Best Jazz of All Time – Chronological

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 two or more of the original source lists, organized chronologically, based on the earliest recording on the album. Note: When the recording dates differ significantly from the release dates, I have used the recording dates.

To see a list of every jazz album on three or more of the original source lists, organized by rank (that is, with the albums on the most lists at the top), go here.

1920s
Fats Waller: A Handful of Keys: 1922-1935 (rec. 1922-1935) (on 2 lists)
King Oliver: King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band: The Complete Set (1923-1924) (on 6 lists)
Bessie Smith: The Essential Bessie Smith (rec. 1923-1933) (on 3 lists)
Louis Armstrong: The Complete Hot Fives and Hot Sevens (1925-1930) (alternative: The Best of the Hot Fives and Hot Sevens) (on 14 lists)
Bix Beiderbecke: Bix & Tram (rec. 1926-1929) (on 3 lists)
Jelly Roll Morton: 1926-1930 (rec. 1926-1930) (on 3 lists)
Bix Beiderbecke: At the Jazz Band Ball (rec. 1927-1928) (on 2 lists)
Duke Ellington: The Okeh Ellington (rec. 1927-1931) (on 4 lists)
Fats Waller: The Best of Fats Waller (rec: 1929-1942) (on 2 lists)

1930s
Fletcher Henderson: Tidal Wave (rec. 1931, 1934) (on 2 lists)
Sidney Bechet: The Legendary Sidney Bechet (rec. 1932-1941) (on 2 lists)
Louis Armstrong: The Complete RCA Victor Recordings (rec. 1932-1933, 1946-1947) (on 3 lists)
Billie Holiday: Lady Day (rec. 1933-1944) (on 8 lists)
Django Reinhardt: The Classic Early Recordings in Chronological Order (rec. 1934-1939) (on 2 lists)
Count Basie: The Complete Decca Recordings (1937-1939) (on 9 lists)
Benny Goodman: Live at Carnegie Hall (1938) (on 12 lists)
Artie Shaw: Begin the Beguine (rec. 1938-1941) (on 2 lists)
Charlie Christian: The Genius of the Electric Guitar (1939-1941) (on 7 lists)
Lester Young: The Lester Young Story (rec. 1939-1949) (on 2 lists)
Coleman Hawkins: Body & Soul (rec. 1939-1956) (on 6 lists)

1940s
Duke Ellington: Never No Lament: The Blanton-Webster Band (1940-1942) (alternative: The Blanton-Webster Band) (on 10 lists)
James P. Johnson: The Original James P. Johnson: 1942-1945 Piano Solos (rec. 1942-1945) (on 3 lists)
The Nat King Cole Trio: The Best of the Nat King Cole Trio: The Vocal Classics, Vol. 1, 1942-1946 (rec. 1942-1946) (on 2 lists)
Lester Young: Complete Aladdin Recordings (rec. 1942-1947) (on 3 lists)
Charlie Parker: The Complete Savoy and Dial Studio Recordings: 1944-1948 (1944-1948) (alternative: The Complete Savoy and Dial Master Takes) (on 14 lists)
Charlie Parker: Bird: The Complete Charlie Parker on Verve (rec. 1946-1954) (on 2 lists)
Louis Armstrong: Complete New York Town Hall and Boston Symphony Hall Concerts (rec. 1947) (on 2 lists)
Fats Navarro & Tadd Dameron: The Complete Blue Note and Capitol Recordings (rec. 1947-1948) (on 3 lists)
Dizzy Gillespie: The Complete RCA Victor Recordings (1947-1949) (on 5 lists)
Thelonious Monk: Genius of Modern Music, Vols. 1 & 2 (1947-1952) (on 6 lists)
Charlie Parker: Charlie Parker with Strings: The Master Takes (rec. 1947-1952) (on 4 lists)
Thelonious Monk: Best of the Blue Note Years (rec. 1947-1952) (on 3 lists)
Woody Herman: Keeper of the Flame (1949) (on 2 lists)
Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool (1949-1950) (on 10 lists)
Lee Konitz: Subconscious-Lee (1949-1950) (on 7 lists)
Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie: Bird & Diz (rec. 1949-1950) (on 6 lists)
Bud Powell: The Amazing Bud Powell, Vols. I & 2 (1949-1951) (on 10 lists)

1950s
Bud Powell: The Genius of Bud Powell (rec. 1950-1951) (on 3 lists)
Lester Young: The President Plays with the Oscar Peterson Trio (1952) (on 2 lists)
Gerry Mulligan: Best of Gerry Mulligan Quartet with Chet Baker (1952-1953, 1957) (on 5 lists)
The Quintet (Charlie Parker, et al.): Jazz at Massey Hall (1953) (on 12 lists)
J.J. Johnson: The Eminent J.J. Johnson, Vol. 1 (1953) (on 4 lists)
Stan Kenton: New Concepts of Artistry in Rhythm (1953) (on 2 lists)
Modern Jazz Quartet: Django (1953-1955) (on 7 lists)
Chet Baker: The Best of Chet Baker Sings (1953-1956) (on 6 lists)
Art Tatum: The Solo Masterpieces (1953-1956) (on 4 lists)
Sarah Vaughan: Sarah Vaughan (with Clifford Brown) (1954) (on 11 lists)
Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers: A Night at Birdland (1954) (on 8 lists)
Louis Armstrong: Plays W.C. Handy (1954) (on 5 lists)
Errol Garner: Concert by the Sea (1955) (on 12 lists)
Clifford Brown and Max Roach: Clifford Brown and Max Roach (1955) (on 10 lists)
Clifford Brown and Max Roach: Study in Brown (1955) (on 7 lists)
June Christy: Something Cool (1955) (on 3 lists)
Sonny Rollins: Saxophone Colossus (1956) (on 17 lists)
Duke Ellington: Ellington at Newport (1956) (on 10 lists)
Charles Mingus: Pithecanthropus Erectus (1956) (on 5 lists)
Art Tatum & Ben Webster: The Album (1956) (alternative: Pablo Group Masterpieces, Vol. 8) (on 5 lists)
Sonny Rollins: Tenor Madness (1956) (on 4 lists)
Lester Young: The Jazz Giants ’56 (1956) (on 4 lists)
Serge Chaloff: Blue Serge (1956) (on 2 lists)
Dizzy Gillespie: For Musicians Only (with Stan Getz & Sonny Stitt) (1956) (on 2 lists)
Modern Jazz Quartet: Fontessa (1956) (on 2 lists)
Sonny Rollins: Plus Four (1956) (on 2 lists)
Ella Fitzgerald: The Complete Songbooks (1956-1964) (on 8 lists)
John Coltrane: Blue Train (1957) (on 15 lists)
Thelonious Monk: Brilliant Corners (1957) (on 14 lists)
Art Pepper: Art Pepper Meets the Rhythm Section (1957) (on 12 lists)
Count Basie: The Complete Atomic Basie (1957) (on 10 lists)
Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane: At Carnegie Hall (1957) (on 7 lists)
Sonny Rollins: A Night at the Village Vanguard (1957) (on 6 lists)
Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong: Ella and Louis (1957) (on 6 lists)
Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Rollins & Sonny Stitt: Sonny Side Up (1957) (on 5 lists)
Miles Davis: ‘Round About Midnight (1957) (on 4 lists)
Miles Davis: Miles Ahead (1957) (on 4 lists)
Sonny Rollins: Way Out West (1957) (on 3 lists)
Count Basie: April in Paris (1957) (on 2 lists)
Miles Davis: Cookin’ with the Miles Davis Quintet (1957) (on 2 lists)
Ben Webster: Soulville (1957) (on 2 lists)
Henry “Red” Allen: World on a String (1957) (on 2 lists)
Billie Holiday: Songs for Distingué Lovers (1957) (on 2 lists)
Thelonious Monk with John Coltrane: The Complete 1957 Riverside Recordings (rec. 1957) (on 3 lists)
Jimmy Giuffre: Jimmy Giuffre 3 (1957) (on 3 lists)
Cannonball Adderley: Somethin’ Else (1958) (on 15 lists)
Miles Davis: Milestones (1958) (on 9 lists)
Sonny Clark: Cool Struttin’ (1958) (on 5 lists)
Jimmy Smith: The Sermon! (1958) (on 4 lists)
Billie Holiday: Lady in Satin (1958) (on 4 lists)
Sun Ra: Jazz in Silhouette (1958) (on 3 lists)
Art Farmer: Modern Art (1958) (on 3 lists)
Bill Evans: Everybody Digs Bill Evans (1958) (on 3 lists)
Art Farmer: A Portrait of Art (1958) (on 2 lists)
Ahmad Jamal: At the Pershing: But Not For Me (1958) (on 2 lists)
Ahmad Jamal Trio: Cross Country Tour: 1958-1961 (rec. 1958-1961) (on 2 lists)
Miles Davis: Kind of Blue (1959) (on 25 lists)
Dave Brubeck: Time Out (1959) (on 17 lists)
Charles Mingus: Mingus Ah Um (1959) (on 15 lists)
John Coltrane: Giant Steps (1959) (on 14 lists)
Ornette Coleman: The Shape of Jazz To Come (1959) (on 13 lists)
Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers: Moanin’ (1959) (on 12 lists)
Horace Silver: Blowin’ the Blues Away (1959) (on 6 lists)
Charles Mingus: Blues and Roots (1959) (on 5 lists)
Bill Evans: Portrait in Jazz (1959) (on 3 lists)
Miles Davis: Porgy and Bess (1959) (on 3 lists)
Miles Davis: Sketches of Spain (rec. 1959-1960) (on 7 lists)
Lambert, Hendricks & Ross: Everybody’s Boppin’ (1959-1961) (on 5 lists)
Ornette Coleman: Beauty Is a Rare Thing: The Complete Atlantic Recordings (rec. 1959-1961) (on 2 lists)

1960s
John Coltrane: My Favorite Things (1960) (on 13 lists)
Hank Mobley: Soul Station (1960) (on 12 lists)
Wes Montgomery: The Incredible Jazz Guitar of West Montgomery (1960) (on 11 lists)
Jimmy Smith: Back at the Chicken Shack (1960) (on 8 lists)
Max Roach: We Insist! Freedom Now Suite (1960) (on 7 lists)
Freddie Hubbard: Open Sesame (1960) (on 6 lists)
Ornette Coleman: Change of the Century (1960) (on 6 lists)
The Gil Evans Orchestra: Out of the Cool (1960) (on 6 lists)
Charles Mingus: Presents Charles Mingus (1960) (on 5 lists)
Ornette Coleman: Free Jazz (1960) (on 5 lists)
Eric Dolphy: Out There (1960) (on 2 lists)
Eric Dolphy: Outward Bound (1960) (on 2 lists)
Bill Evans Trio: Waltz for Debby (1961) (on 16 lists)
Bill Evans Trio: Sunday at the Village Vanguard (1961) (on 14 lists)
Oliver Nelson: Blues and the Abstract Truth (1961) (on 12 lists)
Benny Carter: Further Definitions (1961) (on 6 lists)
George Russell: Ezz-thetics (1961) (on 5 lists)
John Coltrane: The Complete 1961 Village Vanguard Recordings (1961) (on 5 lists)
Yusef Lateef : Eastern Sounds (1961) (on 4 lists)
Duke Ellington & Louis Armstrong: The Great Summit (1961) (on 2 lists)
Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers: A Night in Tunisia (1961) (on 2 lists)
Abbey Lincoln: Straight Ahead (1961) (on 2 lists)
Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers: Mosaic (1961) (on 2 lists)
Rahsaan Roland Kirk: We Free Kings (1961) (on 2 lists)
John Coltrane: Olé Coltrane (1961) (on 3 lists)
Stan Getz: Focus (1961) (on 3 lists)
Nancy Wilson and Cannonball Adderly: Nancy Wilson/Cannonball Adderley (1961) (on 3 lists)
Dexter Gordon: Go! (1962) (on 9 lists)
Oscar Peterson: Night Train (1962) (on 6 lists)
Jackie McLean: Let Freedom Ring (1962) (on 4 lists)
Milt Jackson & Wes Montgomery: Bags Meets Wes (1962) (on 4 lists)
Gene Ammons & Sonny Stitt: Boss Tenors in Orbit (1962) (on 3 lists)
Thelonious Monk: Monk’s Music (1962) (on 2 lists)
Cecil Taylor: Nefertiti (1962) (on 2 lists)
Herbie Hancock: Takin’ Off (1962) (on 2 lists)
Stan Getz & Charlie Byrd: Jazz Samba (1962) (on 2 lists)
Charles Mingus: The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady (1963) (on 11 lists)
Duke Ellington: Money Jungle (1963) (on 7 lists)
Dexter Gordon: Our Man in Paris (1963) (on 7 lists)
Joe Henderson: Page One (1963) (on 5 lists)
John Coltrane & Johnny Hartman: John Coltrane & Johnny Hartman (1963) (on 5 lists)
Kenny Burrell: Midnight Blue (1963) (on 4 lists)
Thelonious Monk: Monk’s Dream (1963) (on 3 lists)
Charles Mingus: Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus (1963) (on 3 lists)
Grant Green: Feelin’ The Spirit (1963) (on 2 lists)
Donald Byrd: A New Perspective (1963) (on 2 lists)
John Coltrane: A Love Supreme (1964) (on 22 lists)
Eric Dolphy: Out to Lunch! (1964) (on 19 lists)
Lee Morgan: The Sidewinder (1964) (on 16 lists)
Stan Getz and João Giberto: Getz/Gilberto (1964) (on 12 lists)
Albert Ayler: Spiritual Unity (1964) (on 10 lists)
Andrew Hill: Point of Departure (1964) (on 10 lists)
Grant Green: Idle Moments (1964) (on 8 lists)
Wayne Shorter: Juju (1964) (on 5 lists)
Joe Henderson: Inner Urge (1964) (on 5 lists)
Herbie Hancock: Empyrean Isles (1964) (on 4 lists)
Lee Morgan: Search for the New Land (1964) (on 3 lists)
Joe Henderson: In ‘n Out (1964) (on 2 lists)
Thelonious Monk: Live at the It Club (1964) (on 2 lists)
Oscar Peterson: Oscar Peterson Trio + One (1964) (on 2 lists)
Archie Shepp: Four for Trane (1964) (on 2 lists)
Tony Williams: Life Time (1964) (on 2 lists)
Wayne Shorter: Speak No Evil (1965) (on 17 lists)
Herbie Hancock: Maiden Voyage (1965) (on 15 lists)
Horace Silver: Song for My Father (1965) (on 11 lists)
John Coltrane: Ascension (1965) (on 5 lists)
Bobby Hutcherson: Dialogue (1965) (on 5 lists)
Rashaan Roland Kirk: Rip, Rig And Panic (1965) (on 5 lists)
Wynton Kelly Trio and Wes Montgomery: Smokin’ at the Half Note (1965) (on 4 lists)
Krzysztof Komeda: Astigmatic (1965) (on 2 lists)
Sun Ra: The Magic City (1965) (on 2 lists)
Lee Morgan: Cornbread (1965) (on 3 lists)
Miles Davis: Highlights from the Plugged Nickel (1965) (on 3 lists)
Archie Shepp: Fire Music (1965) (on 3 lists)
Cecil Taylor: Unit Structures (1966) (on 8 lists)
Duke Ellington: The Far East Suite (1966) (on 8 lists)
Larry Young: Unity (1966) (on 6 lists)
Frank Sinatra: Sinatra at the Sands (1966) (on 4 lists)
Roscoe Mitchell: Sound (1966) (on 3 lists)
Cecil Taylor: Conquistador (1966) (on 2 lists)
McCoy Tyner: The Real McCoy (1967) (on 8 lists)
Sun Ra: Atlantis (1967) (on 2 lists)
Miles Davis: Miles Smiles (1967) (on 2 lists)
Nina Simone: Sugar in My Bowl: The Very Best of Nina Simone, 1967-1972 (rec. 1967-1972) (on 2 lists)
Chick Corea: Now He Sings, Now He Sobs (1968) (on 5 lists)
Peter Brötzmann: Machine Gun (1968) (on 5 lists)
Anthony Braxton: For Alto (1968) (on 3 lists)
Miles Davis: Nefertiti (1968) (on 2 lists)
Carla Bley & Paul Haines: Escalator Over The Hill (1968-1971) (on 5 lists)
Miles Davis: Bitches Brew (1969) (on 15 lists)
Miles Davis: In a Silent Way (1969) (on 10 lists)
Pharoah Sanders: Karma (1969) (on 6 lists)
The Tony Williams Lifetime: Emergency! (1969) (on 5 lists)
Charlie Haden: Liberation Music Orchestra (1969) (on 4 lists)
John McLaughlin: Extrapolation (1969) (on 4 lists)

1970s
Freddie Hubbard: Red Clay (1970) (on 3 lists)
Art Ensemble of Chicago: Les Stances A Sophie (1970) (on 2 lists)
John McLaughlin: My Goals Beyond (1970) (on 2 lists)
Mahavishnu Orchestra: The Inner Mounting Flame (1971) (on 9 lists)
Stephane Grappelli: Afternoon in Paris (1971) (on 2 lists)
Chick Corea: Return to Forever (1972) (on 7 lists)
McCoy Tyner: Sahara (1972) (on 3 lists)
Julius Hemphill: Dogon AD (1972) (on 2 lists)
Weather Report: I Sing the Body Electric (1972) (on 2 lists)
Herbie Hancock: Headhunters (1973) (on 10 lists)
Dave Holland Quartet: Conference of the Birds (1973) (on 8 lists)
Joe Pass: Virtuoso (1973) (on 6 lists)
Mahavishnu Orchestra: Birds of Fire (1973) (on 5 lists)
Ornette Coleman: Dancing in Your Head (1973) (on 2 lists)
Cecil Taylor: Silent Tongues (1974) (on 3 lists)
John Abercrombie: Timeless (1974) (on 2 lists)
Weather Report: Mysterious Traveler (1974) (on 2 lists)
Modern Jazz Quartet: The Last Concert (1974) (on 2 lists)
Keith Jarrett: The Köln Concert (1975) (on 10 lists)
Jim Hall: Concierto (1975) (on 4 lists)
Jaco Pastorius: Jaco Pastorius (1976) (on 5 lists)
Weather Report: Black Market (1976) (on 5 lists)
Pat Metheny: Bright Size Life (1976) (on 4 lists)
Return to Forever: Romantic Warrior (1976) (on 2 lists)
Weather Report: Heavy Weather (1977) (on 7 lists)
Al DiMeola: Elegant Gypsy (1977) (on 3 lists)
Art Ensemble of Chicago: Nice Guys (1978) (on 3 lists)
Arthur Blythe: Lenox Avenue Breakdown (1979) (on 4 lists)
Betty Carter: The Audience with Betty Carter (1979) (on 3 lists)

1980s
David Murray: Ming (1980) (on 3 lists)
Pat Metheny Group: Offramp (1982) (on 4 lists)
Keith Jarrett: Standards, Vol. I (1983) (on 3 lists)
Henry Threadgill: Just the Facts (1983) (on 2 lists)
Wynton Marsalis: Black Codes (From the Underground) (1985) (on 7 lists)
Charles Mingus: Mingus at Antibes (1986) (on 2 lists)
World Saxophone Quartet: World Saxophone Quartet Plays Duke Ellington (1986) (on 2 lists)

1990s
Don Byron: Tuskegee Experiments (1990-1991) (on 3 lists)
Sonny Sharrock: Ask the Ages (1991) (on 4 lists)
Joe Lovano: From the Soul (1992) (on 4 lists)
Joe Henderson: Lush Life: The Music of Billy Strayhorn (1992) (on 3 lists)
Maria Schneider: Evanescence (1992) (on 3 lists)
Wynton Marsalis: Citi Movement (1992) (on 3 lists)
Cassandra Wilson: Blue Light ‘Til Dawn (1993) (on 6 lists)
Joshua Redman: Wish (1993) (on 4 lists)
John Zorn & Masada: Alef (1994) (on 3 lists)
Lee Konitz: Alone Together (1996) (on 2 lists)
Diana Krall: All for You (1996) (on 2 lists)
Brad Mehldau: The Art of the Trio, Vol. 1 (1997) (on 4 lists)
Charlie Haden & Pat Metheny: Beyond the Missouri Sky (1997) (on 4 lists)
Branford Marsalis: Requiem (1999) (on 2 lists)
Michel Petrucciani: Solo Live (1999) (on 2 lists)
Wynton Marsalis Septet: Live at the Village Vanguard (1999) (on 2 lists)

2000s
Diana Krall: Live in Paris (2001) (on 6 lists)
Bill Frisell: Blues Dream (2001) (on 2 lists)
Chris Potter: Gratitude (2001) (on 2 lists)
Warren Vaché & Bill Charlap: 2gether (2001) (on 2 lists)
Dave Douglas: Strange Liberation (2003) (on 3 lists)
Maria Schneider: Concert in the Garden (2004) (on 2 lists)
Madeleine Peyroux: Careless Love (2004) (on 3 lists)
Andy Bey: American Song (2004) (on 2 lists)
Billy Bang: Vietnam: Reflections (2005) (on 2 lists)
Pat Metheny Group: The Way Up (2005) (on 2 lists)
Trio Beyond: Saudades (2006) (on 4 lists)
Andrew Hill: Time Lines (2006) (on 2 lists)
Robert Glasper: In My Element (2007) (on 2 lists)
McCoy Tyner Quartet: McCoy Tyner Quartet (2007) (on 2 lists)

2010s
Christian Scott: Yesterday You Said Tomorrow (2010) (on 2 lists)
Kamasi Washington: The Epic (2015) (on 2 lists)