Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Top 50 Jazz Albums of All Time! On One Convenient AccuJazz channel's newest channel has been a long time coming. Following on the heels of Jazz 101, a channel designed to both educate and enrapture newer jazz listeners, we're very proud to announce a channel called, simply, "Top 50 Jazz Albums of All Time."

While there's a long tradition of list-making among music fans of every stripe, there is also usually an accompanying reaction, along the lines of: "who are you to judge music like it's an Olympic sport, telling me which jazz is 'better' or worse'? It's just music, man!" In fact, I might have been quoting myself just now. All the same, if you spend enough time around jazz, listening to it, reading about it, talking about it, you must face the fact that certain albums possess that certain undefinable quality of "greatness" that causes them to rise above the rest and maintain relevance for decades longer than the others.

Therefore, we make lists. To create this Top 50 channel, I consulted a few lists that other, smarter people had already made, including the Penguin Guide's core collection, this nifty aggregated list made up of 22 others, and this list, which looked pretty solid. I also left a little bit of room for my own opinion (choosing "Our Man In Paris" over of "Go", making room for Brad Mehldau and including Miles Smiles, which I'd put in the top 5 but, inexplicably, I didn't find on many lists). What you end up with is a pretty agreeable list that shouldn't offend too many folks, but might surprise you at times. I took care to keep the list diverse, so it wasn't just everyone's favorite 50's Blue Notes. There's old music (Louis Armstrong, Django Reinhardt), Fusion (Mahavishnu Orchestra, Bitches Brew, Weather Report), free jazz (Peter Brotzmann, Albert Ayler), and even some modern stuff (Brad Mehldau, Bill Frisell). Of course, there is also plenty of classic straight-ahead jazz and post-bop.

I spent a long time whittling this list down and I'm confident that it reflects a broad scope of jazz's greatest moments. Your favorite record might not be on here, and there might be a few albums you hate, but I really do hope you enjoy listening to it.

Never at any point during the creating of the list did I think of ranking the albums from 1 to 50, so I'll list the albums in alphabetical order by artist. The titles are links to the albums' pages on Amazon. Click here to listen to the channel while you read. Enjoy!


  1. Well, a bit heavy on the Miles, I think. Bitches Brew was a first try at combining jazz and rock, but not a very successful one, IMHO. I'd add a later Ellington disk, like Far East Suite or And His Mother Called Him Bill.

    I see that you've cheated by including some huge collections (like the Charlie Parker complete Dial and Savoy). I don't blame you... it's just that they aren't "natural" albums. But if you're going to do that, the Sony box sets of the Davis second quintet would be better, as it has all those albums in it, or perhaps one of the huge concert collections of that band.

    Is Larry Young's Unity really that good? I don't have it.

  2. Good list but no Lester Young! That's a crime!

  3. Nice list but I would have added also :
    - stan getz and kenny barron "people time"
    - chet baker (rachel gould) "all blues"
    and maybe a bit more of Bill Evans.

  4. But there are only 49 in this list!

  5. Good to see your effort and focus on the quality of your jazz music blog. I loved each and every post that you have listed but yes on contrary, I agree with above my friends.