A discography: Exploring the jazz orchestra’s wilds and wonders

During research for my jazz orchestra article, I put together this discography, which attempts to trace the recorded development of modern jazz orchestra in roughly chronological order. It begins at the transition point from bebop, represented by Dizzy Gillespie, who often thought of the bop combo concept in larger terms. The key breakthrough is Birth of the Cool, the album by Miles Davis which introduced most listeners to the arranging talents of Gil Evans, though Stan Kenton more widely turned a new college generation onto the jazz orchestra’s excitement and possibilities. birth-of-cool But Evans had an important developing ground. One can hope that, in the future, appreciable CD recordings emerge by The Claude Thornhill’s orchestra from the 1940s-50s. Evans began his ambitious and fast-forming apprenticeship with the Thornhill orchestra. Those early recordings, not listed here, are contemporary to some of the rough-cut gems of brilliance that Ryan Truesdell has uncovered and polished up for the Gil Evans Project. The reassertion of Evans’ centrality is one of the most significant developments in what may be a new golden age of jazz orchestra. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FoU1drxfdYM

Here’s a selected discography of the modern jazz orchestra (Roughly in chronological order from first noteworthy recording. Subsequent recordings listed for single bands may be quite a few years later, eg. first Liberation Music Orchestra is 1969 and the third listed, Not in Our Name is 2006, during The Iraq War):

Live at Newport Dizzy Gillespie (with Mary Lou Williams performing from her “Zodiac Suite.”)

Birth of the Cool Miles Davis with Gil Evans

Live at Newport, His Mother Called Him Bill, Far East Suite and Digital Duke Duke Ellington Orchestra

Space is the Place, Live at Montreux   Sun Ra Myth-Science Arkestra sketches Sketches of Spain, Porgy and Bess, Miles Ahead and Miles Davis/ Gil Evans: The Complete Columbia Studio Recordings (all with Miles Davis),The Complete Pacific Jazz Sessions, Out of the Cool and The Individualism of Gil Evans Gil Evans Orchestra

The Magic Touch Tadd Dameron and his Orchestra Stan_Kenton's_West_Side_Story_CD_coverWest Side Story and Adventures in Jazz Stan Kenton Orchestra

Africa/Brass and Ascension John Coltrane

Thelonious Monk Big Band and Quartet in Concert Thelonious Monk with Oliver Nelson

Continuum and Live at The Village Vanguard  Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra

Big Swing Face, Mercy Mercy and Live at Buddy’s Place ‘76 The Buddy Rich Big Band

Electric flag

A Long Time Comin’  The Electric Flag

Electric Bath Don Ellis Orchestra

Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra, Dreamkeeper, and Not in Our Name, Liberation Music Orchestra

Brand New  (with Michael Bloomfield), and Giant Steps Woody Herman

Blood, Sweat and Tears  Blood, Sweat and Tears

The Resurrection of Pig Boy Crabshaw and In My Own Dream Paul Butterfield Blues Band

Chicago Transit Authority and Chicago II  Chicago

Walking in Space and Miles & Quincy Live at Montreux Quincy Jones

Escalator Over the Hill Carla Bley Orchestra

Back to Oakland  Tower of Power

Let My Children Hear Music Charles Mingus

Creative Music Orchestra 1976 and Creative Orchestra 1978 (Koln) Anthony Braxton

Mingus Big Band 93: Nostalgia in Times Square and Live in Tokyo at the Blue Note Mingus Big Band



 Tales of a Courtesan, Insights and Carnegie Hall Concert (with Freddie Hubbard a/o) Toshiko Akiyoshi-Lew Tabackin Big Band/Orchestra

In Case You Missed It Charli Persip Superband II

Fly with the Wind and Song for My Lady McCoy Tyner

Winged Serpents (Sliding Quadrants) Cecil Taylor Orchestra of Two Continents

David Murray Big Band conducted by Lawrence“Butch”Morris David Murray Big Band

Joe Henderson Big Band Joe Henderson Big Band

With All the Bells and Whistles and Live at Concerts by the Sea Bob Florence Big Band

1997: The new golden age begins?:



Blood on the Fields (Pulitzer Prize winner) and A Love Supreme Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra

Monterey Moods Gerald Wilson Orchestra

Overtime Dave Holland Big Band

Time’s Mirror Tom Harrell joni all music Jazz Pana Vince Mendoza w/ Arif Mardin, Epiphany w/ London Symphony Orchestra, and Both Sides Now w/ Joni Mitchell

New Works Celebration and Music for String Quartet and Orchestra Bob Brookmeyer New Art Orchestra

Live at the Miramar Gary Christensen’s All-Star Superband

Habitat and Treelines Christine Jensen Orchestra sky blue Produced by Ryan Truesdell, “Sky Blue” by Maria Schneider was nominated for two 2008 Grammy Awards for “Best Large Jazz Ensemble” and “Best Instrumental Composition” (for ‘Cerulean Skies’).

Concert in the GardenSky Blue and The Thompson Fields Maria Schneider Orchestra

Centennial and Lines of Color:Live at the Jazz Standard Ryan Truesdell presents The Gil Evans Project

Live at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola  Joe Chambers Moving Pictures Orchestra

Infernal Machines, and Brooklyn Babylon Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society

Revelator, Everybody’s Talkin’ (live) and Made-Up Mind Tedeschi-Trucks Band

Jazz is Politics? and Just Say Yes, Chicago Yestet.



Identities are Changeable Miguel Zenon Quartet and “Identities” Big Band

Fly!  Mitch Shiner and the Blooming Tones Big Band

The L.A. Treasures Project Clayton-Hamilton Orchestra

Quiet Pride: The Elizabeth Catlett Project Rufus Reid

Live: I Hear The Sound Archie Shepp Attica Blues Orchestra

The Offense Of The Drum Arturo O’Farrell & The Latin Jazz Orchestra

Overtime: Music of Bob Brookmeyer The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra

Imaginary Cities Chris Potter Underground Orchestra

Inside Voices Kenosha Kid

East of the Sun ICP Orchestra

The Blessing, The Eternal Interlude and Songs We Like A Lot (to be released June 23) John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble

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