100 Ultimate Jazz Songs: NPR

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American jazz trumpeter and composer Miles Davis (1926 – 1991), seated with his instrument during a studio recording session, October 1959 (Photo by Hulton Archive / Getty Images)

Hulton Archives / Getty Images


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Hulton Archives / Getty Images


American jazz trumpeter and composer Miles Davis (1926 – 1991), seated with his instrument during a studio recording session, October 1959 (Photo by Hulton Archive / Getty Images)

Hulton Archives / Getty Images

  1. Dave Brubeck, “Take Five”
  2. Miles Davis, “So what”
  3. Duke Ellington, “Take the A train”
  4. Thelonious Monk, “Round Midnight”
  5. John Coltrane, “My Favorite Things”
  6. John Coltrane, “Un Amour Suprême (Thanks)”
  7. Miles Davis, “All Blues”
  8. Weather report, “Birdland”
  9. Stan Getz & Astrud Gilberto, “The Ipanema Girl”
  10. Benny Goodman, “Sing, sing, sing”

The Jazz 100 is a participatory list of the most iconic jazz songs of all time, determined by listeners at Jazz24.org and NPR Music.

If there’s one theme we noticed when sorting through the 1,500 nominations, it’s that time doesn’t impact great music. “Take Five”, which was the first jazz single to sell 1 million copies, was the undisputed top choice, while Miles Davis’ “So What” (which was recorded coincidentally in the same year, 1959 ) was clear # 2.

With a few exceptions, it appeared that when listeners turned to jazz singers, they preferred female performers who pulled on the sensitive strings, while in most cases those who preferred instrumentalists enjoyed swing hits and memorable at medium and fast tempo.

For the most part, voters also seemed to focus on songs from one or two most popular albums by a particular artist. That is to say with the exception of John Coltrane. Coltrane fans still seem very divided on what constitutes his best work, and the diversity of his catalog is evident in this list.

Check out the rest of the list, discuss the best, and join the discussion on Jazz24.org.

This story was originally published on February 7, 2011.


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