Deep Groove Mono’s All-Time Favorite Classic Jazz Album List

20
John Coltrane, Olé Coltrane
Atlantic 1373 (1961)

This album was first recommended to me by DJ Pari. I’m not too crazy about side 1 but side 2 is jazz perfection. Coltrane really had a talent for penning ballads that gush feeling, and “Aisha” is a prime example of that. This is also one of my favorite Dolphy appearances.

“Aisha”

19
John Coltrane, Giant Steps
Atlantic 1311 (1959)

Not all my favorite jazz artists were great “album artists”, but Coltrane was, and it’s the reason he has more albums on this list than any other artist. I don’t love every album deemed a jazz classic by the consensus, but Giant Steps has always had high replay value with me.

“Naima”

18
Tal Farlow Quartet
Blue Note 5042 (1954)

This is a solid album start to finish that, partly due to its absence of horns, never screams at the listener and makes for an especially laid-back listen. Quartet with two guitars is indeed a rare lineup. Drummer Joe Morello’s brushwork is noteworthy.

17
Thelonious Monk Plays
Prestige 189 (1954)

Though Monk is my favorite jazz artist, I do not think he was a great “album artist”. This ten-inch LP is an exception. Popularized by its inclusion in the Monk/Rollins Prestige compilation (cat. 7075), this album was recorded to perfection on a single date in Hackensack.

“Work”

16
The Prestige Jazz Quartet
Prestige 7108 (1957)

This is yet another beautiful, dry Hackensack recording, and the writing of Teddy Charles and Mal Waldron here is pleasantly experimental for 1957. Quartet with vibraphone is a favorite lineup of mine. Waldron’s minimalist piano soloing shines in particular.

“Dear Elaine”

15
John Coltrane, Impressions
Impulse 42 (1963)

This album has a good sense of cohesion despite being cobbled together from three different recording dates, two studio and one live. The droning harmonies of “India” still leave me in awe to this day. Eric Dolphy’s playing in Trane’s presence is pure bliss and it did not happen enough.

“India”

14
Johnny Coles, Little Johnny C
Blue Note 4144 (1963)

I discovered this album early on in my collecting and it spoke to me immediately. Though many collectors praise this album I still feel it is underrated. I’m not very familiar with Leo Wright but I love him on this album, and Duke Pearson excels as the album’s primary composer.

“Little Johnny C”, “So Sweet My Little Girl”

13
Larry Young, Into Somethin’
Blue Note 4187 (1964)

This is one of those albums where the mood is so consistent start to finish that I neglect learning the song titles, and thus I find it hard to choose favorites. Sam Rivers plays surprisingly “in”, Elvin Jones mans the brushes for the majority of the songs, and Larry Young’s style of organ playing is the sonic version of air conditioning on a hot summer day.

12
Horace Parlan, Speakin’ My Piece
Blue Note 4043 (1960)

The cavernous sound of Rudy Van Gelder’s Englewood Cliffs studio contributes to the dead-black background of this gorgeous recording. Parlan and the Turretine brothers pen all but one of the tunes here and the writing is highly consistent. Bro Stanley’s blues-y soloing shines.

“Up in Cynthia’s Room”

11
Horace Silver, 6 Pieces of Silver
Blue Note 1539 (1956)

This album is a wonderful mixture of bebop, hard bop, ballads, and blues, and it is a quintessential example of Silver’s style. Byrd and Mobley front Silver in a rare collaboration, and Louis Hayes successfully steps in for Silver’s former co-leader, Art Blakey.

“Shirl”, “Enchantment”

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Matt

Thank you for sharing your all time favorites! This has me relistening to/rediscovering records I already have, as well has sent me off to Discogs/eBay, etc. for new additions to my collection.