Ten Jazz Albums to Listen to Before You Die

Categories: Commentary

5. The Thelonious Monk Quartet, Monk's Dream
Probably one of the hippest figures in jazz, Thelonious Monk was a genius who was able to see notes that didn't even exist in Western music. When he would sit down at the piano, he would strike two half notes (notes next to each other that sound awful when played together) to simulate the imaginary notes between the two piano keys. He was so out there and amazing, and Monk's Dream (1963) is just an example, an imprint of strange and beautiful blaps and boops that were being electrified in his mind.

4. The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Time Out
This 1959 album was the soundtrack for parties in New York City and the staple of any bachelor pad. Without this album juicing the sophisticated and artsy minds of New Yorkers and beatniks alike, many of us probably wouldn't have been born. At the time, it was considered an artsy piece, but today, the deviation from standard time and the hip swing might just feel traditional. Even if you've never intentionally heard this album, a song like "Take Five" has been so omnipotent in our culture -- movies, television, and (sadly) malls -- that you'll instantly recognize this classic. It's an album that screams Donald Draper and nightcaps.

3. Charles Mingus, Ah Um
Charles Mingus is the godfather of the upright bass, and in 1959, he put out Ah Um, which many consider to be a masterpiece, and it cemented Mingus as a legendary composer. He combined elements of gospel and blues. The opening track, "Better Get It Into Your Soul," is not just a ruckus; it's a command -- the driving brass, the Dixie-land rapture and the voice calling out in joy -- to stop doing whatever it is you're doing and take into your heart and body this music.

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great list - but what about jazz guitar?


grant green -  #1 green street

john scofield - a go go

anything by django



Jazz at Massey Hall, by The Quintet (Chalie Parker, Bud Powell, Dizzy Gillespie, Charles Mingus, Max Roach).

Kyla Bussey
Kyla Bussey

Hmmm, a good all-around list but some of the selections seem more from a Google search than a experienced jazz fan, perhaps just a matter of taste. But glad to see it covered, nonetheless! I'd add some newer selections, some guitar jazz like Al DiMeola & Pat Metheny, but that's just me.

Ambelleina Warwillow
Ambelleina Warwillow

I got worried for a minute there as I scrolled from number 10 down...then I saw KoB at number 1. Yes. So yes.


John Coltrane - "A Love Supreme"


Any jazz list without this album is incomplete.

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