Jazz Historically Significant Recordings by Jamey Aebersold

2 minute read

I agree with the first sentence of Jamey Aebersold “The Red Book”:

“If you want to learn to play jazz you have to listen, listen, listen. But many times students don’t have any idea what recordings to buy. So we have created this list of many of the most important recordings in jazz.”

That is because I was in that exact situation. I was listening to the already well-known artists, but I was missing a bit of advice on what was important. When you’re learning to play a bit of jazz, everybody will tell you that “you have to listen to the masters”. But the discography of the masters is massive, and although I like many things, I always wanted to have a bit more historical context.

I know that I’ll need to read about jazz history to get context eventually. And, I’ll do so in the future. But in the meantime, I wanted to get familiar with the most relevant albums of the genre. I used to get recommendations here and there but never a good list like the one on “The Red Book.”

I’m already reading a bit about jazz history, specifically the Jazz Standards.

book cover I’m constantly reading about Jazz playing and theory, but I’ve never read an entire book. Instead, I read chapters here and there as I need them. I’m already acquainted with Jazz music theory, but sometimes I need a refresh on topics, and then I look at classical books about Jazz theory. A couple of years ago, I came across one of the Jamey Aebersold Books. Mr Aebersold is an American musician and music educator with a good reputation on the jazz scene. On page 8 of his “Jazz Handbook”, also called “The Red Book”, you can find a list of albums with an explanation of why it is relevant to a Jazz musician.

I have created a playlist on Apple Music to listen to all of those albums. I have omitted some of the albums since I couldn’t find the correct version on Apple Music. What you will find there is:

  • 100+ Albums
  • 770+ songs
  • 3+ days of music

The albums are listed in the same order as in the red book.

I still need to check if the albums are added in time order so that the oldest album play first. But that is not important right now because I rarely listen to the playlist in order.

Ideas on how to listen to the playlist

Since it is a playlist, you can listen to it straight or random. For me, this is perfect when I want to have background music for some not brain intensive tasks.

When I can, I prefer to listen to individual albums. To do so, I follow these steps on the Music application:

  • Clear the current playlist.
  • Select all the songs in an album and add them to the playlist.
  • Enable repeat all.

You can also visit the album view and play it from there, enabling “repeat all”.


Since I did that job, I just wanted to share it with people interested in Jazz music. I hope some of you find it interesting, and please, share any resource you find enjoyable to keep investigating jazz music and its history. I’m especially interested in books that explain history without being too deep in the details. You know, the details I will forget but the essence of the story, I’ll have forever.