150 Greatest Jazz Songs

The jazz scene came into its own developing and deriving from ragtime and roots in bluees. Since the 1920s jazz has become one of the most unique forms of musical expression. This article brings to life an epic list of the best jazz songs.
150 Greatest Jazz Songs
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Different forms of jazz originated among African American communities in the United States, New Orleans in particular. The varied elements in jazz make the genre one of the most unique sounding musical expressions. The characteristic Jazz sound encompasses elements such as improvisation, blue notes, swing, call and response vocals, and polyrhythms. Although the roots of jazz are rooted in African American traditions and forms of free form expression, musicians from different European cultures too have contributed in making the genre accessible globally. Jazz is hailed as one of ‘America’s original art forms by intellects. Experimentation and improvisation in different jazz

forms make jazz broad-based.

How the Jazz Scene Flourished

New Orleans is considered by many as the birthplace of the jazz scene. To this day New Orleans Jazz is known for its distinctive styles of musical expression. In the early 1910s jazz expression was an amalgamation of musical forms that included beguine, brass-band marches, french quadrilles, blues, ragtime and collective polyphonic improvisation.

With the 1930s emerged the swing band era that showcase dance-oriented rhythms in the realms of jazz. Simultaneously, Gypsy Jazz and Kansas City Jazz, a hard hitting bluesy-swing expression became exceedingly popular. Jazz singers are known for their distinctive vocal delivery. A number of songs in the realms of traditional jazz have become jazz standards, musical compositions that are widely known, recorded, and performed by musicians in Jazz.

Female Musicians and Female Singers in the Early Jazz Movement

A number of female jazz singers have contributed in a big way towards the early jazz movement. Some of the notable early female jazz singers and female jazz musicians that paved the way for modern forms of jazz are mentioned below

  • Billie Holiday
  • Ella Fitzgerald
  • Abbey Lincoin
  • Dinah Washington
  • Lil Hardin Armstrong
  • Mary Lou Williams
  • Ethel Waters
  • Jeanette Kimball
  • Dorothy Fields
  • Anita O’Day
  • Betty Carter
  • Adelaide Hall
  • Irene Higginbotham
  • Lovie Austin
  • Sweet Emma Barrett
  • Billie Pierce

The Different Eras in Jazz

The bebop era came into prominence in the 1940s, shifting jazz expressions away from dance forms and leaning towards a distinctively challenging ‘musician’s music’ format. Bebop had lightning fast tempos with incredible chord-based improvisation. Cool jazz formats started emerging in the late 40s bringing a in calm smooth sounds and melodic lines.

With the 50s came the spirited free jazz structure that went onto become an integral part in jazz performances. The mid 50s witnessed a plethora of hard bob and modal jazz artists emerge. Over the years a number of jazz styles have emerged and evolved bringing new improvisational styles and elements in jazz structure.

Jazz songs may not have mainstream appeal, however, a number of jazz songs and jazz standards have been performed by musicians and singers from different genres. The free-form improvisation format in jazz has become exceedingly popular in rock genres, especially with rock bands or artists during live performances.

Popularity of Scat Singing in Jazz

Scat singing has become popular with many singers in traditional jazz and non traditional jazz forms. The instrumental approach to voice where singers blend scat lines with musical instruments is an improvisational element that makes jazz vocals versatile. While performing jazz songs live, vocalists and musicians enthrall audiences with their wide repertoire of improvisational skills.

The lines below showcase a diverse list of jazz songs

150 Greatest Jazz Songs

  1. My Favorite Things - John Coltrane
  2. Take The A Train - Duke Ellington
  3. A Night in Tunisia - Dizzy Gillespie
  4. The Girl From Ipanema - Stan Getz & Astrud Gilberto
  5. Spain - Chick Corea
  6. So What - Miles Davis
  7. Goodbye Pork Pie Hat - Charles Mingus
  8. Bitches Brew - Miles Davis
  9. Summertime - Ella Fitzgerald
  10. What A Wonderful World - Louis Armstrong
  11. God Bless The Child - Billie Holiday
  12. Song For My Father - Horace Silver
  13. Mack the Knife - Ella Fitzgerald
  14. On Green Dolphin Street - Miles Davis
  15. Body And Soul - Coleman Hawkins
  16. Struttin' with Some BBQ - Louis Armstrong
  17. Autumn Leaves - Cannonball Adderley
  18. In the Mood - Glenn Miller
  19. Bye Bye Blackbird - John Coltrane
  20. All Blues - Miles Davis
  21. Blue Monk - Thelonious Monk
  22. Naima - John Coltrane
  23. My Funny Valentine - Chet Baker
  24. Twisted - Lambert, Hendricks & Ross
  25. Blue Train - John Coltrane
  26. Poinciana - Ahmad Jamal
  27. Birdland - Weather Report
  28. Misty - Errol Garner
  29. Take Five - Dave Brubeck
  30. The In Crowd     Ramsey Lewis
  31. Cast Your Fate To The Wind - Vince Guaraldi
  32. Freddie Freeloader - Miles Davis
  33. Caravan - Duke Ellington
  34. Lush Life - John Coltrane
  35. Nuages - Django Reinhardt
  36. A Love Supreme (Acknowledgment) - John Coltrane
  37. Round Midnight - Thelonious Monk
  38. At Last - Etta James
  39. Maiden Voyage - Herbie Hancock
  40. Red Clay - Freddie Hubbard
  41. Waltz For Debby - Bill Evans
  42. Ain't Misbehavin’ - Fats Waller
  43. It Don't Mean A Thing - Duke Ellington
  44. Strange Fruit - Billie Holiday
  45. Blue In Green - Miles Davis
  46. Linus and Lucy - Vince Guaraldi
  47. Desafinado - Stan Getz
  48. Mood Indigo - Duke Ellington
  49. Bumpin’ (On Sunset) - Wes Montgomery
  50. How High The Moon - Ella Fitzgerald
  51. St. Thomas - Sonny Rollins
  52. Fever - Peggy Lee
  53. Rhapsody in Blue - George Gershwin
  54. Yardbird Suite - Charlie Parker
  55. Compared To What - Les McCann
  56. Watermelon Man - Herbie Hancock
  57. Moody's Mood For Love - James Moody
  58. Sidewinder - Lee Morgan
  59. Feeling Good - Nina Simone
  60. I Loves You Porgy - Nina Simone
  61. Footprints - Wayne Shorter
  62. Potato Head Blues - Louis Armstrong
  63. Donna Lee - Charlie Parker
  64. One O'Clock Jump - Count Basie
  65. Diminuendo & Crescendo in Blue - Duke Ellington
  66. Manteca - Dizzy Gillespie
  67. Stardust - Louis Armstrong
  68. Koko - Charlie Parker
  69. Straight, No Chaser - Thelonious Monk
  70. Misterioso - Thelonious Monk
  71. In a Sentimental Mood - Duke Ellington & John Coltrane
  72. Blue Rondo a la Turk - Dave Brubeck
  73. Four on Six - Wes Montgomery
  74. Moanin’ - Art Blakey
  75. Sugar - Stanley Turrentine
  76. St. Louis Blues - Louis Armstrong
  77. Joy Spring - Clifford Brown & Max Roach
  78. Autumn in New York - Billie Holiday
  79. Water Boy - Don Shirley
  80. Ceora - Lee Morgan
  81. Mercy, Mercy, Mercy - Cannonball Adderley
  82. Satin Doll - Duke Ellington
  83. Ruby, My Dear - Thelonious Monk
  84. Stolen Moments - Oliver Nelson
  85. West End Blues - Louis Armstrong
  86. Epistrophy - Thelonious Monk
  87. Milestones - Miles Davis
  88. Giant Steps - John Coltrane
  89. Good Morning Heartache - Billie Holiday
  90. Begin the Beguine

    - Artie Shaw
  91. April in Paris - Count Basie
  92. Flamenco Sketches - Miles Davis
  93. Sophisticated Lady - Duke Ellington
  94. Sing, Sing, Sing - Benny Goodman
  95. Django - Modern Jazz Quartet
  96. Salt Peanuts - Dizzy Gillespie
  97. Ornithology - Charlie Parker
  98. Cantaloupe Island - Herbie Hancock
  99. Someday My Prince Will Come - Miles Davis
  100. Georgia on My Mind - Ray Charles
  101. All of Me - Billie Holiday
  102. Bluesettle - Toots Theilsman
  103. Softly, As in a Morning Sunrise - Abbey Lincoin
  104. Like Young - Andre Pervin
  105. The Late, Late Show - Dakota Staton
  106. All The Things You Are - Joe Pass
  107. Stella By Starlight - Miles Davis
  108. Whatever Lola Wants - Sarah Vaughn
  109. Goodbye, Pork Pie Hat - Charlie Mingus
  110. Body and Soul - Tony Bennett
  111. Afro Blue - Abbey Lincoin
  112. These Foolish Things - Louis Armstrong
  113. Donna Lee - Jaco Pastorius
  114. Come Rain, Come Shine - Billie Holiday
  115. Tiger Rag - Art Tatum
  116. Tin Roof Blues - Louis Armstrong
  117. Fly Me To The Moon - Peggy Lee
  118. The Bitter Earth - Dinah Washington
  119. A Night In Tunisia - Dizzy Gillespie
  120. Tea For Two - Anita O’Day
  121. Some Other Time - Diane Schuur
  122. Taking a Chance on Love - Ethel Waters
  123. Cheek To Cheek- Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong
  124. Roll ‘Em - Mary Lou Williams
  125. Creole Love Call - Duke Ellington
  126. Round About Midnight - Miles Davis
  127. Just For a Thrill - Lil Hardin Armstrong
  128. None of My Jelly Roll - Sweet Emma Barrett
  129. Honeysuckle Rose - Fats Waller
  130. Blue Bossa - Joe Pass
  131. What’s Your Story, Morning Glory - Mary Lou Williams
  132. Broken Hearted Melody - Sarah Vaughn
  133. Like Someone in Love - Bill Evans
  134. Am I Blue - Ethel Waters
  135. Beware My Heart - Betty Carter
  136. Let Me Off Uptown - Anita O’Day
  137. After You’ve Gone - Django Reinhardt
  138. Royal Garden Blues - Louis Armstrong
  139. If Ever I Cease To Love - Sweet Emma Barrett
  140. What A Little Moonlight Can Do - Betty Carter
  141. You Can’t Take That Away From Me - Mary Lou Williams
  142. Rampart Street Blues - Lovie Austin
  143. Diane Schuur - Louisiana Sunday Afternoon
  144. Angel Eyes - Matt Dennis
  145. Doin’ The Suzie Q - Lil Hardin Armstrong
  146. Everything I Have is Yours - Betty Carter
  147. What a Difference a Day Makes - Dinah Washington
  148. Stompin’ At the Savoy - Benny Goodman
  149. What’s in this Thing Called Love? - Anita O’ Day
  150. Someday (You’ll Want Me To Want You) - Della Reese


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