Best Jazz of All Time – Ranked

I collected over 25 lists of the best jazz albums of all time from books, magazines and websites and combined them into one list.  The results are below: all the albums on three or more of the original source lists, organized by rank, that is, with the albums on the most lists at the top. Note: When the recording dates differ from the release dates, I have used the recording dates.

To see a longer list containing every album on two or more of the original source lists, organized chronologically, go here.

On 25 Lists
Miles Davis: Kind of Blue (1959)

On 22 Lists
John Coltrane: A Love Supreme (1964)

On 19 Lists
Eric Dolphy: Out to Lunch! (1964)

On 17 Lists
Sonny Rollins: Saxophone Colossus (1956)
Dave Brubeck: Time Out (1959)
Wayne Shorter: Speak No Evil (1965)

On 16 Lists
Bill Evans Trio: Waltz for Debby (1961)
Lee Morgan: The Sidewinder (1964)

On 15 Lists
John Coltrane: Blue Train (1957)
Cannonball Adderley: Somethin’ Else (1958)
Charles Mingus: Mingus Ah Um (1959)
Herbie Hancock: Maiden Voyage (1965)
Miles Davis: Bitches Brew (1969)

On 14 Lists
Louis Armstrong: The Complete Hot Fives and Hot Sevens (1925-1930) (alternative: The Best of the Hot Fives and Hot Sevens)
Charlie Parker: Complete Savoy and Dial Studio Recordings (1945-1948) (alternative: Complete Savoy and Dial Master Takes)
Thelonious Monk: Brilliant Corners (1957)
John Coltrane: Giant Steps (1959)
Bill Evans Trio: Sunday at the Village Vanguard (1961)

On 13 Lists
Ornette Coleman: The Shape of Jazz To Come (1959)
John Coltrane: My Favorite Things (1960)

On 12 Lists
Benny Goodman: Live at Carnegie Hall (1938)
The Quintet (Charlie Parker, et al.): Jazz at Massey Hall (1953)
Errol Garner: Concert by the Sea (1955)
Art Pepper: Art Pepper Meets the Rhythm Section (1957)
Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers: Moanin’ (1959)
Hank Mobley: Soul Station (1960)
Oliver Nelson: Blues and the Abstract Truth (1961)
Stan Getz and João Giberto: Getz/Gilberto (1964)

On 11 Lists
Sarah Vaughan: Sarah Vaughan (with Clifford Brown) (1954)
Wes Montgomery: The Incredible Jazz Guitar of West Montgomery (1960)
Charles Mingus: The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady (1963)
Horace Silver: Song for My Father (1965)

On 10 Lists
Duke Ellington: The Blanton-Webster Band (1940-1942) (alternative: Never No Lament)
Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool (1949-1950)
Bud Powell: The Amazing Bud Powell, Vols I & 2 (1949-1951)
Clifford Brown and Max Roach: Clifford Brown and Max Roach (1955)
Duke Ellington: Ellington at Newport (1956)
Count Basie: The Complete Atomic Basie (1957)
Albert Ayler: Spiritual Unity (1964)
Andrew Hill: Point of Departure (1964)
Miles Davis: In a Silent Way (1969)
Herbie Hancock: Headhunters (1973)
Keith Jarrett: The Köln Concert (1975)

On 9 Lists
Count Basie: The Complete Decca Recordings (1937-1939)
Miles Davis: Milestones (1958)
Dexter Gordon: Go! (1962)
Mahavishnu Orchestra: The Inner Mounting Flame (1971)

On 8 Lists
Billie Holiday: Lady Day (rec. 1933-1944)
Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers: A Night at Birdland (1954)
Jimmy Smith: Back at the Chicken Shack (1960)
Ella Fitzgerald: The Complete Songbooks (1956-1964)
Grant Green: Idle Moments (1964)
Cecil Taylor: Unit Structures (1966)
Duke Ellington: The Far East Suite (1966)
McCoy Tyner: The Real McCoy (1967)
Dave Holland Quartet: Conference of the Birds (1973)

On 7 Lists
Charlie Christian: The Genius of the Electric Guitar (1939-1941)
Lee Konitz: Subconscious-Lee (1949-1950)
Modern Jazz Quartet: Django (1953-1955)
Clifford Brown and Max Roach: Study in Brown (1955)
Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane: At Carnegie Hall (1957)
Miles Davis: Sketches of Spain (rec. 1959-1960)
Max Roach: We Insist! Freedom Now Suite (1960)
Duke Ellington: Money Jungle (1963)
Dexter Gordon: Our Man in Paris (1963)
Chick Corea: Return to Forever (1972)
Weather Report: Heavy Weather (1977)
Wynton Marsalis: Black Codes (From the Underground) (1985)

On 6 Lists
King Oliver: King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band: The Complete Set (1923-1924)
Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie: Bird & Diz (rec. 1949-1950)
Thelonious Monk: Genius of Modern Music, Vols I & 2 (1947-1952)
Coleman Hawkins: Body & Soul (rec. 1939-1956)
Chet Baker: The Best of Chet Baker Sings (1953-1956)
Sonny Rollins: A Night at the Village Vanguard (1957)
Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong: Ella and Louis (1957)
Horace Silver: Blowin’ the Blues Away (1959)
Freddie Hubbard: Open Sesame (1960)
Ornette Coleman: Change of the Century (1960)
The Gil Evans Orchestra: Out of the Cool (1960)
Benny Carter: Further Definitions (1961)
Oscar Peterson: Night Train (1962)
Larry Young: Unity (1966)
Pharoah Sanders: Karma (1969)
Joe Pass: Virtuoso (1973)
Cassandra Wilson: Blue Light ‘Til Dawn (1993)
Diana Krall: Live in Paris (2001)

5 
Dizzy Gillespie: The Complete RCA Victor Recordings (1947-1949)
Louis Armstrong: Plays W.C. Handy (1954)
Charles Mingus: Pithecanthropus Erectus (1956)
Art Tatum & Ben Webster: The Album (1956) (alternative: Pablo Group Masterpieces, Vol. 8)
Gerry Mulligan: Best of Gerry Mulligan Quartet with Chet Baker (1952-1953, 1957)
Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Rollins & Sonny Stitt: Sonny Side Up (1957)
Sonny Clark: Cool Struttin’ (1958)
Charles Mingus: Blues and Roots (1959)
Charles Mingus: Presents Charles Mingus (1960)
Ornette Coleman: Free Jazz (1960)
Lambert, Hendricks & Ross: Everybody’s Boppin’ (1959-1961)
George Russell: Ezz-thetics (1961)
John Coltrane: The Complete 1961 Village Vanguard Recordings (1961)
Joe Henderson: Page One (1963)
John Coltrane & Johnny Hartman: John Coltrane & Johnny Hartman (1963)
Wayne Shorter: Juju (1964)
Joe Henderson: Inner Urge (1964)
John Coltrane: Ascension (1965)
Bobby Hutcherson: Dialogue (1965)
Rashaan Roland Kirk: Rip, Rig And Panic (1965)
Chick Corea: Now He Sings, Now He Sobs (1968)
Peter Brötzmann: Machine Gun (1968)
The Tony Williams Lifetime: Emergency! (1969)
Carla Bley & Paul Haines: Escalator Over The Hill (1968-1971)
Mahavishnu Orchestra: Birds of Fire (1973)
Jaco Pastorius: Jaco Pastorius (1976)
Weather Report: Black Market (1976)

4     
Duke Ellington: The Okeh Ellington (rec. 1927-1931)
Charlie Parker: Charlie Parker with Strings: The Master Takes (1947-1952)
J.J. Johnson: The Eminent J.J. Johnson, Vol. 1 (1953)
Art Tatum: The Solo Masterpieces (1953-1956)
Sonny Rollins: Tenor Madness (1956)
Lester Young: The Jazz Giants ’56 (1956)
Miles Davis: ‘Round About Midnight (1957)
Miles Davis: Miles Ahead (1957)
Jimmy Smith: The Sermon! (1958)
Billie Holiday: Lady in Satin (1958)
Yusef Lateef : Eastern Sounds (1961)
Jackie McLean: Let Freedom Ring (1962)
Milt Jackson & Wes Montgomery: Bags Meets Wes (1962)
Kenny Burrell: Midnight Blue (1963)
Herbie Hancock: Empyrean Isles (1964)
Wynton Kelly Trio and Wes Montgomery: Smokin’ at the Half Note (1965)
Frank Sinatra: Sinatra at the Sands (1966)
Charlie Haden: Liberation Music Orchestra (1969)
John McLaughlin: Extrapolation (1969)
Jim Hall: Concierto (1975)
Pat Metheny: Bright Size Life (1976)
Arthur Blythe: Lenox Avenue Breakdown (1979)
Pat Metheny Group: Offramp (1982)
Sonny Sharrock: Ask the Ages (1991)
Joe Lovano: From the Soul (1992)
Joshua Redman: Wish (1993)
Brad Mehldau: The Art of the Trio, Vol. 1 (1997)
Charlie Haden & Pat Metheny: Beyond the Missouri Sky (1997)
Trio Beyond: Saudades (2006)

3
Bix Beiderbecke: Bix & Tram (rec. 1926-1929)
Jelly Roll Morton: 1926-1930 (rec. 1926-1930)
Bessie Smith: The Essential Bessie Smith (rec. 1923-1933)
James P. Johnson: The Original James P. Johnson: 1942-1945 Piano Solos (rec. 1942-1945)
Louis Armstrong: The Complete RCA Victor Recordings (rec. 1932-1933, 1946-1947)
Lester Young: The Complete Aladdin Recordings (rec. 1942-1947)
Fats Navarro & Tadd Dameron: The Complete Blue Note and Capitol Recordings (rec. 1947-1948)
Bud Powell: The Genius of Bud Powell (rec. 1950-1951)
Thelonious Monk: Best of the Blue Note Years (rec. 1947-1952)
June Christy: Something Cool (1955)
Sonny Rollins: Way Out West (1957)
Thelonious Monk with John Coltrane: The Complete 1957 Riverside Recordings (rec. 1957)
Jimmy Giuffre: Jimmy Giuffre 3 (1957)
Sun Ra: Jazz in Silhouette (1958)
Art Farmer: Modern Art (1958)
Bill Evans: Everybody Digs Bill Evans (1958)
Bill Evans: Portrait in Jazz (1959)
Miles Davis: Porgy and Bess (1959)
John Coltrane: Olé Coltrane (1961)
Stan Getz: Focus (1961)
Nancy Wilson and Cannonball Adderly: Nancy Wilson/Cannonball Adderley (1961)
Gene Ammons & Sonny Stitt: Boss Tenors in Orbit (1962)
Thelonious Monk: Monk’s Dream (1963)
Charles Mingus: Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus (1963)
Lee Morgan: Search for the New Land (1964)
Lee Morgan: Cornbread (1965)
Miles Davis: Highlights from the Plugged Nickel (1965)
Archie Shepp: Fire Music (1965)
Roscoe Mitchell: Sound (1966)
Anthony Braxton: For Alto (1968)
Freddie Hubbard: Red Clay (1970)
McCoy Tyner: Sahara (1972)
Cecil Taylor: Silent Tongues (1974)
Al DiMeola: Elegant Gypsy (1977)
Art Ensemble of Chicago: Nice Guys (1978)
Betty Carter: The Audience with Betty Carter (1979)
David Murray: Ming (1980)
Keith Jarrett: Standards, Vol. I (1983)
Don Byron: Tuskegee Experiments (1990-1991)
Joe Henderson: Lush Life: The Music of Billy Strayhorn (1992)
Maria Schneider: Evanescence (1992)
Wynton Marsalis: Citi Movement (1992)
John Zorn & Masada: Alef (1994)
Dave Douglas: Strange Liberation (2003)
Madeleine Peyroux: Careless Love (2004)

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