Modern Jazz Music: The Best Instrumental Songs

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


From Miles Davis to John Coltrane to Herbie Hancock, these are the best instrumental modern jazz songs of all time.


Modern jazz is a genre of music that arose in the mid-20th century, characterized by a complex and often experimental approach to harmony, rhythm, and melody. While some forms of jazz can be traced back to the early part of the 20th century, the genre only truly came into its own in the aftermath of World War II. Many of the greatest jazz musicians of all time emerged during this period, helping to redefine what music could be.

Instrumental songs are an essential part of any jazz musician’s repertoire. They provide a way for musicians to show off their technical skills and improvisational abilities. Whether it’s a slow ballad or an up-tempo groove, a great instrumental song can take the listener on a journey.

There are countless great instrumental songs out there, but here are ten of our favorites:

The Best Instrumental Songs

Modern jazz music has some of the best instrumental songs that have been composed in recent years. These songs are a great way to relax and unwind after a long day. They are also perfect for background music when you are working or studying. In this article, we will take a look at some of the best instrumental songs in modern jazz music.

“So What” by Miles Davis

“So What” is a 1959 composition by jazz musician Miles Davis. It is the first track on his album Kind of Blue and is considered one of the most influential pieces of music in the history of jazz. The tune became one of Davis’ most famous compositions and has been covered by many artists, including John Coltrane, Herbie Hancock, Nat Adderley, and George Benson.

“All Blues” by Miles Davis

All Blues is a 1959 composition by Miles Davis. It is the opening track on the influential and best-selling jazz album Kind of Blue.

The piece is in G minor and employs the modal Jazz composition technique, unlike many of Davis’ other tunes which use hard bop. “All Blues” features Miles Davis’ trumpet, Julian “Cannonball” Adderley on alto saxophone, John Coltrane on tenor saxophone, Wynton Kelly on piano, Paul Chambers on double bass and Jimmy Cobb on drums. The tune was composed by Davis in 1958 and is based on an improvisation during the recording session for Kind of Blue.

“Kind of Blue” by Miles Davis

Miles Davis’ “Kind of Blue” is not only one of the most important jazz albums ever recorded, it is also one of the most popular and influential albums in the history of music. Recorded in 1959, “Kind of Blue” features Davis’ legendary jazz quintet, which included saxophonists John Coltrane and Cannonball Adderley, pianist Bill Evans, and bassist Paul Chambers. The album’s two most famous tracks, “So What” and “All Blues,” have been covered countless times by other artists and have become standards in the jazz repertoire. “Kind of Blue” is an essential album for any fan of jazz or 20th-century music.

“Take Five” by Dave Brubeck

“Take Five” is a jazz standard composed by Paul Desmond and originally recorded by the Dave Brubeck Quartet on its 1959 album Time Out. It is performed in 5/4 time at a moderately slow tempo of 120 beats per minute, making it easy to follow along without getting lost in the rhythm. Despite its simple melody, the tune has a number of harmonic and rhythmic twists that make it interesting to listen to.

“Blue Rondo a la Turk” by Dave Brubeck

“Blue Rondo a la Turk” is a jazz composition by Dave Brubeck. It was originally released on the album Time Out in 1959. The song is based on “Blue Rondo à la Turk” by Brubeck’s quartet, which was inspired by a Turkish folk song. The song has been covered by many artists, including Herbie Hancock and Miles Davis.

“Giant Steps” by John Coltrane

“Giant Steps” is a jazz composition by saxophonist John Coltrane, released on his 1960 album of the same name. The composition is considered one of the most influential jazz standards and a defining work of the bebop idiom. It is characterized by rapid chord changes and urgent phrases.

“My Favorite Things” by John Coltrane

This song was released in 1961 on the album “My Favorite Things” by John Coltrane. The song quickly became a jazz standard and is one of Coltrane’s best-known songs. “My Favorite Things” is a modal jazz composition, which means that it is based on a minor key scale with no fixed chord progression. This gives the song a very open feel and allows the musicians to improvise freely.

“A Love Supreme” by John Coltrane

Recorded in one take on December 9, 1964, “A Love Supreme” is an extended soliloquy by saxophonist John Coltrane that captures the artist at the peak of his creative powers. Coming at a time when jazz was undergoing a dramatic transformation, the album would come to be seen as a high-water mark for the genre, and an enduring work of art that has influenced countless musicians in the years since its release.


In conclusion, there are many great instrumental songs within the genre of modern jazz. While there are countless songs that could be mentioned, the ones highlighted in this article are some of the best of the best. If you’re looking for some great music to relax to or to help you focus, any of these songs would be a great choice.

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