, and would crank this driving home through the Cascades at 2am.
3. Thelonious Monk - Trio
Knowing individuals inform me that this is a weak, poorly performed album. The vibe is casual, but I don't know what's WRONG with it. Like, tell me what you want. We'll go to the British Museum and rate the Constable sketches. Settle some accounts.
To me it's a perfect record. This is what jazz is supposed to be. There are ten tracks and ~35 min of music total, so it's tight; the tunes are featured a little more than the soloing. Everybody sounds engaged, people are trying some things, and the total package is like walking in on a Leonardo sculpture— you already knew the whole thing before you even saw it.
4. McCoy Tyner / Blues For Coltrane
I posted about this one before: Blues for Coltrane. I think it's considered a McCoy album. With Roy Haynes, Cecil McBee, Pharoah Sanders, David Murray. At USC I used to listen to this on my way to combo rehearsal with Dwight Dickerson, and arrive ready to kick ass. Pretty sure I made a lifetime enemy out of a bass clarinetist. I never understood why everyone didn't want to play this level of energy all the time.
5. Miles Davis / Water Babies
I only just figured out that I liked this record a few years ago— like 10-12 years ago. It's outtakes from the Nefertiti and In A Silent Way sessions. Compared to Nefertiti and Filles de K they really sound like ensemble sketches. It sounds unfinished, the tunes are not really strong in a normal way, but that's what I like about it. It still sounds like a record. Especially love Wayne Shorter's playing all the way through this.