Favorite Jazz Albums

I have enjoyed jazz music since my high school and college years, having amassed a large collection of jazz recording. My parents would play albums of the 1940s big bands and the 1950s jazz crooners. I soon discovered the music of Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Dave Brubeck, Thelonious Monk, and others, I was hooked.

One summer, when I was 19, I was paid to DJ jazz albums at the weekend parties with local celebrities at the mansion of a wealthy patron of the arts. I would purchase the most recent jazz album releases and read reviews. Being a young jazz aficionado gained me big tips which helped cover my college expenses.

Later in life I would go to jazz clubs and festivals and I saw some of the great jazz artists such as Tony Bennett, Sarah Vaughan, Johnny Harman, Ron Carter, Nancy Wilson, Pharoah Sanders, Al Jarreau, McCoy Tyner, John McLaughlin, Spiro Gyra, Dave Brubeck, Modern Jazz Quartet, Christian McBride, Sonny Rollins, Wayne Shorter, and many others. When I lived in Manhattan working on Wall Street I was in my element with the rich jazz culture.

My favorite jazz albums are described below with a link to one of the album songs. I hope you enjoy them.

Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Cole Porter Song Book

Ella Fitzgerald - Ella Fitzgerald Sings The Cole Porter Songbook -  Amazon.com Music

The undisputed Queen of Jazz. Ella Fitzgerald set the gold standard for jazz vocal standards. She has superior interpretation of lyrics and captures the swing with her perfect voice. Three ladies of song dominate the genre – Ella, Billie Holiday, and Sarah Vaughan – all others may be good but merely wanna-bes in comparison.

Fitzgerald produced a series of the Great American Songs Books. Her Cole Porter 2-disc album is the best. It is the definitive work on Porter and was entered into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

Details: Verve, 1956

Notable Songs: In the Still of the Night, Night and Day, Begin the Beguine, I Get Kick Out of You, I’ve Got You Under My Skin

Ranked– Allmusic 4.5 stars out of 5, Rolling Stone 4/5, Penguin 4/4

Night and Day from the album.

Kind of Blue, Miles Davis

Blue in Green (feat. John Coltrane & Bill Evans) - song and lyrics by Miles  Davis, John Coltrane, Bill Evans | Spotify

Often ranked by critics as the best jazz album ever recorded. The best-selling jazz album of all time. With an all-star sextet – Mile Davis trumpet, John Coltrane tenor sax, Cannonball Adderley alto sax, Bill Evans piano, Paul Chambers bass, and Jimmy Cobb drums. They created a new musical language. Wonderful to listen to.

Details: Columbia, 1959

Allmusic 5/5; Music Hound 5/5; Penguin 4/4 Rolling Stone 5/5

So What from the album

Sinatra at the Sands, with Count Basie

Frank Sinatra, Quincy Jones, Count Basie - Sinatra at the Sands -  Amazon.com Music

This classic album will transport you back to the Golden Age of 1960s Las Vegas crooners. Frank Sinatra at his best swinging with Count Basie’s Orchestra at the Sands Casino with classic songs.

Details: Reprise, 1966

Notable songs: Come Fly With Me, I’ve Got You Under My Skin, I’ve Got a Crush On You, The Shadow of Your Smile, Fly Me To the Moon

Allmusic 4.5/5, Mojo 4/5, Popmusic 4/5

I’ve Got You Under My Skin

My Favorite Things, John Coltrane

My Favorite Things (John Coltrane album) - Wikipedia

A groundbreaking album by one of the greatest jazz musicians in history. John Coltrane said it was “my favorite piece of all those I recorded.” Including the famous Coltrane Quartet with McCoy Tyner piano, Jimmy Garrison bass, and Elvin Jones drums.

Details: Atlantic, 1961

Allmusic 5/5, Penguin 4/4, Rolling Stone 5/5

Inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame

My Favorite Things

Waltz For Debbie, Bill Evans

Waltz for Debby (1962 album) - Wikipedia

A delightful and highly acclaimed album of cool jazz standards by 7-time Grammy winner Bill Evans. He brought a fresh perspective to jazz in the 1960s.

Details: Riverside, 1962.

Notable songs: My Foolish Heart, Waltz For Debby, Detour Ahead

Trio: Bill Evans piano, Scott Lafaro bass, and Paul Moton drums

Allmusic 5/5, Penguin 5/5, Rolling Stone 5/5

Waltz For Debby

Sarah Vaughan and Clifford Brown

VAUGHAN,SARAH - Sarah Vaughn & Clfford Brown - Amazon.com Music

The best album produced by one of the best singers of the 20th Century. Sarah and bebop legend Clifford Brown dance beautifully together in this wonderful album. You will never see anything like this again.

Details: EmArcy, 1955

Notrable songs: Lullaby of Birdland, Embraceable You, April In Paris, September Song

Allmusic 5/5, Penguin 4/4

Entered into the Gammy Hall of Fame

Lullaby of Birdland

Ellington at Newport

Duke Ellington And His Orchestra – Ellington At Newport (Deep Groove,  Vinyl) - Discogs

Jazz legend Duke Ellington made a big come back at the 1956 Newport Jazz Festival, wowing the audience to near hysterics. Proving that Classic jazz and Big Band Swing still had what it takes. One of the most famous albums in jazz.

Details: Columbia, 1956

Notable songs: Take the A Train, Sophisticated Lady, Mood Indigo, Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue

Allmusic 5/5, Penguin 4/4, Rolling Stone 5/5

Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue

Haunted Heart, Charlie Haden

Haunted Heart (Charlie Haden album) - Wikipedia

If you could only have one jazz album, this one would do in a pinch. Haden produced two albums as movie soundtracks, his homage to Hollywood film noir – Haunted Heart and Always Say Goodbye 1994. The album includes recordings by Billie holiday, Jo Stafford, and Jeri Southern. Nominated for Grammy Best Jazz Performance.

Details: Verve, 1991

Notable songs: Haunted Heart, The Long Goodbye, Moonlight Serenade

Quartet: Charlie Haden bass, Alan Broadbent piano, Ernie Watts sax, and Larance Marable drums

Allmusic 4.5/5 Penguin 3/4

Haunted Heart, with insert of Jo Stafford version

the Quintet, Jazz At Massey Hall

Jazz at Massey Hall - Wikipedia

Considered the best jazz concert in history. Performed in Toronto by a super-star combo of bebop legends – Charlie Parker on sax, Dizzy Gillespie on trumpet, Bud Powell on piano, Charles Mingus on bass, and Max Roach on drums. The album was entered into the Grammy Hall of Fame. Essential to any jazz collection.

Details: Debut, 1953

Notable songs: A Night in Tunisia, Perdido, Salt Peanuts

Allmusic 5/5, Rolling Stone 5/5, Penguin 4/4

A Night In Tunisia from the album.

Concert By the Sea, Erroll Garner

Erroll Garner – Concert By The Sea (1965, Vinyl) - Discogs

A very popular album of the 1950s which made Erroll Garner “an immortal from then on.” Fun, delightful, hip, and cool.

Details: Columbia, 1955

Notable songs: Teach Me Tonight, I’ll Remember April, April In Paris, Autumn Leaves

Trio: Erroll Garner piano, Denzil Best drums, and Eddie Calhoun bass

Allmusic 5/5, Penguin 4.5/5, Rolling Stone 5/5

Teach Me Tonight

Genius of Modern Music Vol 1 and 2, Thelonious Monk

Genius of Modern Music: Volume 1 - Wikipedia

One of the greatest innovators of jazz, the eccentric High Priest of Bebop. The definitive Thelonious Monk 2-disc album of his 1940s songs with legendary jazzmen as backup musicians.

Details: Blue Note, 1951 and 1956

Notable songs: Round Midnight, Straight No Chaser, Well You Needn’t, Epistrophy, Misterioso

Allmusic 5/5, Popmusic 5/5

Straight No Chaser

John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman


Acclaimed as one of the greatest jazz albums ever produced. Wonderful ballads with Johnny Hartman singing to Coltrane’s tenor sax. Including the famous Coltrane Quartet with McCoy Tyner piano, Jimmy Garrison bass, Elvin Jones drums.

Details: Impulse, 1963

Notable songs: They Say Its Wonderful, Dedicated to You, Lush Life

Allmusic 5/5, Rolling Stone 5/5, Penguin 3/4

Grammy Hall of Fame

They Say Its Wonderful

Lambert, Hendricks, & Ross

Lambert, Hendricks & Ross - The Hottest New Group in Jazz - Amazon.com Music

Downbeat called the trio “the hottest new group in jazz.” The vocalize trio of Dave Lambert, Jon Hendricks, and Annie Ross produced 10 albums and won 2 Grammys from 1957 to 1964. Very hip, cool, and popular, very refreshing. Famous backup musicians.

Details: Columbia, 1959

Notable songs: Charleston Alley, Twisted, Summertime

Backup: Ron Carter bass, Harry Edison trumpet, Pony Poindexter alto sax, Gildo Mahones piano

Allmusic 5/5, Penguin 4/4

Charleston Alley from the album

Time Out, Dave Brubeck

Dave Brubeck's "Time Out" For $1? Sure, Why Not?

A cool jazz classic album, very popular that reached double platinum and inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. The single hit Take Five sold over one million copies.

Details: Columbia, 1959

Quartet: Dave Brubeck piano, Paul Desmond alto sax, Eugene Wright bass, and Joe Morello drums

Notable songs: Take Five, Blue Rondo, Strange Meadow Lark, Kathy’s Waltz

Allmusic 5/5, Penguin 4/4

Take Five


Bruce J. Wood
Bruce J. Wood
Bruce J. Wood, founder of AOIDE Bruce J. Wood has worked on Wall Street in business finance and strategy, and has written hundreds of finance business plans, strategic plans, economic feasibility studies, and economic impact studies. Bruce has lectured on creativity and strategic thinking, as well as worked on the development of numerous publishing, film, television, and performing arts projects, along with downtown revitalizations, using the arts as an economic catalyst. As an aficionado of music, art, and dance, Bruce is also a writer and an outdoor enthusiast. He has written poetry, blogs, articles, and many creative project concepts. He lives in the Metro Detroit area and enjoys writing poetry, backpacking, and ballroom dancing.

Latest articles


Related articles