Today I am sharing with you guys what I consider to be the best sounding jazz albums on vinyl. This is not some list that has been taken from one site and regurgitated a million times. These are my own picks and albums that I have purchased and listened to and think sound fantastic on vinyl. Recently we looked at the best vintage speakers for jazz music and any one of the albums I am talking about today would sound great being pumped through any of the offerings in that article.
Does Jazz Sound Better On Vinyl?
Look, I will be the first to tell you that these days, vinyl is way, way more expensive than CDs, but I feel it is worth it. In regards to if jazz sounds better on vinyl than on a CD… it is hard to say. Look, technically, you would have to say that the digital audio provided by a CD is better. However, I can tell you hand on heart that I much prefer the way jazz sounds on vinyl. The crackling, the odd pop, it just all gives it a really authentic kind of feel. There is an awesome episode of Everybody Loves Raymond called, Jazz Records that perfectly captures what I am talking about. There is nothing wrong with listening to jazz on CDs or even via something like Spotify. Hell, I have many jazz CDs because they are often quite cheap. However, if given the choice I would swap every jazz CD I have for its vinyl counterpart.
Our 5 Best Sounding Jazz Albums On Vinyl
Look, this is not meant to be taken as an “official” list. These are just some of the jazz albums that I have picked up and think sound fantastic. I was actually skating around getting into collecting jazz on vinyl for a while. It is so unlike any other kind of music I listen too! However, there is just something so real and raw about jazz that really does get to me and these are the albums that just do it for me.
1. Duke Ellington and John Coltrane
Funny story here, I actually started watching this Netflix show called, Big Mouth as I heard it had the ghost of Duke Ellington in it! Let me tell you, this is a show not for those that are easily offended! Anyway, I thought I would start with where my collection began and that is with this fantastic album by Duke Ellington and John Coltrane. If I had to pick an all-time favorite in the short time, I have been collecting jazz vinyl, it would be this one here. This just sounds fantastic coming through my speakers. I have listened to this album so many times I do not even know where to start. It just has so much soul that it can honestly give me chills when I am listening to it.
Currently, as I write this you are looking at between 25 and 30 bucks for this depending on where you buy it. When my wife bought this for me, she said it was $29.99, but on Amazon right now it is a couple of bucks cheaper.
2. Kind of Blue (Miles Davis)
Did you know that Miles Morales from Spider-Man Into The Spider-Verse is named after the great Miles Davis? This along with the offering from Duke Ellington and John Coltrane will appear on every list I do about great jazz albums! Heck, I recently wrote about the best jazz albums for beginners and these are both on there. Many people do consider this THE JAZZ album so it is only fitting it is on my best sounding jazz albums on vinyl list. Kind of Blue is just timeless, it truly is. Take the time to listen to the album and it will blow you away. A million other people with better communication skills than me have written papers on why this is such a great album. For me, the first time I put it on my beloved Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB-BK Direct-Drive Turntable that I have in my back room, I was like, “Oh hell yeah” and I realized right away why this was such a special record.
Currently, on Amazon, you are looking at $27.99 for this album which is a great price. It even comes on this very cool looking blue vinyl which I think is very fitting. The CD version of this is only a couple of bucks cheaper so there is no excuse not to get the vinyl one if you ask me.
3. All Time Greatest Hits (Louis Armstrong)
You cannot have a list of the best sounding jazz albums without having Louis Armstrong on it. There are a few Louis Armstrong compilation albums out there, but it is the All Time Greatest Hits that I have and I am very happy with it. What made me buy this one over one of the others, well it is simple. Out of the three, I was looking at this was the only one that had the iconic What A Wonderful World on it! This is the very first song that you hear on the record and it just, it just made me say wow. I will admit that was the only song I knew of his (well I thought I did, turns out I did not a couple of others) it was the perfect way to ease me into the amazing talent that this man was. I could not have been any happier with my purchase.
If you look on Amazon, this is the most expensive Louis Armstrong album as some guy has it for 55 bucks! I think it is so expensive because it does have What A Wonderful World on it. You can also get The Platinum Collection which is a 3 disc set and comes on some lovely white vinyl and it only costs 25 bucks as of writing. There is also The Very Best Of Louis Armstrong which comes in at $31.99 as of writing. I cannot say what these are like as I have not listened to them, but they are a cheaper option for you.
4. Ella: The Lost Berlin Tapes (Ella Fitzgerald)
My wife and son bought me this amazing Ella: The Lost Berlin Tapes vinyl for Father’s day last year and to say I was blown away is the understatement of the year. This is a special live album that features a performance that was long lost. It has many of her popular hits as well as some songs that are not exactly widely available so you get the best of both worlds here. Ella Fitzgerald has such an iconic voice and any of her other albums or greatest hits releases would be a worthy addition to any collection. However, this one is something truly special. She is just nailing every single song on this album, there is just something about live music that always sounds better, Someone To Watch Over Me is probably my favorite song on the album.
Look, this is expensive, I am sure my wife said she had to pay around 30 bucks for it and if you look right now on Amazon it is at over 50! I have a feeling that this is going to be an album that just goes up and up so you are probably betting jumping on this now. It is worth noting that you can find the CD for as little as 10 bucks, but this is just so much better on vinyl!
5. Billie Holiday (The Platinum Collection)
I have fond memories of my grandmother listening to Billie Holiday when I was a kid, if only I had got her to keep those vintage records. I love The Platinum Collection album as it features over 40 of her biggest hits. I know that some people turn their nose up at greatest hits style albums, but I think they are great. You can get something like this and if you like it, expand and puck up other albums of the artist. This is a very well mad album and all of the songs sound great. I know that some people say that white vinyl has its issues, but I have listened to this record many times and never once had any kind of distortion. If you want one of the greatest female jazz icons of all time in your collection, you simply must have something from the great Billie Holiday and I think that this is perfect.
You guys could be in luck! As I write this, Amazon has this for only 30 bucks which is down from the usual $49.99! Hopefully by the time you read this the offer is still on. Truth be told even for 50 bucks; this is still well worth a spot on our best sounding jazz albums on vinyl. There is actually a whole series of these Platinum Collection albums that may be worth your while checking out.