Best of the Best!

The Best Albums from the Greatest Artists in Jazz!

Copyright © 1996, 2000 by David Reitzes




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Looking for advice on the best albums from the greatest artists in jazz, artists like Charlie Parker, Joe Pass, Flip Phillips, Bud Powell, Django Reinhardt, Sonny Rollins and more? You came to the right place.

What follows are my picks for the very Best of the Best. As of this writing, every CD listed is available for sale at, and clicking on an image will take you directly to the appropriate page, where you can listen to free audio samples with RealPlayer.



Charlie Parker

Yardbird Suite

This is the ideal introduction to the alto saxophonist who is indisputably one of the greatest and most influential improvisers in all of jazz history, very possibly second only to Louis Armstrong. Hear him in various settings, in every period of his career. Every cut is guaranteed a classic.


Also recommended from Charlie Parker:

The Quintet

Added to Best of the Best by popular demand! This memorable all-star reunion of Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Bud Powell, Charles Mingus and Max Roach is a true jazz landmark. Listeners tend to agree that some friendly rivalry pushes Parker and Gillespie to the peak of their abilities.


Joe Pass


Pass's clean tone and melodic virtuosity made him one of the finest guitarists in jazz. This album is widely considered his best, featuring a selection of best-loved standards.


Flip Phillips

Flip Wails: The Best of the Verve Years

A personal favorite of Verve founder Norman Granz, Flip Phillips makes it into the Best of the Best for sentimental reasons.



Bud Powell

The Best of Bud Powell
(EMD/Blue Note)

At his best, Powell was one of the rare musicians who could rival -- and arguably surpass -- Charlie Parker's improvisational brilliance. This collection demonstrates his keyboard wizardry on his own timeless classics.


Django Reinhardt

Verve Jazz Masters

The legendary Belgian gypsy's Verve recordings are perfect examples of why he remains, even decades after his death, one of the most revered and influential guitarists in jazz history.


Max Roach

Percussion Bitter Sweet

Not merely one of the great drummers -- possibly the first in American music to investigate the melodic potential of the drums -- but also a trail-blazing composer and bandleader. This album, featuring Eric Dolphy and Abbey Lincoln, is an essential expression of its times.


Sonny Rollins

Saxophone Colossus

A tenor saxophonist with a meaty, robust sound, Rollins is considered by many to be literally the greatest improviser alive. This album is his masterpiece, showcasing his gift for thematic improvisation, the shaping of seemingly endless variations upon a melody. Includes his calypso original "St. Thomas," "Moritat (Mack the Knife)" and the masterpiece "Blue Seven."




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