Best Jazz Musicians of All Time and Their Best Work- Ranked

I found seven lists of the best jazz musicians of all time on the Internet and combined them into one meta-list.  Then, for each of the musicians on two or more of the original source lists, I made lists of their best albums and best songs.  Below are the results: the best jazz musicians, their best albums and songs, based on information gathered from multiple sources.  The meta-list below includes every musician on at least two of the original source lists, organized by rank (that is, with the musicians on the most lists at the top). NOTE: These are not my personal opinions and I have not personally listened to all these songs and albums.

To see the same list organized chronologically by the musician’s date of birth, go here.

I was a little disappointed that so few living jazz musicians made the list, so I created a separate list of the best contemporary jazz musicians and their best albums, which focuses on music from the 1990s until the present.  You can find it here.

On 7 lists
CHARLIE PARKER (1920-1955)
Charlie Parker at the Three Deuces of New York in August 1947. Photo by William Gottlieb.

The Complete Savoy & Dial Studio Recordings (rec. 1944-1948)
(alternate: Complete Savoy and Dial Master Takes (1944-1948))
Charlie Parker with Strings: The Master Takes (rec. 1947-1952)
(alternate: Charlie Parker with Strings: Deluxe Edition (rec. 1947-1952)
The Complete Verve Master Takes (rec. 1947-1954)
(alternate: Charlie Parker (Verve, rec. 1947-1953))
Bird & Diz (rec. 1949-1950, rel. 1952) (with Dizzy Gillespie)
Jazz at Massey Hall (1953) (with The Quintet)

Now’s the Time (Charlie Parker) (1945)
Billie’s Bounce (Charlie Parker) (1945)
Ko Ko (Charlie Parker) (1945)
Ornithology (Charlie Parker/Benny Harris) (1946)
Yardbird Suite (Charlie Parker) (1946)
Moose the Mooche (Charlie Parker) (1946)
Lover Man (Jimmy Davis/Roger Ramirez/James Sherman) (1946)
Scrapple From the Apple (Charlie Parker) (1947)
Chasin’ the Bird (Charlie Parker) (1947)
The Hymn (Charlie Parker) (1947)
Embraceable You (George Gershwin/Ira Gershwin) (1947)
Bird Gets the Worm (Charlie Parker) (1947)
Confirmation (Charlie Parker) (1947) (from Diz ‘N Bird at Carnegie Hall)
Parker’s Mood (Charlie Parker) (1948)
Barbados (Charlie Parker) (1948)
Just Friends (John Klenner/Sam M. Lewis) (1949) (from Charlie Parker with Strings)
Star Eyes (Gene de Paul/Don Raye) (1951) 

JOHN COLTRANE (1926-1967)

John Coltrane at Temple University in 1966.

Blue Train (1957)
Giant Steps (1960)
My Favorite Things (1961)
Africa/Brass (1961)
Olé Coltrane (1961)
A Love Supreme (1965)
Ascension (1965)
Meditations (1966)

Blue Train (John Coltrane) (1957)
Moment’s Notice (John Coltrane) (1957)
Locomotion (John Coltrane) (1957)
Giant Steps (John Coltrane) (1960)
Naima (John Coltrane) (1960 (from Giant Steps) & 1966 (from Live At the Village Vanguard Again))
Countdown (John Coltrane) (1960)
Cousin Mary (John Coltrane) (1960)
Spiral (John Coltrane) (1960)
My Favorite Things (Richard Rodgers/Oscar Hammerstein II) (1961)
Chasin’ the Trane (John Coltrane) (1961) (from Coltrane “Live” at the Village Vanguard)
In a Sentimental Mood (Duke Ellington) (1963) (from Duke Ellington & John Coltrane)
Lush Life (Billy Strayhorn) (1963) (from John Coltrane & Johnny Hartman)
A Love Supreme, Part I: Acknowledgment (John Coltrane) (1965)
Ascension (John Coltrane) (1965)

MILES DAVIS (1926-1991)

Miles Davis in 1951.

Birth of the Cool (rec. 1949-1950, rel. 1957)
‘Round About Midnight (rec. 1955-1956, rel. 1957)
Miles Ahead (1957)
Milestones (1958)
Kind of Blue (1959)
Sketches of Spain (1960)
Miles Smiles (1967)
In a Silent Way (1969)
Bitches Brew (1970)
A Tribute to Jack Johnson (1971)
On the Corner (1972)

It Never Entered My Mind (Richard Rodgers/Lorenz Hart) (1956)
So What (Miles Davis/Gil Evans) (1959)
Freddie Freeloader (Miles Davis) (1959)
Blue in Green (Miles Davis/Bill Evans(?)) (1959)
Concierto de Aranjuez (Adagio) (Joaquín Rodrigo) (1960)
My Funny Valentine (Richard Rodgers/Lorenz Hart) (1965) (from My Funny Valentine: Miles Davis in Concert)
In a Silent Way (Joe Zawinul)/It’s About that Time (Miles Davis) (1969)
Shhh/Peaceful (Miles Davis) (1969)
Miles Runs the Voodoo Down (Miles Davis) (1970)
Right Off (Miles Davis) (1971)

On 6 lists
DUKE ELLINGTON (1899-1974)

An undated photo of Duke Ellington.

Nov. 7, 1940 Fargo Concert:

  • The Duke Ellington at Fargo, 1940 Live (Jazz Heritage)
  • Complete Legendary Fargo Concert (Definitive)
  • The Duke at Fargo 1940: Special 60th Anniversary Edition (Storyville)

Never No Lament/The Blanton-Webster Band (rec. 1940-1942)
Masterpieces by Ellington (1951)
Ellington Uptown (1953)
The Duke Plays Ellington/Piano Reflections (1953)
Ellington at Newport (1956)
Such Sweet Thunder (1957)
Duke Ellington Meets Coleman Hawkins (1962)
Far East Suite (1967)
…and his mother called him Bill (1967)

Black and Tan Fantasy (Duke Ellington/Bubber Miley) (1927)
Mood Indigo (Duke Ellington/Barney Bigard/Irving Mills) (1930)
Rockin’ in Rhythm (Duke Ellington/Harry Carney/Irving Mills) (1931)
It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing) (Duke Ellington/Irving Mills) (1932)
(In My) Solitude (Duke Ellington/Eddie DeLange/Irving Mills) (1934)
Caravan (Duke Ellington/Juan Tizol) (1936)
Take the “A” Train (Billy Strayhorn) (1941)
Satin Doll (Duke Ellington/Billy Strayhorn/Johnny Mercer) (1953)
Fleurette Africaine (African Flower) (Duke Ellington) (1962)
In a Sentimental Mood (Duke Ellington) (1963) (from Duke Ellington & John Coltrane)
Isfahan (Duke Ellington/Billy Strayhorn) (1966)


An undated photo of Louis Armstrong.

The Hot Five and Hot Seven Recordings (rec. 1925-1928)

  • The Best of Louis Armstrong: The Best of the Hot Fives and Hot Seven Recordings (Columbia/Legacy)
  • 25 Greatest Hot Fives & Sevens (Living Era/ASV)
  • The Complete Hot Five and Hot Seven Recordings, Vol. 1-4 (Legacy/Columbia)
  • Hot Fives & Hot Sevens Vol. 1-4 (JSP)

Louis Armstrong Plays W.C. Handy (1954)
Satch Plays Fats (1955)
The Great Chicago Concert (1956)
Ella and Louis (1956) (with Ella Fitzgerald)
Porgy and Bess (1958) (with Ella Fitzgerald)
The Real Ambassadors (1961) (with Dave Brubeck et al.)
Hello Dolly (1964)

Heebie Jeebies (Boyd Atkins) (1926)
Potato Head Blues (Louis Armstrong) (1927)
West End Blues (Joe “King” Oliver) (1928)
Ain’t Misbehavin’ (Fats Waller/Harry Brooks/Andy Razaf) (1929)
All of Me (Gerald Marks/Seymour Simons) (1932)
When the Saints Go Marching In (Traditional) (1938)
St. Louis Blues (W.C. Handy) (1954)
Mack the Knife (Kurt Weill/Bertolt Brecht/Marc Blitzstein) (1955)
Hello Dolly (Jerry Herman) (1964)
(What Did I Do To Be So) Black and Blue (Fats Waller/Harry Brooks/Andy Razaf) (1965) (from Live in Berlin)
What A Wonderful World (Bob Thiele/George David Weiss) (1967)

On 5 lists
Thelonious Monk at Minton’s Playhouse in New York (1947). Photo by William P. Gottlieb.

Genius of Modern Music, Vol. 1 (rec. 1947, rel. 1951)
Genius of Modern Music, Vol. 2 (rec. 1951-1952, rel. 1952)
Thelonious Monk Trio (1954)
Monk’s Music (1957)
Thelonious Monk with John Coltrane (rec. 1957, rel. 1961)
Brilliant Corners (1957)
Misterioso (1958)
Monk’s Dream (1963)
Underground (1968)


‘Round Midnight (Thelonious Monk) (1947)
In Walked Bud (Thelonious Monk) (1947)
Ruby, My Dear (Thelonious Monk) (1947)
Well, You Needn’t (Thelonious Monk) (1947)
Misterioso (Thelonious Monk) (1948)
Straight, No Chaser (Thelonious Monk) (1951)
Bemsha Swing (Thelonious Monk) (1952)
Blue Monk (Thelonious Monk) (1952)
Epistrophy (Thelonious Monk/Kenny Clarke) (1957) (from Thelonious Monk Quartet with John Coltrane at Carnegie Hall)
Off Minor (Thelonious Monk) (1957) (from Thelonious Himself)
Rhythm a Ning (Thelonious Monk) (1957) (from Mulligan Meets Monk)
Nutty (Thelonious Monk) (1957) (from The Complete 1957 Riverside Recordings)
Monk’s Dream (Thelonious Monk) (1962)


Herbie Hancock in the 1960s.

Takin’ Off (1962)
Empyrean Isles (1964)
Maiden Voyage (1965)
Blow-Up (rec. 1966, rel. 1967)
Mwandishi (1971)
Head Hunters (1973)
Thrust (1974)
Future Shock (1983)

Watermelon Man (Herbie Hancock) (1962)
Cantaloupe Island (Herbie Hancock) (1964)
Maiden Voyage (Herbie Hancock) (1965)
Dolphin Dance (Herbie Hancock) (1965)
Ostinato (Suite for Angela) (Herbie Hancock) (1970)
Chameleon (Herbie Hancock/Bernie Maupin/Paul Jackson/Harvey Mason) (1973)
Doin’ It (Melvin Ragin/Ray Parker, Jr.) (1976)
Tell Everybody (Herbie Hancock/David Rubinson/Bruce Good/Jeffrey Cohen) (1979)
Ready or Not (Ray Parker, Jr./Jeffrey Cohen) (1979)
Magic Number (Herbie Hancock/David Rubinson/Jeffrey Cohen) (1981)
Rockit (Herbie Hancock/Bill Laswell/Michael Beinhorn) (1983)

On 4 lists
BILLIE HOLIDAY (1915-1959)

Billie Holiday in 1947. Getty Photo.

Lady Day: The Complete Billie Holiday on Columbia (rec. 1933-1944)
(alternate: The Quintessential Billie Holiday, Vols. 1-9 (rec. 1933-1942))
The Complete Commodore and Decca Masters (rec. 1939, 1944-1950)
(alternates: The Complete Commodore Recordings (rec. 1939, 1944)/The Commodore Master Takes (rec. 1939, 1944)/The Complete Decca Recordings (rec. 1944-1950)/The Complete Original American Decca Recordings (rec. 1944-1950))
The Complete Billie Holiday on Verve (rec. 1945-1959)
(alternate: The Complete Verve Studio Master Takes (rec. 1952-1959))
Billie Holiday Sings (1952)
Lady Sings the Blues (1956)
Songs for Distingué Lovers (1957)
Body & Soul (1957)
All or Nothing at All (1958)
Lady in Satin (1958)

Riffin’ the Scotch (Ford Lee Buck/Benny Goodman/Dick McDonough/Johnny Mercer) (1935)
What A Little Moonlight Can Do (Harry Woods) (1935)
Saddest Tale (Duke Ellington) (1935)
Billie’s Blues (Billie Holiday) (1936)
Summertime (George Gershwin/DuBose Heward) (1936)
Easy Living (Ralph Rainger/Leo Robin) (1937)
Mean to Me (Fred E. Ahlert/Roy Turk) (1937)
The Very Thought of You (Ray Noble) (1938)
Strange Fruit (Abel Meeropol) (1939)
God Bless the Child (Billie Holiday/Arthur Herzog, Jr.) (1941)
Lover Man (Jimmy Davis/Roger Ramirez/James Sherman) (1941)
Them There Eyes (Maceo Pinkard/Doris Tauber/William Tracey) (1949)
Lady Sings the Blues (Billie Holiday/Herbie Nichols) (1956)
One for My Baby (and One More For the Road) (Harold Arlen/Johnny Mercer) (1957)
I’m a Fool to Want You (Frank Sinatra/Jack Wolf/Joel Herron) (1958)
You’ve Changed (Bill Carey/Carl Fischer) (1958)

Dizzy Gillespie at the Newport Jazz Festival 1967. (AP Photo/Frank C. Curtin)

The Complete RCA Victor Recordings (rec. 1947-1949)
Bird & Diz (rec. 1949-1950, rel. 1952) (with Charlie Parker)
Jazz at Massey Hall (1953) (with The Quintet)
Diz & Getz (1955) (with Stan Getz)
For Musicians Only (1956)
Sonny Side Up (1957) (with Sonny Stitt & Sonny Rollins)
Dizzy Gillespie at Newport (1957)
Have Trumpet, Will Excite (1959)
An Electrifying Evening with the Dizzy Gillespie Quintet (1961)

Dizzy Atmosphere (Dizzy Gillespie) (1945)
Salt Peanuts (Dizzy Gillespie/Kenny Clarke/Charlie Parker(?)) (1945)
Groovin’ High (Dizzy Gillespie) (1945)
A Night in Tunisia (Dizzy Gillespie/Frank Paparelli(?)) (1946)
Manteca (Dizzy Gillespie/Chano Pozo/Gil Fuller) (1947)
Tin Tin Deo (Gil Fuller/Chano Pozo) (1951)
Con Alma (Dizzy Gillespie) (1954)


Ella Fitzgerald (with Dizzy Gillespie) at the Downbeat Club in New York, 1947. (Photo by William P. Gottlieb.)

Pure Ella (1950, 1954)
Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Cole Porter Songbook (1956)
Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Rodgers & Hart Song Book (1956)
The Complete Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong on Verve (rec. 1956-1957) (with Louis Armstrong)
(alternates: Ella and Louis: The Complete Norman Granz Sessions (rec. 1956-1957)/Ella and Louis (1956)/Ella and Louis Again (1957))
Like Someone in Love (1957)
Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Duke Ellington Songbook (1957)
Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Irving Berlin Songbook (1958)
Ella Fitzgerald Sings the George and Ira Gershwin Songbook (1959)

A-Tisket, A-Tasket (Traditional, arr. by Ella Fitzgerald/Al Feldman) (1938) (with Chick Webb)
Dream A Little Dream of Me (Fabian Andre/Wilbur Schwandt/Gus Kahn) (1950) (with Louis Armstrong)
Cheek to Cheek (Irving Berlin) (1956) (with Louis Armstrong)
Air Mail Special (Benny Goodman/James Mundy/Charlie Christian) (1957)
Summertime (George Gershwin/DeBose Heyward) (1958) (with Louis Armstrong)
Misty (Errol Garner/Johnny Burke) (1959)
Mack The Knife (Kurt Weill/Bertolt Brecht/Marc Blitzstein) (1960)
How High the Moon (Morgan Lewis/Nancy Hamilton) (1960)
Can’t Buy Me Love (John Lennon/Paul McCartney) (1964)
The Lady Is a Tramp (Richard Rodgers/Lorenz Hart) (1967) (live version with Frank Sinatra)

CHARLES MINGUS (1922-1979)
An undated photo of Charles Mingus.

Jazz at Massey Hall (1953) (with The Quintet)
Pithecanthropus Erectus (1956)
The Clown (1957)
Mingus Ah Um (1959)
Blues & Roots (1960)
Charles Mingus Presents Charles Mingus (1960)
Tijuana Moods (1962)
Oh Yeah (1962)
The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady (1963)
Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus (1963)

Haitian Fight Song (Charles Mingus) (1957)
Fables of Faubus (Charles Mingus) (1959)
Better Git It In Your Soul (Charles Mingus) (1959)
Goodbye Pork Pie Hat (Charles Mingus) (1959)
Solo Dancer (Charles Mingus) (1963)
The Shoes of the Fisherman’s Wife Are Some Jiveass Slippers (Charles Mingus) (1972)

OSCAR PETERSON (1925-2007)
Oscar Peterson in 1966.

On the Town (1958)
Night Train (1962)
Oscar Peterson Trio + One (1964) (with Clark Terry)

Tenderly (Walter Gross/Jack Lawrence) (1956)
Love For Sale (Cole Porter) (1959)
Summertime (George Gershwin/DeBose Heyward) (1959)
It Ain’t Necessarily So (George Gershwin/Ira Gershwin) (1959)

BILL EVANS (1929-1980)

An undated photo of Bill Evans.

Everybody Digs Bill Evans (1958)
Portrait in Jazz (1959)
Sunday at the Village Vanguard (1961)
Waltz for Debby (1961)
Explorations (1961)
Moon Beams (1962)
You Must Believe in Spring (rec. 1977)

Waltz for Debby (Bill Evans) (1962)


Sonny Rollins in Paris in 1960.

Saxophone Colossus (1956)
Tenor Madness (1956)
Plus Four (1956)
Sonny Side Up (1957) (with Dizzy Gillespie & Sonny Stitt)
Way Out West (1957)
A Night at the Village Vanguard, Vols. 1 & 2 (1957)
Newk’s Time (1957)

St. Thomas (Traditional, arr. Sonny Rollins) (1956)
Tenor Madness (Sonny Rollins) (1956)
Sonnymoon for Two (Sonny Rollins) (1958)


An undated photo of Wynton Marsalis.

Think of One (1983)
Black Codes (From the Underground) (1985)
The Magic Hour (2004)

On 3 lists

An undated photo of Coleman Hawkins by William P. Gottlieb.

Body and Soul (RCA/Bluebird, rec. 1939-1956)
Duke Ellington Meets Coleman Hawkins (1962)
Desafinado (1963)

Body and Soul (Johnny Green/Edward Heyman/Robert Sour/Frank Eyton) (1939)

COUNT BASIE (1904-1984)

An undated publicity photo of Count Basie.

The Complete Decca Recordings/The Original American Decca Recordings (rec. 1937-1939)
April in Paris (rec. 1955-1956, rel. 1957)
Count Basie Swings, Joe Williams Sings (1956)
Count Basie at Newport (1957)
The Complete Atomic Basie (rec. 1957)
(alternate: The Atomic Mr. Basie (rec. 1957, rel. 1958))
Chairman of the Board (1958)

One O’Clock Jump (Count Basie) (1937)
Blue and Sentimental (Count Basie/Jerry Livingston/Mack David) (1938)
April in Paris (Vernon Duke/Yip Harburg) (1955)
Shiny Stockings (Frank Foster) (1955)
Every Day I Have The Blues (Pinetop Sparks/M. Sparks) (1955)
Corner Pocket (Freddie Green/Donald E. Wolf) (1955)

ART TATUM (1909-1956)

An undated photo of Art Tatum.

Piano Starts Here (rec. 1933, 1949)
The Complete Pablo Solo Masterpieces (rec. 1953-1956)
The Complete Pablo Group Masterpieces (rec. 1954-1956)
Pablo Group Masterpieces, Vol. 8 (1956) (with Ben Webster)

Tea for Two (Vincent Youmans/Irving Caesar) (1933)
Tiger Rag (Nick LaRocca/Eddie Edwards/Henry Ragas/Tony Sbarbaro/Larry Shields/Harry DaCosta) (1933)
Moonglow (Will Hudson/Irving Mills/Eddie DeLange) (1934)
Willow Weep for Me (Ann Ronell) (1949)

LESTER YOUNG (1909-1959)

An undated photo of Lester Young.

The Complete Aladdin Recordings (rec. 1942-1948)
The President Plays with the Oscar Peterson Trio/Lester Young with the Oscar Peterson Trio (rec. 1952) (with Oscar Peterson)
The Jazz Giants ’56 (1956)

BENNY GOODMAN (1909-1986)

An undated photo of Benny Goodman.

Sing, Sing, Sing (Bluebird, rec. 1935-1938)
The Famous 1938 Carnegie Hall Jazz Concert (rec. 1938)
B.G. in Hi-Fi, Part One (1954)

St. Louis Blues (W.C. Handy) (1937-1938)
Sing, Sing, Sing (With a Swing) (Louis Prima) (1938) (from The Famous 1938 Carnegie Hall Jazz Concert)
Swingtime In The Rockies (Benny Goodman/Jimmy Mundy) (1938) (from The Famous 1938 Carnegie Hall Jazz Concert)
Sweet Georgia Brown (Ben Bernie/Maceo Pinkard/Kenneth Casey) (1938) (with the Benny Goodman Quartet)

A 1946 photograph of Django Reinhardt by William Gottlieb.

Djangologie Vol. 1 (LP only, rec. 1928-1936)
Anthology: 1934-1937 (rec. 1934-1937)
Djangology (Capitol, rec. 1936-1948)
The Complete Django Reinhardt and Quintet of the Hot Club of France Swing/HMV Sessions (rec. 1936-1948)
In Solitaire: Complete Recordings for Solo Guitar (rec. 1937-1950)
The Great Artistry of Django Reinhardt (rec. 1953)

Djangology (Stéphane Grappelli/Django Reinhardt) (1935)
Minor Swing (Stéphane Grappelli/Django Reinhardt) (1937)
Daphne (Stéphane Grappelli/Django Reinhardt) (1938)
I’ll See You in My Dreams (Isham Jones/Gus Kahn) (1939)
Nuages (Django Reinhardt) (1940)
Manoir de mes Reves (Django Reinhardt) (1943)

A photo of Mary Lou Williams by William P. Gottlieb, c. 1946.

The Asch Recordings 1944-47 (rec. 1944-1947)
Zodiac Suite (1945)
Black Christ of the Andes (1962)
Free Spirits (1976)


The Man I Love (George Gershwin/Ira Gershwin) (1944)
Night Life (Mary Lou Williams) (1930)
It Ain’t Necessarily So (George Gershwin/Ira Gershwin) (1962)
Rosa Mae (Mary Lou Williams) (1974)
Gloria (Mary Lou Williams) (1974)

FRANK SINATRA (1915-1998)

A photo of Frank Sinatra in the recording studio from the 1950s.

In the Wee Small Hours (1955)
Songs for Swingin’ Lovers (1956)
A Swingin’ Affair! (1957)
(Frank Sinatra Sings for) Only the Lonely (1958)
Come Fly with Me (1958)
Nice ‘n’ Easy (1960)
September of My Years (1965)
Francis Albert Sinatra & Antonio Carlos Jobim (1967)


All or Nothing at All (Arthur Altman/Jack Lawrence) (1939)
I’ve Got the World on a String (Harold Arlen/Ted Koehler) (1953)
I’ve Got You Under My Skin (Cole Porter) (1956)
Come Fly With Me (Jimmy Van Heusen/Sammy Cahn) (1957)
The Lady Is a Tramp (Richard Rodgers/Lorenz Hart) (1957)
One for My Baby (an One More for the Road) (Harold Arlen/Johnny Mercer) (1958)
Fly Me to the Moon (Bart Howard) (1964)
The Way You Look Tonight (Dorothy Fields/Jerome Kern) (1964)
Summer Wind (Heinz Meier/Hans Bradtke/Johnny Mercer) (1965)
Luck Be a Lady (Frank Loesser) (1965)
Strangers in the Night (Bert Kaempfert/Charles Singleton/Eddie Snyder/Avo Uvezian(?)/Ivo Robić(?)) (1966)
That’s Life (Dean Kay/Kelly Gordon) (1966)
My Way (Jacques Revaux/Claude François/Paul Anka) (1969)
Theme from ‘New York, New York’ (John Kander/Fred Ebb) (1979)

NAT KING COLE (1919-1965)

A 1947 photo of Nat King Cole by William P. Gottlieb.

The Best of the Nat King Cole Trio: The Vocal Classics, Vol. 1 (Blue Note, rec. 1942-1946)
Unforgettable (rec. 1946-1954, rel. 1954)
After Midnight: The Complete Session (rec. 1956, rel. 1957)
Love Is the Thing (1957)

Nature Boy (eden ahbez) (1948)
Mona Lisa (Ray Evans/Jay Livingston) (1950)
Unforgettable (Irving Gordon) (1952)
When I Fall In Love (Victor Young/Edward Heyman) (1956)
Stardust (Hoagy Carmichael/Mitchell Parish) (1957)
Ramblin’ Rose (Noel Sherman/Joe Sherman) (1962)
L-O-V-E (Bert Kaempfert/Milt Gabler) (1965)

ART BLAKEY (1919-1990)

An undated photo of Art Blakey,

A Night at Birdland, Vol. 1 (1954)
Moanin’/Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers (rec. 1958, rel. 1959) (with The Jazz Messengers)
The Big Beat (1960) (with The Jazz Messengers)
Mosaic (1961) (with The Jazz Messengers)
Free For All (1964) (with The Jazz Messengers)
Indestructible (1964) (with The Jazz Messengers)

Confirmation (Charlie Parker) (1954)
Moanin’ (Bobby Timmons) (1958) (with The Jazz Messengers)
Along Came Betty (Benny Golson) (1958) (with The Jazz Messengers)
Blues March (Benny Golson) (1958) (with The Jazz Messengers)
A Night in Tunisia (Dizzy Gillespie) (1960) (with The Jazz Messengers)

DAVE BRUBECK (1920-2012)

Dave Brubeck (at piano) with his quartet in an undated photo. Hulton Archive/Getty Images.

Jazz at Oberlin (1953)
Jazz Goes to College (1954)
Jazz Impressions of Eurasia (rec. 1958)
Time Out (1959)
Time Further Out (1961)
The Dave Brubeck Quartet at Carnegie Hall (1963)
Jazz Impressions of Japan (1964)
Time In (1966)

Take Five (Paul Desmond) (1959)
Blue Rondo à la Turk (Dave Brubeck) (1959)

WES MONTGOMERY (1923-1968)

An undated photo of Wes Montgomery (c. 1965?).

The Incredible Jazz Guitar of Wes Montgomery (1960)
Movin’ Along (1960)
So Much Guitar! (1961)
Bags Meets Wes! (1962) (with Milt Jackson)
Full House (1962)
Boss Guitar (1963)
Smokin’ at the Half Note (1965) (with Wynton Kelly)
Jimmy & Wes: The Dynamic Duo (1966) (with Jimmy Smith)

Four On Six (Wes Montgomery) (1960)
West Coast Blues (Wes Montgomery/Granville Sascha Burland) (1960)
Polka Dots and Moonbeams (Jimmy Van Heusen/Johnny Burke) (1960)
Airegin (Sonny Rollins) (1960)
In Your Own Sweet Way (Dave Brubeck) (1960)
Bumpin’ (Wes Montgomery) (1965)
Bumpin’ on Sunset (Wes Montgomery) (1966)
Tequila (Chuck Rio) (1966)

DEXTER GORDON (1923-1990)

A 1962 photo of Dexter Gordon.

Dexter Blows Hot and Cool (1955)
Go! (1962)
A Swingin’ Affair (rec. 1962)
Our Man in Paris (1963)
One Flight Up (rec. 1964, rel. 1965)
Gettin’ Around (rec. 1965, rel. 1966)
Homecoming: Live at the Village Vanguard (rec. 1976, rel. 1977)

Cheese Cake (Dexter Gordon) (1962)
Body and Soul (Johnny Green/Edward Heyman/Robert Sour/Frank Eyton) (1967)

MAX ROACH (1924-2007)

A 1947 photo of Max Roach at the Three Deuces in New York by William P. Gottlieb.

Jazz at Massey Hall (1953) (with The Quintet)
Clifford Brown & Max Roach (rec. 1954) (with Clifford Brown)
Study in Brown (1955) (with Clifford Brown)
We Insist! Max Roach’s Freedom Now Suite (1960)
Jazz in 3/4 Time (1957)
Percussion Bitter Sweet (1961)

For Big Sid (Max Roach) (1966)

JIMMY SMITH (1925-2005)

An undated photo of Jimmy Smith.

The Sermon! (1958)
Back at the Chicken Shack (1960)
Midnight Special (1961)
Prayer Meetin’ (1963)
The Cat (1964)
Jimmy and Wes: The Dynamic Duo (1966) (with Wes Montgomery)
Peter and the Wolf (1966)
Root Down (1972)


Ornette Coleman performing at the 1967 Monterey Jazz Festival.

Something Else!!!! The Music of Ornette Coleman (1958)
The Shape of Jazz To Come (1959)
Change of the Century (1960)
Free Jazz: A Collective Improvisation (1960)
This Is Our Music (rec. 1960, rel. 1961)
Science Fiction (1971)
Dancing in Your Head (1976)
Sound Grammar (2006)

The Blessing (1958)
Lonely Woman (1959)
Eventually (1959)
Peace (1959)
Focus on Sanity (1959)
Congeniality (1959)
Chronology (1959)
Ramblin’ (1960)
Faces and Places (1965)
Law Years (1971)
Endangered Species (1985)
Turnaround (2006)


A 1976 photo of Freddie Hubbard.

Open Sesame (1960)
Ready for Freddie (1961)
Red Clay (1970)
Straight Life (1971)


Open Sesame (1960)
Red Clay (1970)


A photo of Keith Jarrett from the 1970s.

Facing You (rec. 1971, rel. 1972)
Belonging (1974)
The Köln Concert (1975)
Standards, Vol. I (1983)
The Survivors’ Suite (rec. 1976, rel. 1977)

On 2 lists

A photo of Jelly Roll Morton c. 1923.

The Pearls (RCA/Bluebird, rec. 1926-1939)

Wolverine Blues (Jelly Roll Morton) (1923)
Kansas City Stomp (Jelly Roll Morton) (1923)
Grandpa’s Spells (Jelly Roll Morton) (1923)
King Porter Stomp (Jelly Roll Morton) (1923)
Black Bottom Stomp (Jelly Roll Morton) (1926)
Doctor Jazz (Joe “King” Oliver) (1926)
Jelly Roll Blues (Jelly Roll Morton) (1926)
The Pearls (Jelly Roll Morton) (1927)

BESSIE SMITH (1894-1937)

A 1936 photo of Bessie Smith by Carl Van Vechten.

The Essential Bessie Smith (Legacy/Columbia) (rec. 1923-1933)
(alternates: The Collection (Columbia) (rec. 1923-1933)/Empress of the Blues (TKO Records) (rec. 1923-1933)/Empress of the Blues, Vol. 2 (JSP) (rec. 1926-1933)/The Complete Recordings, Vol. 1 (Columbia/Legacy) (rec. 1923-1924)/The Complete Recordings, Vol. 2 (Legacy/Columbia) (rec. 1924-1925))

St. Louis Blues (W.C. Handy) (1925)
Backwater Blues (Bessie Smith) (1927)
Nobody Knows When You’re Down and Out (Jimmy Cox) (1929)
Kitchen Man (Andy Razaf/Edna B. Pinkard) (1929)
I’m Wild About That Thing (Spencer Williams) (1929)

A 1945 photo of Fletcher Henderson leading his orchestra. Photo by Michael Ochs/Getty Images.

Tidal Wave (rec. 1931-1934)

King Porter Stomp (Jelly Roll Morton) (1928)
Sugar Foot Stomp (Joe “King” Oliver/Louis Armstrong) (1925)
Shanghai Shuffle (Larry Conley/Gene Rodemich) (1924)
Christopher Columbus (Andy Razaf/Chu Berry/Leon Berry) (1936)

A 1924 photo of Bix Beiderbecke.

Bix Beiderbecke, Vol. 1: Singin’ the Blues (rec. 1927)
Bix Beiderbecke, Vol. 2: At the Jazz Band Ball (rec. 1927-1928)

Tiger Rag (Larry Shields/Eddie Edwards/Nick LaRocca/Harry Da Costa/Henry W. Ragas/Tony Sbarbaro) (1924)
Riverboat Shuffle (Irving Mills/Dick Voynow/Mitchell Parish/Hoagy Carmichael) (1924)
Davenport Blues (Bix Beiderbecke) (1925)
In a Mist (Bixology) (Bix Beiderbecke) (1927)
Singin’ the Blues (Melvin Endsley/Mary McCreary) (1927)
At the Jazz Band Ball (Larry Shields/Eddie Edwards/Nick LaRocca/Henry W. Ragas/Tony Sbarbaro) (1927)
Jazz Me Blues (Tom Delaney) (1927)
Way Down Yonder In New Orleans (John Turner Layton, Jr./Henry Creamer) (1927)
Royal Garden Blues (Spencer Williams/Clarence Williams) (1927)
Clarinet Marmalade (Larry Shields/Eddie Edwards/Nick LaRocca/Henry W. Ragas/Tony Sbarbaro) (1927)
I’m Coming Virginia (Donald Heywood/Will Marion Cook) (1927)
Goose Pimples (Fletcher Henderson/Jo Trent) (1927)
Thou Swell (Richard Rodgers/Lorenz Hart) (1928)
Rhythm King (J. Russel Robinson/Jo Trent) (1928)
Lonely Melody (Hal Dyson) (1928)

EARL HINES (1903-1983)

A 1958 photo of Earl Hines with his band by Dennis Stock.

Piano Man! (ASV/Living Era) (rec. 1928-1941)
The Quintessential Recording Session (LP only, 1970)
Tour De Force (1972)

FATS WALLER (1904-1943)

A 1938 photo of Fats Waller by Alan Fisher.

If You Got To Ask, You Ain’t Got It! (rec. 1926-1943)
(alternate: Ain’t Misbehavin’ (ASV/Living Era) (rec. 1929-1940))

Ain’t Misbehavin’ (Andy Razaf/Fats Waller/Harry Brooks) (1929)
Honeysuckle Rose (Andy Razaf/Fats Waller) (1929)
Handful of Keys (Fats Waller/Richard Maltby, Jr./Murray Horwitz) (1929)
Blue Turning Grey Over You (Andy Razaf/Fats Waller) (1930)
I’m Crazy ‘Bout My Baby (and My Baby’s Crazy ‘Bout Me) (Alex Hill/Fats Waller) (1931)
Squeeze Me (Fats Waller/Clarence Williams) (1937)
Two Sleepy People (Frank Loesser/Hoagy Carmichael) (1938)
Your Feet’s Too Big (Ada Benson/Fred Fisher) (1939)
Jitterbug Waltz (Fats Waller) (1942)

BEN WEBSTER (1909-1973)

An undated photo of Ben Webster.

King of the Tenors/The Consummate Artistry of Ben Webster (1954)
Soulville (1957)
Ben Webster Meets Oscar Peterson (1959) (with Oscar Peterson)
Gerry Mulligan Meets Ben Webster (1959) (with Gerry Mulligan)
Ben Webster and Associates (1959)
See You at the Fair (1964)

Cotton Tail (Duke Ellington) (1940 (with Duke Ellington))
Stardust (Mitchell Parish/Hoagy Carmichael) (1940 (with Duke Ellington); 1964)
Chelsea Bridge (Billy Strayhorn) (1941 (with Duke Elllington); 1958)
Old Folks (Willard Robinson/Dedette Lee Hill) (1951, 1970)
Tenderly (Jack Lawrence/Walter Gross) (1954)
You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To (Cole Porter) (1957 (with Coleman Hawkins))
Over The Rainbow (Harold Arlen/Yip Harburg) (1964)

ROY ELDRIDGE (1911-1989)

An undated photo of Roy Eldridge.

Little Jazz (Columbia) (rec. 1935-1940)

Rockin’ Chair (Hoagy Carmichael) (1941, with Gene Krupa)

An undated photo of Charlie Christian.

The Genius of the Electric Guitar (single CD & boxed set) (rec. 1939-1941)
Solo Flight Live! (rec. 1939-1941)

Swing To Bop (Charlie Christian) (1941, with Benny Goodman)
Solo Flight (Jimmy Mundy/Benny Goodman/Charlie Christian) (1941, with Benny Goodman)

BUDDY RICH (1917-1987)

An undated photo of Buddy Rich (c. 1970s?).

Strike It, Rich! (rec. 1938-1957)
This One’s for Basie (1957)
Rich Versus Roach (1959)
Blues Caravan (rec. 1961, rel. 1962)
Big Swing Face (1967)
Time Being (rec. 1971-1972)
The Roar of ’74 (1973)

BUD POWELL (1924-1966)

A 1949 photo of Bud Powell. Getty Images.

The Amazing Bud Powell, Vol. 1 (rec. 1949-1951)
(alternate: The Genius of Bud Powell (rec. 1950-1951))
The Amazing Bud Powell, Vol. 2 (rec. 1953))
Jazz at Massey Hall (1953) (with The Quintet)

Tempus Fugue-It/Tempus Fugit (Bud Powell) (1949)
Bouncing With Bud (Bud Powell/Gil Fuller) (1949)
Celia (Ray Brown/Bud Powell/Max Roach) (1949)
Tea for Two (Vincent Youmans/Irving Caesar) (1950)
Un Poco Loco (Bud Powell) (1951)
Oblivion (Bud Powell) (1951)
Cleopatra’s Dream (Bud Powell) (1958)

SARAH VAUGHAN (1924-1990)

A photo of Sarah Vaughan by William P. Gottlieb c. 1946.

Sarah Vaughan (rec. 1954, rel. 1955) (with Clifford Brown)
In the Land of Hi-Fi (1955)
Crazy and Mixed Up (1982)

Tenderly (Walter Gross/Jack Lawrence) (1947)
Black Coffee (Paul Francis Webster/Sonny Burke) (1949)
Ain’t Misbehavin’ (Fats Waller/Harry Brooks/Andy Razaf) (1949)
Lullaby of Birdland (George Shearing/George David Weiss) (1954)
They Can’t Take That Away From Me (George Gershwin/Ira Gershwin) (1954)
How High the Moon (Nancy Hamilton/Morgan Lewis) (1957) (from At Mister Kelly’s)
Misty (Errol Garner/Johnny Burke) (1959)

J.J. JOHNSON (1924-2001)

An undated photo of J.J. Johnson.

The Eminent Jay Jay Johnson, Vol. 1 (rec. 1953-1954)
The Eminent Jay Jay Johnson, Vol. 2 (rec. 1954-1955)
Proof Positive (1964)
Quintergy: Live at the Village Vanguard (1988)

Old Devil Moon (Burton Lane/Yip Harburg) (1954)
Groovin’ (J.J. Johnson) (1955)

STAN GETZ (1927-1991)

An undated photo of Stan Getz.

For Musicians Only (1956) (with Dizzy Gillespie & Sonny Stitt)
Focus (1961)
Getz/Gilberto (rec. 1963, rel. 1964) (with João Gilberto)
Jazz Samba (1962)
Big Band Bossa Nova (1962)
The Dolphin (1981)

Stella by Starlight (Ned Washington/Victor Young) (1952)
Moonlight in Vermont (John Blackburn/Karl Suessdorf) (1952-1953) (with Johnny Smith)
The Girl From Ipanema (Antônio Carlos Jobim/Vinicius de Moraes/Norman Gimbel) (1963)
Desafinado (Antônio Carlos Jobim/Newton Mendonça) (1963)
Corcovado/Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars (Antônio Carlos Jobim) (1963)
Night and Day (Cole Porter) (1964) (from Stan Getz & Bill Evans)

ELVIN JONES (1927-2004)

An undated photo of Elvin Jones.

And Then Again (1965)
A Love Supreme (1965) (with John Coltrane)
Love & Peace (rec. 1978-1982)
Brother John (1982)
In Europe (1991)
Youngblood (1992)
It Don’t Mean a Thing (1993)

A Night In Tunisia (Frank Paparelli/Dizzy Gillespie) (1957) (with Sonny Rollins) (from A Night at the Village Vanguard)
A Love Supreme: (3) Pursuance (John Coltrane) (1964) (with John Coltrane)


An undated photo of Cannonball Adderley by Francis Wolff.

Somethin’ Else (1958)
The Cannonball Adderley Quintet in Chicago (1959)
The Cannonball Adderley Quintet in San Francisco (1959)
The Cannonball Adderley Quintet at the Lighthouse (1960)
Mercy, Mercy, Mercy! Live at ‘The Club’ (1966)

Autumn Leaves (Joseph Kosma/Jacques Prévert/Johnny Mercer) (1958)
Love For Sale (Cole Porter) (1958)
Somethin’ Else (Miles Davis) (1958)
One for Daddy-O (Nat Adderley) (1958)
Work Song (Nat Adderley/Oscar Brown, Jr.) (1960)
Jive Samba (Nat Adderley) (1962)
Mercy, Mercy, Mercy (Joe Zawinul) (1966)

CHET BAKER (1929-1988)

An undated photo of Chet Baker.

The Best of Chet Baker Sings (rec. 1953-1956)
Chet Baker Sings (rec. 1954-1956)
Chet Baker In New York (1958)
Chet (rec. 1958-1959)
Chet Is Back! (1962)

My Funny Valentine (Richard Rodgers/Lorenz Hart) (1953 (with the Gerry Mulligan Quartet);  1954)
But Not For Me (George Gershwin/Ira Gershwin) (1954)
I Get Along Without You Very Well (Hoagy Carmichael) (1954)
I Fall In Love Too Easily (Jule Styne/Sammy Cahn) (1954)
The Thrill Is Gone (Lew Brown/Ray Henderson) (1954)
That Old Feeling (Lew Brown/Sammy Fain) (1954)
Let’s Get Lost (Frank Loesser/Jimmy McHugh) (1955)
You Don’t Know What Love Is (Gene DePaul/Don Raye) (1955)
Almost Blue (Elvis Costello) (1987)

CLIFFORD BROWN (1930-1956)

An undated photo of Clifford Brown.

The Beginning and the End (rec. 1952, 1956)
Clifford Brown & Max Roach (rec. 1954)
Study in Brown (1955) (with Max Roach)

The Blues Walk (Clifford Brown) (1954)
Daahoud (Clifford Brown) (1954)
What Am I Here For? (Duke Ellington) (1954)
Jordu (Duke Jordan) (1954)
Joy Spring (Clifford Brown) (1954)
Cherokee (Ray Noble) (1955)
What Is This Thing Called Love? (Cole Porter) (1956)


A photo of Wayne Shorter c. 1964.

Night Dreamer (1964)
Juju (rec. 1964, rel. 1965)
Speak No Evil (rec. 1964, rel. 1966)
The All-Seeing Eye (rec. 1965, rel. 1966)
Adam’s Apple (rec. 1966, rel. 1967)
Schizophrenia (rec. 1967, rel. 1969)
Native Dancer (1974) (with Milton Nascimento)
Alegría (2003)

Night Dreamer (Wayne Shorter) (1964)
Charcoal Blues (Wayne Shorter) (1964)
Black Nile (Wayne Shorter) (1964)
JuJu (Wayne Shorter) (1964)
Deluge (Wayne Shorter) (1964)
House of Jade (Wayne Shorter) (1964)
Yes or No (Wayne Shorter) (1964)
Witch Hunt (Wayne Shorter) (1964)
Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum (Wayne Shorter) (1964)
Speak No Evil (Wayne Shorter) (1964)
Infant Eyes (Wayne Shorter) (1964)
Adam’s Apple (Wayne Shorter) (1966)
Footprints (Wayne Shorter) (1966)
Tom Thumb (Wayne Shorter) (1966)
Ponta de Areia (Milton Nascimento) (1974)

PAUL CHAMBERS (1935-1969)

A photo of Paul Chambers c. 1960.

Chambers’ Music (1956)
Whims of Chambers (1956)
Paul Chambers Quintet (1957)
Bass On Top (1957)
Kind of Blue (1959) (with Miles Davis)
1st Bassman (1960)

The Theme (Miles Davis) (1957)

JOE HENDERSON (1937-2001)

A 1967 photo of Joe Henderson by Francis Wolff.

Page One (1963)
In ‘n Out (1964)
Inner Urge (1964)
The State of the Tenor: Live at the Village Vanguard (1985)
Lush Life: The Music of Billy Strayhorn (rec. 1991, rel. 1992)
So Near, So Far (Musings for Miles) (1992)

Blue Bossa (Kenny Dorham) (1963)
Recorda Me (Joe Henderson) (1963)
Isotope (Joe Henderson) (1964)
Mode For Joe (Cedar Walton) (1966)
Black Narcissus (Joe Henderson) (1969)
Earth (Joe Henderson) (1973)
Lush Life (Billy Strayhorn) (1992)

RON CARTER (1937- )

An undated photo of Ron Carter.

Uptown Conversation (1969)
Alone Together (1972) (with Jim Hall)
All Blues (1973)
Piccolo (1977)
Live at the Village West (1982) (with Jim Hall)

Rufus (Ron Carter) (1973)

MCCOY TYNER (1938- )

A 1961 photo of McCoy Tyner.

The Real McCoy (1967)
Expansions (rec. 1968, rel. 1970)
Extensions (rec. 1970, rel. 1973)
Sahara (1972)
Enlightenment (1973)
Horizon (rec. 1979, rel. 1980)

Inception (McCoy Tyner) (1962)
Autumn Leaves (Joseph Kosma/Johnny Mercer/Jacques Prévert) (1963)
Contemplation (McCoy Tyner) (1967)
Passion Dance (McCoy Tyner) (1967)
Message From The Nile (McCoy Tyner) (1970)
Naima (John Coltrane) (1972)
Fly with the Wind (McCoy Tyner) (1976)
Wave (Antônio Carlos Jobim) (1977)
Moment’s Notice (John Coltrane) (1977)
Giant Steps (John Coltrane) (1991) (from Live in Warsaw)
Afro Blue (Mongo Santamaría) (1999)


A 1974 photo of John McLaughlin.

The Inner Mounting Flame (1971) (with Mahavishnu Orchestra)
Birds of Fire (rec. 1972, rel. 1973) (with Mahavishnu Orchestra)

Extrapolation (John McLaughlin) (1969)
Peace Piece (John McLaughlin) (1969)
My Foolish Heart (Ned Washington/Victor Young) (1978)

PAT METHENY (1954- )

A 2010 photo of Pat Metheny by Steven Drinkwater.

Bright Size Life (1976)
Pat Metheny Group (1978)
American Garage (1979)
Offramp (1982)
Still Life (Talking) (1987)
Letter from Home (1989)
Secret Story (1992)
The Way Up (2005)

Bright Size Life (Pat Metheny) (1975)
Sueño con México (Pat Metheny) (1978)
It’s For You (Lyle Mays/Pat Metheny) (1980) (with Lyle Mays)
Are You Going With Me? (Lyle Mays/Pat Metheny) (1981)
Last Train Home (Pat Metheny) (1987)
The Sound of Water (Pat Metheny) (2005) (with Brad Mehldau)
And I Love Her (John Lennon/Paul McCartney) (2011)

To see the same list organized chronologically, go here.
To see a list of the best contemporary jazz musicians, go here.