1. “It’s About That Time,” Miles Davis
This is the second and final track on my favorite album, “In A Silent Way.” It’s a very peaceful album, and the groove the band plays at the end of “It’s About Time” will always give me goose bumps — especially when Tony Williams kills it during Miles’ final solo. It’s blissful.
2. “Maybe,” AlasNoAxis
I’ve been into drummer Jim Black’s band AlasNoAxis for a while now, but after playing their tune “Adbear” on Brian Courage’s recital, I’ve been doing some serious reinvestigation. “Maybe” has a great melody that’s always resonated with me. I also dig the wash of distortion and crazy Jim Black drum fills.
3. “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours,” Stevie Wonder
This is my all-time favorite song. I can’t listen to it and not dance — in fact, I’m dance-writing right now. Stevie Wonder writes great song,s and this is the greatest.
4. “Area Man,” Matt Wilson Quartet
I picked up their album “That’s Gonna Leave a Mark” over winter break, and I haven’t been able to stop listening to it. The band — Jeff Lederer and Andrew D’Angelo on reeds, Chris Lightcap on bass and Matt Wilson on drums — just feels really good. Everything Matt Wilson does has a deep sense of groove or swing, but the ridiculous collective improvisation on “Area Man” shows that he’s not afraid to venture into the avant-garde.
5. “Expensive Shit,” Fela Kuti
Maybe in heaven they play Fela Kuti’s music at frat parties. Kuti created the Afrobeat genre, which was easily one of the best inventions of the 20th century. The funk, horns and raw energy are just too much. This song is about a time when Nigerian police planted a joint on Kuti. Kuti ate it, and the police tried to examine his feces for traces of pot. It was an expensive — well, just re-read the title.
6. “Stand!,” Sly and the Family Stone
Like Kuti’s Africa ’70s band, Sly and the Family Stone, is one of the funkiest bands in the history of funk. “Stand!” is one of my favorite Sly songs, and the breakdown groove at the end of the song is to die for.
7. “Where Do We Go?,” Bill Frisell
I listen to this song whenever I need some kind of motivation, inspiration or emotional push. It works great. The melody has a characteristically Frisellian — yeah, I used that word — blue grass tinge. And like the rest of the album “Blues Dream,” it features slide guitar and beautiful horn arrangements. “Where Do We Go?” also goes into this cool and somewhat dissonant vamp, but I just can’t get enough of the melody.
8. “Una Muy Bonita,” Ornette Coleman
This song is beautiful. Ornette is the greatest melodist in the world, and this is one of my favorite Coleman tunes. And give it up for Charlie Haden’s killing bass intro! This song came on shuffle a few days ago, and I just had to get up and do the free-jazz dance.
9. “AC/DC Bag,” Phish
Phish was basically the meaning of my life in middle school and most of high school. I’ve seen them play three times, and I went to two of guitarist Trey Anastasio’s shows while they were broken up. And in ninth grade I grew my hair down to my shoulders and wore tie-dyed shirts. I’m more of a jazz nerd now, but sometimes I listen back to Phish and feel nostalgically happy. I still kind of think Anastasio is the best guitarist ever.
10. “Love You Want,” Wailing Souls
If I worked out, I would totally listen to this song on repeat. In fact, listening to it now almost makes me want to work out. Maybe next January. I only know this song because it’s from the movie “Cool Runnings,” which is my second-favorite movie. (I’m resigned to the fact that nothing in life will ever trump “Pootie Tang.”) But seriously, check out the opening credits of “Cool Runnings” and you’ll quickly realize what I’m raving about.