There’s something holistic about jazz vinyl. Call it reminiscent of a bygone era from yesteryear, or purist at heart, but picking up a vinyl record just takes you to a different place. Mostly, a place where digital music cannot.
Digital music is great for when you are traveling, on the go, or don’t want to lug a piece of equipment around. It’s both simple and convenient. Meanwhile, with a vinyl record, you have the equipment, it is hands-on (physically placing the record into the turntable and dragging the pin). And a vinyl record is big. You can’t just pop it in your purse or bag like a CD. It needs space. But like all purist-at-heart things, all of this extra effort is worth it. Because the sound is cleaner and emits the energy of an entire jazz club. When a vinyl plays it plays to everyone in the entire room, not just you.
The Best Jazz Albums to Own on Vinyl
So that leaves the question of, what are the best jazz albums to own on vinyl? As much as you love a good jazz vinyl there’s only so much room in one’s home, you can’t own them all. But which pieces of vinyl are worth it? Especially because, most likely, you’ll have to do a fair share of research to find the one that’s best for you. After all, not every album is worth having. Fortunately, there are some key albums to add to any collection, whether you’re just starting or have already built up a variety in an existing one.
Here are eight jazz vinyl‘s to own:
Stan Getz and Joao Gilberto: Getz/Gilberto
American saxophonist Stan Getz teamed up with Brazilian guitarist Joao Gilberto to create an album that features Antonio Carlos Jobin, a pianist, and composer. The album was recorded in March 1963 and released the following year in March 1964 by Verve Records, it received a Grammy Award for Record of the Year in 1965, Best Jazz Instrumental Album, Individual or Group, and Best Engineered Recording- Non-Classical. It’s considered one of the best-selling jazz albums of all time, and it helped to popularize Bossa nova all around the world. It’s praised due to the vocals, the particular type of groove, and the minimalist approach.
Herbie Hancock: Maiden Voyage
Herbie Hancock: Maiden Voyage was recorded by Rudy Van Gelder in March of 1965 by Blue Note Records and released that same year. It’s the fifth album that is led by Herbie Hancock as it also features tenor saxophonist George Coleman, trumpet player Freddie Hubbard, bassist Ron Carter, and playing the drums Tony Williams. Maiden Voyage aims to create, as the title suggests, an oceanic atmosphere for the listener. This unique touch acclaimed it the Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 1999.
Eric Dolphy: Out To Lunch!
This studio album by multi-instrumentalist Eric Dolphy was recorded in February of 1964 and released that same year and the only record he ever recorded as a leader on Blue Note. Like Maiden Voyage, it also features trumpet player Freddie Hubbard and drummer Tony Williams. The album features additional sounds from vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson and bass player Richard Davis.
Wayne Shorter: Native Dancer
In January of 1975, The Village Recorder released a studio album by Wayne Shorter fearing Milton Nascimento, a Brazilian musician. As the 15th album of Waynes, it was acclaimed for its smooth blend of jazz, rock, funk, and Brazilian sounds. Altogether, it created a sensational sound of world music that brought together various cultures over a single love for the album. The album is considered an inspiration to many, including Maurice White of Earth, Wind, and Fire.
Billie Holiday: Lady Sings The Blues
For the novice jazz vinyl owner, Billie Holiday is a popular classic. It was released in December of 1956 and the American jazz vocalist’s last album t be released with Clef Records (which later was absorbed by Verve Records). Lady Sings The Blues also features pianist Wynton Kelly, guitarist Kenny Burrell, tenor saxophonist Paul Quinichette, and trumpet player Charlie Shavers.
Miles Davis: Kind Of Blue
Miles Davis, an American jazz bandleader, composer, and trumpeter, released this studio album in 1959 with Columbia 30th Street. As a bandleader and composer, Davis effortlessly led drummer Jimmy Cobb, pianist Wynton Kelly and Bill Evans, bassist Paul Chambers, and saxophonists Julian “Cannonball” Adderley and John Coltrane. The album is Davis’ exploration of musical modes and the creative freedom of each musician. As a result, it’s critically received as perhaps Davis’s true masterpiece album.
Duke Ellington: Ellington at Newport
In November of 1956, the iconic Duke Ellington and his band released this live jazz album, which was recorded at the Newport Jazz Festival concert that same year. This year, in 2022, the Library of Congress selected the album to be preserved in the United States National Recording Registry for the sounds being significant across culture, history, and aesthetics.
Dave Brubeck Quartet: Time Out
The American jazz group released Time Out in 1959 on Columbia Records and blends the sounds of West Coast and cool jazz. It became the first jazz album to hit one million copies sold, and “Take Five” became the first jazz single to hit a million copies sold as well. Decades later, in 2009 it was placed in the Grammy Hall of Fame and in 2011 the album was certified double platinum.
As you can see, there’s no shortage of great jazz albums to own on vinyl. Whether you’re a newbie who wants to get into it or an old-school fan looking for an upgrade, there’s something for everyone! Take a listen to any jazz vinyl from this list and you’ll be transported to another era. One where music in every moment is all that matters, and where the melodies of jazz take center stage. They’ll give you an authentic listening experience that you can’t get anywhere else—and they’re sure to be conversation starters when you bring them out at parties! We hope this list helped you find your next favorite album. If you have any questions or recommendations, feel free to reach out!
Thank you for reading!