An aspiring jazz trumpet player's blog about jazz improvisation and ear training.

May 15, 2005 About Me

Recommended jazz recordings

covers I spent a few weeks trying to come up with a list of recommended recordings so I'd have some suggestions to go along with my listening guide. These recommendations primarly focus on the hard bop period (mid 1955-65), as that's the period that I like best.

I tried to organize each album in order of preference, however I decided it would be best to simply put them in ranked groups. So, within each group, there is no specific order.


  • Miles Davis - Kind Of Blue
  • John Coltrane - Blue Train
  • Dexter Gordon - Doin' Allright
  • Lee Morgan - Search For The New Land
  • John Coltrane - A Love Supreme
  • Miles Davis - Round About Midnight
  • Sonny Rollins - Saxophone Collosus
  • Wayne Shorter - Speak No Evil
  • Clifford Borwn - Clifford Brown & Max Roach
  • Joe Henderson - Mode For Joe
  • John Coltrane - Giant Steps
  • Thelonious Monk - Monk's Dream


  • Art Blakey And The Jazz Messengers - Moanin'
  • Miles Davis - Seven Steps To Heaven
  • Herbie Hancock - Maiden Voyage
  • Ornette Coleman - The Shape Of Jazz To Come
  • Joe Henderson - Page One
  • Miles Davis - Relaxin'
  • Clifford Brown - Study in Brown
  • Herbie Hancock - Takin' Off
  • Horace Silver - The Cape Verdean Blues
  • Miles Davis - Miles Smiles
  • Duke Ellington & John Coltrane - Duke Ellington & John Coltrane
  • Keith Jarrett - The Koln Concert or Tokyo '96
  • Sonny Rollins - The Bridge


  • Lee Morgan - The Sidewinder
  • Wayne Shorter - Juju
  • Cannonball Adderley - Somethin' Else
  • Horace Silver - The Jody Grind
  • Horace Silver - Song For My Father
  • Miles Davis - Miles Ahead
  • Miles Davis - Any of: Cookin', Steamin', Workin', or Relaxin'
  • Charles Mingus - Blues & Roots
  • Bill Evans - Waltz For Debbie (Live)
  • Sarah Vaughan with Clifford Brown
  • Chick Corea - Now He Speaks, Now He Sobs
  • Hank Mobley - Dippin'
  • Jackie McLean - Vertigo
  • Donald Byrd - Free Form
  • Larry Young - Unity
  • John Coltrane - Live at the Village Vanguard


  • Jimmy Smith - Back At The Chicken Shack
  • Nina Simone - Anthology
  • Horace Silver - Finger Poppin'
  • Nancy Wilson & Cannonball Adderley (self titled)
  • Betty Carter - The Modern Sound Of Betty Carter
  • John Coltrane - Crescent
  • Sonny Rollins - Way Out West
  • Booker Ervin - TexBook Tenor
  • Johnny Griffin - A Blowin' Session
  • Wayne Shorter - Night Dreamer
  • Hank Mobley - No Room For Squares
  • Miles Davis - Sketches of Spain
  • Donald Byrd - Byrd In The Hand
  • Blue Mitchell - The Thing To Do
  • Carmen McRae - Bittersweet
  • Don Ellis - Live At Monterey


Here are some great recordings from the past 10-20 years. Most (if not all) of these artists are still in their prime and tour regularly. Catch them if you can!

Note: I *really* need to update this list...

  • Dave Douglas - Soul On Soul
  • Kenny Garrett - Introducing Kenny Garrett or Songbook
  • Chris Potter - Lift: Live At The Village Vanguard
  • Brad Mehldau - Day Is Done
  • Dave Holland Quintet - Extended Play - Live At Birdland
  • Nicholas Payton - Gumbo Nouveau
  • Masada - Live At Sevilla 2000 or Live At Tonic 2001
  • Mingus Big Band - The Essential Mingus Big Band
  • Tim Warfield - Jazz Is
  • Roy Hargrove - Nothing Serious
  • Joshua Redman - Spirit Of The Moment: Live At The Village Vanguard


Some people believe you need to start listening to early jazz before you should listen to later periods. I think you should start by listening to whatever period interests you the most. Give early jazz a listen, but there's no need to force it upon yourself if you don't like it. I do believe, however, that once you develop a solid appreciation for jazz, you'll gradually listen to more periods and likely find that the old recordings don't sound so old anymore...

  • Sidney Bechet - The Legendary Sidney Bechet
  • Sidney Bechet - The Best Of Sidney Bechet
  • Louis Armstrong - The Best Of The Hot 5 & 7 Recordings
  • Louis Armstrong & Duke Ellington - The Great Summit, Master Takes
  • Louis Armstrong - Louis Armstrong Plays W.C. Handy
  • Louis Armstrong & Ella Fitzgerald - Ella & Louis
  • Bix Beiderbecke - Vol. 1: Singin' The Blues
  • Jelly Roll Morton - Birth Of The Hot
  • An Anthology Of Big Band Swing 1930-1955
  • Fletcher Henderson - A Study in Frustration: Thesaurus of Classic Jazz
  • Duke Ellington - The Best of the Duke Ellington Centennial Edition
  • Ella Fitzgerald - Sings the Duke Ellington Song Book
  • Charlie Parker - The Complete Charlie Parker On Verve
  • Dizzy Gillespie - Dizzy Gillespie At Newport
  • Dizzy Gillespie - Verve Jazz Masters 10: Dizzy Gillespie
  • Fats Navarro and Tadd Dameron: The Complete Blue Note and Capitol Recordings
  • Lester Young - With The Oscar Peterson Trio
  • Art Tatum - The Complete Capitol Recording

Be sure to check out The Red Hot Jazz Archive for audio clips and historical information pertaining to pre-1930's jazz.


I turned off comments for this thread because I want to avoid a situation where people debate my ordering or my inclusion/exclusion of a particular album. This is my list, if you don't like it, go make your own ;-)