Friday, January 08, 2021

A Jazz Drummer's Listening List

Happy New Year, everyone.

A current student of mine is preparing to head of to a music conservatory next year and asked for a list of important jazz records to listen to over Christmas break.  So, I put this list together.  Given the extra time we all have on our hands at the moment, I think some deep, active listening could do us all some good.

I've broken it down into two sections, roughly by style and time period.  The first list covers mostly bebop and hard bop of the late 40's and 1950's.  The second is the more modern sound that developed the 1960s, covering mostly the 60s, 70s, and 80s.  Both lists are organized by band leader to make them easier to find.  But be aware that different albums by the same band leader may have different drummers, so whatever you listen to be sure to look up who the drummer is.

Obviously, there is a ton of great music that is not on this list, including material from before and after these periods, as nothing on here is from the 20's and 30's, or 90's and 2000's.  Also, there's no mention here of "Latin" styles, etc.  But the albums on this list cover the styles that have been canonized as "jazz drumming", and have had some of the biggest impact on the way we play now.  Also, the music on this list probably best represents that which one would most likely be spending a considerable amount of time with in jazz school.

This is not a “best” list.  As I said, there are countless other records that could easily be included, but I wanted it to be a manageable size, so I’ve chosen albums that are historically important, can be found easily, and that I’m personally very familiar with and/or have meaning to me.

Happy listening.

Bebop/Hard bop

Clifford Brown and Max Roach

Clifford Brown and Max Roach

Art Blakey


We Three

We Three

Miles Davis






Bag’s Groove

Kind of Blue

Dizzy Gillespie

The Giant

Sonny Side Up

Art Pepper

Art Pepper Meets the Rhythm Section

Art Pepper +11

Thelonios Monk

Monk’s Dream

Brilliant Corners

Hank Mobley

Soul Station

Roll Call

No Room for Squares

Wynton Kelly

Smokin’ at the Half Note

Wes Montgomery

Full House

Ahmad Jamal

Live at the Pershing

John Coltrane

Blue Trane

Giant Steps

Bill Evans

Everybody Digs Bill Evans

Sonny Rollins

Way Out West

Saxophone Colossus

Freedom Suite

Oscar Peterson


“Modern” - 60s, 70s, early 80s

Miles Davis

Four & More

My Funny Valentine


Miles Smiles


Filles de Kilimanjaro

In a Silent Way

Bitches Brew

McCoy Tyner

The Real McCoy

Ornette Coleman

The Shape of Jazz to Come

John Coltrane

A Love Supreme

Herbie Hancock

Maiden Voyage

Empyrean Isles

Cecil Taylor


Joe Henderson

Inner Urge

The Kicker

Kenny Dorham

Una Mas

Eric Dolphy

Out To Lunch

Chick Corea

Now He Sings Now He Sobs

Return to Forever

Light As A Feather

Keith Jarrett

Standards vol 1 & 2


Dave Holland

Conference of the Birds

Pat Metheny

Bright Size Life


Question & Answer

Wayne Shorter

Night Dreamer

Speak No Evil

Wynton Marsalis

Standard Time vol. 1

Larry Young


Bill Evans

Sunday at the Village Vanguard

Trio 64

Trio 65

Waltz for Debby

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