100 Essential &
Best Jazz Albums Of All Time
Time is suspended on these four haunting, extended tunes by this brilliant guitarist with Joe Henderson, Bobby Hutcherson, Duke Pearson, Bob Cranshaw and Al Harewood. Alternate versions of “Jean De Fleur” and “Django” have been added.
Every single tune on this great jazz album from the haunting title tune to the gentle, swinging “Dolphin Dance” has found its way into the standard jazz repertoire. Herbie Hancock fashioned a modern jazz milestone with extraordinary compositions, interplay and solos. Completing the quintet are Freddie Hubbard, George Coleman, Ron Carter and Tony Williams.
MAN FROM TWO WORLDS
Rarely do four distinctive musical voices converge to make such a magnificent and original blend as Hamilton, composer/reedman Charles Lloyd, Hungarian guitarist Gabor Szabo and bassist Albert Stinson. This gem includes the first version of Lloyd’s :”Forest Flower.” Added to the CD are four tracks from the band’s previous album “Passin’ Thru” which also included George Bohanon on trombone.
These 1944 Apollo sessions include the six Hawkins big band sides, including “Disorder At The Border” and the title tune (a variation of “Body And Soul”), the four tenor encounters by Hawk, Ben Webster and George Auld as well as four Auld band tracks with Sonny Berman. Sidemen include Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Shavers, Israel Crosby and Oscar Pettiford.
THE HAWK FLIES HIGH
This bluesy 1957 septet date with modernists J. J. Johnson, Idrees Sulieman, Hank Jones, Barry Galbraith, Oscar Pettiford and Jo Jones was, in essence, a comeback album for the pioneering tenor saxophonist, still open-minded and playing at the peak of his powers.
This album introduced the jazz world to the unusually mature and original young tenor saxophonist. “Recorda Me” & “Blue Bossa” have become jazz classics for their mix of Brazilian rhythms with hard bop muscle. Kenny Dorham, McCoy Tyner, Butch Warren and Pete LaRoca complete the quintet.
Point Of Departure
Andrew Hill’s rich, rhythmic piano and utterly unique compositions stand alone. “Point Of Departure” is Hill’s masterpiece with rich three-horn arrangements for Kenny Dorham, Eric Dolphy and Joe Henderson. Richard Davis and Tony Williams complete this superb, flexible ensemble of individuals who come together to create an new entity.
Featured Track: New Monastery
So named by Andrew Hill because the piece reminded Francis Wolff of an early Monk tune, “New Monastery” has the melody shared in staggered fashion by Joe Henderson, Kenny Dorham and Eric Dolphy (on alto sax). Dolphy takes the first solo which is both assertive and lyrical. Hill’s layered solo is accompanied by ever-changing cymbal patterns from an 18-year-old Tony Williams. Joe Henderson was one of the most empathetic and assured improvisers of Andrew’s unique music.
JAZZ ROYALTY – EARL PLAYS DUKE
Every pianist who came after him owes a debt to this visionary pioneer. These solo piano recordings, made between 1971 and 1975, allow us to eavesdrop on one master studying another. Hines tackles tunes he knew well and tunes learned for the sessions with pure mastery. All 30 performances are gathered on this 3-CD set.
PASSION FLOWER (1940-46)
The absolute cream (22 tunes) of this alto saxophonist’s many Victor and Bluebird recordings with Duke Ellington in the ‘40s. It includes the small-group sides originally issued under Hodges’s name and big band classics from Ellington’s pace-setting organization.
THE COMPLETE DECCA RECORDINGS
All 50 performances cut by Billie for Decca from ‘44 to ‘50, including 10 previously unissued alternate takes. This material ranks with her great Commodore sides as her finest work. Includes “Lover Man,” “Don’t Explain,” “God Bless The Child” and “Good Morning Heartache.”
THE COMPLETE COMMODORE RECORDINGS
A perfect complement to her Decca work, also produced by Milt Gabler, these four Commodore sessions from ‘39 and ‘44 include her classics “Strange Fruit,” “Yesterdays,” “Fine And Mellow,” “I’ll Be Seeing You” and “Billie’s Blues.” All known alternate takes are included, bringing the total performances to 40.
ELMO HOPE TRIO
A superb 1959 album from one of the most inventive pianist/composers to emerge in New York in the early `50s. Jimmy Bond and Frank Butler complete the trio on this Los Angeles session.An underrated Jazz gem.
THE BODY & THE SOUL
This 1963 gem is one of Freddie Hubbard’s finest and most overlooked albums. The three settings include a blazing septet with Eric Dolphy and Wayne Shorter, a big band and a string and brass orchestra, both arranged by Shorter. Hubbard is superb throughout. The highlights include a great version of Ellington’s “Chocolate Shake” and Hubbard’s “Clarence’s Place” with a wild Dolphy solo.
PLENTY, PLENTY SOUL
An especially vibrant hard bop classic from January, 1957. Jackson is heard on the first three tunes with an all-star nonet that includes Cannonball Adderley, Horace Silver and Art Blakey. The last four including “The Spirit Feel” feature a sextet with Lucky Thompson, Silver and Oscar Pettiford.
KENTON IN HI FI
Kenton’s critically-acclaimed 1956 remakes of his 16 greatest early recordings rival and often surpass the originals. Ignited by Mel Lewis’s drums, the band brings new clarity and excitement to these great ‘40s Kenton and Pete Rugolo charts.
RAHSAAN ROLAND KIRK
RIP, RIG AND PANIC
“Rip, Rig And Panic,” beautifully recorded by Rudy Van Gelder, was Kirk’s finest album of the sixties, possibly of all time. The explosive, energetic and versatile rhythm section of Jaki Byard, Richard Davis and Elvin Jones keep up with the saxophonist’s extraordinary flights that hit New Orleans and Mars and everything in between.
This sparse 1961 trio with bassist Sonny Dallas and drummer Elvin Jones is one of Lee’s most creative career highlights. Elvin’s tasteful, insistent, polyrhythmic swing underpins Konitz’s also saxophone magnificently and pushes him to brilliant improvisational heights.
This tenor saxophonist’s 1959 masterpiece also features two under-recorded legends, pianist Elmo Hope and trumpeter Dupree Bolton.
FOUR & MAX ROACH
The first of the four albums by this genius trumpeter-composer before his death at age 23. The group consists of Little, George Coleman, Tommy Flanagan, Art Davis and Max Roach. Also includes the two tunes from “Down Home Reunion”.
In terms of composition, leadership and playing, this is probably Jackie McLean’s greatest album, culled from two different sessions, separated by 20 months. Tunes include “Quadrangle”, “Fidel” and “Appointment In Ghana”. Three bonus tracks complete the sextet session with Tina Brooks and Blue Mitchell.
PRESENT CHARLES MINGUS
The always cutting-edge music of Charles Mingus hit a brilliant peak in 1960 with this quartet featuring reedman Eric Dolphy, trumpeter Ted Curson and drummer Dannie Richmond. Although done in the studio, the band played the music straight through of is it were a live performance for spontaneity. Four wild, brilliant musical journeys including “Original Faubus Fables”.
Mingus, Mingus, Mingus, Mingus, Mingus
Great Mingus compositions were reworked for this exciting, beautifully voiced 1963 big band with Booker Ervin, Eric Dolphy, Charlie Mariano, Richard Williams, Quentin Jackson and Jaki Byard among the soloists. The unbeatable team of Mingus and Dannie Richmond are the human equivalent of rocket propulsion on every track. Mingus revisits older compositions with new titles and new energy. Arranger Bob Hammer helped work out parts and voicings.
Featured Track: I X Love
“I X Love” (aka “Duke’s Choice”) is beautifully voiced for and performed by an orchestra including muted trumpet, trombone, baritone sax, bass clarinet and piano. Charlie Mariano’s impassioned alto sax comes soaring over the rich, moving textures of the arrangement for a powerful reading of the melody and a great solo. I’m not sure it gets any better than this.
No Room For Squares
This album features two 1963 all-star quintets: one with Lee Morgan, Andrew Hill and John Ore; the other with Donald Byrd, Herbie Hancock and Butch Warren. Philly Joe Jones is the driving force throughout. Mobley’s compositions offer plenty of variety in feeling and form.
Featured Track: No Room For Squares
“No Room For Squares” is a delightful Mobley original. Philly Joe Jones steals the show with his hi-hat rhythm under the intro and his spot-on fills and accents on the main theme and the bridge. Mobley’s tone is warm and rich. After he, Morgan and Hill solo, the horns trade fours with Philly Joe. A tight performance without a wasted note.
THE MODERN JAZZ QUARTET
Milt Jackson, John Lewis, Percy Heath and Kenny Clarke crystallized their uniquely eloquent and stately approach to the language of be-bop on this historic album. Highlights include “Milano”, “La Ronde Suite” and the title tune.
THE BLUE NOTE RECORDINGS
Some of the most original, influential and perfect modern jazz ever recorded. Monk introduced his greatest and most unique compositions in these early years. Volume 1 covers his first three sessions (complete) in 1947 with Idrees Sulieman, Sahib Shihab, Art Blakey and others. On Volume 2 Monk debuted some of his most complex masterpieces like “Criss Cross”, “Four In One” and “Skippy”. The 1951 date features Sahib Shihab and Milt Jackson. The 1952 session has the unique front line of Kenny Dorham, Lou Donaldson and Lucky Thompson.
The operative word here is brilliant. Monk introduced some of his most challenging and enduring compositions such as “Pannonica,” “Bemsha Swing” and the title tune on this landmark 1956 recording with Ernie Henry, Sonny Rollins, Clark Terry, Oscar Pettiford, Paul Chambers and Max Roach.
THE THELONIOUS MONK QUARTET
WITH JOHN COLTRANE AT CARNEGIE HALL
Discovered in 2005, this November 1957 Carnegie Hall concert by the legendary Monk Quartet with Coltrane more than delivers on its promise. Pianistically, Monk will shock you and Coltrane is focused and impassioned throughout. One of the best live Jazz concerts.
INCREDIBLE JAZZ GUITAR
This magnificent 1960 quartet date with Tommy Flanagan and Percy and Tootie Heath put Wes in the jazz pantheon and is still considered one of his finest. Includes the first versions of his “West Coast Blues,” “Four On Six” and “D-Natural Blues.”
Search For The New Land
Recorded in 1964 as “The Sidewinder” was climbing the charts, this magnificent session with Wayne Shorter, Grant Green, Herbie Hancock, Reggie Workman and Billy Higgins was deemed too progressive and shelved for two years. It has since become recognized as one of Morgan’s best. His five originals on this album are varied and challenging.
Featured Track: Mr. Kenyatta
“Mr. Kenyatta” is a bright, staccato melody sailing over an irresistible rhythm and a three-section harmonic structure. The excellent solos by Morgan, Wayne Shorter, Grant Green and Herbie Hancock follow the format of the composition.
JELLY ROLL MORTON
BIRTH OF THE HOT (THE CLASSIC CHICAGO RED HOT PEPPERS 1926-27)
All 19 master takes and four alternate takes. Kid Ory, Omer Simeon, Barney Bigard and Johnny and Baby Dodds are among the sidemen on these enormously influential recordings. Tunes include “Grandpa’s Spells,” “Black Bottom Stomp,” “Doctor Jazz,” “Beale Street Blues” and “The Pearls.”
THE ORIGINAL QUARTET WITH CHET BAKER
The pianoless Gerry Mulligan Quartet, which launched the careers of Mulligan, Chet Baker and Chico Hamilton, lasted only one year (June ’52-’53). These two remastered CDs cover all 42 tracks that the quartet recorded for Pacific Jazz in that one year. Recorded live at the Haig and in various studios. This is an essential modern jazz album and one of the best cool jazz albums..
FATS NAVARRO & TADD DAMERON
THE COMPLETE BLUE NOTE AND CAPITOL RECORDINGS
This set includes every Dameron session for both labels on disc one as well as Navarro’s appearances with Howard McGhee, Bud Powell and Benny Goodman on disc two. Such bebop essentials as “The Squirrel”, “Dameronia”, “Lady Bird” and “Boperation”.
Blues And The Abstract Truth
This all-star 1961 session with Nelson, Eric Dolphy, Freddie Hubbard, Bill Evans, Paul Chambers and Roy Haynes is simply one of the most beautifully written, played and recorded modern jazz sessions of all time. George Barrow takes no solos but his baritone sax is an important voice in the ensemble. Nelson arranges and voices four horns to sound like a big band. From the haunting “Stolen Moments” to the soulful “Hoe-down,” every solo is a thoroughly developed composition unto itself.
Featured Track: Stolen Moments
There have been over 200 versions of “Stolen Moments” recorded by other artists, but none comes close to Nelson’s beautifully arranged original version. The brilliant solos by Freddie Hubbard, Eric Dolphy (on flute), Oliver Nelson (on tenor sax) and Bill Evans are creative statements imbued by every aspect of the composition.
THE COMPLETE BLUE NOTE RECORDINGS
Like Thelonious Monk, Nichols’ music has its own logic and identity. During ‘55 and ‘56, Lion taped five lengthy trio sessions with him. These 30 tunes and 18 very different alternate takes are an amazing body of work. An underrated jazz artist and one of the most unique voices of jazz piano. He sounds like nothing else, and it is brilliant.
THE SAVOY & DIAL MASTER TAKES
All 65 master takes from this genius at his creative peak (1944-48) with Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, J.J. Johnson, Bud Powell, Max Roach and others. These were the masterpieces that rocked the jazz world and changed it forever. Newly transferred for improved sound.
JAZZ AT MASSEY HALL
One of the most famous jazz concerts in history, it also features the most volatile and innovative quintet ever to be assembled. But the music that Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Bud Powell, Charles Mingus and Max Roach played at the 1953 Toronto concert is simply astonishing. Top ten best live jazz album.
This rare November 25, 1956 Tampa session with Russ Freeman on piano, Ben Tucker on bass and Gary Frommer on drums has long been considered among Pepper’s best. His hard-swinging, Bird-influenced alto was already finding its own voice.
THE AMAZING, VOLUME 1
Bud’s 1949 quintet session with Fats Navarro and Sonny Rollins and 1951 trio date with Curly Russell and Max Roach in complete form. “Bouncing With Bud”, “Dance Of The Infidels”, “Un Poco Loco” and “Parisian Thoroughfare” are among the be-bop masterpieces from these historic dates.
THE BEST OF
Eighteen of the finest recordings for the Swing label (1936-48) by one of the most exciting and innovative jazz guitarists with the Quintet of The Hot Club of France, solo and in various all-star ensembles.
Though Rollins was already considered a promising and important tenor player, this 1956 landmark recording with Tommy Flanagan, Doug Watkins and Max Roach assured his place in history. His mature and virtuosic explorations of five varied pieces all achieve near perfection. A brilliant jazz guitar album.
THE COMPLETE GRAMERCY FIVE SESSIONS
The eight sides from 1940 with Billy Butterfield, Al Hendrickson and Johnny Guarnieri and the seven sides from 1945 with Roy Eldridge, Dodo Marmarosa and Barney Kessel are small group swing at its best.
SPEAK NO EVIL
Shorter’s Blue Note masterpiece with Freddie Hubbard, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter and Elvin Jones was his third album in 1964. His writing and playing are, as always, incandescent and cutting-edge. “Speak No Evil,” “Witch Hunt” and “Infant Eyes” have become jazz standards. This magical session is capped off with a previously unissued alternate take of “Dance Cadaverous.”
AND THE JAZZ MESSENGERS
This seminal album, recorded in November 1954 and February 1955, gave birth to the Blue Note Sound. Shifting be-bop into an earthier, more blues-gospel orbit connected with audiences and forged the direction that hard bop would take for years to come. Kenny Dorham, Hank Mobley, Silver, Doug Watkins and Blakey deliver Horace’s compositions with panache and solo with heart-felt invention.
Song For My Father
A visit to Brazil prompted Horace Silver’s interest in his Portuguese roots and led to the magnificent “Song For My Father,” his most enduring composition. Horace Silver introduced his new quintet with Joe Henderson and Carmell Jones on four tracks of this album. Each became a classic: the title tune, “The Natives Are Restless Tonight,” “Que Pasa” and “The Kicker.” Roger Humphries takes over the drum stool, previously occupied by Louis Hayes and Roy Brooks and he is as powerful and swinging as his predecessors.
Featured Track: The Kicker
Joe Henderson’s “The Kicker” had previously been recorded by Bobby Hutcherson and Grant Green although those versions weren’t released at the time. Horace Silver’s musical instincts and Roger Humphries’ soulful precision add power to this dazzling staccato composition. Each solo is a as driven and possessed as the composition itself.
IN THE WEE SMALL HOURS
In his liner notes, Pete Welding describes this as “one of the finest, most perfectly realized and deeply satisfying recordings of his long career. An album of unparalleled beauty and unfeigned emotional sincerity.” Nelson Riddle arranged the 16-song album.
WITH BUD POWELL AND J.J. JOHNSON
A 25-year-old firebrand, Stitt plays tenor throughout these three classic 1949-50 bop dates by a quartet with Powell and Max Roach and a J.J. Johnson date with John Lewis and Roach. Magnificent, fiery be-bop.
THE COMPLETE CAPITOL RECORDINGS
All 20 Capitol solo sides from 1949 plus his eight trio sides from 1952 with Everett Barksdale and Slam Stewart show this piano genius in his two best contexts. Great Tatum!
GROUP MASTERPIECES, VOL. 8
This relaxed quartet session finds the piano virtuoso matched with the warm, concise tenor saxophone of Ben Webster. Every track is a gem. “My One And Only Love” is a masterpiece.
THE REAL MCCOY
McCoy Tyner forged his sound as a leader on the amazing session with Joe Henderson, Ron Carter and Coltrane bandmate Elvin Jones. All five distinctive compositions have become jazz standards. A perfect jazz album and an essential one, too.
This 1957 date with Oscar Peterson, Herb Ellis, Ray Brown and Stan Levey typifies Webster’s art to perfection with five magnificent ballads and two blues. The CD reissue adds the three bonus tracks from the session on which Ben replaces Peterson at the piano, which was his first professional instrument.
This exciting and inventive session with Joe Henderson and Elvin Jones put Young and Woody Shaw on the jazz map. Churning rhythms, challenging compositions and brilliant solos make this album a classic that exerted great, uncredited influence on the next generation of jazz artists.
THE “KANSAS CITY” SESSIONS
Both all-star Commodore dates by the Kansas City Six featuring Lester Young from ‘38 and ‘44 are issued here with master first-alternate takes. In addition, all four tunes from the 1938 Kansas City Five session featuring Buck Clayton are included. Sidemen include Eddie Durham, Freddie Green, Walter Page, Jo Jones, Bill Coleman and Dicky Wells. Brilliant small group swing recordings.
THE COMPLETE ALADDIN RECORDINGS
This set includes the magnificent 1942 trio session with Nat Cole, the Helen Humes session (with a newly discovered instrumental), and all seven small-group sessions led by Young between 1945 and ‘47. These sessions, which spawned such classics as “D.B. Blues” and “Jumpin’ With Symphony Sid”, include Vic Dickenson, Willie Smith, Joe Albany and Roy Haynes among the sidemen.