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Best Jazz Albums: Top 10 Great Albums to Start Your Jazz CD Collection

Updated on November 12, 2012
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Rose is a full-time freelance writer who frequently writes about education, special education, DIY projects, food, Milwaukee, and more.

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If you enjoy jazz and don't know where to begin your collection or simply haven't listened to very much , if any, jazz, but would like to, here's a list of albums to get you going. Enjoy!

1) Kind of Blue by Miles Davis

This album is a classic. I don't know anyone who doesn't enjoy it. Its subtle brilliant will blow you away. It's wonderfully relaxing to listen to any time you're at home. It's also a perfect album to play as background music during dinner parties.

2) Love Scenes by Diana Krall

I've seen Diana Krall in concert twice. The first time I saw her, she played at least four tracks from this album, and I was hooked. More than ten years later, I still think that this is one of her best albums.

Miles Davis - Freddie Freeloader

Diane Krall - Peel Me a Grape

3) Live Art by Bela Fleck and the Flecktones

Amazon lists this album under "Jazz Fusion." Honestly I'm not sure what category is most appropriate, as it is far from strictly jazz, but I couldn't make this list without including at least one Bela Fleck album. This was the first Bela Fleck album I listened to. It's still one of my favorites. You can't go wrong with Bela Fleck, though, so if you can pick up something else of his first at the library or are just inspired to download a couple tracks from any of his albums, you won't be disappointed. He blends many different types of music together with his amazing banjo playing and ever changing also amazing group of musicians.

4) Anything Goes by Brad Mehldau

I've had the good fortune to see Brad Mehldau in concert three times. If you ever get the chance to hear him live, I highly recommend it. This is my favorite of his solo albums. Every track on this album is so good that I always listen to it straight through without skipping around.

5) The Enchantment by Bela Fleck and Chick Corea

I felt like I wasn't completely cheating by adding another Bela Fleck album to this list because this one is also by Chick Corea whose piano playing adds a wonderful element to Fleck's music.

6) Metheny / Mehldau self-titled

Hopefully you aren't feeling cheated at this point by another repeat name and another dual effort album. You won't be when you hear this album.

7) Summer Night in Munich by Oscar Peterson

I saw Oscar Peterson in concert during one of his final years with us.  Some of his technical skills had been compromised because of his strokes, but you didn't even notice because all of his sensibility and subtlety was still there.  Those same qualities come through in this album.  (Also, on another positive note, he does not hum or sing into the microphone on this album as he does on some of his earlier ones.)

8) Time Out by Dave Brubeck

Even if you aren't familiar with this album, you'll probably be surprised by how many songs you recognize from it. The only problem that I have with Time Out is that it's simply too short. I'm left wanting another couple of songs, which is never a bad thing when it comes to any art form.

Dave Brubeck - Take Five

9) Head Hunters by Herbie Hancock

I first heard Watermelon Man in junior high when I was learning it in jazz band.  If you haven't heard it before, you're missing out.  It's worth picking up the entire album for the other three classic Herbie songs as well.

10) Christmas Songs by Diana Krall

I had to include one Christmas album on my list.  I don't have a ton of Christmas albums, but I fully enjoy listening to the ones that I do have throughout the Christmas season every year.  I'm a huge fan of her original Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas EP.  It's not worth paying the used prices on Amazon for it, but you may be able to download the tracks.  This later Christmas album is very solid, too.  I love all of the big band arrangements.

Frequent a local record store.

show route and directions
A markerSkip's Records and CD World -
3215 W 11th Ave, Eugene, OR 97402, USA
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B markerWaterloo Records and Video -
600 N Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78703, USA
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C markerVinyl Daze Records -
958 Laskin Rd, Virginia Beach, VA 23451, USA
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    • randomcreative profile imageAUTHOR

      Rose Clearfield 

      5 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Thanks, Music-and-Art! You will definitely have to check out Diana Krall. Honestly I'm not familiar with A Love Supreme, but I will check it out sometime!

    • Music-and-Art-45 profile image

      Music-and-Art-45 

      5 years ago from USA, Illinois

      Nice list, I have a lot of these albums, but I have never listened to Diana Krall's albums before, I'm going to have to check those out. I was surprised A Love Supreme wasn't on here, if you haven't checked that out it comes highly recommended and its very accessible.

    • randomcreative profile imageAUTHOR

      Rose Clearfield 

      5 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Thanks, mperrottet! I will have to check out that Path Methany album. Thanks for the suggestion. You're right that it's so hard to choose!

      That's great, bankscottage! I'm sure that it was amazing to see Dave Brubeck in concert.

    • bankscottage profile image

      bankscottage 

      5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Great Hub. Our eldest son was really into jazz in high school. He played in a jazz band, jazz combo, and jazz choir. He had me at the Village Vanguard and Birdland. But, the best thing we did was see Dave Brubeck in concert, not once, but twice on separate occasions in different venues. "Take Five" is my favorite jazz piece. Thanks for providing the video.

      You highlight a lot of great jazz performers.

    • mperrottet profile image

      Margaret Perrottet 

      5 years ago from San Antonio, FL

      You have some great suggestions here. I love Bela Fleck, Dave Brubeck, Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock, but my favorite is Pat Methany - my favorite album being Secret Story. So many great artists in jazz - it's hard to choose, but you offer a good start.

    • randomcreative profile imageAUTHOR

      Rose Clearfield 

      5 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      That's awesome, Cyndi!

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 

      5 years ago from Western NC

      I love Bela Fleck...and as I started reading this, I turned it to my jazz channel. hehe.

    • randomcreative profile imageAUTHOR

      Rose Clearfield 

      5 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Haha no worries, Bill!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      LOL.....I'm so sorry Rose. I saw something by Christy just before reading this, and her name was transferred to you. My apologies.

    • randomcreative profile imageAUTHOR

      Rose Clearfield 

      5 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      I'm Rose, but thanks, Bill. I'm glad that you enjoyed this. I agree about Miles Davis.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I never saw this list, Christy! Great hub! It's hard to argue with Miles Davis. He has long been one of my favorites.

    • randomcreative profile imageAUTHOR

      Rose Clearfield 

      6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Olde Cashmere, I'm so glad that this is helpful for you! Happy listening. :)

    • profile image

      Olde Cashmere 

      6 years ago

      Such a wonderful list because I'm not familiar with some of the works. I appreciate you compiling this for people looking to get more into Jazz. Voted up, useful, awesome, and interesting :)

    • randomcreative profile imageAUTHOR

      Rose Clearfield 

      6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Thanks Vinaya! I'm glad that this is helpful for you.

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 

      6 years ago from Nepal

      I'm not a great fan of jazz, thanks for this comprehensive introduction.

      Cheers

    • profile image

      ale 

      6 years ago

      Listen for instance in the Ahmad Jamal's CD "Ahmad's Blues" the track "It could happen to you" and compare this version to the one recorded by Miles Davis later on in the record "Relaxin'". The "RS" power was indeed different.

      Who was the more effective? For me the answer is simple...points of views...

    • randomcreative profile imageAUTHOR

      Rose Clearfield 

      6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Interesting perspective!

    • profile image

      ale 

      6 years ago

      Sincerely,

      more than a single musician, would be interesting listen to the rhythm sections, like "ray brown trio", "hamad jamal trio", "bill evans trio", "wynton kelly trio" and so on. "Kind of silence" is a milestone not only because is well played but also because the Rhythm section's sound, fills the gap between be-bop and hard-bop. Miles didn't want bill evans playing the blues (freddie freeloader)but wynton. That was not by chance.

      http://alessandroolivieri.com

    • randomcreative profile imageAUTHOR

      Rose Clearfield 

      6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Awesome! He is definitely one of the masters. It feels cliché to put him on a list, but how you can leave him out?

    • Rebecca E. profile image

      Rebecca E. 

      6 years ago from Canada

      this is such an awesome list, I'll definitely put money towards these CDs, I am certain that Miles Davis si teh master he always seems to top everyone's list.

    • randomcreative profile imageAUTHOR

      Rose Clearfield 

      6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Awesome! Let me know if you do. :)

    • UniqueVanities profile image

      Heather 

      6 years ago from Ohio

      I'm on board!! I've always been into jazzy house music and have never gotten to the roots! Going to try!

    • randomcreative profile imageAUTHOR

      Rose Clearfield 

      6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Very nice!

    • delmer47 profile image

      delmer47 

      6 years ago from Nebraska

      I am a big jazz fan! I LOVE Pat Metheny, and I have the album you mentioned above. I also own Head Hunters by Herbie Hancock also. This music speaks to my soul.

    • randomcreative profile imageAUTHOR

      Rose Clearfield 

      7 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Thanks!

    • The Jet profile image

      The Jet 

      7 years ago from The Bay

      You're cool for this. Props.

    • randomcreative profile imageAUTHOR

      Rose Clearfield 

      7 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Thanks Susan! That's awesome.

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 

      7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Time Out is one of my favorites. I saw Dave Brubeck about 4 times when I lived in Seattle. Great shows all of them. Great Selection here.

    • randomcreative profile imageAUTHOR

      Rose Clearfield 

      7 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Thanks! This is definitely a wonderfully diverse world. You have an interesting list, too!

    • tonymac04 profile image

      Tony McGregor 

      7 years ago from South Africa

      Interesting list. I have also done a 10 best jazz alums Hub - none of your's there. So it goes - this is a wonderfully diverse world!

      Love and peace

      Tony

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