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Eli Taylor
Eli Taylor

The Best Jazz Songs Of All Time 50 Unforgettable Jazz Classics



50 Great Jazz Vocals is a crowdsourced list of the 50 most popular jazz vocal recordings of all time, as determined by the listeners of NPR Music, Jazz24.org and KPLU in Seattle. We asked jazz lovers all over the world to vote for their favorites. When the results were in, the thousands of votes were tabulated, and this list is the result. You can take a look at the list below or, better yet, dive into the webstream, kick back and listen to all 50 Great Jazz Vocals. According to our listeners, it doesn't get any better than this.




The Best Jazz Songs of All Time 50 Unforgettable Jazz Classics


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No Brecker, Corea,, Tatum, Tristano, Marsh, Tyner?? But the woeful Ayler and Dolphy are in there? Incredible. I suppose subjectivity is inevitable when it comes to taste and naming the best 50 albums is impossible. Vast amounts of great stuff omitted and the phenomenal broadening of jazz in the last 30 years is nowhere to be seen. This probably is a very good guide to the ages of the compilers.


Second is Offbeat of the Avenues by Manhatten Transfer. There are a few incredible cuts on that album that still blow me away after all this time. I consider that album full blown jazz as opposed to a popular label. Several of the arrangements are truly magnificent.


Unforgettable is another of those songs you can file under best jazz songs to dance to. It sounds like liquid gold, and its long, elastic phrases are the perfect excuse for couples to dance slow and close together.


His Round Midnight is no exception, and consequently, not only one of the best jazz songs of all time but one of the most interesting to listen to. You can never predict where Monk will take you, and that's half the joy of listening to him.


Herbie Hancock is perhaps best known for his musical work behind the scenes of the film Blow Up. But he was also a prominent jazz artist, and his 1960 composition Cantaloupe Island is arguably one of the best jazz songs of all time.


The "Great American Songbook" is the canon of the most important and influential American popular songs and jazz standards from the early 20th century that have stood the test of time in their life and legacy. Often referred to as "American Standards", the songs published during the Golden Age of this genre include those popular and enduring tunes from the 1920s to the 1950s that were created for Broadway theatre, musical theatre, and Hollywood musical film.[1]


Culture writer Martin Chilton defines the term "Great American Songbook" as follows: "Tunes of Broadway musical theatre, Hollywood movie musicals and Tin Pan Alley (the hub of songwriting that was the music publishers' row on New York's West 28th Street)". Chilton adds that these songs "became the core repertoire of jazz musicians" during the period that "stretched roughly from 1920 to 1960".[2]


In the 1950s, too, increasing numbers of record buyers in the US and Europe were listening to music from distant cultures, a process encouraged by recovery from post-World War II economic austerity, affordable international air travel (for the middle classes anyway) and the increasing prevalence of LPs. By the end of the decade, recordings of African, Indian, Latin American and South Asian musics, sometimes mediated by jazz and exotica, sometimes presented in their authentic states, were commonplace.


To trace the 12-time GRAMMY winner's artistic evolution is to tell the story of the music as it evolved and propagated through the latter half of the 20th century. He was a member of two of the most crucial groups in jazz history: the brilliant, hotheaded drummer Art Blakey's unofficial jazz academy the Jazz Messengers and Miles Davis' so-called Second Great Quintet.


In 2015, the Recording Academy bestowed upon him a Lifetime Achievement Award. "Wayne Shorter's influence on the jazz community has left an indelible mark on the music industry," Harvey Mason jr., CEO of the Recording Academy, said in part. "It's been a privilege to celebrate his contributions to our culture throughout his incredible career."


After the rainshower of piano notes that initiates "House of Jade," Shorter demonstrates his inimitable way with a ballad, hung on Jones' weighty swing and sway. As jazz author and columnist Mark Stryker put it in an edifying Twitter thread compiling the best of Shorter at a gentler pace: "The ballads are everything. It's all there, now and forever."


Focus is a true collaboration, operatic in its scope, between composer and performer, and between orchestra and soloist. It marks the moment when Getz transcended the normal workaday world of the jazz soloist and confirmed his status as an artist of consequence. Jaunty at times, tender at others, there is beauty in every bar. A must-have. Peter Vacher


This was Handy's breakthrough album. After slaving at the pit-face in New York, playing with Mingus then heading back to San Francisco in 1963, he built a local reputation that included headlining gigs at the Fillmore and which came to a head at the Monterey Jazz Festival in 1965. The tapes of the set were eventually released on Columbia and made an instant impression. Handy was of the moment and spent a few years in the sun internationally before it all went pear-shaped around 1968 and he lost his band, record deal and profile. Handy in those years had rare qualities that combined to make him unique and nothing has changed to deprive him of that uniqueness since. He has a beautiful tone, faultless technique, great expressive range and a very inquiring musical mind. In 1965 this led him to the sax-violin-guitar front line that made this band so special at the time and so prophetic of the jazz of later decades. He also had sufficient formal training to sustain large structures like the two pieces here from the festival, one 27 minutes long, the other just short of 20 minutes. These are not simply long, rambling improvisations by guys lining up in an orderly queue; they are properly thought-through performances of considerable sophistication. This is why they were such a hit at the time: they had drama and they told a gripping musical story. Keith Shadwick


As a preface to this list, this is simply our list of the best songs ever. Of course, you may have different favorite songs. Now, without further ado, here are the most famous songs and the most iconic songs of all time.


Elvis actually made his acting debut in the film of the same name, with "Love Me Tender" being recorded in 1956. It's a wonderful song to sway to, and the lyrics "Love me tender, love me sweet, never let me go. You have made my life complete, and I love you so. Love me tender, love me true. All my dreams fulfilled, for my darling I love you, and I always will" are the reason it's on the list of best wedding songs time and time again.


Fans of jazz and love songs will adore "Unforgettable" by Nat King Cole as a wedding tune for your first dance or any other part of the wedding day. We love these lyrics especially for a wedding when two people choose to spend the rest of their lives together: "Unforgettable in every way, and forever more, that's how you'll stay. That's why, darling, it's incredible, that someone so unforgettable, thinks that I am unforgettable too."


Gordon was also nominated for the Academy Award for best actor for his role as the main character, Dale Turner, who was based on a composite of jazz legends Lester Young and Bud Powell. He also won a Grammy for best instrumental jazz performance by a soloist.


Before La La Land, Chazelle had already made another jazz film hit with Hurwitz as the composer. The film won three Oscars, including a much-deserved award for best supporting actor given to J. K. Simmons, and was nominated for two more including best picture. Perhaps most importantly, the film boasts some of the best jazz drum solos since The Gene Krupa Story in 1959.


DISASTER! is a new musical straight from Broadway, featuring some of the most unforgettable songs of the '70s. "Knock on Wood," "Hooked on a Feeling," "Sky High," "I Am Woman" and "Hot Stuff" are just a few of the scintillating hits in this hilarious musical comedy with a book by three-time Emmy Award nominee and SiriusXM Broadway host, Seth Rudetsky, and Jack Plotnick. 041b061a72


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