NPR Jazz Music: The Best of the Best

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

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


If you’re a fan of NPR Jazz Music, then you know that there’s a lot of great music out there. But what are the best of the best? We’ve compiled a list of the best NPR Jazz Music tracks for you to enjoy.

NPR’s Jazz Albums of the Year

Every year, NPR’s Jazz Critics Poll selects the best jazz albums of the year.

This year’s top albums come from some of the most respected names in jazz, including avant-garde pioneer Ornette Coleman, saxophonist Charles Lloyd and bandleader Maria Schneider.

But there are also several debut albums on this year’s list, including records by bassist Linda May Han Oh and trumpeter Nicholas Payton.

Here are the 20 best jazz albums of 2018, as selected by more than 50 critics polled by NPR.

The Best Jazz Albums of 2018

2018 was a great year for jazz music, with a wide variety of albums that pushed the genre in new and interesting directions. Here are some of our favorites.

– Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra – Handful of Keys
– Wayne Shorter Quartet – Emanon
– Vijay Iyer Sextet – Far From Over
– Chris Potter Underground Orchestra – The Sirens
– Gregory Porter – Nat “King” Cole & Me

The Best Jazz of 2018

It was a great year for jazz. From groundbreaking debuts to 20th anniversary celebrations to posthumous releases and career-spanning box sets, there was no shortage of essential music in 2018.

But when NPR Music’s jazz critics came together to debate and discuss the best albums of the year, a few titles emerged as clear favorites — records that moved us deeply, that inspired us and that we just couldn’t get enough of.

Here are our picks for the best jazz albums of 2018.

The Best Jazz Albums of All Time

Jazz music is truly an American art form. It has its roots in the blues, but it has also been influenced by European classical music and Ragtime. Jazz is a genre of music that is constantly evolving, and it has produced some of the greatest musicians of all time.

NPR’s jazz critic, Kevin Whitehead, has compiled a list of what he considers to be the best jazz albums of all time. This list is sure to ignite some debate, but it is a great starting point for anyone who wants to explore the genre.

The Best Jazz Albums of All Time:

1. Miles Davis – “Kind of Blue”
2. John Coltrane – “A Love Supreme”
3. Charlie Parker – “Charlie Parker with Strings”
4. Duke Ellington – “Take The A Train”
5. Louis Armstrong – “West End Blues”
6. Ornette Coleman – “The Shape of Jazz To Come”
7. Thelonious Monk – “Brilliant Corners”
8. Sonny Rollins – “Saxophone Colossus”
9. Miles Davis – “Bitches Brew”
10. Cannonball Adderley – “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy!”

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