50 Most Essential Jazz Albums


29. Jul. 2006, 23:32

ok...this was scary for me to attempt, but I'm giving it a shot. Thats right, my 50 essential jazz albums, now i know this is HIGHLY subjective so please comment and place your own...or say why one of mine shouldnt be on here. Ok now first the rules for how i decided.
1) I must own the album/cd (this way I've heard it MORE than enough to be sure)
2) No more than 5 albums per artist...this one got a little sketchy because of some live box sets, but i did my best to assign a number
3) NO BOX SETS...at least not counting as just one album...UNLESS live box sets not avialible any other form
Some sidenotes before the list...these are not neccessarily my FAVORITE albums, for example i only have one roscoe mitchell album on the list even though hes one of my top five favorites, and i TRIED to get a good mix of styles and somewhat time...although i failed MISERABLELY with putting newer albums on...so please help with that(falling under the not owning them)
ok...here is the list in no particular order (mainly alphabetic by artist)

1. Spiritual Unity
2. For Alto
3. Urban Bushmen
4. Fanfare For The Warriors
5. Bap-Tizum
6. Mingus Ah Um
7. The Black Saint & The Sinner Lady
8. Ellington At Newport
9. Headhunters
10. Maiden Voyage
11. Charlie Parker with Strings: The Master Takes
12. Jazz at Massey Hall
13. A Love Supreme
14. Ascension
15. Giant Steps
16 & 17. The Complete 1961 Village Vanguard Recordings
18. Song For
19 & 20. The Complete Hot Five and Hot Seven Recordings
21. The Great Summit - The Master Takes
22. Kind of Blue
23. A Tribute to Jack Johnson
24. Bitches Brew
25 & 26. The Complete Live At The Plugged Nickel 1965
27. Free Jazz
28. The Shape of Jazz to Come
29. Sound
30. Tenor Madness
31. Saxophone Colossus
32. The Bridge
33. Underground
34. Genius Of Modern Music, Vol. 1
35. Genius of Modern Music, Vol. 2
36. Time Out
37. Lady In Satin
38-42. The Complete Ella Fitzgerald Song Books
43. Django
44. Piano Starts Here
45. Out to Lunch
46. Air Time
47. The Great Concert of Charles Mingus
48. Thelonious Monk & Sonny Rollins
49. Song For My Father
50. Ahmad Jamal at the Pershing: But Not for Me

ok there it is...for now i am not going to write explainations because this took way longer than i was expecting but let the second guessing and HUGE disareements begin..let me know what you think
Akzeptierte Übermittlungen
Jazz connection


  • strangerina

    i'm definitely pilfering that for my short-term music shopping needs. surprised to see live at newport not in there among the miles, certainly my fave after kind of blue. also feel like mingus tijuana moods should be up there. but all in all, great list. some artists on there i don't know and will have to check out. cheers :)

    30. Jul. 2006, 0:50
  • IanAR

    Michael - Album links're done with this syntax ... [code][b][*album artist=[/b][/code]Eric Dolphy[code][b]][/b][/code]Out to Lunch[code][b][*/album][/b][/code] ... with the [code][b][*[/b][/code]'s replaced by [code][b][[/b][/code]'s, to give ... Out to Lunch ... not, whatever you typed. - Ian

    30. Jul. 2006, 1:34
  • djjazzpants

    Ian...i actually wasn't trying to link any albums...just the artists...but thank you...

    30. Jul. 2006, 2:11
  • IanAR

    Eh? The subject's albums, not artists! - Ian

    30. Jul. 2006, 3:39
  • djjazzpants

    i know...but tagging the artists took less time...started this after about a 14 hour work day...which is also why there are probably spelling mistakes

    30. Jul. 2006, 11:16
  • IanAR

    In that case, I suggest you make use of the edit button, to put in album links and make it less spammy. See the interesting journals on the Out to Lunch page, as apposed to the surveys/A-Z's on the Eric Dolphy page, your current compardres. - Ian [img]http://www.last.fm/group/Stop%2Bthe%2BAlphabet%2BJournals%2521[/img]

    30. Jul. 2006, 12:07
  • Hisui-kins

    Air? Since when was Air jazz?

    30. Jul. 2006, 20:18
  • djjazzpants

    Air is an AACM (Artist for the advancement of creative music) group consisting of Henry Threadgill, Fred Hopkins, and Steve McCall

    31. Jul. 2006, 4:16
  • Hisui-kins

    Oh. That's a completely different group altogether. I was thinking of the French electronica group

    31. Jul. 2006, 9:44
  • djjazzpants

    ok finally the album links are correct....except Air...which is a jazz group just not on last.fm

    1. Aug. 2006, 1:17
  • IanAR

    Ace! Now, I suggest you tag them all with both: and . That way, you'll be creating three new stations and contributing to the embryonic global-tag station :) - Ian

    1. Aug. 2006, 2:34
  • handshakefailed

    needs some herbie hancock may i suggest head hunters + fat albert rotunda both of which are fantastic

    1. Aug. 2006, 3:13
  • handshakefailed

    sorry i missed headhunters so sextant also very good

    1. Aug. 2006, 3:15
  • djjazzpants

    agree it needs more herbie...hear is where I AM AT FAULT TOTALLY...i do not own enough herbie...it always seems when im getting new albums, he always just loses out...have a decent amount of his later stuff but yes...more herbie=good

    1. Aug. 2006, 10:39
  • djjazzpants

    AEC is a little scary at first, but once you get over that WOW

    18. Aug. 2006, 3:00
  • neilbombd

    Just to say, I enjoyed yer list, and will chase up some of the ones I haven't heard of. Or have heard of but still haven't got round to :-) Thanks.

    23. Jan. 2007, 18:38
  • beelzbubba

    Michael, you asked (I think) for critique of your list. My criticism might not be what you anticipate. I see nothing wrong with your list. I think it's great that people your age are still being exposed to and able to access all that great music. I can't wait for the time when you have enough music by enough artists that you're able to pick (and agonize over picking) only one--maximum two--per artist. I [i]might[/i] be able to come up with my top 50 jazz albums. At one time that would have been easier to do, when I had to either play each album on a turntable or load each one into a cd player. But with mass HD storage & iTunes, I can be continually surprised by music I have but might not put on if I had to go through all the mechanical steps. I think that's because the act of physically engaging with an album calls up so many associated memories and thoughts about an album, that I might not put something on because of a weak tune here or there.

    30. Mär. 2007, 16:20
  • djjazzpants

    Beelzbubba...since i made this list i've found myself looking at it and thinking, well this needs to go off for this and what not...unfornately I think i may have reached the point where its just (with sadly and gladly) around 1000 jazz albums...should have some Django in there unfortunately i have the intergrales not actual albums and thats what i found out...im getting more and more box sets and less single albums so struggling to pick a best album, like i cannot say the complete charlie parker on Verve and have that be one album but to break to each album, sadly now i do not know if i could do it...the list was actually more for a start up jazz group where a lot of members were really looking for knowledge of some basics, and now i look at it and realize some huge mistakes...i think i have gone to rambling as i often do....no Abrams, one parker, damn it...i dont want to redo the list but it may need to be done....i shall think about it

    31. Mär. 2007, 23:08
  • sriman

    Why is AEC so good? OK I understand that an AEC performance is also a visual performance. But if we leave that aside, what makes them such a cachet? I, on the other hand, found myself immediately taken by Revolutionary Ensemble and Leroy.

    17. Apr. 2007, 3:21
  • djjazzpants

    First off...let me take nothing away from Revolutionary Ensemble and Leroy Jenkins (RIP) but lets first look at the fact that I (at least so far) have only been able to find 4 RE albums and 3 Leroy albums, compared to the over 50 AEC albums I own, not to mention all the members albums. But there's also something about the AEC sound that I prefer over RE...but I think its also like comparing who was better 2Pac or Biggie (for example) in other words...comparing two of the best Free Jazz groups out there and deciding which is better, its going to come down to personal prefereance. for me I also think the fact that the first Free Jazz album I heard was The Meeting by AEC followed by other AEC albums, Roscoe, and then Ornette, it wasn't until Pi Recordings released And Now that I got my first taste of RE so AEC has a special place in my heart for opening my ears to Free Jazz. And out of curiosity...have you listened to AEC before and if so what albums...and along the same liines what RE and Leroy albums have you heard (if you don't mind) always on the lookout for more

    17. Apr. 2007, 16:01
  • sriman

    I understand completely. The point of my question is not to get into a futile argument of who's better, but rather to try and see why I don't get AEC. Sometimes I suspect, it is probably becuase my contact with AEC began with 1967-68, which is probably not the right way to begin. I found this album too free if you know what I mean. Anyway, I moved to Fanfare after than and somehow I could not get into them. I am currently about to give it a third attempt with Urban Bushmen. Hopefully, something will click here. Interestingly, like you, I began R-E with And Now.. (their reunion album). I found Leroy Jenkins' violin absolutely outstanding and then I went into People's Republic and Psyche. In fact I found Psyche to be very melodic and always flirting with danger, but somehow it never does so! of course, I give a lot of credit to Leroy for his great skill in holding the music together. And then this got only strengthened when I heard Lifelong Ambitions, his collaboration with Muhal Richard Abrams.

    18. Apr. 2007, 15:53
  • djjazzpants

    Urban Bushmen is an incredible album...surprising yo didn't like Fanfare...and i could see how 67-68 could be too Free and it could just be that AEC isn't your cup of tea

    19. Apr. 2007, 13:16
  • TheIronLion

    Where is The Complete Birth of the Cool?

    30. Mai. 2007, 21:25
  • djjazzpants

    IronLion...complete Birth is of the Cool is an incredible album no doubt...but personally i feel that these 5 (complete live at the plugged nickel counts as two) are more essential...in my humble opinion...and Miles was one of the artists who i really struggled as to what 5 to put on and i can't take out kind of blue...or bitches brew...live at the plugged nickel is ridiculous, to paraphrase an article i read about it (maybe the linear notes) it shows miles had done everything he could with the songs...and Jack Johnson is my favorite Miles album and i cant leave my favorite album by my favorite artist of the list...great album....5 stars for Complete Birth of the Cool...although i this may need an overhaul soon...of it is scarier now...hmmm

    31. Mai. 2007, 6:03
  • TheIronLion

    Hehe ^

    1. Jun. 2007, 20:34
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