Explore These Live Albums, As Gigs Are Slow To Materialize


A live Alice Coltrane recording from 1972 marks a turning point in her music.

(Photo: DownBeat Archives)

Ambrose Akinmusire, A Rift In Decorum: Live At The Village Vanguard (2017)

Akinmusire is one of those rare players who can deliver a smile, a scowl, a surprise and a tear by simply telling stories through his trumpet. On A Rift In Decorum, his third album for the Blue Note label, Akinmusire presents this artistry live at the legendary Village Vanguard in New York. This program documents his longtime working quartet of Sam Harris on piano, Harish Raghavan on bass and Justin Brown on drums, playing very intimate music in one of the world’s greatest jazz shrines.

Dianne Reeves, Light Up The Night (Live In Marciac) (2016)

The inimitable Reeves—accompanied by guitarist Romero Lubambo and an all-star cast—works through some familiar tunes, as well as her own composition “Cold.”

Thelonious Monk Quartet with John Coltrane, At Carnegie Hall (2005)

Recorded in 1957, this particular date is notable not just for Trane joining in on a set of the bandleader’s tunes, but also because the group Monk frequently worked with (including mainstay saxophonist Charlie Rouse) is wholly supplanted by other performers here. Despite that—or maybe because of that—there’s no shortage of notable moments from either marquee player.

Mary Lou Williams, Live At The Keystone Korner (2002)

Williams opens this 1977 recording by explaining the history of jazz to the audience, and then launches into a solo exhibition that effortlessly moves through time and styles. Her rhythm section chimes in on subsequent tracks, but that initial burst of music perfectly encapsulates the pianist’s immense talent.

John Coltrane, The Complete 1961 Village Vanguard Recordings (1997)

Recorded the same year as Ornette Coleman’s Free Jazz, the music captured here is the sound of change. And it’s a sound that jazz still is grappling with today.

Geri Allen/Charlie Haden/Paul Motian, Live At The Village Vanguard (1991)

Recorded in 1990 and released the following year, this album documents a stellar trio wading into compositions by each band member, including Haden’s tribute to Alice Coltrane, “For Turiya.”

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