Table of Contents
Swing Jazz Vinyl Records (1930s – 1940s)
Bebop Vinyl Records (1940s – 1950s)
Cool Jazz Vinyl Records (1950s – early 1960s)
Hard Bop Vinyl Records (late 1950s – 1960s)
- Workin’ with the Miles Davis Quintet (1956)
- Sonny Rollins – Saxophone Colossus (1957)
- Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers – Moanin’ (1959)
- Charles Mingus – Mingus Ah Um (1959)
- Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers – The Big Beat (1960)
- Wes Montgomery – The Incredible Jazz Guitar Of Wes Montgomery (1960)
- Thelonious Monk with John Coltrane (1961)
- Joe Henderson – Page One (1963)
Modal Jazz Vinyl Records (late 1950s – 1960s)
- Miles Davis – Kind of Blue (1959)
- Bill Evans Trio – Portrait in Jazz (1960)
- Bill Evans Trio – Waltz for Debby (1962)
- Herbie Hancock – Maiden Voyage (1965)
Bossa Nova Vinyl Records (late 1950s – 1960s)
Avant-Garde Jazz Vinyl Records (1960s – 1970s)
Post-Bop Vinyl Records (1960s – present)
Neo-Jazz Vinyl Records (late 1990s – today)
- Robert Glasper – Black Radio (2012)
[10th Anniversary Deluxe Edition 3 LP]
- Kamasi Washington – The Epic (2015)
- Esperanza Spalding – Songwrights Apothecary Lab (2021)
Jazz Record Gems: Vinyl Albums You Can Still Buy New
Last updated November 16, 2023
Welcome to our updated guide, “Best Jazz Vinyl Records You Can Buy New,” where the focus is on exceptional jazz albums available for purchase as new vinyl records.
This guide is a haven for vinyl enthusiasts, featuring a rich array of jazz legends and modern innovators.
From the timeless bebop of Thelonious Monk to the soulful explorations in Robert Glasper’s “Black Radio,” and the expansive soundscapes of Kamasi Washington’s “The Epic,” each album offers a unique listening experience.
Embrace the distinctive warmth and depth of vinyl as we journey through jazz’s diverse and ever-evolving musical narrative.
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Swing Jazz Vinyl Records (1930s – 1940s)
Swing Jazz, flourishing in the 1930s and 1940s, marked a dazzling era in jazz, characterized by its infectious rhythms and big band arrangements.
This style, driven by the pulsating swing beat, captivated audiences with its dynamic brass sections and rhythmic precision.
Bands led by luminaries like Count Basie and Duke Ellington propelled Swing Jazz to immense popularity, offering a soundtrack for lively dance halls.
Swing was more than just a musical genre; it was a cultural phenomenon that influenced fashion, dance, and societal norms.
With its upbeat tempos and engaging melodies, Swing Jazz created an energetic, joyous atmosphere, defining an unforgettable chapter in the annals of jazz history.
Count Basie – The Atomic Mr. Basie (1958)
The Atomic Mr. Basie, originally released in 1958, is a timeless masterpiece by Count Basie, renowned for its innovative arrangements by Neal Hefti and the captivating performances of the Count Basie Orchestra.
This album, a significant milestone in jazz history, received a 5-star rating from Allmusic, lauded for its bold and forward-looking approach within the big-band genre.
Its inclusion in the prestigious list of “1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die” underscores its status as Basie’s crowning achievement.
Critically acclaimed and ranked as one of the most influential albums of the 1950s, The Atomic Mr. Basie continues to resonate with jazz enthusiasts and vinyl collectors, celebrated for its blend of classic big band swing and innovative musical explorations.
This album is not just a record; it’s an essential piece of jazz history, perfect to infuse your vinyl collection with a touch of Basie’s timeless elegance.
Bebop Vinyl Records (1940s – 1950s)
Bebop, emerging in the 1940s, marked a radical departure in the jazz world, breaking away from the Swing era’s dance-centric rhythms towards a more complex, virtuosic form.
Characterized by its fast tempo, intricate melodies, and advanced harmonies, this style became the bedrock of modern jazz.
Pioneered by legends like Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, and Thelonious Monk, Bebop challenged musicians with its unpredictable chord progressions and rhythmic structures.
More than just a musical genre, Bebop was a statement of artistic sophistication, emphasizing spontaneous improvisation and technical prowess.
It laid the foundation for future jazz innovations, setting the stage for the diverse, rich tapestry of jazz styles that followed.
Thelonious Monk – Genius Of Modern Music, Vol. 1 (1956)
Genius of Modern Music: Volume 1 is a celebrated compilation album by jazz pianist Thelonious Monk, showcasing his groundbreaking early recordings for Blue Note from 1947 and 1948.
This album, first compiled in 1951, features Monk as a band leader, capturing the essence of his innovative style that would greatly influence the direction of jazz.
The album has seen various incarnations, including CD compilations that rearrange the tracks and add previously omitted sessions.
This collection is a must-have for vinyl enthusiasts and jazz aficionados, offering a window into the formative years of one of jazz’s most unique and influential figures.
Cool Jazz Vinyl Records (1950s – early 1960s)
Cool Jazz, emerging in the early 1950s, brought a serene shift to the jazz scene, stepping away from Bebop’s intensity towards a more relaxed, understated approach.
This style, peaking in the 1950s, is known for its softer dynamics, subtle harmonies, and a restrained approach to improvisation. Miles Davis‘ Birth of the Cool epitomized this genre, blending elegance with a contemplative mood.
More than a musical style, Cool Jazz was an attitude, prioritizing lyrical melodies and softer tones. It introduced a cooler, introspective dimension to jazz, crafting a nuanced and subtly vibrant soundscape.
Dave Brubeck Quartet – Time Out (1959)
The Dave Brubeck Quartet‘s Time Out, a 1959 masterpiece, redefined jazz through its bold exploration of unconventional time signatures.
The record, blending cool and West Coast jazz styles, became a significant commercial success, reaching No. 2 on the Billboard pop albums chart and becoming the first jazz album to sell a million copies and the track “Take Five” not only topped charts but also became a jazz anthem.
Born from Brubeck’s global influences, notably from a State Department-sponsored Eurasian tour, Time Out was a creative gamble that paid off, earning a place in the United States National Recording Registry for its cultural and historical significance.
For vinyl enthusiasts and jazz aficionados, Time Out stands as a testament to Brubeck’s innovative spirit and is a pivotal addition to any collection, representing a momentous milestone in the evolution of jazz.
Hard Bop Vinyl Records (mid-1950s – 1960s)
In the mid-1950s, Hard Bop surged as a dynamic evolution of the Bebop era, infusing it with richer rhythms and a deeper embrace of blues and gospel elements.
This genre, flourishing through the late 1960s, was marked by a more aggressive, emotive style, often showcasing the piano and saxophone in a gritty, soulful dialogue.
Hard Bop’s rise to prominence was spearheaded by icons like Art Blakey and Horace Silver, whose works epitomized the genre’s earthy, impassioned essence.
More than a mere offshoot of Bebop, Hard Bop was a visceral, expressive response to the changing cultural landscape, blending complex improvisation with a palpable emotional intensity.
This movement reshaped the jazz landscape, introducing a raw, powerful narrative that continues to resonate in the annals of jazz history.
Workin’ with the Miles Davis Quintet (1956)
Workin’ with the Miles Davis Quintet, released in 1960, remains a quintessential jazz vinyl for enthusiasts.
Recorded in two prolific sessions in 1956, this album is part of a remarkable series that includes Relaxin’, Steamin’, and Cookin’ with the Miles Davis Quintet.
It showcases the quintet’s legendary lineup: John Coltrane on saxophone, Red Garland on piano, Paul Chambers on bass, and Philly Joe Jones on drums, with Davis’ trumpet leading the charge.
The album features unique compositions like “Trane’s Blues,” originally a John Coltrane piece known as “John Paul Jones,” and blends spontaneous improvisation with structured melodies.
This record not only captures the essence of hard bop but also marks a pivotal moment in Davis’ career, solidifying his status as a jazz icon.
Its mix of vitality and nuanced musicianship makes it a must-have for any serious jazz vinyl collection.
Sonny Rollins – Saxophone Colossus (1957)
Saxophone Colossus by Sonny Rollins stands as a monumental achievement in the world of jazz, cementing its place as one of the essential jazz vinyl records available today.
This album, recorded on June 22, 1956, with the legendary Rudy Van Gelder as the engineer, represents a pivotal moment in Rollins’s career and is often hailed as his breakthrough work, showcasing his extraordinary talent as a tenor saxophonist.
Featuring a quartet that includes Tommy Flanagan on piano, Doug Watkins on bass, and the incomparable Max Roach on drums, Saxophone Colossus is a showcase of Rollins’s innovative approach to jazz.
The album, released by Prestige Records, received widespread acclaim and played a significant role in establishing Rollins as a leading figure in the jazz genre.
One of the album’s most notable tracks, “St. Thomas,” has become a jazz standard.
This calypso-inspired tune, named after Saint Thomas in the Virgin Islands, exudes a vibrant and rhythmic energy that has captivated listeners for decades.
Rollins’s rendition of this traditional melody is arguably its most famous recorded version, highlighting his ability to infuse familiar tunes with new life and vitality.
Another standout track is “Blue 7,” an over eleven-minute-long blues piece renowned for its thematic improvisation.
Rollins’s performance on this track is particularly celebrated for its cohesive exploration and development of melodic themes, demonstrating his exceptional skill in thematic improvisation.
The significance of Saxophone Colossus extends beyond its musical brilliance.
In 2016, it was selected for preservation in the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress, underlining its cultural, historical, and artistic importance.
Critics and jazz enthusiasts alike have consistently lauded the album, with reviews often praising Rollins’s dynamic and inventive style, as well as his graceful approach to the tenor saxophone.
For any jazz aficionado or vinyl collector, Saxophone Colossus is not just an album; it’s a piece of jazz history.
Its influence and legacy continue to resonate, making it a must-have for those seeking to experience the depth and breadth of jazz music at its finest.
Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers – Moanin’ (1959)
Moanin’, originally released in 1959 and re-titled after its most popular track, is a monumental album by Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers that captures the essence of hard bop jazz.
This record, Blakey’s first with Blue Note Records after various projects with other labels, marked a significant moment in his career and in the genre’s history.
It features the work of pianist Bobby Timmons, including the bluesy title track that became an instant hit, and saxophonist Benny Golson‘s memorable compositions like “Are You Real?” and “Along Came Betty.”
Notably, this was Golson’s only U.S. album with the Jazz Messengers.
The album also showcases the vibrant trumpet work of Lee Morgan and Blakey’s powerful drumming, particularly in “The Drum Thunder Suite.”
Its fusion of gospel, blues, and a modern jazz sensibility, coupled with Rudy Van Gelder‘s precise recording techniques, renders Moanin’ an essential hard bop classic.
Jazz critic Scott Yanow hailed it as one of the “17 Essential Hard Bop Recordings,” and its enduring popularity makes it a must-have for jazz enthusiasts, particularly in its meticulously remastered versions for vinyl collectors.
Charles Mingus – Mingus Ah Um (1959)
Charles Mingus‘ seminal album Mingus Ah Um, released in October 1959 under Columbia Records, stands as a pinnacle in jazz vinyl collections.
As Mingus’s debut with Columbia, it showcases his dynamic and innovative approach to jazz composition.
The album’s intriguing title, derived from a playful take on Latin declension, mirrors Mingus’s creative spirit.
With artwork by S. Neil Fujita, Mingus Ah Um is a rich tapestry that pays homage to Mingus’s musical ancestors.
Mingus Ah Um is a fusion of Charles Mingus’s diverse musical influences, from the gospel-tinged “Better Git It in Your Soul” reflecting his Los Angeles upbringing to the blues-infused “Boogie Stop Shuffle.”
The album pays tribute to jazz legends with “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat” for Lester Young and “Jelly Roll” for Jelly Roll Morton.
“Open Letter to Duke” and “Bird Calls” showcase Mingus’s innovative approach, while “Fables of Faubus” stands out for its political commentary, initially released as an instrumental due to label constraints.
Recognized for its historical and cultural significance, Mingus Ah Um was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2013 and added to the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress.
Its enduring influence and critical acclaim are evident as it was ranked number 380 in Rolling Stone’s Top 500 Albums of All-Time in 2020, making it a must-have for jazz enthusiasts and vinyl collectors alike.
Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers – The Big Beat (1960)
Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers‘ 1960 masterpiece, The Big Beat, stands out as a pivotal hard bop album, showcasing the legendary drummer alongside an iconic lineup featuring Lee Morgan, Wayne Shorter, Bobby Timmons, and Jymie Merritt.
This record marked Shorter’s debut with the group, bringing a fresh, modern twist to their sound.
The album features three of Shorter’s compositions, including the dynamic “The Chess Players,” the lyrical “Sakeena’s Vision,” and “Lester Left Town,” a homage to jazz icon Lester Young.
However, the soul-stirring “Dat Dere,” penned by Timmons, remains one of the album’s most celebrated tracks, building on the success of their earlier hit “Moanin’.”
This period marked a golden era for the ensemble, as they went on to produce a series of acclaimed albums.
The 2021 Blue Note Classic Vinyl Edition of The Big Beat, mastered all-analog by Kevin Gray from the original tapes and pressed on premium vinyl, offers a definitive listening experience for jazz enthusiasts and vinyl collectors alike.
Wes Montgomery – The Incredible Jazz Guitar Of Wes Montgomery (1960)
Wes Montgomery‘s 1960 album The Incredible Jazz Guitar of Wes Montgomer is a must-have for enthusiasts seeking to expand their jazz vinyl collection.
This album, chosen for the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress, showcases Montgomery’s groundbreaking techniques, including his distinctive thumb picking and the use of octaves.
Celebrated as a high point in Montgomery’s career, it’s highly regarded by both fans and critics. The Penguin Guide to Jazz hails it as essential, noting its significance in Montgomery’s artistic journey.
Michael G. Nastos of AllMusic praised its innovation and influence, stating that it established Montgomery as a leading modern guitarist of his time.
Accompanied by Tommy Flanagan, Percy Heath, and Albert Heath, Montgomery redefined guitar sounds in jazz, influencing countless musicians.
The Incredible Jazz Guitar stands not just as a testament to Montgomery’s mastery, but also as an enduring influence in jazz guitar playing.
Thelonious Monk with John Coltrane (1961)
Thelonious Monk with John Coltrane, a 1961 release on Jazzland Records, is a must-have for any jazz vinyl collector.
This album encapsulates a defining moment in jazz history, featuring material recorded in 1957 when Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane, two giants of jazz, collaborated extensively.
Released after Coltrane’s rise to stardom, the LP combines tracks from different sessions, including three pivotal studio tracks recorded at the onset of their six-month stint at the renowned Five Spot club in New York.
Producer Orrin Keepnews enhanced the album with two additional outtakes from Monk’s earlier Monk’s Music album and another from Thelonious Himself.
This collection not only showcases the extraordinary interplay between Monk and Coltrane but also serves as a historical testament to their collective genius, making it an essential addition to any jazz vinyl library.
Joe Henderson – Page One (1963)
Joe Henderson‘s debut album, Page One, released by Blue Note Records in 1963, stands as a cornerstone in the hard bop jazz genre and remains an essential vinyl record for jazz enthusiasts.
Featuring the remarkable lineup of Kenny Dorham on trumpet, McCoy Tyner on piano, Butch Warren on bass, and Pete La Roca on drums, this album showcases Henderson’s early brilliance and innovative style.
The record is distinguished by its original compositions, including Henderson’s “Recorda Me” and Dorham’s “Blue Bossa,” both of which have earned their status as enduring jazz standards.
Notably, Page One is celebrated for its artistic strength and historical significance.
AllMusic praises it as a “particularly strong and historic effort,” underscoring its enduring appeal. All About Jazz echoes this sentiment, recognizing Page One as one of Henderson’s most critically acclaimed works.
Scott Yanow, in his AllMusic essay “Hard Bop,” further solidifies the album’s status by listing it among the 17 essential recordings in the hard bop genre.
Page One‘s blend of lyrical melodies, complex harmonies, and the distinct hard bop style make it a must-have for collectors and a timeless piece in the world of jazz vinyl records.
Modal Jazz Vinyl Records (late 1950s – 1960s)
In the late 1950s, Modal Jazz emerged as a revolutionary force in jazz, veering away from traditional chord progressions to embrace the fluidity and freedom of musical modes.
This genre, which blossomed through the 1960s, thrived on exploratory improvisation and an emphasis on scale-based harmonies. It soared to iconic status with Miles Davis‘ seminal Kind of Blue, redefining jazz with its innovative approach.
Modal Jazz offered musicians a new creative playground, prioritizing mood, atmosphere, and extended improvisation over complex, rapid changes.
This movement wasn’t just a shift in style; it was a bold, fresh chapter in the jazz narrative, painting vibrant, evolving soundscapes.
Miles Davis – Kind of Blue (1959)
Miles Davis‘ Kind of Blue, released in 1959, is not just a jazz album; it’s a pivotal piece of musical history and a standout on our Best Jazz Albums of All Time list.
This seminal work, Davis’ fifth studio album, brings together jazz titans like John Coltrane, Julian “Cannonball” Adderley, Bill Evans, Paul Chambers, and Jimmy Cobb, weaving the intricate tapestry of modal jazz.
Celebrated as Davis’ crowning achievement and widely regarded as one of the greatest jazz records ever, Kind of Blue transcends its genre, leaving an indelible mark on rock, classical, and beyond.
With honors including a place in the National Recording Registry and a multi-platinum certification, the album remains a quintessential addition to any music collection.
Bill Evans Trio – Portrait in Jazz (1960)
Released in 1960, the Bill Evans Trio‘s Portrait in Jazz marks a significant chapter in jazz history.
This fifth studio album from Evans, following his pivotal role in Miles Davis‘ Kind of Blue, showcases the evolving dynamics of modern jazz.
The album is noteworthy for its innovative trio format, featuring the remarkable talents of bassist Scott LaFaro and drummer Paul Motian.
Here, LaFaro’s bass emerges not just as a rhythmic foundation but as a prominent voice in conversation with Evans’ piano, signaling a shift in jazz ensemble interplay.
Though containing several ballads, the album is recognized for its more up-tempo, swinging character, a departure from Evans’ typically more subdued style.
Critics have lauded Portrait in Jazz for its expressive depth and ensemble synergy, with Scott Yanow of Allmusic highlighting the trio’s balanced partnership and Danny Eccleston of Mojo praising Evans’ ability to convey vulnerability through his playing.
Bill Evans Trio – Waltz for Debby (1962)
Waltz for Debby by the Bill Evans Trio is not just an album; it’s a profound chapter in jazz history.
Recorded in 1961 at the Village Vanguard, this was the final effort from Evans’ iconic trio with Scott LaFaro and Paul Motian, as LaFaro tragically passed away just ten days post-recording.
The album, particularly the title track—a tribute to Evans’ niece—became a defining piece in his repertoire.
Critics have hailed “Waltz for Debby” as a pinnacle of Evans’ career, epitomizing the artistry of the piano trio format.
This album, with its legacy and the deep emotional context behind it, offers a listening experience that resonates beyond mere music, making it a timeless masterpiece in the world of jazz.
Herbie Hancock – Maiden Voyage (1965)
Herbie Hancock‘s Maiden Voyage, recorded on March 17, 1965, at Rudy Van Gelder‘s studio for Blue Note Records, is a quintessential jazz album that continues to be a sought-after vinyl for enthusiasts.
This concept album, featuring Hancock alongside George Coleman, Freddie Hubbard, Ron Carter, and Tony Williams, creates an oceanic atmosphere, with tracks that delve into marine themes and spacious musical landscapes.
Recognized for its innovative approach, Maiden Voyage was honored with the Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 1999, underscoring its lasting impact.
Hancock, who was part of the Miles Davis quintet at the time, brought a distinct creativity to this project.
Tracks like “Maiden Voyage,” “The Eye of the Hurricane,” and “Dolphin Dance” not only became jazz standards but also showcased Hancock’s ability to blend accessible, lyrical jazz with adventurous hard bop.
Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic hailed the album as Hancock’s finest record from the 60s, striking a perfect balance in jazz and cementing Maiden Voyage as a timeless masterpiece and an essential addition to any vinyl collection.
Bossa Nova Vinyl Records (late 1950s – 1960s)
In the late 1950s, Bossa Nova emerged as a captivating blend of Brazilian samba and American jazz, introducing a fresh, rhythmically complex style to the music world.
This genre, blossoming in the 1960s, is renowned for its smooth melodies, subtle syncopation, and rich harmonies, capturing the essence of Brazilian culture with a jazz twist.
Pioneered by musicians like João Gilberto, Antônio Carlos Jobim, and Stan Getz, Bossa Nova gained international acclaim, epitomized by classics such as “The Girl from Ipanema.”
This style is characterized by its understated yet sophisticated musicality, often featuring gentle guitar strums and soft, lilting vocals.
Bossa Nova represents more than just a musical innovation; it symbolizes a fusion of cultures and rhythms, marking a significant chapter in jazz history, infusing traditional jazz with a unique, globally-influential flair that continues to enchant audiences worldwide.
Stan Getz & Charlie Byrd – Jazz Samba (1962)
Jazz Samba, released in 1962 by Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd, stands as a pivotal album that ignited the bossa nova fever in America.
This Verve Records release showcases Stan Getz’s masterful saxophone play and Charlie Byrd’s innovative arrangements, drawing inspiration from Byrd’s Brazilian tour in 1961.
Recorded in the unique acoustic setting of All Souls Unitarian Church in Washington, D.C., the album features a blend of compositions by Antonio Carlos Jobim, including the Grammy-winning “Desafinado,” and original pieces like Byrd’s “Samba Dees Days.”
The album’s enchanting mix of American jazz and Brazilian rhythms is enhanced by the dual bass support of Keter Betts and Joe Byrd, and the rhythmic contributions of drummers Buddy Deppenschmidt and Bill Reichenbach.
Jazz Samba not only won a Grammy for Best Jazz Performance but also secured nominations for Record and Album of the Year, signaling its profound impact on the music scene.
A must-listen for jazz enthusiasts, it’s featured in Robert Dimery’s “1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die,” and its cover, adorned with Olga Albizu’s art, captures the vibrant spirit of this genre-defining masterpiece.
Avant-Garde Jazz Vinyl Records (1960s – 1970s)
In the 1960s, Avant-Garde Jazz emerged as a bold reimagining of traditional jazz, breaking free from conventional structures to explore new sonic territories.
This genre, flourishing through the 1970s, was characterized by its experimental approach, often eschewing regular rhythmic patterns and harmonic structures for free improvisation and abstract compositions.
Pioneered by visionaries like Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane, and Cecil Taylor, Avant-Garde Jazz defied easy categorization, pushing the boundaries of jazz with unconventional techniques and sounds.
This era’s music often featured dissonant harmonies, atonal melodies, and an unpredictable, sometimes chaotic energy.
More than just an experimental phase in jazz, Avant-Garde Jazz was a radical artistic statement, reflecting the tumultuous social and cultural changes of its time.
It challenged listeners’ perceptions, offering a complex, intellectually engaging form of expression that significantly expanded the possibilities of jazz music.
This movement didn’t just redefine jazz; it opened a gateway to uncharted musical landscapes, leaving an indelible mark on the evolution of jazz and influencing countless musicians and genres that followed.
Ornette Coleman – The Shape of Jazz to Come (1959)
Ornette Coleman‘s The Shape of Jazz to Come is a monumental album in the jazz canon, released in 1959 on Atlantic Records.
A pioneering work in the avant-garde jazz movement, it was Coleman’s first album with his classic quartet, including Don Cherry, Charlie Haden, and Billy Higgins.
Recorded in Hollywood, the album’s groundbreaking approach features free improvisation and a lack of chord structures, deviating from the traditional head-solo-head format of bebop.
Its title, initially intended to be Focus on Sanity, was changed to more aptly reflect its revolutionary nature.
This album, with its unique harmolodic approach emphasizing melody over harmony and Coleman’s distinct use of a plastic Grafton saxophone, was a major influence in shaping the direction of jazz.
The Shape of Jazz to Come is not just a title; it’s a prophetic declaration of the new jazz ethos, with the iconic track “Lonely Woman” standing out as a testament to Coleman’s genius.
The album’s addition to the National Recording Registry and its recognition by AllMusic as one of the essential free jazz albums attest to its enduring impact and importance.
Perfect for vinyl enthusiasts and jazz connoisseurs, this album is a quintessential piece for any serious jazz collection.
John Coltrane – A Love Supreme (1965)
A Love Supreme by John Coltrane stands as a monumental achievement in jazz, a masterpiece that continues to captivate listeners with its profound spirituality and innovative composition.
Recorded in a single session on December 9, 1964, at Van Gelder Studio, New Jersey, this album features the stellar quartet of Coltrane on tenor saxophone, McCoy Tyner on piano, Jimmy Garrison on bass, and Elvin Jones on drums.
Released by Impulse! Records in January 1965, the album is a through-composed suite in four parts, showcasing Coltrane’s transcendent musical vision.
The album opens with the resonant sound of a gong and evolves into a profound musical exploration, with the track “Acknowledgement” featuring a vocal chant of the album’s title by Coltrane.
The final movement, “Psalm,” is a notable highlight, where Coltrane’s saxophone acts as a voice delivering a wordless sermon.
This album not only showcases Coltrane’s technical prowess but also his deep spiritual yearnings, making it a unique and deeply moving jazz experience.
Garnering immense critical acclaim, it has been recognized as one of the most important albums in post-war jazz.
Its commercial success was unprecedented for Coltrane, with sales far exceeding his usual records.
Its inclusion in numerous greatest albums lists and its preservation in the National Recording Registry attest to its enduring significance and the timeless quality of Coltrane’s artistry.
Post-Bop Vinyl Records (1960s – present)
In the 1960s, Post-Bop emerged as a sophisticated evolution of jazz, blending the foundational elements of Bebop and Hard Bop with more adventurous and varied musical explorations.
This genre was marked by its integration of diverse musical elements, often incorporating influences from modal jazz, avant-garde, and world music.
Post-Bop was typified by its complex harmonies, intricate melodies, and a greater emphasis on composition, along with the freedom and improvisation characteristic of earlier jazz forms.
Spearheaded by luminaries such as Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and Wayne Shorter, Post-Bop represented a shift towards a more abstract, less predictable form of jazz.
This style was less about adhering to traditional song structures and more about creating a broader musical tapestry that embraced a variety of moods and textures.
More than a mere continuation of previous jazz styles, Post-Bop was a reflection of the evolving artistic sensibilities of the time.
It sought to balance the soulful expressiveness of jazz with intellectual depth and innovation, resulting in music that was both emotionally resonant and intellectually stimulating.
Post-Bop didn’t just expand the jazz repertoire; it signified a profound transformation in the jazz narrative.
By weaving together diverse musical influences and techniques, it paved the way for future explorations in jazz, leaving a lasting impact on the genre and influencing a multitude of artists across various musical landscapes.
Wayne Shorter – Speak No Evil (1966)
Speak No Evil by Wayne Shorter, released in June 1966, stands as a pinnacle in the jazz world, masterfully blending hard bop and modal jazz elements.
This Blue Note Records gem features Shorter’s tenor saxophone expertise alongside Freddie Hubbard on trumpet, Herbie Hancock on piano, Ron Carter on bass, and Elvin Jones on drums.
The album cover, capturing Shorter’s first wife Teruko Nakagami, adds a personal touch to this musical masterpiece.
Hailed as one of Shorter’s most accomplished works and a high point in the Blue Note catalogue, Speak No Evil is widely recognized for its profound impact on jazz.
The Penguin Guide to Jazz celebrated it as part of its “Core Collection,” praising it as Shorter’s most fulfilling record.
Murray Horwitz, speaking in 2001, described the album as a comprehensive encapsulation of Shorter’s musical brilliance, with ideas that, while revolutionary forty years ago, continue to captivate and inspire today.
Ian Carr, author of The Rough Guide, acknowledges it as a classic in terms of composition and improvisation.
Ben Ratliff of The New York Times included it in his essential list of jazz recordings, highlighting its enduring and hauntingly innovative compositional style.
This album, a staple in Shorter’s prolific year as part of Miles Davis’s mid-1960s quintet, remains a timeless and essential piece in the jazz canon.
Your Mother Should Know: Brad Mehldau Plays The Beatles (2023)
Your Mother Should Know: Brad Mehldau Plays The Beatles emerges as an indispensable addition for collectors of jazz vinyl records.
In this remarkable album, recorded live at the Philharmonie de Paris in September 2020, Brad Mehldau dives into the rich repertoire of The Beatles, bringing a fresh jazz perspective to their timeless songs.
Mehldau’s album, which intriguingly includes a version of David Bowie’s “Life on Mars?”, was released to critical acclaim in February 2023 by Nonesuch Records.
Critics have praised Mehldau for his ability to maintain the soul of the original compositions while infusing them with a new, improvisational life.
The album’s high rating on Metacritic reflects its wide appreciation, with reviewers particularly enjoying Mehldau’s reinterpretation of these well-known melodies.
Notably, Mehldau’s liner notes emphasize the swinging nature of The Beatles’ songs, highlighting their sophistication and sturdy construction, elements that make them ideal for jazz reinterpretation.
For jazz lovers and vinyl collectors, Your Mother Should Know: Brad Mehldau Plays The Beatles is more than just an album; it’s a journey through the intersection of classic pop and contemporary jazz, guided by one of the genre’s most lyrical pianists.
It stands as a testament to the timelessness of The Beatles’ music and the boundless possibilities of jazz improvisation.
Neo-Jazz Vinyl Records (late 1990s – present)
In the 21st century, Neo-Jazz emerged as an invigorating evolution in jazz, seamlessly blending traditional jazz elements with diverse contemporary influences.
This genre, flourishing in recent decades, thrives on innovative fusion and experimental sounds, melding jazz with genres like hip-hop, R&B, and electronic music.
Pioneered by artists such as Robert Glasper and Kamasi Washington, Neo-Jazz has expanded the boundaries of jazz, introducing it to new audiences.
This style is characterized by its creative versatility and integration of modern musical techniques, often featuring digital production and eclectic instrumentation.
Neo-Jazz transforms jazz into a dynamic, genre-crossing experience, emphasizing emotional depth and rhythmic complexity.
This movement isn’t merely a progression in jazz; it represents a vibrant, progressive chapter in its story, crafting diverse, resonant musical tapestries that resonate with contemporary listeners.
Robert Glasper – Black Radio (2012) [10th Anniversary Deluxe Edition 3 LP]
Robert Glasper‘s Black Radio, released in 2012 by Blue Note Records, represents a significant milestone in contemporary music, blending jazz with a plethora of modern black music styles.
This groundbreaking album, featuring Glasper’s electric quartet, the Robert Glasper Experiment, transcended genre norms and received critical acclaim, including a Grammy Award for Best R&B Album and a nomination for Best R&B Performance for the track “Gonna Be Alright (F.T.B.)” featuring Ledisi.
The album is a culmination of Glasper’s musical evolution, having previously established his jazz credentials with albums like Canvas and In My Element.
With Black Radio, he ventured into a more expansive sound.
The ensemble, including Casey Benjamin on sax/vocoder, Derrick Hodge on bass, and Chris Dave on drums, collaborated with a remarkable roster of artists like Erykah Badu, Lupe Fiasco, Bilal, Lalah Hathaway, and Meshell Ndegeocello, among others.
Critics lauded Black Radio for its innovative fusion of funk, hip-hop, R&B, soul, and jazz.
Publications like Rolling Stone described it as “a blueprint forward,” while the Los Angeles Times praised its “rich musical interplay and a fearless spirit” that defied musical conventions.
The album’s success was reflected in its chart performance, debuting on multiple Billboard charts and achieving significant positions.
The 10th Anniversary Deluxe Edition of Black Radio further enriches this legacy.
This expanded version includes the original album, three bonus tracks not previously available on vinyl, and the Black Radio Recovered remix EP, featuring artists like ?uestlove, Solange, and Phonte.
Accompanied by a booklet with new liner notes from Glasper and rare studio photos, this edition offers a comprehensive view of an album that, in Glasper’s words, is the “spinal cord” of his work and continues to evolve and resonate in the music world.
Kamasi Washington – The Epic (2015)
Kamasi Washington‘s The Epic, released on May 5, 2015, by Brainfeeder, marks a significant moment in modern jazz.
As the third studio album from the American jazz saxophonist and his first on a major label, The Epic has been widely celebrated for its innovative approach and accessibility in the jazz genre.
Critically acclaimed, the album received an impressive average score of 83 out of 100 on Metacritic, indicating universal acclaim from music critics.
Thom Jurek of AllMusic praised the album for its holistic breadth and vision, describing it as “21st-century jazz as accessible as it is virtuosic.”
This sentiment echoes the album’s ability to engage a broad audience while maintaining artistic depth.
Drowned in Sound’s Russell Warfield called it “wonderful stuff,” highlighting the album’s universal appeal across different standards of musical evaluation.
Seth Colter Walls of Pitchfork awarded The Epic the “Best New Music” tag, emphasizing that the album lived up to its ambitious name without falling short of its pre-release hype.
This sentiment is echoed across various reviews, which consistently recognize the album’s extraordinary contribution to jazz.
As a landmark in the genre, The Epic is not just a must-have for jazz enthusiasts but also serves as a gateway for new listeners to experience jazz music.
Its blend of virtuosity and accessibility makes it a unique and influential addition to any vinyl record collection, continuing to challenge and expand the cultural conversation around jazz.
Esperanza Spalding – Songwrights Apothecary Lab (2021)
Esperanza Spalding‘s Songwrights Apothecary Lab, released in 2021, is a groundbreaking studio album that blends jazz with elements of music therapy and neuroscience.
Debuting at number 11 on the US Billboard Contemporary Jazz Albums chart, it later clinched the Best Jazz Vocal Album at the 64th Annual Grammy Awards, attesting to its artistic and critical success.
This unique album is the result of Spalding’s collaborative explorations with a diverse range of musicians, researchers, and health practitioners.
It features 12 pieces, termed ‘formwelas’, aimed at providing emotional and psychological healing, weaving together insights from various disciplines like Sufism, Black American music, and South Indian Carnatic music.
Songwrights Apothecary Lab delves into the ancient roots of music as a communal and intuitive response, offering an immersive experience that goes beyond mere listening.
This album is a must-have for those who appreciate jazz that pushes boundaries and seeks to connect deeply with its audience on multiple levels.
The Final Note: Essential Jazz Vinyls for Your Collection
In conclusion, the journey through the world of jazz vinyl records is an exploration of not just musical excellence, but also a rich cultural heritage.
Each album featured in this article, from the classic improvisations of Miles Davis to the contemporary experiments of Esperanza Spalding, represents a distinct chapter in the ongoing story of jazz.
These records are not just for listening; they are treasures that keep the spirit of jazz alive.
As this exploration comes to an end, remember that each vinyl spins more than tunes—it spins stories, emotions, and a legacy that transcends time.
For enthusiasts and newcomers alike, these vinyl records are your gateway to experiencing the profound impact and timeless charm of jazz, a genre that continues to captivate and inspire with every turn of the record.
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Written by Sebastien Helary
Sebastien Helary is the founder and principal writer for Nextbop.com, a premier destination for contemporary jazz enthusiasts. His insightful contributions have also graced the pages of Time Out Montreal and Cult Montreal. Outside the realm of music and food journalism, Sebastien’s personal musings and artistry are showcased at Helaryous.com.