Building a Jazz Collection

Posted on Saturday, November 9, 2013 by mztupelo

When I was about five I heard the song Inch Worm on The Captain Kangaroo Show, and I immediately stopped playing with my dolls and laid down on the floor to listen to the song. It was so sweet and slow, with such a haunting melody. That is my first clear memory of being mesmerized by a song.


Then, while in my teens, hanging out at the local Tower Records store, I heard John Coltrane's version of the song on his album Coltrane. The song, though very different from the song of my youth, overwhelmed me and I again found myself stopping what I was doing to really listen to this powerful song.

From that time, I devoted much time and much money to find jazz albums that I enjoyed. Oh how I wished I had started out at my local library and asked the librarian for suggestions!

So, here I am, to share with you, the albums I used to start my collection. I hope you enjoy these albums, and when you're ready for more, just check out our jazz collection at the branches of the Santa Clara County Library District.

There are so many different styles of jazz music. Swing, Bebop, Fusion, West Coast, East Coast, Modern, Avant Garde, Soul Jazz, Traditional Jazz, Vocal Jazz...the list goes on even more. ~Terye

A Love Supreme by John Coltrane

After hearing Inch Worm by Mr. Coltrane, I had to scope out this album, considered by all to be his finest album, if not the best jazz album ever. It is divine. I could listen to his saxophone playing on this....forever.

Time Waits : The Amazing Bud Powell, Volume Four

The title song, Time Waits, is absolutely beautiful. His piano playing is slow and tender. This is a great introduction to the artistry of Mr. Powell. This song is so special to me, that I used it at my wedding as I walked down the aisle. I thought the tone of the song, along with the title, was more than appropriate for a wedding that occured later in life.

Monk's Dream by The Thelonious Monk Quartet

My love of Bud Powell's music led me to Thelonious Monk. Critics and jazz scholars consider this to be his finest album and the best of jazz. I am drawn to the complex manner of his playing, getting lost in the different levels of rhythms

Such Sweet Thunder by  Duke Ellington

With so many albums by Ellington, why did I choose this one?  This album, a concept album, was inspired by the works of Shakespeare, and is a treasure to listen to.

Time Out  by The Dave Brubeck Quartet

Zowie! What an amazing album! So lively, energetic and mind numbingly beautiful. Take Five is without a doubt a gem of jazz. You have to listen to this to believe it.

Billie Holiday

Billie Holiday : The Complete Commodore Recordings

Billie Holiday was probably the first popular jazz singer that really touched her audiences in a profound way. She didn't merely sing a song, she presented a song to you as a new and different experience. Her's was a sad tale, and you can feel her sorrow and  her flitting joy in her songs. A definite must have.

Birth of the Cool by Miles Davis

A beautiful album. With this album Cool Jazz was born. Your heart will race with the crisp rhythms. A great introduction to Miles Davis. Don't let this be your only album by Mr. Miles!

Anita O'day Sings the Most by Anita O'Day with

The Oscar Petersen Quartet

What a voice! She has the best interpretation of jazz standards.  The Oscar Petersen Quartet is astounding as well. There is such a warmth in her voice, you'll just fall in love with her.


Getz/Gilberto by Stan Getz Featuring

Antonio Carlos Jobim

Ahhhhh, Bossa Nova! Listen to this album once and you'll be humming The Girl From Ipanema for days! And that's a good thing, believe me. This will show you a different side to jazz. Put this album on at your next party and have a great dance fest!

The Definitive Vince Guaraldi by Vince Guaraldi

Remember that cool music from all the Peanuts cartoons? Yep, here it is and more! There are some great pieces on this album, my favorite is Linus and Lucy, a classic!


Discover more about great movies and music by checking out the SCCLD Music and Movies blog.

Tagged: Anita O'Day, Billie Holiday, Bud Powell, Dave Brubeck, Duke Ellington, Inch Worm, Jazz, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, Vince Guaraldi, Milpitas News, Music, Music and Movies, Collections, jazz