Annotated Discography

The best readily available jazz discography of which I am aware is the Penguin Guide To Jazz On Compact Disc, which contains listings and reviews of virtually all jazz albums that were in print in the early 1990’s. The book was edited in the United Kingdom, and there is a slight European avant garde slant to the ratings, but it is still the most complete, accurate, and generally useful discography of all types of jazz available to the general public.

The following discography is included to supplement the history discussion. Many of the specific artists and albums mentioned there are listed here, with a brief description of each. The albums listed are from my personal collection, and are listed in roughly chronological order, organized by style. I have tried to include mainly albums that I know are readily available, especially those that have been reissued on CD.


Basic Recommendations

I encourage you to check out any album mentioned more than once by name in the text of this primer. These albums include Miles Davis’ Kind Of Blue and John Coltrane’s Giant Steps. These two albums illustrate many of the ideas and techniques discussed in this primer, and are considered among the most important jazz albums of all time.

To supplement these classic albums, you should consider some recordings by the remainder of the musicians in the “Top Ten List”. Most of Louis Armstrong’s important recordings were made before the advent of the LP, so any album of his you buy today is probably a compilation. Look for something that contains recordings made in the 1920’s with the Hot Five or the Hot Seven. Duke Ellington led one of the greatest big bands ever, but also made many recordings in small group settings. Look for recordings that feature Cootie Williams, Johnny Hodges, Ben Webster, or Jimmy Blanton. Billie Holiday’s voice developed and changed over her career; you may wish to check out something from early and late in her life. Charlie Parker’s greatest and most influential recordings were as the leader of a quartet or quintet; there are hundreds of compilations to choose from.

Art Blakey was the first musician on this list to record extensively in the LP format. Any of the albums by the Jazz Messengers from the late 1950’s or early 1960’s, such as Moanin’ or Ugetsu, are good choices. The quintessential Charles Mingus album is Charles Mingus Presents Charles Mingus, which features Eric Dolphy. For Thelonious Monk, the compilations on Blue Note are excellent, as are albums from the 1950’s and 1960’s such as Brilliant Corners and Monk’s Dream. For Ornette Coleman, try one of the early quartet albums like The Shape Of Jazz To Come, and when you are feeling braver, Free Jazz. Ornette also leads a fusion oriented group called Prime Time; you may wish to check out some of their albums as well.

Miles Davis can hardly be fairly represented by only Kind Of Blue; you should also consider The Birth Of The Cool, Miles Smiles, Sketches Of Spain, and Bitches Brew at the very least, as they represent very different periods in his career, all of them innovative. Similarly, John Coltrane is not sufficiently represented by only Giant Steps; you should supplement this with something from the classic quartet like A Love Supreme, and, if you are feeling adventurous, one of the later albums such as Ascension.

Listing

    • Louis Armstrong, The Louis Armstrong Story, Columbia – several volumes, including records with the Hot Five and the Hot Seven, as well as recordings with Earl Hines and others
    • Art Tatum, The Complete Capitol Recordings, Capitol – solo and trio recordings
    • Bix Beiderbecke, Bix Beiderbecke, Columbia – several volumes, including recordings with various big bands
    • Duke Ellington, Duke Ellington, Laserlight – a sampler including record- ings from the 1930’s through the 1960’s, featuring Johnny Hodges, Cootie Williams, Ben Webster, and Paul Gonsalves
    • Errol Garner, Concert By The Sea, Columbia – this was for a long time the best selling jazz album ever
    • Charlie Parker, Bebop & Bird, Hipsville/Rhino – several volumes, includ- ing sessions with Bud Powell, Fats Navarro, Miles Davis, J.J. Johnson, Art Blakey, and Max Roach
    • Charlie Parker, The Quintet, Debut/OJC – a famous live concert with Dizzy Gillespie, Bud Powell, Charles Mingus, and Max Roach
    • Bud Powell, The Amazing Bud Powell, Blue Note – trio and small group recordings with Fats Navarro and Sonny Rollins
    • Thelonious Monk, The Best Of Thelonious Monk, Blue Note – early boppish recordings
    • Miles Davis, The Complete Birth Of The Cool, Capitol – nine piece group with Lee Konitz, J.J. Johnson, Gerry Mulligan, and John Lewis
    • Lennie Tristano, Wow, Jazz – a sextet with Lee Konitz and Warne Marsh
    • Dave Brubeck, Time Out, Columbia – featuring Paul Desmond and “Take Five”
    • Art Blakey And The Jazz Messengers, A Night At Birdland, Blue Note – featuring Horace Silver and Clifford Brown
    • Art Blakey And The Jazz Messengers, Moanin’, Blue Note – featuring Lee Morgan and Bobby Timmons
    • Art Blakey And The Jazz Messengers, Ugetsu, Milestone – featuring Wayne Shorter, Freddie Hubbard, and Curtis Fuller
    • Clifford Brown, Study In Brown, EmArcy – the quintet with Max Roach
    • Horace Silver, The Best Of Horace Silver, Applause – several of his most well-known compositions
    • Miles Davis, Walkin’, Prestige – one of Miles’ favorite albums; hard bop with J.J. Johnson and Horace Silver
    • Lee Morgan, The Sidewinder, Blue Note – hard bop
    • Miles Davis, Workin’ With The Miles Davis Quintet, Prestige – the first great quintet with John Coltrane, Red Garland, Paul Chambers, Philly Joe Jones
    • Miles Davis, Kind Of Blue, Columbia – the quintessential modal album, with John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderly, Bill Evans, and Wynton Kelly
    • Miles Davis, Complete Concert 1964, Columbia – the forerunner to the second great quintet, with George Coleman, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter and Tony Williams, playing standards
    • Miles Davis, Miles Smiles, Columbia – the second great quintet with Wayne Shorter, at its peak
    • Miles Davis, Sketches Of Spain, Columbia – with the Gil Evans Orchestra
    • John Coltrane, Soul Trane, Prestige – one of Coltrane’s favorites of his early albums, with Red Garland and Philly Jo Jones
    • John Coltrane, Giant Steps, Atlantic – the album that established Coltrane as one of the most important improvisers of his day
    • John Coltrane, My Favorite Things, Atlantic – the forerunner to his long lived quartet with McCoy Tyner and Elvin Jones
    • John Coltrane, A Love Supreme, Impulse – the crowning modal achievement of the quartet
    • Charles Mingus, Charles Mingus Presents Charles Mingus, Candid – the classic album with Eric Dolphy
    • Charles Mingus, Mingus Ah Um, Columbia – contains his most well-known compositions
    • Charles Mingus, Let My Children Hear Music, Columbia – supposedly Mingus’ favorite of his own albums; his music arranged for a large ensemble
    • Thelonious Monk, Monk’s Music, Riverside – with John Coltrane, Coleman Hawkins, and others
    • Thelonious Monk, Monk’s Dream, Columbia – his long-lived quartet with Charlie Rouse
    • Bill Evans, Sunday At The Village Vanguard, Waltz For Debby, Riverside – available as a combined set; a live recording from the trio with Scott LaFaro and Paul Motian
    • Wes Montgomery, Full House, Riverside – an early hard boppish recording
    • Sonny Rollins, Saxophone Colossus, Prestige – one of his most popular albums
    • Sonny Rollins, The Bridge, RCA – with Jim Hall
    • Chick Corea, Inner Space, Atlantic – an album of mostly straightahead jazz with Woody Shaw
    • Herbie Hancock, Maiden Voyage, Blue Note – modal, non-tonal, and avant garde compositions with Freddie Hubbard, Ron Carter, and Tony Williams
    • Wayne Shorter, Speak No Evil, Blue Note – some of his best compositions, with Freddie Hubbard and Herbie Hancock
    • VSOP, The Quintet, Columbia – live recording with Freddie Hubbard, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, and Tony Williams
    • Eric Dolphy, Eric Dolphy At The Five Spot, Prestige – with Booker Little and Mal Waldron
    • Eric Dolphy, Out To Lunch, Blue Note – influential avant garde recording
    • Andrew Hill, Point Of Departure, Blue Note – with Eric Dolphy and Joe Henderson
    • Max Roach, The Max Roach Trio Featuring The Legendary Hassan, Atlantic – Hassan Ibn Ali is a little known pianist who combines aspects of Thelonious Monk, Cecil Taylor, and Don Pullen; this is his only known recording, and is highly recommended
    • Ornette Coleman, The Shape Of Jazz To Come, Atlantic – one of his best freebop quartet albums
    • Ornette Coleman, Free Jazz, Atlantic – a collective free improvisation with Don Cherry, Freddie Hubbard, and Eric Dolphy
    • John Coltrane, New Thing At Newport, Impulse – live concert; half of this album is the Archie Shepp quartet
    • John Coltrane, Interstellar Space, Impulse – free duets with Rashied Ali
    • John Coltrane, Ascension, Impulse – free large ensemble improvisation
    • Albert Ayler, Witches & Devils, Freedom – avant garde
    • Pharoah Sanders, Live, Theresa – similar in style to Coltrane’s A Love Supreme, but more free
    • Cecil Taylor, Jazz Advance, Blue Note – relatively straightahead music, including some standards, but with Taylor’s sense of harmonic freedom
    • Cecil Taylor, For Olim, Soul Note – free solo piano
    • Cecil Taylor, Spring Of Two Blue J’s, Unit Core – free group improvisation
    • Sun Ra, Out There A Minute, Restless/BlastFirst – avant garde big band
    • Miles Davis, Bitches Brew, Columbia – early, relatively free fusion with Chick Corea, Joe Zawinul, John McLaughlin
    • Mahavishnu Orchestra, Inner Mounting Flame, Columbia – heavy rock oriented fusion with John McLaughlin
    • Tony Williams’ Lifetime, Emergency, Polydor – heavy rock oriented fusion with John McLaughlin
    • Herbie Hancock, Headhunters, Columbia – funk oriented fusion
    • Weather Report, Heavy Weather, Columbia – pop oriented fusion with Wayne Shorter, Joe Zawinul, Jaco Pastorius
    • Chick Corea and Return To Forever, Light As A Feather, Polydor – Latin oriented fusion with Stanley Clarke and vocalist Flora Purim
    • Pat Metheny, Bright Size Life, ECM – esoteric fusion with Jaco Pastorius
    • Steps Ahead, Modern Times, Elektra Musician – tight modern fusion with Michael Brecker
    • Miles Davis, You’re Under Arrest, Columbia – funkier modern fusion
    • Ornette Coleman and Prime Time, Virgin Beauty, Portrait – free modern fusion
    • Art Ensemble Of Chicago, Nice Guys, ECM – post modern jazz, world music, and freebop with Lester Bowie and Roscoe Mitchell
    • World Saxophone Quartet, Dances And Ballads, Elektra Nonesuch – a capella (unaccompanied) saxophone quartet with David Murray
    • David Murray, New Life, Black Saint – octet with Hugh Ragin on trumpet
    • Anthony Braxton, Composition 98, hat ART – a post modern suite featuring Marilyn Crispell, Hugh Ragin, and Ray Anderson
    • John Carter, Castles Of Ghana, Gramavision – a suite of post modern compositions
    • Willem Breuker, Bob’s Gallery, BVHaast – avant garde big band
    • Don Pullen / George Adams Quartet, Don’t Lose Control, Soul Note – blues oriented post modern jazz
    • Improvised Music New York 1981, MU – energy music with Derek Bailey, Sonny Sharrock, Fred Frith, and John Zorn
    • Oregon, 45th Parallel, Portrait – New Age pioneers
    • Paul Bley, Floater, Savoy – harmonically liberated trio doing compositions by Paul and Carla Bley as well as Ornette Coleman
    • Abdullah Ibrahim, African Dawn, Enja – solo piano with South African influences
    • Keith Jarrett, Mysteries, Impulse – quartet with Dewey Redman doing relatively free post bop with world music influences
    • Wynton Marsalis, Think Of One, Columbia – adventurous neoclassic quintet with Branford Marsalis, Kenny Kirkland, and Jeff Watts
    • Wynton Marsalis, Marsalis Standard Time, Columbia – standards with rhythmic twists, featuring Marcus Roberts
    • Branford Marsalis, Crazy People Music, Columbia – adventurous neoclassic quartet with Kenny Kirkland and Jeff Watts
    • Steve Coleman, Motherland Pulse, JMT – acoustic M-Base
    • Steve Coleman, Drop Kick, Novus – electric M-Base
    • Gary Thomas, The Kold Kage, JMT – electric M-Base
    • Cassandra Wilson, Jump World, JMT – vocal and electric M-Base with Steve Coleman, Gary Thomas, and Greg Osby
    • Dave Holland, Extensions, ECM – mostly acoustic modern quartet with Steve Coleman, Kevin Eubanks, and Marvin “Smitty” Smith
    • Tim Berne, Pace Yourself, JMT – frenetic post modern jazz
    • Michael Brecker, Michael Brecker, Impulse – modern acoustic and electric post bop
    • Charlie Haden, Paul Motian, Geri Allen, Etudes, Soul Note – modern acoustic post bop
    • Steve Lacy, Live At Sweet Basil, Novus – modern acoustic post bop
    • Phil Woods, Heaven, Blackhawk – post bop with Tom Harrell
    • Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Discovery, Blue Note – post bop with Cuban influences
    • Don Byron, Tuskegee Experiments, Elektra Nonesuch – post modern, post bop
    • Don Pullen, Kele Mou Bana, Blue Note – post modern with world music and blues influences
    • David Murray, Shakill’s Warrior, DIW – post modern blues with Don Pullen on organ