The Jazz 100 Q&A
8:30 pm
Mon February 14, 2011

Listeners pick top 100 jazz recordings of all time

Listen to the Q&A here:

What is the greatest jazz recording ever? That's the questions we asked listeners of KPLU and our jazz stream Jazz 24. From that, we came up with our list of the Top 100 Quintessential Jazz Songs of All Time.

KPLU music and news host Kevin Kniestedt tabulated the nearly 3,000 votes.  One thousand five hundred songs were nominated over a period of several weeks.

"Take Five" Takes Number One

The number one song - far and away - was "Take Five" from "Time Out" by Dave Brubeck. Kevin says this isn't a surprise, given that "Take Five" was the first jazz single to sell a million copies in 1959.

Strong Showing from Miles

Number two on the top 100 was "So What" from "Kind of Blue" by Miles Davis (also released in 1959). In fact, all five tracks on "Kind of Blue" made the list. Davis was one of five artists making up one-third of the top 100 list (the others were John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk, Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong).

Coltrane Fans Divided

Kevin says fans of saxophone legend John Coltrane were divided on which of his songs they liked best. A range of his songs made the list - "A Love Supreme Part 1: Acknowledgement," "Giant Steps," "Naima," "My Favorite Things" and "Lush Life" (with vocalist Johnny Hartman).

Ladies Sing the Ballads

Most of the ballads that listeners selected came from female vocalists. For example, all four of Billie Holliday's recordings on the list were ballads. Kevin says voters looked to instrumentalists for mid tempo or up tempo tunes rather than ballads.

Charlie Parker: Late but Strong

Saxophone great Charlie Parker didn't show up on the list until No. 71, but he ended up with four songs on the list ("Koko," Yardbird Suite," "Donna Lee" and "Ornithology").

Standards Stand the Test of Time

A lot of early jazz recordings made the list - proving they can stand the test of time. They included "In the Mood" by Glenn Miller and "Sing, Sing, Sing" by Benny Goodman. One of the newer jazz standards that was featured prominently on the list was "Birdland" by Weather Report. It was recorded in 1977 and ended up at No. 8 on the list. 

See the entire list on our Jazz24.org