Best Jazz of All Time – The Critics’ Picks

I collected 22 lists of the best jazz albums of all time from books, magazines and websites and combined them into one list.  The numbers in bold indicate the number of original source lists each album was on.  When the recording dates differ from the release dates, I have used the recording dates.  I have also published another version of this list organized by artist, chronologically by date of birth, which you can find here:  Jazz Artists and their Best Recordings.

Miles Davis:                              Kind of Blue (1959)

John Coltrane:                           A Love Supreme (1964)

Dave Brubeck:                         Time Out (1959)
Eric Dolphy:                              Out to Lunch! (1964)
Wayne Shorter:                         Speak No Evil (1965)

Lee Morgan                              The Sidewinder (1964)
Miles Davis:                              Bitches Brew (1969)

Sonny Rollins:                            Saxophone Colossus (1956)
Cannonball Adderley:               Somethin’ Else (1958)
John Coltrane:                           Giant Steps (1959)
Bill Evans Trio:                          Sunday at the Village Vanguard (1961)
Bill Evans Trio:                          Waltz for Debby (1961)
Herbie Hancock:                      Maiden Voyage (1965)

Charlie Parker:                         Complete Savoy and Dial Master Takes (1945-1948)
Errol Garner:                           Concert by the Sea (1955)
Thelonious Monk:                   Brilliant Corners (1957)
Ornette Coleman:                  The Shape of Jazz To Come (1959)
Charles Mingus:                     Mingus Ah Um (1959)
Hank Mobley:                         Soul Station (1960)

Louis Armstrong:                    The Complete Hot Fives and Hot Sevens (1925-1930)
Benny Goodman:                    Live at Carnegie Hall (1938)
Clifford Brown and Max Roach:            Clifford Brown and Max Roach (1955)
John Coltrane:                         Blue Train (1957)
Art Pepper:                             Meets the Rhythm Section (1957)
Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers:        Moanin’ (1959)
John Coltrane:                        My Favorite Things (1960)
Oliver Nelson:                        Blues and the Abstract Truth (1961)
Stan Getz and Joao Giberto:                  Getz/Gilberto (1964)
Horace Silver                         Song for My Father (1965)
Keith Jarrett:                         The Köln Concert (1975)

Bud Powell:                         The Amazing Bud Powell, Vols I & 2 (1949-51)
Charlie Parker, et al.:          Jazz at Massey Hall (1953)
Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers:       A Night at Birdland (1954)
Sarah Vaughan:                 Sarah Vaughan and Clifford Brown (1954)
Miles Davis:                        Milestones (1958)
Wes Montgomery:             The Incredible Jazz Guitar (1960)
Dexter Gordon:                  Go! (1962)
McCoy Tyner:                     The Real McCoy (1967)
Miles Davis:                        In a Silent Way (1969)

Billie Holiday:                       Lady Day (1933-1944)
Miles Davis:                          Birth of the Cool (1949-1950)
Clifford Brown and Max Roach:              Study in Brown (1955)
Duke Ellington:                     Ellington at Newport (1956)
Count Basie:                         The Complete Atomic Basie (1957)
Charles Mingus:                  The Black Saint And The Sinner Lady (1963)
Ella Fitzgerald:                     The Complete Songbooks (1956-1964)
Albert Ayler:                         Spiritual Unity (1964)
Andrew Hill:                         Point of Departure (1964)
Duke Ellington:                    The Far East Suite (1966)
Mahavishnu Orchestra:     The Inner Mounting Flame (1971)
Herbie Hancock:                  Headhunters (1973)
Dave Holland Quartet:       Conference of the Birds (1973)

Count Basie:                       The Complete Decca Recordings (1937-39)
Charlie Christian:               The Genius of the Electric Guitar (1939-41)
Modern Jazz Quartet:         Django (1953-1955)
Freddie Hubbard:               Open Sesame (1960)
Jimmy Smith:                       Back at the Chicken Shack (1960)
Duke Ellington:                    Money Jungle (1963)
Grant Green:                        Idle Moments (1964)
Cecil Taylor:                         Unit Structures (1966)
Pharoah Sanders:               Karma (1969)
Wynton Marsalis:                Black Codes (From the Underground) (1985)
Cassandra Wilson               Blue Light ‘Til Dawn (1993)

King Oliver:                         King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band: The Complete Set (1923-24)
Duke Ellington:                   The Blanton-Webster Band (1940-1942)
Duke Ellington:                   Never No Lament (1940-1942)
Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie:      Bird & Diz (1949-1950)
Thelonious Monk:               Genius of Modern Music, Vols I & 2 (1947-52)
Louis Armstrong:                Plays W.C. Handy (1954)
Coleman Hawkins:              Body & Soul (1939-1956)
Chet Baker:                         The Best of Chet Baker Sings (1953-1956)
Charles Mingus:                 Pithecanthropus Erectus (1956)
Gerry Mulligan:                  Best of Gerry Mulligan Quartet with Chet Baker (1952-1953, 1957)
Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Rollins & Sonny Stitt:       Sonny Side Up (1957)
Sonny Rollins:                     A Night at the Village Vanguard (1957)
Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane:                 At Carnegie Hall (1957)
Sonny Clark:                       Cool Struttin’ (1958)
Ornette Coleman:              Change of the Century (1960)
Max Roach:                        We Insist! Freedom Now Suite (1960)
Miles Davis:                       Sketches of Spain (1959-1960)
The Gil Evans Orchestra:  Out of the Cool (1960)
Benny Carter:                    Further Definitions (1961)
John Coltrane:                   The Complete 1961 Village Vanguard Recordings (1961)
Dexter Gordon:                 Our Man in Paris (1963)
Joe Henderson:                 Page One (1963)
Larry Young:                      Unity (1966)
Chick Corea:                      Now He Sings, Now He Sobs (1968)
Chick Corea:                      Return to Forever (1972)
Jaco Pastorius:                  Jaco Pastorius (1976)
Weather Report:             Heavy Weather (1977)

Duke Ellington:                The Okeh Ellington (1927-1931)
Charlie Parker:                 Charlie Parker with Strings: the Master Takes (1947-1952)
Sonny Rollins:                  Tenor Madness (1956)
Miles Davis:                     ‘Round About Midnight (1957)
Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong:        Ella and Louis (1957)
Charles Mingus:              Blues and Roots (1959)
Horace Silver:                  Blowin’ the Blues Away (1959)
Charles Mingus:              Presents Charles Mingus (1960)
Ornette Coleman:           Free Jazz (1960)
George Russell:              Ezz-thetics (1961)
Oscar Peterson              Night Train (1962)
Kenny Burrell:               Midnight Blue (1963)
John Coltrane:               Ascension (1965)
Bobby Hutcherson:       Dialogue (1965)
Wynton Kelly Trio and Wes Montgomery:      Smokin’ at the Half Note (1965)
Roland Kirk:                  Rip, Rig And Panic (1965)
Frank Sinatra:               Sinatra at the Sands (1966)
Joe Pass:                       Virtuoso (1973)
Pat Metheny:                Bright Size Life (1976)
Joshua Redman:           Wish (1993)
Brad Mehldau:             The Art of the Trio, Vol. 1 (1997)
Diana Krall                   Live in Paris (2001)

Bessie Smith               The Essential Bessie Smith (1923-33)
Bix Beiderbecke:         Bix & Tram (1926-29)
Jelly Roll Morton:        1926-1930 (1926-1930)
James P. Johnson:        The Original James P. Johnson: 1942-1945 Piano Solos (1942-1945)
Louis Armstrong:         The Complete RCA Victor Recordings (1932-33, 1946-47)
Lester Young:               The Complete Alladin Recordings (1942-1947)
Dizzy Gillespie:            The Complete RCA Victor Recordings (1947-1949)
Lee Konitz:                   Subconscious-Lee (1949-1950)
Thelonious Monk:        Best of the Blue Note Years (1947-1952)
J.J. Johnson:                  The Eminent J.J. Johnson, Vol. 1 (1953)
Art Tatum:                    The Solo Masterpieces (1953-56)
Art Tatum & Ben Webster:      The Album (1956)
Art Tatum & Ben Webster:      Pablo Group Masterpieces, Vol. 8 (1956)
Miles Davis:                 Miles Ahead (1957)
Sonny Rollins:             Way Out West (1957)
Thelonious Monk with John Coltrane:       The Complete 1957 Riverside Recordings (1957)
Bill Evans:                    Everybody Digs Bill Evans (1958)
Nancy Wilson and Cannonball Adderly:   Nancy Wilson/Cannonball Adderley (1961)
Jackie McLean:            Let Freedom Ring (1962)
Thelonious Monk:      Monk’s Dream (1962)
Charles Mingus:        Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus (1963)
Roscoe Mitchell:        Sound (1966)
Anthony Braxton:      For Alto (1968)
Peter Brötzmann:      Machine Gun (1968)
Charlie Haden:           Liberation Music Orchestra (1969)
Freddie Hubbard:      Red Clay (1970)
Carla Bley & Paul Haines:       Escalator Over The Hill (1968-1971)
Mahavishnu Orchestra:         Birds Of Fire (1973)
Al DiMeola:                 Elegant Gypsy (1977)
Keith Jarrett:              Standards, Vol. I (1983)
Sonny Sharrock:        Ask the Ages (1991)
Charlie Haden & Pat Metheny:      Beyond the Missouri Sky (1997)
Dave Douglas:           Strange Liberation (2003)
Madeleine Peyroux:   Careless Love (2004)

Bix Beiderbecke:            At the Jazz Band Ball (1927-1928)
Fletcher Henderson:     Tidal Wave (1931, 1934)
Django Reinhardt:        The Classic Early Recordings in Chronlogical Order (1934-39)
Sidney Bechet:              The Legendary Sidney Bechet (1932-1941)
Artie Shaw:                    Begin the Beguine (1938-1941)
Fats Waller:                   The Best of Fats Waller (1929-42)
The Nat King Cole Trio:   The Best of the Nat King Cole Trio: The Vocal Classics, Vol. 1 (1942-1946)
Louis Armstrong:            Complete New York Town Hall and Boston Symphony Hall Concerts (1947)
Fats Navarro & Tadd Dameron:     Complete on Blue Note and Capitol (1947-1948)
Lester Young:                  The Lester Young Story (1939-49)
Woody Herman:              Keeper Of The Flame (1949)
Stan Kenton:                   New Concepts of Artistry in Rhythm (1952)
Lester Young:                  The President Plays with the Oscar Peterson Trio (1952)
June Christy:                   Something Cool (1955)
Count Basie:                   April in Paris (1955-1956)
Miles Davis:                    Cookin’ with the Miles Davis Quintet (1956)
Modern Jazz Quartet:    Fontessa (1956)
Sonny Rollins:                Plus Four (1956)
Lester Young:                The Jazz Giants ’56 (1956)
Serge Chaloff:               Blue Serge (1956)
Dizzy Gillespie:             For Musicians Only (with Stan Getz & Sonny Stitt) (1956)
Henry “Red” Allen:        World on a String (1957)
Ben Webster:                Soulville (1957)
Jimmy Giuffre:              Jimmy Giuffre 3 (1957)
Billie Holiday:               Songs for Distingué Lovers (1957)
Ahmad Jamal:              At the Pershing (1958)
Jimmy Smith:               The Sermon! (1958)
Sun Ra:                        Jazz in Silhouette (1958)
Billie Holiday:             Lady in Satin (1958)
Art Farmer:                 Modern Art (1958)
Art Farmer:                 A Portrait of Art (1958)
Bill Evans:                   Portrait in Jazz (1959)
Eric Dolphy:                Out There (1960)
Ahmad Jamal Trio:      Cross Country Tour: 1958-1961 (1958-1961)
Lambert, Hendricks & Ross:    Everybody’s Boppin’ (1959-1961)
Stan Getz:                   Focus (1961)
Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers:     Mosaic (1961)
Rahsaan Roland Kirk:     We Free Kings (1961)
Yusef Lateef :             Eastern Sounds (1961)
Abbey Lincoln:           Straight Ahead (1961)
Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong:       The Great Summit (1961)
Herbie Hancock:       Takin’ Off (1962)
Gene Ammons & Sonny Stitt:     Boss Tenors in Orbit (1962)
Milt Jackson & Wes Montgomery:    Bags Meets Wes (1962)
Herbie Hancock:       Empyrean Isles (1964)
Thelonious Monk:    Live at the It Club (1964)
Lee Morgan:             Search for the New Land (1964)
Oscar Peterson:       Oscar Peterson Trio + One (1964)
Archie Shepp:          Four for Trane (1964)
Wayne Shorter:        Juju (1964)
Tony Williams:         Life Time (1964)
Joe Henderson        In ‘N Out (1964)
Joe Henderson:       Inner Urge (1964)
Miles Davis:            Highlights from the Plugged Nickel (1965)
Lee Morgan:           Cornbread (1965)
Sun Ra:                   The Magic City (1965)
Cecil Taylor:            Conquistador (1966)
Sun Ra:                    Atlantis (1967)
The Tony Williams Lifetime:     Emergency (1969)
Art Ensemble of Chicago:        Les Stances A Sophie (1970)
Stephane Grappelli:                Afternoon in Paris (1971)
Julius Hemphill:                       Dogon AD (1972)
Weather Report:                     I Sing the Body Electric (1972)
John Abercrombie:                Timeless (1974)
Modern Jazz Quartet:           Last Concert (1974)
Weather Report:                   Mysterious Traveler (1974)
Jim Hall:                                Concierto (1975)
Weather Report:                  Black Market (1976)
Return to Forever:               Romantic Warrior (1976)
Art Ensemble of Chicago:   Nice Guys (1978)
Arthur Blythe:                     Lenox Avenue Breakdown (1979)
David Murray:                    Ming (1980)
Pat Metheny Group:          Offramp (1982)
Henry Threadgill:               Just the Facts (1983)
Joe Henderson:                 Lush Life: The Music of Billy Strayhorn (1992)
Joe Lovano:                       From the Soul (1992)
Ruby Braff & Ellis Larkins:   Calling Berlin, Vol. I (1994)
Diana Krall:                     All for You (1996)
Lee Konitz:                      Alone Together (1996)
Michel Petrucciani:        Solo Live (1999)
Branford Marsalis:         Requiem (1999)
Warren Vaché and Bill Charlap:      2gether (2000)
Bill Frisell:                      Blues Dream (2001)
Chris Potter:                  Gratitude (2001)
Maria Schneider:          Concert in the Garden (2004)
Trio Beyond:                  Saudades (2006)

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