There used to be a time, when America’s greatest sonic ambassadors performed under their real names — save the occasional outlier like Muddy Waters — and literally invented new genres of sound known today as Jazz and Blues. It’s easy to forget that today, under the constant aural bludgeoning of Will.I.Am, Lady Gaga, and LMFAO.
If you’re hungry to wonder beyond the synthesizer and drum pad confines of today’s top 40, then consider the Perfect Jazz ($45) and Blues ($45) collections the equivalent to a music GED. Each unique set contains 25 of the most influential and important albums in the genre, packaged in mini jacket sleeves mimicking their original vinyl artwork. Two editions of the Jazz set are available, containing classics like Miles Davis’ Kind Of Blue, Billie Holiday’s Lady In Satin, and Charlie Parker’s Bird. There’s also a collection devoted just to Miles Davis ($46) if one album just isn’t enough. On the Blues side, you’ll be schooled by Stevie Ray Vaughan, Aretha Franklin, and Robert Johnson to name a few. For less than $50 a pop, the entire series is a steal — not to mention a tremendous addition to any collection.