11. Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers - Moanin' (1958)
The album stands as one of the archetypal hard bop albums of the era, for the intensity of Blakey's drumming and the work of Morgan, Golson and Timmons, and for its combination of old-fashioned gospel and blues influences with a sophisticated modern jazz sensibility. Blakely's distinctive drumming style is ever present of this album. As Max Roach once said ''Art was an original, he's the only drummer whose time I recognize immediately. And his signature style was amazing; we used to call him 'Thunder.'
10. Eric Dolphy - Out To Lunch (1964)
This album was recorded a few months before his death at the age of 36 and was his first and only recording for Blue Note as lead. In avant-garde jazz terms it stands as one of his very best examples of the style and as him as a musician. Don't get me wrong Dolphy did have his critics and he was blamed for the death of swing, but he did surround himself with class, including Freddie Hubbard, Bobby Hutcherson, Richard Davis, and Anthony Williams who collectively produce an outstanding album.
9. Charles Mingus - Black Saint and the Sinner Lady (1963)
This album is regarded as one of his masterpieces for its use of colours, tonalities, expansive harmonies, and the juxtaposition of numerous aspects of the jazz tradition -- from swing to hard bop, to West Coast and beyond -- employing a vocal chorus, and even Latin and flamenco flourishes in a single conceptual work played by an 11-piece orchestra. He called the Mingus has called the album's orchestral style "ethnic folk-dance music". Musicians worth a mention are Jaki Byard and Eric Dolphy, both of whom played in the quintet/sextet bands that toured Europe in 1964.
8. Sonny Rollins - Saxophone Colossus (1956)
This album is one of Rollin's finest recording. Joined by Tommy Flanagan, Doug Watkins, and Max Roach, Rollins plays with a rich, round tone that complemented his melodic inclinations, making him the most accessible of the post-bop musicians. Saxophone Colossus is the most successful of the late 1950s albums that made his reputation.
7. John Coltrane - Giants Steps (1959)
If there was one album which transformed Jazz it would have to be Coltrane’s first recording for Atlantic Records. Not only did it further the development of jazz but also succeed in helping to establish it to a wider audience. It consisted of two session recorded between May and December of 1959 and during that time Coltrane used two different trio’s that signalled a physical transformation from the old to the new world order – literally a giant leap into the unknown. This can be best summed with a quote from Coltrane’s son Ravi, who said that his dad “used the “Giant Steps” progression in many of his later recordings. “So Giant Steps can be seen as the beacon that shone forward over Coltrane’s most influential work of the 1960s and the freer playing that followed”
6. Miles Davis - Bitches Brew (1970)
This album is considered to be among the most revolutionary jazz albums because it defined the style of jazz-rock fusion. It is also an example of the role of the producer can play in editing an album from a number of jam sessions. Important for featuring a combination of unknown and famous musicians including Joe Zawinul, Wayne Shorter, John McLaughlin, Chick Corea, Jack DeJohnette, Dave Holland, Don Alias, Bennie Maupin and Larry Young, among them, Bitches Brew is so forward-thinking that it retains its freshness and mystery even now.
5. Cannonball Adderley - Somethin' Else (1958)
This album fits alongside some of the greatest jazz albums ever recorded. Few musicians could get the likes of John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Hank Jones, Artt Blakely and Sam Jones to be part of the quintet. In the original liner notes by Leonard Feather he comments that it is the coming together of the various jazz styles that makes this album work. He says that this leads to a “cohesive quality of their concerted efforts”. The album manages to capture a moment in time prior to the recording of Miles Davis's Kind of Blue.
4.The Dave Brubeck Quartet - Time Out (1959)
This is one of the most rhythmically innovative albums in jazz history and one of the first to consciously explore time signatures outside of the standard beat and ranks as one of the most popular jazz albums ever. This is testament to Brubeck and Desmond's abilities as composers and their love of the west coast sound. Time out takes jazz swing to another level.
3. Charles Mingus - Mingus Ah Um (1959)
Charles Mingus' debut for columbia, is a stunning production of his talents and probably the best reference point for beginners. The band includes longtime Mingus stalwarts John Handy, Shafi Hadi, Brooker Ervin; Jimmy Knepper Willie Dennis, Horace Parlan; and Dannie Richmond. This razor-sharp performance may well be Mingus' greatest most emotionally varied set of compositions.
2.John Coltrane - A Love Supreme (1964)
This album is essentially a personal re-affirmation of his faith and his own spiritual awakening sparked by his decision to stop taking drugs in 1958 after being thrown out of Miles Davis’s band. The quartet of Coltrane, Elvin Jones, McCoy Tyner, and Jimmy Garrison stepped into the studio and created one of the most thought-provoking, concise, and technically pleasing albums of their bountiful relationship. Composed in four parts, each has a thematic progression leading to an understanding of spirituality through meditation. It is almost impossible to imagine a world without A Love Supreme having been made, and it is equally impossible to imagine any jazz collection without it.