Top 20 Greatest Jazz Songs of All Time (updated 2023)

Here are the best jazz songs of all time! Let immerse yourself in the music of a genre that has stood the test of time and continues to inspire.

1. “Take Five” by Dave Brubeck

Dave Brubeck’s “Take Five” is one of the best-known and highly acclaimed jazz songs. Composed in 1959 by jazz pianist Dave Brubeck and alto saxophonist Paul Desmond, the track embodies all the classic traits of cool jazz that made it an instant hit.

Its signature 5/4 time signature also set it apart from other jazz tunes, making it a true classic of the genre.

2. “So What” by Miles Davis (feat. John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderley & Bill Evans)

Miles Davis’ iconic 1959 song “So What” has become one of the most enduring and best-known jazz songs in history.

The piece showcases Davis’ remarkably innovative trumpet playing and explores his improvisational talents in a nine-minute extended form.

It is no wonder that the song has been acclaimed as one of the greatest jazz recordings ever made!

3. “Strange Fruit” by Billie Holiday

“Strange Fruit” by Billie Holiday has become one of the best-known and most celebrated jazz songs in history.

The haunting lyrics and arresting melody tell a story of the African American experience in the time of racial injustice, sung in Holiday’s emotional yet powerful style.

It has been recorded by countless other artists since its release in 1939, demonstrating its lasting message and place at the top of jazz masterpieces.

4. “A Love Supreme, Pt. I – Acknowledgement” by John Coltrane

“A Love Supreme, Pt. I – Acknowledgement” by John Coltrane is considered one of the best jazz songs ever created.

Composed and recorded in 1964, the song is an inspirational and spiritual work that captures Coltrane’s thoughts about a higher power through his masterful playing on the saxophone.

It has been praised as a revolutionary piece of jazz music that has served as an influence to many incredible musicians and jazz enthusiasts alike.

5. “Birdland” by Weather Report

“Birdland” by Weather Report is widely considered to be one of the greatest jazz songs ever recorded.

Written by Joe Zawinul and first released in 1977, it has become a beloved favorite among jazz connoisseurs for its triumphant energy and captivating melody.

Combining elements from Latin jazz, funk and rock, “Birdland” offers an unforgettable musical experience.

Its iconic trumpet solo played by Wayne Shorter continues to inspire musicians around the world.

6. “What A Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong

Among some of jazz’s best loved songs, Louis Armstrong’s “What A Wonderful World” stands as a classic highlight from the genre.

The upbeat yet melancholic track celebrates the beauty of life and paints a hopeful portrait of the world with its simple yet positive lyrics. It stands to this day as one of Armstrong’s most beloved songs.

7. “Feeling Good” by Nina Simone

First released in 1965, Nina Simone’s iconic jazz standard “Feeling Good” is one of the best-loved and well known jazz songs of all time.

With its uplifting and infectious melody, powerful vocals, and intense emotion, it’s no wonder that this soulful tune has become so timeless.

From its memorable hook to its timeless lyrics, “Feeling Good” will always remain a classic piece of jazz music.

8. “At Last” by Etta James

Etta James’ classic “At Last” is widely acknowledged as one of the best jazz songs of all time.

The hauntingly beautiful melody, piano-based swing accompaniment, and powerful vocal performance have given it timeless appeal.

With this track, Etta James managed to capture the spirit of a deep, slow-burning love in a way that touched millions around the world.

9. “Round Midnight” by Thelonious Monk

“Round Midnight” by Thelonious Monk is often considered to be one of the greatest jazz songs ever recorded.

Released in 1954, it was written by Monk and has since been covered by numerous renowned artists, including Miles Davis and Rufus Wainwright.

Each version pays tribute to its original sound: an intricate mix of jazz, blues, and ballad-influenced stylings.

With its mesmerizing melodies and intricate harmonies, “Round Midnight” remains a pillar in jazz music today.

10. “The Girl From Ipanema” by Stan Getz

Released in 1964, “The Girl From Ipanema” by Stan Getz is often considered to be one of the greatest jazz songs ever written.

The song was composed by Antônio Carlos Jobim and has since been covered by numerous other artists throughout the years.

Characterized by its gently rolling bossa nova beat and yearning melody, this timeless classic has become a true musical icon.

11. “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat” by Charles Mingus

12. “In A Sentimental Mood” by Duke Ellington

Composed by American jazz icon Duke Ellington, “In A Sentimental Mood” is widely considered one of the greatest jazz songs ever recorded.

Despite its simple and short composition, the soothing melodies of this classic track have been a source of comfort for generations of jazz fans.

The timelessness and beauty of this iconic track make it an undeniable classic in the annals of jazz history.

13. “My Funny Valentine” by Chet Baker

An iconic jazz standard, “My Funny Valentine” by Chet Baker has become one of the greatest jazz songs.

Written in 1937 for the musical Babes In Arms, the song has a timeless and classic quality that transcends generations and genres.

Recognized for its timeless melodies and heartfelt lyrics, it continues to be one of Baker’s most beloved performances.

14. “Sing, Sing, Sing” by Benny Goodman

Benny Goodman’s “Sing, Sing, Sing” is widely considered to be one of the greatest jazz songs ever written.

It has become a classic in popular music and its infectious energy continues to captivate listeners around the world.

Originally composed as an instrumental track in 1936, its upbeat tempo and stirring saxophone solo soon made it a jazz standard.

With lyrics added later by Andy Razaf, the revised version of this iconic song is guaranteed to get your feet tapping in no time!

15. “Body and Soul” by Coleman Hawkins

Coleman Hawkins’ iconic composition “Body and Soul” is widely considered to be one of the greatest jazz songs ever recorded.

With its emotional saxophone solo, has become an all-time classic that continues to inspire jazz musicians around the world.

16. “Cantaloupe Island – Remastered” by Herbie Hancock

Named after the calypso-like melody composed by Herbie Hancock, “Cantaloupe Island” is considered one of the definitive jazz tunes of all time.

The bright, cheerful composition has been regularly featured on radio stations and jazz festivals over the years and is a favorite of many jazz connoisseurs.

Whether you are a diehard fan or just discovering this classic tune, “Cantaloupe Island” will send your foot tapping and have you humming along in no time!

17. “Moanin” by Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers

“Moanin” by Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers has been dubbed one of the greatest jazz songs of all time.

This iconic track was released in 1958 by Blue Note Records and made popular by its infectious melodies, driving beat, and intricate solos.

The song also featured an impressive lineup of world-renowned musicians such as trumpet player Lee Morgan and saxophonist Benny Golson, making it a classic piece of music that continues to be played by jazz enthusiasts everywhere.

18. “St. Thomas” by Sonny Rollins

“St. Thomas” by the legendary jazz saxophonist Sonny Rollins is widely regarded as one of the greatest jazz songs of all time.

Recorded in 1956, this iconic track is known for its use of Caribbean rhythms and memorable chorus.

One of Rollins’ most popular compositions, “St. Thomas” continues to be a staple of jazz radio sets and live performances today.

19. “Song For My Father” by Horace Silver

“Song For My Father” is a timeless jazz masterpiece composed and performed by Horace Silver.

This top jazz song of all time has been covered by many artists since its release in 1964, making it a major influence in jazz music over the years.

The classic soul-jazz fusion track infuses lively rhythms and powerful brass with gentle piano melodies, making it an enduring classic everyone should listen to.

20. “Autumn Leaves” by Cannonball Adderley

Cannonball Adderley’s classic track “Autumn Leaves” is one of the top jazz songs of all time.

Recorded in 1959, Adderley has created a timeless piece that is enjoyed by jazz listeners around the world.

Filled with beautiful melodies and solos, “Autumn Leaves” is guaranteed to make you feel inspired and peace anytime you listen to it.

FAQs

Here are the questions and answers related to best of jazz songs of all time:

What is the #1 jazz song of all time?

There is no definitive answer to this question since there are so many great jazz songs to choose from. However, some of the most popular and iconic jazz songs of all time include:

  1. Take Five” by Dave Brubeck,
  2. Round Midnight” by Thelonious Monk,
  3. Fly Me to the Moon” by Frank Sinatra.

What is the most beautiful jazz song?

From smooth and sultry to upbeat and swingy, there are so many great jazz songs that it can be difficult to narrow the list down to just a few of the most beautiful.

Some of the most popular jazz songs include “My Funny Valentine,” “Moonlight in Vermont,” “Autumn Leaves,” “A Night in Tunisia” and “Take Five.”

Who is famous for smooth jazz?

Some of the most famous and successful figures in smooth jazz history are saxophonists such as Dave Koz, Richard Elliot, Grover Washington Jr., Kenny G and George Benson.

All these performers have expertly blended elements of traditional jazz with funk, R&B, Latin, pop and other musical styles.

What was the #1 jazz song of 1920?

The most successful jazz song of 1920 was the Harlem hit Red Hot Mama,” by Wilbur Sweatman. It was became popular music’s first big hit with a distinctive jazz beat.

The number one jazz song of 1920 was “St. Louis Blues” by W.C. Handy. The classic tune has been covered countless times since its debut and remains a popular tune among jazz enthusiasts to this day.

Who is the king of jazz of all time?

Many consider Louis Armstrong to be the “King of Jazz” of all time. Armstrong’s influence on jazz and popular music in general is immeasurable and his contributions have directly shaped modern jazz as we know it today.

Who is the best jazz band of all time?

This is a difficult question to answer as many jazz artists and bands have become legendary, but some of the greatest jazz bands of all time include:

  1. Count Basie Orchestra,
  2. Miles Davis Quintet,
  3. Thelonious Monk ,
  4. Duke Ellington Orchestra,
  5. Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers.

 

Leave a Comment