About two decades ago, I heard Kind of Blue by Miles Davis, and it floored me. It's the best selling jazz album of all time, and if there's one album that truly started an obsession with jazz, it was that one. As a kid, I'd gotten to see cats like Red Rodney, Zoot Sims and Slide Hampton at Dick Gibson's jazz shows in the early '80s, but it wasn't until hearing Kind of Blue that something just completely clicked. It's hard to completely pinpoint what exactly it was, but I felt it. It's the perfect place to start if you know squat about jazz but are looking to become more versed, as are the other albums that I picked out here. Admittedly, it was hard to pare it down to just ten, and I left out a ton of legendary albums, but these records, most of which were recorded in the '50s and '60s, are a great place to start.
See also: - Ten essential albums of the 1960s - Ten essential gangsta rap albums
10. CHET BAKER - Chet Trumpeter Chet Baker could swing hard, but Chet is, for the most part, a ballad affair. Baker's playing is gorgeous all the way the through, as is most of the other musicians on the recording, like baritone saxophonist Pepper Adams, pianist Bill Evans and flautist Herbie Mann. A vital late-night disc in anyone's collections, Chet is a damn fine soundtrack for an unhurried session in the sack. Dig?