5 Recommended Recordings That Have Made Me A Better Jazz Musician

You’ve heard the common phrase, You are what you eat before right?

Well, when you’re learning to play jazz you are what you listen to! If you want to learn this style of music you’ve got to listen to the right music!

So, today I’m going to talk about some recommended jazz albums that helped me become the jazz musician I am today. Listening to these great jazz albums has not only been fun but it truly helped me learn this wonderful style of music!

There are so many records I’ve learned from but here are just 5 awesome ones to get you started!

The 5 Jazz Recordings

 1. Miles Davis Kind of Blue

This is by far the most popular jazz album of all time and it should be! One of the greatest recordings of the 20th century.

I learned rhythmic feel, phrasing, how to play modally, blues, and how to add chromaticism from this recording.


2. Barry Harris Live At The Jazz Workshop

Barry Harris is one of my biggest influences as a jazz musician and I’ve transcribed a bunch of solos of this album. I’ve listened to this thing hundreds of time.

Barry is on rare form on this one. A lot of what I know about bebop came directly from listening to this album!

3. Wes Montgomery Smokin At the Half Note

This is one of the first jazz albums I ever purchased. It still sounds super fresh to my ears. Wes Montgomery is backed up by the Wynton Kelly Trio (Wynton Kelly, Paul Chambers, and Jimmy Cobb).

Some of the most swingin’, soulful jazz I’ve ever heard. I learned groove, blues, rhythmic placement, bebop, and motivic development among other things.

4. Hank Mobley Soul Station

Hank Mobley is one of the most underrated saxophone players out there in my opinion. His playing on this is one is simply stellar and Wynton Kelly just sounds amazing on this too.

I learned articulation, feel, jazz licks, and how to play more melodically among many other things.

Sometimes I’ll throw this thing on while I’m driving to gigs. Many of the concepts from this album just sort of come out of my hands on the first set of the gig when I listen. It’s a great feeling. 🙂

5. Art Blakey A Night At Birdland Volume 1

There is so much amazing stuff happening on this album. It’s a live recording featuring a who’s who of hard bop. You have musicians like Clifford Brown, Art Blakey, Horace Silver, Curly Russell, and Lou Donaldson.

Clifford Brown and Lou Donaldson are just killin’ on this one. I’ve transcribed several solos on this album and constantly refer back to it for new ideas and inspiration.

Some of the things I’ve learned are how to solo better in minor, jazz phrasing, how to play at faster tempos, chromatic motion, bebop ideas and so much more!

Final Thoughts

I will post more of my favorite recordings in the near future.  In the meantime I highly recommend you get a copy of these great jazz recordings. Remember you are what you listen to! 🙂

(FYI….A new jazz scale lesson will be coming out in the next few days so stay tuned!)

How about you? What are some of your favorite jazz recordings? Please leave a comment below and let us know!

(photo credit above: Rhys Bennet from Flickr)


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Steve Nixon