Jazz is a genre of music that has a rich history and has been an influential art form for over a century. To get into jazz, it is recommended to start with the foundations of the genre and work your way forward. Here are some of the most essential jazz musicians and recordings to listen to as a starting point.
Louis Armstrong: Louis Armstrong is often considered the father of jazz and his impact on the genre cannot be overstated. Start with his recordings from the 1920s, such as "West End Blues" and "Potato Head Blues."
Duke Ellington: Duke Ellington was a prolific composer and bandleader who recorded extensively throughout his career. His recordings from the 1920s and 1930s, such as "Take the 'A' Train" and "Mood Indigo," are considered essential listening.
Charlie Parker: Charlie Parker was a pioneering saxophonist who was one of the major figures of the bebop movement. Start with his recordings from the 1940s, such as "Ornithology" and "Ko Ko."
Miles Davis: Miles Davis was a trumpeter and bandleader who was at the forefront of several major movements in jazz. Start with his recordings from the 1950s, such as "Kind of Blue" and "Round About Midnight."
John Coltrane: John Coltrane was a saxophonist who pushed the boundaries of jazz and was one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century. Start with his recordings from the 1950s and 1960s, such as "Giant Steps" and "A Love Supreme."
In addition to these foundational artists, there are many other important jazz musicians and recordings to explore as you delve deeper into the genre. Some other recommended artists to check out include Thelonious Monk, Billie Holiday, and Ella Fitzgerald.
It is also worth mentioning that jazz is a genre that has constantly evolved over the years and there are many different sub-genres within the larger umbrella of jazz. From swing to bebop to fusion and beyond, there is a wealth of diversity to discover within the genre.
In conclusion, to get into jazz, it is essential to start with the foundational artists and recordings of the genre and work your way forward. From Louis Armstrong to John Coltrane, there are many important musicians and recordings to explore that will provide a solid foundation for your understanding and appreciation of jazz.
Source: "The Oxford Companion to Jazz" edited by Bill Kirchner.