(function(h,o,t,j,a,r){ h.hj=h.hj||function(){(h.hj.q=h.hj.q||[]).push(arguments)}; h._hjSettings={hjid:104204,hjsv:5}; a=o.getElementsByTagName('head')[0]; r=o.createElement('script');r.async=1; r.src=t+h._hjSettings.hjid+j+h._hjSettings.hjsv; a.appendChild(r); })(window,document,'//static.hotjar.com/c/hotjar-','.js?sv=');
Join us

Features

The Greatest Jazz Albums You’ve Never Heard

Published on

Greatest Jazz albums

We’ve handpicked 13 classic jazz albums that we think you’ve never heard, but certainly should have. Each one is here on merit, giving you a chance to explore the depth of  amazing music that gets overlooked by the mainstream. It’s what uDiscover is all about, digging deeper to bring you the music we think you’ll love.

Gil Mellé – New Faces – New Sounds (1953)

Gil MelleBlue Note Records first ever session at Rudy Van Gelder’s new Jersey studio was on 31 january 1953 recording four tracks for Gil Mellé’s album, New Faces – New Sounds. The sound that Van Gelder achieves is as hip as the label and the music; he has the knack of placing you in the room with the musicians. Mellé had been playing sax in Greenwich Village clubs from the age of fifteen, and was a month past his twenty-first birthday for this session. Today, his music isn’t rated as highly by fans as perhaps it deserves, given that it is from the fountainhead of a melodic jazz style that has remained popular ever since. If all that isn’t enough he was an artist, producing some of Blue Note’s early LP sleeves.

Stan Getz – West Coast Jazz (1955)

Stan GetzStan Getz recorded the album in California, where he was filming The Benny Goodman Story, and appearing for a week at Zardi’s Jazzland; the musicians that accompanied him at Zardi’s play on the album. With so many great Stan Getz albums to listen to this sadly gets overlooked, arguably Getz had not quite got into his stride but the sheer joy in the playing is delightful and ‘Summertime’ is outstanding.

Buddy Bregman – Swinging Kicks (1957)

Buddy BregmanBregman was Verve Records first head of A&R, when he was just 25 years old. He arranged the first of Ella Fitzgerald’s Songbooks for Verve and worked with Count Basie, Anita O’ Day and Bing Crosby. The excellent Swinging Kicks is an album of big-band jazz featuring among others, Stan Getz, Ben Webster, Andre Previn, Jimmy Giuffre and Maynard Ferguson. Brilliant musicians playing brilliant big band swinging jazz; impossible not to love.

Lou Donaldson – Blues Walk (1958)

Lou DonaldsonAlto saxophonist, Lou Donaldson played on numerous Blue Note sessions during the 1950s, notably with Art Blakey, Clifford Brown, and Thelonious Monk. This was his seventh album as a leader for Blue Note and undoubtedly his masterpiece. It’s one of those albums that has been overshadowed by other contemporary albums by others but it is deserving of its place at the top table with Donaldson’s warm sax very much to the fore.

The Gary McFarland Orchestra (1963)

Gary McFarlnadThis album, recorded with pianist Bill Evans, is a remarkable record and while difficult to find it is well worth seeking out. It’s like a score for an unmade movie, only it’s better than that. It’s evocative, musically sublime and stands repeated listening. McFarland died tragically in 1971 after being poisoned in a New York City bar with liquid methadone, administered as a prank. (scroll down on the playlist below and you’ll come to the album)

Kenny Burrell – Asphalt Canyon Suite (1969)

Kenny BurrellKenny Burrell recorded this fabulous album for Verve when jazz was having a lean time. At the album’s heart is the suite, written by Burrell which is outstanding, beautifully crafted music that deserves to be more widely heard. ‘Asphalt Canyon Blues’ is a brilliant showcase for one of the great jazz guitarists, who as a sideman or soloist, has never short changed.

 

Nucleus: Elastic Rock (1970)

NucleusFronted by the late, lamented trumpeter (and acclaimed Miles Davis biographer) Ian Carr, Nucleus were arguably the finest jazz fusion band to come out of Britain – and certainly one of the only ones to understand what modal jazz was all about. Elastic Rock is a masterpiece, and scooped the band first prize when they played it live at the July 1970 Montreux Jazz Festival.

 

Gabor Szabo – High Contrast (1970)

Gabor SzaboHungarian guitarist Szabo is much underrated and this album recorded by the legendary Tommy LiPuma for his Blue Thumb label is fabulous. It features songwriter and guitarist Bobby Womack, he wrote five of the seven tracks, including the original version of ‘Breezin’, that George Benson would have a major hit with in 1976. We bet you didn’t even know Womack wrote ‘Breezin’.

Archie Shepp – Attica Blues (1972)

Archie SheppThis album recorded for impulse!, with an unusually large group of musicians, turns out to be one of Shepp’s most satisfying musical forays. It is a subtle mix of swing and blues but with Shepp involved there’s more than a hint of the avant-garde. The album’s title song is in remembrance of the inmates who died in the Attica Prison massacre.

Dave Grusin & The NY/LA Dream Band (1984)

Dave GrusinAside from founding GRP Records, Dave Grusin is one of the modern era’s great arrangers. This album was recorded live at Budokan in Tokyo, Japan åand features some of GRP’s stalwarts, notably, Lee Ritenour, Grusin’s keyboard playing brother, Don, and Steve Gadd on drums. The opening track, ‘Shuffle City’ with Gadd’s brilliant drumming and collective playing is GRP at its very best.

Larry Carlton – Last Nite (1986)

Larry CarltonThere are some who know Larry’s playing simply from listening to his great work with Steely Dan but he has released some brilliant jazz guitar albums over the years and none fine than this one. Recorded at the Baked Potato in North Hollywood, California. It includes two great Miles Davis covers, ‘So What’ and ‘All Blues’ along with four Carlton originals. It is easy to hear why Carlton is so well respected and in our view should be way more listened to, he is constantly inventive and always spot on.

Lyle Mays – Street Dreams (1988)

Lyle MaysBest known as longtime Pat Metheny Group member, keyboard player, Mays, brings so much invention and sheer class to this album of modern jazz. This his second solo album, features modal jazz, big band, and an extended suite as the title track and every detail is superb. Among the stellar cast of players are Steve Gadd, Bill Frissell and Randy Brecker; it’s an album not to be missed, and nor is his self-titled debut.

Georgie Fame – Poet in New York (2000)

Georgie FameGeorgie Fame has long been one of the UK’s great jazz interpreters, whether playing his Hammond Organ or singing – in fact it’s sometimes difficult to understand why he’s not held in higher regard as a jazz musician. On this record he adds lyrics to three Tadd Dameron numbers, which proves his great taste, and breathes new life into ‘Lush Life’ and ‘Jumpin’ With Symphony Sid.’  This is an outstanding record.

38 Comments

38 Comments

  1. John Walsh

    June 18, 2017 at 11:13 am

    I have the Dave Grusin concert album and it’s a terrific cross section of this brilliant musician and arranger plus his film scores of course.

  2. Christopher Mark Rose

    June 18, 2017 at 12:35 pm

    I want to suggest BURNIN’ by Don Menza and his ’80s Big Band. Great album, great original compositions, big sound.

  3. Gerald Poirier

    June 18, 2017 at 1:39 pm

    An album changed my life… “Dear John C” by Elvin Jones, with Charlie Mariano on alto sax and Richard Davis on bass. A small jewel.

    • Randy

      October 18, 2017 at 6:52 pm

      Nice recommendation, Gerald. Enjoyed this album a lot.

  4. Michael Burke

    June 18, 2017 at 1:57 pm

    The Stan Getz and Gary McFarland albums have long been favorites of mine, both for over 50 years!

  5. Bob nasters

    June 18, 2017 at 11:29 pm

    Can’t say no one has heard i own 8 of them

    • Theodore Ellinas

      October 18, 2017 at 11:46 am

      I’ll bet your friends have and more than once too! Cool! Nice…yeah baby

  6. Ed Hardiman

    June 18, 2017 at 11:39 pm

    I would have included anything by Baby Face Willette…

  7. mike wesolek

    June 19, 2017 at 12:08 am

    don ” red menza ” is from my home town , buffalo . he still returns home from time to time and plays some local gigs . you have to hear him with the buddy rich big band ( terrific )

    • peter mautner

      October 21, 2017 at 5:56 pm

      Yeah.I think it was Don Menza Solo on More Soul from Caeser’s Palace.

  8. Dan Fine

    June 19, 2017 at 4:10 am

    The title of Count Basie’s 1959 “Basie One More Time” may sound like just another compilation of past hits. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact the young Quincy Jones’s beautiful original tunes and masterful charts make this recording of the great band at its peak a masterpiece, in my opinion. It is still in print as a CD. Personnel:
    THAD JONES, JOE NEWMAN, SNOOKY YOUNG, WENDELL CULLEY, trumpet
    HENRY COKER, AL GREY, BENNY POWELL, trombone
    MARSHALL ROYAL, clarinet, alto sax; FRANK WESS, alto & tenor sax
    FRANK FOSTER, tenor sax; CHARLIE FOWLKES, baritone sax
    COUNT BASIE, piano; FREDDIE GREEN, guitar; EDDIE JONES, bass
    SONY PAYNE (d).

  9. Juan Rubiales

    June 19, 2017 at 12:23 pm

    Hay discos mejores que estos a montones.
    Solo un inculto en materia de jazz pondría esta selección!

  10. Robert Ensell

    June 19, 2017 at 12:36 pm

    Contrary to to Michael Burke’s comment above, I think ‘West Coast Jazz’ shows Stan Getz at his best, particularly on ‘Shine’. This and another Verve recording ‘Focus’ are probably my two favourite Getz records.

    • Mike Burke

      August 28, 2017 at 5:31 pm

      Contrary? I said the Getz has been a favorite for over 50 years. So what’s contrary?

      • mike cranfield

        August 29, 2017 at 10:26 am

        Fairly obvious, or so I would have thought: Not yet into his stride is contrary to “at his best¨

  11. Ian Franklin

    June 19, 2017 at 6:15 pm

    I have Street Dreams by Lyle Mays. I haven’t listened to it for a while but I must. A superb album that I can immerse myself in totally

  12. Anthony Morris

    June 29, 2017 at 2:34 am

    This is a terrific list of overlooked recordings. I wish ‘Focus’ by Stan Getz would have made the cut.

  13. Axel

    August 28, 2017 at 11:23 am

    Meredith D’Ambrosio “Beware of Spring” is ridiculously brilliant.

  14. anthony callender

    August 28, 2017 at 5:02 pm

    I would add among others Albert Favero’s “Suite Trane” a very moving tribute to the great John Coltrane

  15. Tyler Kim

    August 28, 2017 at 7:15 pm

    Lou Donaldson played “Blues Walk” as his theme song yesterday @ the Charlie Parker festival in Tompkins square park NYC .

  16. Vercingetorix Rocaide

    August 28, 2017 at 8:41 pm

    What kind of bull shit list is this?…..no Miles Davis, no John Coltrane, no Charle Parker, no Duke Ellington, no Bill Evans, no Cannonball Adderley, no Wayne Shorter, no Horace Silver, no many-many more…..you’re really mad, stupid people

    • Tim Dejoneois

      August 29, 2017 at 10:09 am

      Can you read, Vercingetorix!?
      Do you know what “you’ve never heard” means? …it means that this list is not about the most popular jazz musicians which you freely quote, but more unknown artists, as per the post above.
      So take your “bullshit, mad and stupid” and keep it to yourself until you get educated. Cool?

      • Vercingetorix Rocaide

        November 14, 2017 at 10:07 pm

        From artist like Miles, Cannonball, Bird, Horace Silver, etc. there are a big number of important (important) albums that maybe (maybe) you never (never) heard, for example (only Miles Davis for the example):
        Miles Davis – Birdland 1950, 1951
        Miles Davis – Birdland Sessions featuring Stan Getz
        Miles Davis – Bluing; Miles Davis Plays The Blues
        Miles Davis – Bopping The Blues
        Miles Davis – Broadcast Sessions 1958-1959
        Miles Davis – Facets
        Miles Davis – Festiva De Juan Pins
        Miles Davis – Jazz Track
        Miles Davis – Live At The Barrel (with Jimmy Forrest)
        Miles Davis – Live In Den Haag
        Miles Davis – Live In Europe 1967
        Miles Davis – Live In Europe 1969
        Miles Davis – Live In Japan Vol. 2 (w. Sam Rivers)
        Miles Davis – Live In Paris 11-03-69
        Miles Davis – Live In Stockholm (1960) (w. Sonny Stitt)
        Miles Davis – Live In Tokyo
        Miles Davis – Miles Davis Plays The Compositions Of Al Cohn
        Miles Davis – Miles Davis Quintet featuring Sonny Rollins (1954)
        Miles Davis – Miles Davis & Horns
        Miles Davis – Miles! Miles! Miles! Live In Japan ’81
        Miles Davis – Music for Brass (1956)
        Miles Davis – No Blues (live in 1967)
        Miles Davis & Robben Ford
        Miles Davis & Stan Getz – Tune Up
        …..
        From various artist different than Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, Duke Ellington, Bill Evans, Cannonball Adderley, Wayne Shorter, Horace Silver and many-many more, just a few records that maybe (maybe) you never heard:
        Brian Charette – Alphabet City
        The Night Crawlers – Down In The Bottom
        Will Blades – Sketchy
        Conrad Herwig – Obligation
        Mike Ledonne – Keep The Faith
        Akiko Tsuruga – Oriental Express
        Ben Williams – Coming Of Age
        Charlie Apicella And Iron City – Sparks
        David Gibson – End Of The Tunnel
        Deep Blue Organ Trio – Wonderful!
        Ehud Asherie – Organic
        Groove Collective – We The People
        Gutbucket – Flock
        Jacám Manricks – Trigonometry
        Jared Gold – Solids & Stripes (w. Randy Napoleon)
        Jermaine Landsberger – Gettin’ Blazed
        Jochen Rueckert – We Make The Rules
        John Patitucci – Now
        Kevin Coelho – Funkengruven
        Kyle Asche Organ Trio – Blues For Mel
        Matt Wilson’s Arts & Crafts -The Scenic Route
        Michael Musillami – Old Tea
        Mike DiRubbo – Chronos
        Mike Ledone – The Groover
        Organissimo – Dedicated
        Pascal Le Boeuf – Migration
        Rudy Royston – 303
        Scanner And The Post Modern Jazz Quartet – Blink Of An Eye
        Stan Tracey – Under Milk Wood
        The Claudia Quintet – I, Claudia
        Brian Pareschi – Brian Pareschi And The BP Express
        Bob Mintzer, John Abercrombie, Peter Erskine, John Patitucci – The Hudson Project
        Bob Mintzer Big Band – For The Moment
        Dan Wall & Jerry Bergonzi ‎– On The Inside Looking In (w. M. Goodrick)
        Dan Weiss Trio – Timshell
        David Ashkenazy – Out With It
        David Gibson – Boom!
        Hal Galper – Speak With A Single Voice
        Herbie Hancock – The New Standard
        Hod O’Brien – Opalessence (w. P. Adams & T. Harrell)
        Jochen Rueckert – Charm Offensive
        Ken Fowser – Standing Tall
        Kevin Coelho – Turn It Up
        Mario Pavone – Art Suite
        Next Collective – Cover Art
        Pepper Adams – Encounter (w. E. Jones)
        Peter Erskine – As It isPhil Markowitz – Catalysis
        Ralph Towner – Solstice
        The Microscopic Sextet – Friday The Thirteenth
        Tony Monaco – Burnin’ Grooves
        Albert Mangelsdorff – A Jazz Tune I Hope – 1978
        Bobby Wellins – The Satin Album

        I know what “you’ve never heard” means….do you?

  17. James Bunnell

    August 29, 2017 at 12:08 am

    Okay, Vercingetorix Rocaide, name a few records by those artists that qualify as “JAZZ ALBUMS YOU’VE NEVER HEARD.”

    • Vercingetorix Rocaide

      November 14, 2017 at 10:09 pm

      From artist like Miles, Adderley, Parker, Silver, etc. there are a big number of important (important) albums that maybe (maybe) you never (never) heard, for example (only Miles Davis for the example):
      Miles Davis – Birdland 1950, 1951
      Miles Davis – Birdland Sessions featuring Stan Getz
      Miles Davis – Bluing; Miles Davis Plays The Blues
      Miles Davis – Bopping The Blues
      Miles Davis – Broadcast Sessions 1958-1959
      Miles Davis – Facets
      Miles Davis – Festiva De Juan Pins
      Miles Davis – Jazz Track
      Miles Davis – Live At The Barrel (with Jimmy Forrest)
      Miles Davis – Live In Den Haag
      Miles Davis – Live In Europe 1967
      Miles Davis – Live In Europe 1969
      Miles Davis – Live In Japan Vol. 2 (w. Sam Rivers)
      Miles Davis – Live In Paris 11-03-69
      Miles Davis – Live In Stockholm (1960) (w. Sonny Stitt)
      Miles Davis – Live In Tokyo
      Miles Davis – Miles Davis Plays The Compositions Of Al Cohn
      Miles Davis – Miles Davis Quintet featuring Sonny Rollins (1954)
      Miles Davis – Miles Davis & Horns
      Miles Davis – Miles! Miles! Miles! Live In Japan ’81
      Miles Davis – Music for Brass (1956)
      Miles Davis – No Blues (live in 1967)
      Miles Davis & Robben Ford
      Miles Davis & Stan Getz – Tune Up

      …..
      From various artist different than Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, Duke Ellington, Bill Evans, Cannonball Adderley, Wayne Shorter, Horace Silver and many-many more, just a few records that maybe (maybe) you never heard:

      Brian Charette – Alphabet City
      The Night Crawlers – Down In The Bottom
      Will Blades – Sketchy
      Conrad Herwig – Obligation
      Mike Ledonne – Keep The Faith
      Akiko Tsuruga – Oriental Express
      Ben Williams – Coming Of Age
      Charlie Apicella And Iron City – Sparks
      David Gibson – End Of The Tunnel
      Deep Blue Organ Trio – Wonderful!
      Ehud Asherie – Organic
      Groove Collective – We The People
      Gutbucket – Flock
      Jacám Manricks – Trigonometry
      Jared Gold – Solids & Stripes (w. Randy Napoleon)
      Jermaine Landsberger – Gettin’ Blazed
      Jochen Rueckert – We Make The Rules
      John Patitucci – Now
      Kevin Coelho – Funkengruven
      Kyle Asche Organ Trio – Blues For Mel
      Matt Wilson’s Arts & Crafts -The Scenic Route
      Michael Musillami – Old Tea
      Mike DiRubbo – Chronos
      Mike Ledone – The Groover
      Organissimo – Dedicated
      Pascal Le Boeuf – Migration
      Rudy Royston – 303
      Scanner And The Post Modern Jazz Quartet – Blink Of An Eye
      Stan Tracey – Under Milk Wood
      The Claudia Quintet – I, Claudia
      Brian Pareschi – Brian Pareschi And The BP Express
      Bob Mintzer, John Abercrombie, Peter Erskine, John Patitucci – The Hudson Project
      Bob Mintzer Big Band – For The Moment
      Dan Wall & Jerry Bergonzi ‎– On The Inside Looking In (w. M. Goodrick)
      Dan Weiss Trio – Timshell
      David Ashkenazy – Out With It
      David Gibson – Boom!
      Hal Galper – Speak With A Single Voice
      Herbie Hancock – The New Standard
      Hod O’Brien – Opalessence (w. P. Adams & T. Harrell)
      Jochen Rueckert – Charm Offensive
      Ken Fowser – Standing Tall
      Kevin Coelho – Turn It Up
      Mario Pavone – Art Suite
      Next Collective – Cover Art
      Pepper Adams – Encounter (w. E. Jones)
      Peter Erskine – As It isPhil Markowitz – Catalysis
      Ralph Towner – Solstice
      The Microscopic Sextet – Friday The Thirteenth
      Tony Monaco – Burnin’ Grooves
      Albert Mangelsdorff – A Jazz Tune I Hope – 1978
      Bobby Wellins – The Satin Album

    • Vercingetorix Rocaide

      November 14, 2017 at 10:28 pm

      Please, see the answer to Tim Dejoneois

  18. Chromex

    August 29, 2017 at 2:33 pm

    Most have likely not heard “October” by Charlie Mariano ( Inner City) but it is well worth seeking out.

  19. Angela Levey

    August 31, 2017 at 5:03 am

    On that Buddy Bregman album, that swinging drummer is Stan Levey

  20. Gus Hoodah

    October 18, 2017 at 1:18 pm

    I’ll go along with the McFarland and the Burrell, which are both excellent.

  21. GB

    October 18, 2017 at 1:43 pm

    OK. Here’s a really talented sax player that you may not of heard: Sonny Red. Check out the combined albums of Breezin’/Imagine et al.

  22. Luis

    October 18, 2017 at 9:13 pm

    Thanks for your suggestion. I am sure many of us are thinking the recommendation is not a top one and I agree , but I really appreciate to discover others Jazz musicians I have never listened before.

    • Isa Maturana Ossa

      October 18, 2017 at 9:57 pm

      Sólo algunos me gustan.

  23. DARRYL JACOBS

    October 20, 2017 at 3:16 pm

    MY 2 OBSCURITIES TO ADD WOULD’VE HAVE BEEN JOHN HANDY AT MONTEREY AND MCCOY TYNER ATLANTIS WITH AZAR LAWRENCE ON SAX NAILING MY ONE AND ONLY LOVE

    • Nelson Hawley

      January 1, 2018 at 4:38 am

      thanks Darryl i will check them out…can i add McCoy’s “Sahara” to the list? w Sonny Fortune on alto…

  24. peter mautner

    October 21, 2017 at 5:59 pm

    Yes I have heard many of these musicians in various context,however have not heard any of these fine looking recordings.Thank you for the research.

  25. Matthew Fleet

    January 4, 2018 at 8:50 pm

    I have to say. Mr. V. Rocaide is spot on. And, not to be questioned. He has nailed it with a lot of these well-known artists and more obscure artists and recordings. It’s a truly fantastic listing.

  26. GJ

    October 27, 2018 at 7:57 pm

    Wow. A lot of hostility from that Vercinhetorixenafgtfghbnnghhhhh dude.

    Calm down. Breath. Listen to some music.

    GJ

  27. Fred Stark

    November 9, 2018 at 8:45 pm

    What about the Blue Note albums that are never played ? There are four fine recordings by Tina Brooks. Also, there are albums called “Basra” by Pete La Roca Sims and “Easterly Winds” by Jack Wilson on the Blue Note label !

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Don't Miss