The All Music Guide has listed the top 5 jazz albums of all time – and we’ve got them here for you! Check out these essential recordings, spanning multiple styles and eras.
Jazz is a music genre with roots in African-American culture that originated in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The style’s West African influences include blues, ragtime, and gospel music; its European influences include Brass Band music and military band marches. Jazz is characterized by Swing era big bands, bebop performers, Latin jazz ensembles, and soloists who improvise within a framework of scale or chord changes.
The top 5 jazz albums of all time, according to the All Music Guide, are:
1. Miles Davis – Kind of Blue
2. John Coltrane – A Love Supreme
3. Ornette Coleman – The Shape of Jazz to Come
4. Charles Mingus – The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady
5. Thelonious Monk – Brilliant Corners
The Top 5 Jazz Albums of All Time
When it comes to Jazz, there are countless great albums that have been released over the years. It can be tough to determine what the best of the best are. However, after much consideration, these are the 5 albums that we believe to be the top 5 jazz albums of all time.
Miles Davis – Kind of Blue
Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue is one of the most important and influential jazz albums of all time. Recorded in 1959, the album features Davis’ iconic sextet with John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderley, Bill Evans, Paul Chambers, and Jimmy Cobb. The album is noted for its modal jazz compositions and relaxed atmosphere, which marked a major change in direction from the hard bop style that Davis had favored up to that point. While Kind of Blue was not an immediate commercial success, it eventually went on to become one of the best-selling jazz albums of all time and has been cited as one of the most influential albums in history.
John Coltrane – A Love Supreme
A Love Supreme is the fourth studio album by jazz musician John Coltrane, released on Impulse! Records in 1965. The album is a spiritual suite that Coltrane and his wife Juanita designed to express their deep gratitude for God’s blessings. It is one of Coltrane’s most popular and influential albums, and it is widely considered to be one of the greatest jazz albums of all time.
Thelonious Monk – Thelonious Monk with John Coltrane
This is one of the most essential recordings in jazz history, period. It’s also one of the most essential recordings of Thelonious Monk, and one of the most essential recordings of John Coltrane. It’s a date that should be in every jazz fan’s collection, and it should be studied by everyone who wants to understand jazz piano or jazz improvisation.
Ornette Coleman – The Shape of Jazz to Come
Recorded in 1959, The Shape of Jazz to Come was ahead of its time, both musically and technologically. Ornette Coleman and his band were among the first to use multitrack recording methods to capture their innovative sound, which featured extended solos and collective improvisation. This album is often cited as one of the most influential jazz recordings of all time, and it paved the way for Coleman’s subsequent groundbreaking work in the 1960s.
Charles Mingus – Mingus Ah Um
Recorded in 1959, Mingus Ah Um is one of Charles Mingus’s most popular albums and it’s easy to hear why. It’s a tour de force of his many musical influences, from gospel to blues to bebop, all tied together with his unique brand of humor and wit. The title track alone is worth the price of the album, but there are also stellar performances by alto saxophonist Johnny Hodges, tenor saxophonist John Coltrane, and trumpeter Miles Davis. If you’re looking for a gateway into Mingus’s vast catalog, this is a great place to start.