Praise the Joy of Jazz!

Gary Giddins learned early in his career that his job isn't to spend whole columns trashing albums no one would have bought anyway. His job is to buttonhole readers and say, "You gotta hear this!" So said the longtime Village Voice jazz critic and author of "Jazz" in his Big Think interview, which ranged over decades' worth of writing, observing, and experiencing the sheer sonic joy of America's greatest art music.

After shaking his head at the impossibility of the question, Giddins named the top five (or six, or seven) jazz albums everyone should own and explained why the improvisations of the genre, which some listeners find intimidating, can provide a refreshing break from stale pop formulas. He also ventured a few guesses as to where jazz is going next, happily declaring that the genre is seeing "some kind of renaissance."

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