submission from: John Tebeau
Burnside On Burnside
R.L. Burnside

If you guessed "them low-down, dirty blues", you're right. One of Fat Possum founder Matthew Johnson's discoveries from the Mississippi delta, Burnside is an old-time bluesman in the vein of Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf. This album (a sweaty live performance) gives you an idea of the kind of soul and innovation that inspired Clapton and Richards when they first heard the blues back in the '60s. Funky, unique, inventive, hypnotic: R. L. Burnside. Damn RIGHT he's got the blues.

submission from: Amanda McWhorter
Various Artists
Songs in the Key of Z: Volume 1 and 2

Irwin Chusid brought outsider music to a larger audience than it has known, and he talked with Todd about the phenomenon. These musicians are definitely rough around the edges, as they are often untrained and unpolished, but they have a sincerity and passion that trumps anything on a Top 40 chart today. Chusid collected these recordings on two CDs, “Songs in the Key of Z: Volume 1 and 2”. They are a strange compilation of sound, ranging from a small child quietly singing in what seems like a garage to a Tiny Tim-esque string of unintelligible syllables accompanied by piano. I promise you will be singing Wesley Willis’ “Rock n’ Roll McDonalds” for hours. Also check out the “Langley Schools Music Project”, a 1970’s recording of elementary school kids singing then-pop hits like “Sweet Caroline” and “Good Vibrations” in their gymnasium. It's absolutely charming...and more than a little catchy.

submission from: Amanda McWhorter
Various Artists
The Long Road to Freedom: An Anthology of Black Music [BOX SET]

Todd’s recent interview with Harry Belafonte focused on his latest effort, "The Long Road to Freedom: An Anthology of Black Music". In this collection, gathered over the course of a decade, Belafonte brings together songs of sorrow, spirituality and simple joys. He is featured on many of these remastered recordings, many of which evoke scenes of a dimly lit smokey juke joint or a country church on a humid summer morning. It’s an important historical compilation that captures the heart of the black experience in music.

submission from: John Tebeau
Lester Young
The "Kansas City" Sessions

This man's saxophone is just one of the sweetest, saddest sounds on the planet. But I guess that makes sense, since that's what his contemporaries said about Lester himself. Sweet and sad. What you want to do is put this CD on shuffle (since there are two takes per song, back to back), and if you have a multiple-disk player, throw in a couple other sax fiends like Coleman Hawkins and Stan Getz and have a party. Getz was one of the more successful admirers of Mr. Young, and the three of these guys mixed together - man, that's pretty.

submission by: John Tebeau
Count Basie
(from the Ken Burns Jazz Collection)

Here's a great place to start for an introduction to Count Basie and the Kansas City sound. A good mix of songs covering Basie from the wild, gin joint days to the refined swinging years with his big band in the 'fifties. This music feels good. Period.