Jazz 101

I’ve been asked recently where to start with jazz music. I have so many different recommendations that I decided to create this page for anyone who is looking to get into jazz. For me jazz has been a very long and rewarding journey and I’d love to share what I’ve found with others.

Start with Miles

One recommendation for starting with jazz is to listen to Miles Davis, find the period that you like best, and begin to investigate his sidemen. While I had never heard this advice when I started listening, if you tracked my introduction to jazz I absolutely followed Miles’ sidemen given the vast number of jazz giants Miles played with over the years.

To investigate Miles’ records and sidemen check out this wonderful, interactive site, Scaled In Miles.

The List

Here is a list of some of my favorite jazz albums. I love vocal jazz, fusion, modern jazz, and a fair amount of swing, but for Jazz 101 I am sticking with instrumental jazz music released in the 1950s and 60s. This is considered the Blue Note era of jazz where bebop, cool jazz, modal jazz, hard-bop, soul jazz, and avant garde ruled. I will eventually follow up with some of my favorite vocal jazz albums and fusion albums.

This list is in no particular order, except for Kind of Blue. That album has long been considered the best jazz album of all time. And it is the album to start with if you are new to jazz. If you don’t enjoy that album then jazz music is probably not for you.

  1. Miles Davis - Kind of Blue
  2. Miles Davis - The Birth of the Cool
  3. Miles Davis - Round About Midnight
  4. Miles Davis - Milestones
  5. Miles Davis - Workin’ with the Miles Davis Quintet
  6. Miles Davis - Relaxin’ with the Miles Davis Quintet
  7. Miles Davis - Cookin’ with the Miles Davis Quintet
  8. Miles Davis - Steamin’ with the Miles Davis Quintet
  9. Miles Davis - E.S.P.
  10. Dave Brubeck Quartet - Time Out
  11. Grant Green - Idle Moments
  12. Grant Green - The Complete Quartets with Sonny Clark
  13. Herbie Hancock - Empyrean Isles
  14. Herbie Hancock - Maiden Voyage
  15. Herbie Hancock - Speak Like a Child
  16. Bill Evans - The Complete Village Vanguard Recordings, 1961
  17. Bill Evans - Portrait in Jazz
  18. Bill Evans - Explorations
  19. Ornette Coleman - The Shape of Jazz to Come
  20. Wayne Shorter - Speak No Evil
  21. Wayne Shorter - JuJu
  22. Thelonious Monk - Monk’s Dream
  23. Thelonious Monk - Brilliant Corners
  24. Thelonious Monk - Thelonious Monk with John Coltrane
  25. Thelonious Monk Quartet with John Coltrane - At Carnegie Hall
  26. Thelonious Monk - Genius of Modern Music Volume 1
  27. Thelonious Monk - Genius of Modern Music Volume 2
  28. Chet Baker - Chet
  29. Chet Baker - Chet Baker Sings: It Could Happen to You
  30. Sonny Rollins - Saxophone Colossus
  31. John Coltrane - Giant Steps
  32. John Coltrane - Blue Train
  33. John Coltrane - My Favorite Things
  34. John Coltrane - A Love Supreme
  35. John Coltrane - Ballads
  36. Hank Mobley - Soul Station
  37. Hank Mobley - Workout
  38. Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers - Moanin’
  39. Art Pepper - Art Pepper Meets the Rhythm Section
  40. Bobby Hutcherson - Happenings
  41. Bud Powell - The Amazing Bud Powell, Vol. 1
  42. Bud Powell - The Amazing Bud Powell, Vol. 2
  43. Cannonball Adderley - Somethin’ Else
  44. Chick Corea - Now He Sings, Now he Sobs
  45. Eric Dolphy - Out to Lunch
  46. Dexter Gordon - Go!
  47. Dexter Gordon - Our Man in Paris
  48. Freddie Hubbard - Ready For Freddie
  49. Harold Land - The Fox
  50. Horace Silver - Song for my Father
  51. Horace Silver - Blowin’ the Blues Away
  52. Joe Henderson - Page One
  53. Kenny Burrell & John Coltrane
  54. Larry Young - Unity
  55. Lee Morgan - The Sidewinder
  56. Lee Morgan - Search for the New Land
  57. McCoy Tyner - The Real McCoy
  58. Oliver Nelson - The Blues and the Abstract Truth
  59. Sonny Clark - Cool Struttin’
  60. Sonny Clark - Leapin’ and Lopin’
  61. Stan Getz & Joao Gilberto - Getz/Gilberto
  62. Vince Guaraldi - Jazz Impressions of Black Orpheus
  63. Wes Montgomery & The Wynton Kelly Trio - Smokin’ at the Half Note
  64. Wes Montgomery - The Incredible Jazz Guitar of Wes Montogmery
  65. Charles Mingus - Mingus Ah Um