31. Oliver Nelson - The Blues and the Abstract Truth (1961)
Known as band leader this album gave him the opportunity to show off the musician in him. He assembled one of the most potent modern jazz sextets ever. Freddie Hubbard, Eric Dolphy, Bill Evans, Paul Chambers and Roy Haynes bring undisputable beauty through a three-part horn harmony fronting Hubbard's lead melody.
30. Pharoah Sanders - Karma (1969)
This was his third album as a leader. After the death of Coltrane, while there were many seeking to make a spiritual music that encompassed his ideas and yearnings while moving forward, no one came up with the goods until Sanders produced this album.
29 Frank Sinatra - Wee Small Hours (1956)
The album was a collection of ballads arranged by Nelson Riddle that finds Sinatra in melancholy mood following his doomed love affair with actress Ava Gardner, and the standards that he sings form their own story when collected together. Sinatra's voice had deepened and worn to the point where his delivery seems ravished and heartfelt, as if he were living the songs.
28. John Zorn - Naked City (1990)
Zorn was described by Down Beat magazine as "one of our most important composers" He is an American avant-garde composer, arranger, producer, saxophonist and multi-instrumentalist with hundreds of album credits as performer, composer, and producer across a variety of genres including jazz. On this album he teams up with guitarist Bill Frisell, Wayne Horvitz, Fred Frith, and Joey Baron.
27. Archie Shepp - Attica Blues (1972)
Refining his large-ensemble experiments of 1971, this album was one of Shepp's most significant post-'60s statements, recorded just several months after authorities ended the Attica prison uprising by massacring 43 inmates and hostages. This is one of his most successful large-group projects, because his skilful handling of so many different styles of black music produces such tremendously groovy results.
26. Ahmad Jamal - The Essence Pt 1
Recorded in Paris and New York, this album provides an absorbing collection of standards and Jamal compositions, some of which move through several contrasting sections. Musicians featured include James Cammack, Jamil Nasser, Manolo Badrena and George Coleman. These sessions were so fruitful that Verve was able to serve up a tasty second helping a year later.
25. John Coltrane - My Favourite Things (1960)
A landmark album recorded in less than three days. Itg signalled the move towards the more Avant guard with Coltrane playing with easy supported by McCoy Tyner, Steve Davis and Elvin Jones. This is a joy to listen to.
24 The Horace Silver Quintet - Song for my Father (1964)
This is a classic Blue Note album with Silver the master at balancing the jumping rhythms and complex harmonies providing a unique blend of earthiness and sophistication. Recorded at a time when Bossa nova was still popular adding a degree of the exotic mixed with rhythms and modes from overseas.
23. Lee Morgan - The Sidewinder (1963)
This was a hugely popular album with the title track reaching the pop charts. The Penguin Guide to Jazz selected this album as part of its suggested "Core Collection" calling the title track "a glorious 24-bar theme as sinuous and stinging as the beast of the title. Morgan's compositions are forward-thinking and universally solid.
22. Mary Lou Williams - Zoning (1974)
Mary Lou Williams emerged in the early '70s after a long period in which she worked in the Catholic church to resume her always stimulating career as a jazz pianist. Zoning is one of her finest with performances with Bob Cranshaw, Mickey Roker and Zita Carno. Rather than sounding like a veteran of the 1920s, Mary Lou Williams sounds 40 years younger on this recording showing the influence of McCoy Tyner, and hints at free jazz in places;