The Jazz Theologian

The Jazz Theologian

Building your jazz music collection

Building a jazz music library has to do with personal tastes while keeping an eye on history.  On the one hand, jazz is about tradition.  Being aware of who has done what and learning to appreciate the different eras of jazz is a worthwhile endeavor.  Understanding the stories behind certain key albums can give keen insight into our country and culture.  That being said, find out what you like and obtain a lot of it…ultimately it’s about enjoyment.  I’ll maintain this page with a bias toward the connoisseur, though I, at best need to be viewed as a novice who is learning as I go.  That is why I have left the comments section open for your suggestions as to what you like and what albums & artists you think need to be included.  (I’ll update this page periodically, so check back often)


It’s been said that when building a jazz music collection, start with Kind of Blue and then buy anything connected with the cats who play on the awesome album.  That’s some pretty good advice.  Here’s some more…

Click here for a basic summary of jazz styles.

1800’s-early 1900’s:  The Blues



Billy Holiday:  The Ultimate Collection

Louis Armstrong

Ella Fitzgerald

Duke Ellington–The Best of the Complete RCA Victor Mid-forties Recordings


Duke Ellington–16 Most Requested Songs

Jelly Roll Morton

King oliver

Bix Beiderbecke

Sidney Bichet

Count Basie

Benny Goodman

Lester Young

Chick Webb


Brother Jack McDuff–The Best of the Concord Years

Charles Mingus–Blues and Roots


Charles Mingus–Thirteen Pictures:  The Charles Mingus Anthology

Dizzy Gillespie

Charlie Parker

Nat King Cole

Dexter Gordon

Glenn Miller

Jimmy Smith–The Sermon

Max Roach

Sara Vaughn

Miles Davis

Dave Brubeck

Quincy Jones

Oscar peterson

Sonny Rollins



Thelonious Monk–Live at the IT Club

Ornette Coleman

John coltrane

Cannonball Adderly–The Definitive Cannonball Adderly Collection

Ron Carter

Stan Getz

Elvin Jones

Jaco Pastorious–Punk Jazz:  The Jaco Pastorious Anthology

Herbie Hancock

1980-1990:  Smooth Jazz & Neo-traditionalist


Wynton Marsalis

1991 to 2000

Christian McBride–Live at Tonic

Dizzy Gillespie–To Diz with Love

E. S. T.–Seven Days of Falling


Regina Carter

Cassandra Wilson–Blue Light ’til Dawn

Cassandra Wilson–New Moon Daughter



Brian Bromberg:  Downright Upright

Comments read comments(20)
post a comment

posted September 14, 2007 at 7:37 am

“Idle Moments” Grant Green
“The Matador” Grant Green
“Best of Herbie Hancock” Blue note years
“Bright Size Life” Pat Metheny
“The Way Up” Pat Metheny
“For the funk of it” Grant Green
“Root Down” Jimmy Smith
“The Boss” Jimmy Smith(Geo.Benson-guitar)
“Punk Jazz” Jaco Pastorious

report abuse

Tia Fuller

posted November 27, 2007 at 7:08 am

God Bless you and your gift of creation and speading the word of God through jazz.
Thank you for the message on sun…it was wonderful to hear and see you!!

report abuse


posted March 27, 2008 at 8:42 pm

thanks for your great list here. I haven’t read your books yet but will and will work my way through the jazz list with my Rhapsody account. I have really enjoyed a few folks over the years (Coltrane, Fats Waller, Herbie Hancock, Louie, Miles, etc.) and enjoyed finding the places in my neighborhood where many of them played and some lived.

report abuse


posted May 6, 2008 at 2:15 pm

If it wasn’t for jazz fusion of the 70’s – Return to Forever and specifically Al DiMeola I may have never encountered jazz.
Joe Pass and Larry Carlton has does some great things too.

report abuse


posted November 13, 2008 at 11:45 pm

Hold on there! Where’s Ella?? I don’t think Louis would appreciate you leavin’ her out. (Neither would The Count, Benny, or Louis Jordan) If you have iTunes open, here’s a classic:

report abuse


posted November 15, 2008 at 3:30 pm

I am remiss…how could I have left out the first lady of song!

report abuse

Drum Phil

posted March 17, 2009 at 10:05 am

Beautiful work, brother! In the time periods from 1980 onward, you could include works that build on the foundation of John Clayton on bass and Jeff Hamilton on drums. A good example is the album “The Music” by the Clayton Brothers. Clayton and Hamilton have skills beyond limit, but they put all their skill purely at the service of the music. No egos — it’s all about excellence in the musical result. True beauty!

report abuse


posted March 17, 2009 at 10:19 pm

D Phil,
Thanks for the tip…I’ll check it out.

report abuse


posted March 29, 2009 at 6:27 am

Good start. May I suggest Charlie Christian & (early) Freddie Hubbard? Also Modern Jazz Quartet.

report abuse


posted April 7, 2009 at 9:58 pm

The only other suggestion for getting into jazz I can think of is to find a friend, who you know likes jazz, who also likes a lot of the other music you listen to & borrow some. …or do like I did, find a musician friend [in my case, guitar teacher] & get them to make a list for you. I like Miles Davis, & subsequently some of the fusion groups born from the members of his bands. Mahavishnu Orchestra [formed by guitarist John McLaughlin], Return to Forever [formed by Chick Corea], & Weather Report [formed by Joe Zawinul & Wayne Shorter]. By the way…I actually don’t have Kind of Blue, I don’t know if I liked it the first time I heard it. [probably would like it now] I like Tribute to Jack Johnson, & In a Silent Way -a lot.
Since I like progressive rock stuff, my teacher got me into different jazz bands/ artists, like Bela Fleck & the Flecktones. Don’t know if this helps anybody.

report abuse

Marshall Colston

posted May 13, 2009 at 3:02 pm

I think it is notable to consider that Jazz remains the the only authentic American art form. From a mathematical and theological perspective, it boasts the most complex of musical mechanics and delivery. Jazz has the potential for unlimited musical resolutions unlike any other brand of music, be they more limited by pattern or structure. This is why there are so many strains and variances of jazz, each offering creative opportunity based on the unique gifting of the individual artist or group. Therefore it is likely there is a recorded style of jazz pleasurable for most anyone. Jazz could be described as “an artist’s art form” since it encourages improvisational expertise and the free flow of musical idiom. The writing, arrangement and performance of jazz music, inspired by the likes of legends listed in your summary, have historical relevance beyond time and space.

report abuse

bryant hill

posted July 2, 2009 at 8:03 pm

So, after spending Tuesday Night with the Jazz Theologian, I went home and found my Pharaoh Sanders, Karma album and listened to The Creator has a Master Plan, Miles, Kind of Blue album, Flamenco Sketches, Cannonball Adderly, Mercy, Mercy, Mercy and John Coltrane, Love Supreme albums. It was a wonderful walk down memory lane. When I was a kid growing up in Boston, my oldest sister married Lenny Johnson, a trumpet player who played with Miles Davis, Quincy Jones (you can see Lenny in Quincy’s documentary, “Listen Up”)Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Clark Terry and many, many others. He taught me to play the trumpet and more importantly, appreciate jazz. He was very well known and has a memorial at the Berklee School of Music. From the age of 13, every week I sat in Paul’s Mall, the Jazz Workshop, Blinstrub’s, and other clubs listening to anyone who came into town, for FREE! Every Thursday, or Sunday ‘matinee’, I would be somewhere listening to Miles, Roland Kirk (who was blind and played 3 horns at the same time!), Herbie Hancock, Herbie Mann, all aforementioned artists, and many, many others. I was even invited to go to Russia with Earl ‘Fatha’ Hines as a valet with Budd Johnson; and Joe Williams, the jazz singer and Arthur Prysock and Tony Bennett were Lenny’s personal friends, who came by the house for dinner, when in town. I spent my summers in New York from ages 13-17, and was a regular at the Village Gate and The Village East jazz clubs; and any outdoor concert at Bryant Park where I saw Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie, Sarah Vaughn, and others. Needless to say, as a young man I was richly blessed to experience “The Groove”. I listen to Les McCann’s ‘Layers’ album every day because of the Lord’s peace and serenity it provides my spirit. I have a fairly substantial jazz collection, and am willing to share my journey in jazz’ theology with you anytime! Meanwhile, I humbly thank you for taking me back to my core, “one more again” as I “Look down, look down, that lonesome road…”

report abuse

Manuel D. Rodriguez

posted July 23, 2009 at 9:40 pm

thank you my friend and brother in Jesus Christ
mega blessings

report abuse

Manuel D. Rodriguez

posted July 23, 2009 at 9:44 pm

Robert my brother thank you
mega blessings

report abuse

Ken B

posted October 29, 2009 at 7:03 am

Hi Robert,
We had spoken about one recording I think you may enjoy as well as other people visiting this site. Grover Washington Jr. Soul Box 1 and 2. I have it on album (wax, disc whatever the trendy name is now). It’s a great addition to the collection you’re exampling. Thanks for all the other comments. Peace to you and your families.

report abuse

Shellie Taylor-Rogers

posted November 21, 2009 at 7:46 pm

I am currently reading your book, Finding the Groove and I would like to suggest the following groups and/or individuals to be placed in the time period of 1990-2000.
Lala Hathaway
Terrence Blanchard
In addition, where is Nina Simone? Thank you for your voice!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

report abuse

Reed Anthony Richardson

posted January 20, 2010 at 11:41 am

After reading your list. I closed my eyes and it took me back to when I was a kid growing up in Brooklyn,N.Y. early 60’s & 70’s, how I would just sit around some of the old timers in my building or on the fire escape . And listen to 40% of the artist you mention. I have allowed myself to forget the beauty of real jazz music and how simple the melody and words can connect with life experiences. just like country and gospel which I enjoy as well. Your list is a good one. Two of my favorites are Nat & Ella.
So thank you for sharing and taking me back to when life was oh so simple. I will start sharing my music memories with my daughters.
Many blessings and the Favor of the Lord be on you and your family.

report abuse

Deborah Fair

posted January 30, 2010 at 7:40 am

You must add Mary Lou Williams to your list. Especially from a spiritual perspective, check out Mary Lou’s Mass. You can find it on I-tunes. Mary Lou’s career as a jazz pianist (yes, a woman in a tough man’s field) spanned from the 1920’s to the 1970’s. She played and composed with and for all of the greats, but she received scant credit. The biography “Morning Glory” by Linda Dahl tells her story.

report abuse


posted January 2, 2012 at 1:56 pm

wes montgomery…”Bumpin”
Let’s not forget…

report abuse


posted June 23, 2012 at 9:40 pm

My jazz journey mirrors my faith journey. It’s all about tracing influences, reading footnotes and bibliographies and then reading (listening), drinking from the source. Along the way you discover unreal treasures but some weird stuff too. I like what Louis Armstrong said, “If it sounds good, it is good”

report abuse

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to and may be used by in accordance with the agreements.

Previous Posts

More Blogs To Enjoy!!!
Thank you for visiting The Jazz Theologian page. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here are some other blogs you may also enjoy: Red Letters with Tom Davis Recent prayer post on Prayables Most Recent ...

posted 9:08:40am Feb. 14, 2012 | read full post »

Celebrating National Adoption Month
November is National Adoption Month.  God is up to something.  The Bride of Christ is waking up all across this nation to the need to care for orphans through adoption and foster care. James 1.27 makes it clear that to be Christian is to ...

posted 1:42:26pm Nov. 11, 2011 | read full post »

Sermon of the Week: Your Lot in Life (P6)
This book just keeps getting better! [vimeo][/vimeo] ...

posted 3:00:02pm Nov. 05, 2011 | read full post »

Guest Blogger: Patricia Raybon
A Ghost? Or Our God?   By Patricia Raybon It’s dark, cold and early. But I’m excited. On this morning, the most important thing I have to do is hear from God. And not just a little bit. I want to hear without limits. Isn’t that what ...

posted 6:00:00am Oct. 31, 2011 | read full post »

Sermon of the Week: Your Lot in Life (P5)
Good News:  Pure Motives Are Not Required Before We Serve In The Kingdom of God! [vimeo][/vimeo] ...

posted 3:56:39pm Oct. 28, 2011 | read full post »


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.