Top Ten Jazz Records



We, the KC Jazz staff, couldn't help ourselves and decided to give you our own, democratically picked, definitive top 10 Greatest Jazz Records you must own. So take this list, and read through the titles and if you see that one of them or more is not on your collection, stop everything, step away from the computer and go immediately and get them. We are not joking about this, step away from the computer if you must, go to any online vendor, record store, whatever, we'll wait for you. And, yes, trust us, you'll thank us. Ready to begin? Perfect. Bare in mind that these records are taken from our personal taste and we had our share of arguing when coming up with this link, blows were nearly exchanged, names were called, but we managed to publish this, controversy or not here they are... starting with:

10-Charlie Parker - "The Essential Charlie Parker"

Yes we had to go with our hometown hero first, partly because we wanted to get the biassed accusations out the way first but, in all reality, this is a collection that, even though does litle justice to Bird's extensive collection, it is a great way to keep some of his best recordings. And taking into consideration the influence he left on multiple great artists, is only fair we add him to this list.

9-Clifford Brown - "A Night at Birdland, Volume 2"

In this live jazz recording Clifford Brown alongisde Lou Donaldson on the alto sax and the great Art Blakely performed their hearts out in 1954 and left us with a killer show that blew away everybody and catapulted Clifford in the limelight.

8-Eric Dolphy - "Out to Lunch!"

Released in 1964 by legendary Blue Note Records, it was the only recording they released with Eric Dolphy as a leader, and subsequently is considered by many as one of the label's greatest albums. Among the amazing facts, Dolphy had just turned 18 when he recorded this album, and shortly passed away of a diabetic coma, making this album a testament of the promise of a great artists who left this world far too soon.

7-Wes Montgomery - "The Incredible Jazz Guitar of Wes Montgomery"

We have a sweet spot for Jazz Guitar records, and this record in particular is a no brainer in the discussion of best jazz albums ever. Many critics cite it as Wes Montgomery's finest work. Recorded in 1960, it has a sweet laid-back feel and its clear that he is one of the main influences of many Jazz guitarist then on.

6-The Dave Brubeck Quartet - "Time Out"

Released in 1959 on Columbia Records, the album was intended as an experiment, with Columbia president Goddard Lieberson taking a chance to release it, and received negative reviews by critics upon its release, it became one of the best-known and biggest-selling jazz albums, charting highly on the popular albums chart when 50,000 units sold for a jazz album was impressive.

5-Cannonball Adderley - "Something Else"

This beauty of a record was released by Blue Note on 1958, it's truly a landmark in both Hard Bop and Cool styles. It includes a contribution of another Jazz Giant, Miles Davis. This album is another (more on that later on the list) of the great collaborations Adderley and Davis had during this time.

4-Thelonious Monk – 'The Brilliant Corners"

This 1957 album has gathered a great deal of recognition since it's release, so much that in 2003, it was one of fifty recordings chosen by the Library of Congress to be added to the National Recording Registry, and it was also inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999. This album embodies perfectly the brilliance of Thelonious Monk.

3-Charles Mingus - "Mingus Ah Um"

Recorded and released by Columbia Recordings in 1959. It was the first album recorded for Columbia. Many jazz critics have called this album as an extended tribute to ancestors. The album contains heavy influence by gospel singing, so it has a very nice spiritual feel to it as well. Current reissues, include bonus tracks previously unreleased, a true must own for any Jazz lover.

2-John Coltrane - " A Love Supreme"

Released by Impulse! Records in 1965, played by the John Coltrane's quartet. Considered by many, including some our staff members, as the greatest jazz album of all time. It is generally considered to be among Coltrane's greatest works, as it melded the hard bop sensibilities of his early career with the free jazz style he adopted later. A Love Supreme is often listed amongst the greatest jazz albums of all time.It was also quite popular for a jazz album, selling about 500,000 copies by 1970, a number far exceeding Coltrane's typical Impulse! sales of around 30,000.As further testimony to the recording's historic significance, the manuscript for the album is one of the National Museum of American History's 'Treasures of American History', part of the collection of the Smithsonian Institution.

1-Miles Davis - "Kind of Blue"

The greatest, unparalled, unmatched, it still stands today as one of the greatest albums ever recorded for any genre of music. It plays like a Möbius strip, most of us listen to it nearly twice back to back since it can be played with no beginning or end. The album features a ridiculously amazing personnel, which was Miles Davis' sextet featuring Bill Evans, Wynton Kelly, Jimmy Cobb, Paul Chambers and Jhn Coltrane and Cannonball Adderley. We definetely recommend the reissue for it's 50th anniversary. Also, yes we had to go there, Miles was a Bird's disciple, so yeah, KC Jazz is here as well present in the greatest jazz albums.