Eric Benny Bloom is a major player in the live music scene, best known for his soaring trumpet solos with Lettuce and The Shady Horns. His musical tastes are dynamic, drawing influence from a wide base of old-school funk, hip-hop, jazz, pop, country, and everything in between. We caught up with Benny to get schooled his top 10 albums of all time. Check out the list and his reasons why below.
“Take some time away from your phone to listen and enjoy these works of art either by yourself or with another human. You deserve it.” — Eric Benny Bloom
1. Michael Jackson – Thriller
Michael Jackson is my favorite musician of all time. This is actually the first album (cassette tape!) I ever bought. Anytime I heard a song from this record, I would start doing some MJ dance moves. Everything from the cutting-edge production, world-class musicians, and even the album cover is unparalleled. This album really walks the line between funk and pop music. If this isn’t one of your top 10 albums, we probably can’t be friends.
2. A Tribe Called Quest – The Low End Theory
I’m sure you all know how epic this game-changing hip-hop classic album really is. I’m no hip-hop expert, but one of the biggest things about this album is that it is laden with a lot of old jazz/funk/R&B samples, and it really fuses jazz and hip-hop together. It is a history lesson whilst staying cutting edge at the same time. Plus, Miles Davis alumni/jazz bass legend Ron Carter is all over the album. In order to get him to play on the record, they had to totally avoid the use of profanity. Wow.
3. Stevie Wonder – Fulfillingness’ First Finale
This particular album contains “Creepin'”, which is my favorite Stevie Wonder song of all time. Each track on this album is a classic, but what I love about this record is its ability to put me in an introspective mood at any time. I often listen to this album after I play a gig to reset my ears and mind.
4. Miles Davis – Workin’ With The Miles Davis Quintet
One of my first jazz albums and still one of my faves. This album features his “first quintet:” John Coltrane, Paul Chambers, Philly Joe Jones, and Red Garland. I could talk about why this album is a crusher all day, but if you are not a big jazz person, just get this album and put it on. You will probably get laid.
5. Albert King – Born Under A Bad Sign
Albert King is my favorite blues guitarist of all time. The title track is his biggest hit, but the rest of the songs on the album are also classics. If you are a guitarist and don’t know any of the solos on this record, then Houston, we have a problem.
6. Parliament – Clones of Dr. Funkenstein
There are many Parliament albums, and sometimes, they can get a little abstract and outer-spacey for my taste. However, this album does a great job of staying funky throughout every song. Everything from Bernie Worrell‘s synthesizer to the tight horn parts is groundbreaking and epic. Everyone claims to play funk nowadays yet no one plays like this anymore… food for thought.
7. Frank Sinatra – Live at the Sands Hotel 1996
This is the only “live” Frank Sinatra album backed by the Count Basie Orchestra led by Quincy Jones. We all know Frank Sinatra’s songs, but they had never been done before with the rawness and power that is exhibited here. Quincy Jones (who also produced Thriller!) arranged the horn parts for this record, and they are the ones that all big bands play when backing up Frank impersonators. This is possibly Frank’s best singing, and while performing most of his hits, he also talks in a faux stand-up comedy kind of way. I got a lot of jokes from this album.
8. John Coltrane – Coltrane’s Sound
John Coltrane is arguably the greatest saxophonist that ever lived. I think this album will be too avant-guard for most people, but nevertheless, it’s still a classic in my heart. During this period, Coltrane really started to hone in on his advanced concepts of harmony, which yielded many modern standards that are usually too difficult for most musicians to play correctly. I often listen to this album when I need to reinvigorate my ears before going to play music in this style.
9. George Jones – The Grand Tour
George Jones is my favorite country singer of all time. I don’t own many country music albums, but this is the one to own. At this point in George Jones’ career, his marriage to Tammy Wynette was in rough shape due to her career doing great while his was in decline. If you’ve ever been through a tough break up, this is the album for you.
10. Dr. John – Destively Bonnaroo
This Dr. John record, produced by Allen Toussaint, is a great study of New Orleans music and its musicians. It’s loose, dirty, and funky—plus, The Meters’ are the rhythm section on the entire album. This album yielded some of Dr. John’s biggest hits and is pretty straight-ahead in comparison to most of his earlier records. The line between swing, funk, and R&B lies in New Orleans music… Get you some.