1. John Coltrane - A Love Supreme (1964)

2 coltrane alovesupreme


2 . Miles Davis - Kind of Blue (1959)

1 miles daviskind of blueThis is the most famous jazz album ever and recognised as Davis’ masterpiece. The album is essential mood music, experimental and spontaneous. Apart from Miles, it features a stellar line-up of Julian "Cannonball" Adderley, Paul Chambers, Jimmy Cobb, John Coltrane, Bill Evans and Wynton Kelly. Davis did not allow any rehearsal before the recording but laid out the themes before the tape rolled, and then the band improvised. The end results were wondrous and still crackle with vitality.


3. Charles Mingus - Mingus Ah Um (1959)

7-mingus-ah-umCharles 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, Booker Ervin, Jimmy Knepper, Willie Dennis, Horace Parlan and Dannie Richmond. This razor-sharp performance may well be Mingus' greatest and most emotionally varied set of compositions. 


4. Sonny Rollins- Saxophone Colossus (1956)

5 sonny rollins saxo216881This album is one of Rollins’ finest recordings. Joined by Tommy Flanagan, Doug Watkins and Max Roach, Rollins plays with a rich, round tone that complements 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.

5. Charles Mingus - Black Saint & the Sinner Lady (1963)

37 mingus blacksaintThis 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. Mingus has called the album's orchestral style "ethnic folk-dance music". Musicians include Jaki Byard and Eric Dolphy, both of whom played in the quintet/sextet bands that toured Europe in 1964.



6. Eric Dolphy - Out to Lunch! (1964)

12dolphyeouttolunchRecorded just a few months before his death at the age of 36, this album 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 Tony Williams, who collectively produced an outstanding album.

7. Ornette Coleman - The Shape of Jazz to Come (1959)

Ornette Coleman The shape of jazz to comeThis album was a watershed in the genesis of avant-garde jazz, profoundly steering its future course and throwing down a gauntlet that some still haven't come to grips with. The record shattered traditional concepts of harmony in jazz, getting rid of not only the piano player, but the whole idea of concretely outlined chord changes. The pieces here follow almost no predetermined harmonic structure, which allowed Coleman and partner Don Cherry an unprecedented freedom to take the melodies of their solo lines wherever they felt like going in the moment, regardless of what the piece's tonal centre had seemed to be.

8. Herbie Hancock - Maiden Voyage (1965)

29 herbie hancock ma216866This album finds Herbie Hancock at a creative peak. In fact, some would say it's arguably his finest record of the '60s, reaching a perfect balance between accessible, lyrical jazz and chance-taking hard bop. Herbie Hancock is joined by Freddie Hubbard, George Coleman, Ron Carter and Tony Williams. The quintet plays a selection of five Hancock originals, many of which are simply superb showcases for the group's provocative, unpredictable solos, tonal textures and harmonies.

9. Lee Morgan - The Sidewinder (1963)

morganThis 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.

10. Albert Ayler Trio - Spiritual Unity (1964)

16 albert ayler spir216856This album pushed Ayler to the forefront of jazz's avant-garde. It was really the first example of Ayler's music that matched him with a group of truly sympathetic musicians, including Gary Peacock and Sunny Murray. To paraphrase one of Ayler's most famous quotes, this music was about feelings, not notes, and on Spiritual Unity that philosophy finds its most concise, concentrated expression.

11. Andrew Hill - Point of Departure (1964)

46 andrew hill point21687dThis was Hill's fifth album, and one of the great jazz albums. It features Eric Dolphy, Joe Henderson, Richard Davis, Tony Williams and Kenny Dorham.

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