50 Greatest Live Albums of All Time

Rolling Stone ranks the 50 best live albums ever, from Jimi Hendrix at Monterey to Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison

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The Quintet, 'Jazz At Massey Hall' (1953)
50
24/50

24. The Quintet, 'Jazz At Massey Hall' (1953)

"The atmosphere was pretty difficult," Quintet drummer Max Roach recalled of this 1953 gig. "The people in that dressing room and the issues and problems they all had, it would need a whole conference of psychologists to work it all out." Geniuses, addicts, brawlers, goofs. Pianist Bud Powell had been institutionalized and labeled legally "incompetent"; saxophonist Charlie Parker and trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie had history (this would be the last time they'd record together), bassist Charles Mingus might punch out those whose solos offended him. Here came bebop's original wild bunch, Parker armed with a borrowed plastic sax. "It was pure spontaneity. That's the thing about that date," said Roach. "We just went on the stage, and things began to happen." They played definitive versions of bop standards "Night in Tunisia" and "Salt Peanuts," as well as proto power ballad "All the Things You Are." At the end of the night the promoter paid them with recordings of the show, and Mingus ended up re-recording his solos before it was released. RJ Smith

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