Today we are looking at the best jazz albums for beginners. A little while back I wrote an article called, 6 Best Vintage Speakers For Jazz Music. I got into jazz a little while back thanks to my wife getting a couple of jazz albums. I had been saying for ages that I would love to start to get into jazz music and those two albums (which I will talk about later) that she got me sent me down a path that had me collecting various jazz albums and having a great time doing so I might add. That is why today I am taking a look at some of the best jazz albums that are ideal for getting you into this kind of music.
Now, music is subjective, but I thought that I would throw my hat in the ring and share what I think are the best jazz albums for beginners.
One thing I want to say to you guys is that please do not make the mistake that I made. I read so many articles about getting into jazz music. I read so much that it was in all honesty, very overwhelming and I had no idea where to start. As I said in the into it was my wife who actually started my collection, she said she had a quick look on Amazon and picked two of the highest-rated jazz albums! I would say just look for a list of jazz albums (like this one here) and pick an album and go for it!
The 7 Best Jazz Albums For Beginners
Here are my own personal picks for you guys and the albums that I think are perfect if you are wanting to get into jazz music.
1. Kind Of Blue by Miles Davis
I thought that I would start at the very top and that is with Kind of Blue by Miles Davis. This is arguably the most popular and famous jazz album of all time and for me, it is one of the best jazz albums for beginners. This is a very easy album to listen to, I can put this on from start to end and always have a great time. Some jazz albums are not all that newcomer friendly as they have many hidden layers that can be hard to pick up on. I am not saying that Kind of Blue is simplistic, but I do feel it is very easy to kick back to. Check out the video for Kind of Blue from the official Miles Davis YouTube channel to get a taste of this album.
2. Duke Ellington & John Coltrane
Thanks to my lovely wife, this Duke Ellington & John Coltrane was one of the first jazz albums that I got. This along with Kind of Blue were gifts from my wife one Christmas. I think she was sick of me saying I was going to start a jazz music collection and never doing anything about it. This album features seven tracks and I have the vinyl version of the album (you can get it on CD for very cheap) and while I like every song on this album, it was actually the song, Stevie that really grabbed me and made me think that starting to get into jazz music was the right call. This is a firm favorite of mine and has been played a ton in my house.
3. Golden Hits by Sarah Vaughan
It was my grandfather who suggested that I check this out. Golden Hits by Sarah Vaughan is truly one of the best jazz albums for beginners. I will admit I was pretty ignorant to the fact that jazz was not just a boy’s club! Her vocals are just timeless and I honestly do not think that I can do them justice here! It is the kind of thing that once you hear the music and then her vocals kick in, it truly does take over you. Check out this music video for Broken Hearted Melody and you will see exactly what I am talking about here.
4. Ellington At Newport by Duke Ellington
Look, I love Duke, he is my guy and this is probably my favorite jazz album on this entire list. You need to make sure that you get the Ellington At Newport remastered version as this is a 2CD set. The original recording of this back in the day was kind of messed up, but here it is as cleaned up as best it could be. There is also the studio recording of this album on here too so you are getting the best of both worlds. Big band, big sound, and just a whole lot of heart are here. I do want to mention that there is a vinyl of this, but it goes for a lot of money. It is something of a holy grail of mine actually, but as it can often go for over 100 bucks I may have to wait a while yet!
5. Ella & Louis Again by Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald
Ella and Louis Again was actually one of (if not the first) jazz vinyl record that I bought brand new. I came across this at a music store and thought that I needed some Louis Armstrong in my very young jazz collection and bought this on a whim without knowing anything about it. While I may have purchased this for Louis Armstrong, it was actually the vocals of Ella Fitzgerald that completely knocked my socks off. I know that this may not be regarded as the “best” album that the two of these made together, but it is certainly my favorite and it had to be on this best jazz albums for beginners list. Trust me, read nothing about this, just go and buy it and give it a listen and you will be blown away.
Look, we all have to start somewhere and while some people (stuffy types mostly) will look down their nose at these albums I am about to suggest to you. I do think that stuff like these is a great way to dip a toe into the world of jazz music and get a broader idea in a quicker amount of time so you can find what you really like.
6. 100 Best Jazz Tunes of the 1950s
This is a fantastic album and as the name, 100 Best Jazz Tunes of the 1950s suggests, you are getting 100 of the best jazz tunes from the golden era. Just to give you a little insight, Nina Simone, Miles Davis, Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, Ray Charles, and many more are featured here. This is an 8 CD set and features some of the biggest names to ever be associated with jazz, I think this would be a great way for you to get a better idea of if jazz music is for you.
7. Jazz Giants
Next up we have Jazz Giants which you can get for around 10 bucks on CD! This is a 3CD set and it features some great jazz performers such as John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, and a ton more. It was actually listening to Scrapple from the Apple on this album that made me a fan of Charlie Parker. It is a very basic kind of album and I am sure it would be one that many jazz purists may not think much of. However, for someone just looking to see what jazz music is all about, you can certainly get an idea of that here.
That is just a small sample of some of the great jazz albums that are out there and for me, these are all worthy of being on this best jazz albums for beginners list. Jazz is a truly amazing style of music and when I am feeling mellow, I like nothing better than just kicking back and listening to some nice jazz.