02.12.2011, Words by Ruth Saxelby

NPR's 100 Quintessential Jazz Songs mix

“I’ll play it first and tell you what it is later,” legendary jazz musician Miles Davis once said. That freeness is at the heart of jazz, the most gestural of music forms, all phrases and feeling. Unsurprisingly, Miles features no less than nine times on this utterly wonderful mix of the 100 best jazz songs on NPR, chosen by listeners of Jazz24.org and NPR Music. It couldn’t have come at a more apt time. Yes, it’s that of year when a glass of something on the rocks tastes all the sweeter with those free and easy notes skitting round your head but there’s something more than that. While its monumental influence is never far from today’s music, from Floating Points’ superb new song ARP 3 to Kwes and Actress explaining their music in terms of jazz to their hotel porter in DRC (listen on Kwes’s Dummy mixtape), it feels like the smokey imprints of jazz are more evident than ever. I’ll drink to that.

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