This is an excerpt of another longer and less focused email (in Chinese). Here I share my view on some of my favorite jazz musicians.
English translation below.
Date: 2002-05-01 05:26...
我個人聽的東西頗雜，聽的時候也有很多不同的焦點。Billy Strayhorn作品的詞和曲我都非常鍾愛，覺得和Mahler的藝術歌曲一樣深刻。 Count Basie 的簡潔和 Mozart 有拼。 TheloniousMonk 彈琴充滿驚奇，他的大膽與創新和 Stravinsky 一樣讓我佩服， Monk 是影響我很大的鋼琴家與作曲家。 OscarPeterson 有點像 Liszt 這種鋼琴大師，我聽寫過他不少即興奏。 Charlie Parker我覺得是所有爵士樂愛好者都不該錯過的大家，他的多產與貢獻，應該不輸給 Beethoven 。如果您喜歡聽歌曲， EllaFitzergerld 成熟以後的演唱常讓我震撼不已。另外， Miles Davis 的 Kind of Blue從1959來常是排行榜第一名 (至今仍是前幾名)，不是沒有原因的。 Oliver Nelson 和他的團有一首 Stolen Moments(在 Blues and the Abstract Truth 這張專輯裡)是我個人最愛的極品。
Date: 2002-05-01 05:26...
I also enjoy listening to jazz, although listening is my only way of approaching it now. Unlike you, I know little about the historical aspect of jazz music.
I did learn classical piano when I was a kid. [...] and I hope you can recommend some jazz titles.
I believe jazz has become popular in Taiwan in the past few years; thus information should be much more accessible to find than before. I'm sure you can find introduction literature easily.
Every jazz musician can be seen as a composer (although strictly speaking, there are some fundamental differences between real-time improvisation and carefully planned composition); thus important jazz musicians show very unique style of their own. This is very different from classical performers, especially after recordings became ubiquitous -- different classical performers play more and more alike (compared to early years when recording was just introduced). Therefore, approaching jazz by finding specific jazz performers is a good way.
We all have our favored instruments and styles. I suggest you start from mixed compilations and see which period of style you like the most, and then go dig it. After a while, switch to another period or instrument and surprise yourself with your new findings. I'm sure you'll cultivate your own appreciation ability this way.
I personally listen to a very broad range of genre and I have different focuses when I listen to different ones. Billy Strayhorn's lyric and music appeal to me and I think both are as deep as Mahler. I like the elegancy of Count Basie just as I like Mozart's. Thelonious Monk suprises when he plays; his boldness and innovation is no less than Stravinsky. By the way, as a pianist and composer, Monk influences me a lot. Oscar Peterson is somewhat like Liszt the virtuoso pianist and I've transcribed a lot of his improvisation.Charlie Parker, in my opinion, compares to Beethoven in regards of contribution to music history, both in quality and quantity. I would be surprised if any jazz fan would miss Parker. If you love songs, Ella Fitzergerld always moved me by her recordings in later years. Miles Davis's Kind of Blue has stayed around the top of billboards since 1959. Now that's something to check out. Oliver Nelson and his band has "Stolen Moments" in the album Blues and the Abstract Truth, and that, is one of my favorite masterpieces.
There are also latin and modern styles which I enjoy a lot. However, I really have to stop here. It feels exactly the same when I was asked to recommend the best of Mozart. Choosing one makes it a shame not choosing another, but what's the point if I end up selecting all?