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100 Essential Jazz Albums

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The New Yorker's David Remnick "compiled (this list) with the help of my New Yorker colleague Richard Brody. These hundred titles are meant to provide a broad sampling of jazz classics and wonders across the music’s century-long history. Early New Orleans jazz, swing, bebop, cool jazz, modal jazz, hard bop, free jazz, third stream, and fusion are all represented, though not equally. We have tried not to overdo it with expensive boxed sets and obscure imports; sometimes it couldn’t be helped. We have also tried to strike a balance between healthy samplings of the innovative giants (Armstrong, Ellington, Parker, Davis, Coltrane, etc.) and the greater range of talents and performances."

1. Fats Waller, “Handful of Keys” (Proper, 2004; tracks recorded 1922-43).

2. King Oliver, “King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band: The Complete Set” (Challenge, 1997; tracks recorded 1923).

3. Louis Armstrong, “The Complete Hot Five and Hot Seven Recordings” (Sony, 2006; tracks recorded 1925-29).

4. Louis Armstrong, “The Complete RCA Victor Recordings” (RCA, 2001; tracks recorded 1932-33 and 1946-47).

5. Louis Armstrong, “Louis Armstrong Plays W. C. Handy” (Columbia, 1954).

6. Fletcher Henderson, “Tidal Wave” (Verve, 1994; tracks recorded 1931-1934).

7. Bessie Smith, “The Essential Bessie Smith” (Sony, 1997; tracks recorded 1923-33).

8. Bix Beiderbecke, “The Bix Beiderbecke Story” (Proper, 2003; tracks recorded 1924-30).

9. Django Reinhardt, “The Classic Early Recordings in Chronological Order” (JSP, 2000; tracks recorded 1934-39).

10. Jelly Roll Morton, “Jelly Roll Morton: 1926-1930” (JSP, 2000).

11. Sidney Bechet, “The Sidney Bechet Story” (Proper, 2001; tracks recorded 1923-50).

12. Duke Ellington, “The OKeh Ellington” (Sony, 1991—tracks recorded 1927-31).

13. Duke Ellington, “Golden Greats” (Disky, 2002; tracks recorded 1927-48).

14. Duke Ellington, “Never No Lament: The Blanton-Webster Band” (RCA, 2003; tracks recorded 1940-42).

15. Duke Ellington, “Ellington at Newport 1956” (Sony, 1999).

16. Duke Ellington, “Money Jungle” (Blue Note Records, 1962).

17. Coleman Hawkins, “The Essential Sides Remastered, 1929-39” (JSP, 2006).

18. Coleman Hawkins, “The Bebop Years” (Proper, 2001; tracks recorded 1939-49).

19. Billie Holiday, “Lady Day: The Master Takes and Singles” (Sony, 2007; tracks recorded 1933-44).

20. Teddy Wilson, “The Noble Art of Teddy Wilson” (ASV Living Era, 2002; tracks recorded 1933-46).

21. Lester Young, “The Lester Young/Count Basie Sessions 1936-40” (Mosaic, 2008; available direct through Mosaic).

22. Lester Young, “Kansas City Swing” (Definitive, 2004; tracks recorded 1938-44).

23. Count Basie, “The Complete Decca Recordings” (Verve, 1992; tracks recorded 1937-39).

24. Count Basie, “The Complete Atomic Basie” (Blue Note, 1994; tracks recorded 1958).

25. Benny Goodman, “At Carnegie Hall—1938—Complete” (Columbia, 1999).

26. John Kirby Sextet, “Night Whispers: 1938-46” (Jazz Legends, 2005).

27. Chick Webb, “Stomping at the Savoy” (Proper, 2006; tracks recorded 1931-39).

28. Benny Carter, “3, 4, 5: The Verve Small Group Sessions” (Polygram, 1991; tracks recorded 1954).

29. Charlie Christian, “The Genius of the Electric Guitar” (Definitive, 2005; tracks recorded 1939-41).

30. James P. Johnson, “The Original James P. Johnson: 1942-1945 Piano Solos” (Smithsonian Folkways, 1996).

31. The Nat King Cole Trio, “The Best of the Nat King Cole Trio: The Vocal Classsics, Vol. 1, 1942-1946” (Blue Note, 1995).

32. Charlie Parker, “The Complete Savoy and Dial Sessions” (Uptown Jazz, 2005; tracks recorded 1944-48).

33. Charlie Parker, “Bird: The Complete Charlie Parker on Verve” (Polygram, 1988; tracks recorded 1946-54).

34. Charlie Parker, “Best of the Complete Live Performances on Savoy” (Savoy, 2002; tracks recorded 1948-49).

35. Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker, “Town Hall, New York City, June 22, 1945” (Uptown Jazz, 2005).

36. Dizzy Gillespie, “The Complete RCA Victor Recordings, 1947-49” (RCA, 1995).

37. Thelonious Monk, “Genius of Modern Music, Vol. 1” (Blue Note, 2001; tracks recorded 1947).

38. Thelonious Monk, “Live at the It Club, 1964” (Sony, 1998).

39. Thelonious Monk, “Thelonious Monk with John Coltrane: The Complete 1957 Riverside Recordings” (Riverside, 2006).

40. Lennie Tristano and Warne Marsh, “Intuition” (Blue Note, 1996; tracks recorded 1949 and 1956).

41. Miles Davis, “The Complete Birth of the Cool” (Blue Note, 1998; tracks recorded 1948-50).

42. Miles Davis, “Bags’ Groove” (Prestige, 1954).

43. Miles Davis, “Kind of Blue” (Sony, 1959).

44. Miles Davis, “Highlights from the Plugged Nickel” (Sony, 1995; tracks recorded 1965).

45. Miles Davis, “Bitches Brew” (Columbia, 1969).

46. Bud Powell, “The Amazing Bud Powell, Vol. 1” (Blue Note, 2001; tracks recorded 1949-1951), Vol. 2 (Blue Note, 2001; tracks recorded 1953).

47. Gerry Mulligan, “The Original Quartet with Chet Baker” (Blue Note, 1998; tracks recorded 1952-53).

48. Modern Jazz Quartet, “Django” (Prestige, 1953).

49. Art Tatum, “The Best of the Pablo Solo Masterpieces” (Pablo, 2003; tracks recorded 1953-56).

50. Clifford Brown and Max Roach, “Clifford Brown & Max Roach” (EmArcy, 1954).

51. Sarah Vaughan, “Sarah Vaughan with Clifford Brown” (EmArcy, 1954).

52. Charles Mingus, “Mingus at the Bohemia (Debut, 1955).

53. Charles Mingus, “Mingus Ah Um” (Columbia, 1959).

54. Charles Mingus Sextet, “Cornell 1964” (Blue Note, 2007).

55. Ella Fitzgerald, “Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Cole Porter Songbook” (Verve, 1956).

56. Sonny Rollins, “Saxophone Colossus” (Prestige, 1956).

57. Sonny Rollins, “Night at the Village Vanguard” (Blue Note, 1957).

58. Sonny Rollins and Coleman Hawkins, “Sonny Meets Hawk!” (RCA, 1963).

59. Tito Puente, “King of Kings: The Very Best of Tito Puente” (RCA, 2002; tracks recorded 1956-60).

60. Sun Ra, “Greatest Hits—Easy Listening for Intergalactic Travel” (Evidence, 2000; tracks recorded 1956-73).

61. Abbey Lincoln, “That’s Him” (Riverside, 1957).

62. Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, “Moanin’” (Blue Note, 1958).

63. Ahmad Jamal Trio, “Cross Country Tour: 1958-1961” (Verve, 1998).

64. The Dave Brubeck Quartet, “Time Out” (Sony, 1959).

65. Jimmy Witherspoon, “The ’Spoon Concerts” (Fantasy, 1989; tracks recorded 1959).

66. Ornette Coleman, “Beauty Is a Rare Thing: The Complete Atlantic Recordings” (Atlantic, 1993; tracks recorded 1959-61).

67. Ornette Coleman, “Dancing in Your Head” (Horizon, 1973).

68. Freddie Hubbard, “Open Sesame” (Blue Note, 1960).

69. Jimmy Smith, “Back at the Chicken Shack” (Blue Note, 2007; tracks recorded in 1960).

70. Dinah Washington, “First Issue: The Dinah Washington Story” (Polygram, 1993; tracks recorded 1943-61).

71. John Coltrane, “My Favorite Things” (Atlantic, 1960).

72. John Coltrane, “The Complete 1961 Village Vanguard Recordings” (GRP, 1997; tracks recorded 1961).

73. John Coltrane, “A Love Supreme” (Impulse!, 1964).

74. John Coltrane, “Ascension” (Impulse!, 1965).

75. Eric Dolphy, “Out There” (New Jazz, 1960).

76. Eric Dolphy, “Out to Lunch!” (Blue Note, 1964).

77. Bill Evans, “The Complete Village Vanguard Recordings, 1961” (Riverside, 2005).

78. Jackie McLean, “A Fickle Sonance” (Blue Note, 1961).

79. Stan Getz and João Gilberto, “Getz/Gilberto” (Verve, 1963).

80. Dexter Gordon, “Our Man in Paris” (Blue Note, 1963).

81. Andrew Hill, “Smokestack” (Blue Note, 1963).

82. Lee Morgan, “The Sidewinder” (Blue Note, 1963).

83. Albert Ayler, “Spiritual Unity” (ESP, 1964).

84. Archie Shepp, “Four for Trane” (Impulse!, 1964).

85. Horace Silver, “Song for My Father” (Blue Note, 1964).

86. Wes Montgomery, “Smokin’ at the Half Note” (Verve, 2005; tracks recorded 1965).

87. Cecil Taylor, “Conquistador!” (Blue Note, 1966).

88. Betty Carter, “Betty Carter’s Finest Hour” (Verve, 2003; tracks recorded 1958-92).

89. Frank Sinatra, “Sinatra at the Sands with Count Basie & the Orchestra” (Reprise, 1966).

90. Frank Sinatra, “The Capitol Years” (Capitol, 1990; tracks recorded 1953-62).

91. Nina Simone, “Sugar in My Bowl: The Very Best of Nina Simone, 1967-1972” (RCA, 1998).

92. Pharoah Sanders, “Karma” (Impulse!, 1969).

93. Chick Corea, “Return to Forever” (ECM, 1972).

94. Keith Jarrett, “The Köln Concert, 1975” (ECM, 1999).

95. World Saxophone Quartet, “World Saxophone Quartet Plays Duke Ellington” (Nonesuch, 1986).

96. Charlie Haden and Hank Jones, “Steal Away” (Polygram, 1995).

97. Joshua Redman Quartet, “Spirit of the Moment: Live at the Village Vanguard” (Warner Bros., 1995).

98. Cassandra Wilson, “Traveling Miles” (Blue Note, 1999).

99. Wynton Marsalis Septet, “Live at the Village Vanguard” (Sony, 1999).

100. The Bill Charlap Trio, “Live at the Village Vanguard” (Blue Note, 2007).

Source: The New Yorker

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I can't do jazz. I've tried loads and I'd love to love it but I just don't get it. :(

There is easy listening jazz, jazz rock, jazz electronica - there is certainly a flavor for you somewhere.

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  • 2 months later...

Duke Ellington and Benny Goodman were in the list. As is Count Basie and Chick Webb. They are big band swing. Benny Goodman especially. Maybe Glen Miller or Louis Prima or Gene Krupa or Artie Shaw or Tommy Dorsey or Guy Lombardo should be on the list. I guess when I do more than just glance through the list there is more swing than I noticed at first. I'm a big Jazz fan(along with all music).

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Duke Ellington and Benny Goodman were in the list. As is Count Basie and Chick Webb. They are big band swing. Benny Goodman especially. Maybe Glen Miller or Louis Prima or Gene Krupa or Artie Shaw or Tommy Dorsey or Guy Lombardo should be on the list. I guess when I do more than just glance through the list there is more swing than I noticed at first. I'm a big Jazz fan(along with all music).

You forgot Harry James

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Hello - Nice list! I actually just purchased Ken Burns- The Story Of American Music collector’s box set on this new site called Popmarket.com and saved almost half the cost of what it would cost on Amazon and any other store! Apparently they have daily specials that are heavily deep discounted everyday and today’s feature was Ken Burns. I think the sale offer expires at noon tomorrow (I'm in LA) as I noticed yesterday they had a Alabama box set on sale which is no longer there. Thought I would share with you since you were mentioning Jazz musicians.

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