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HomeAll About JazzJazz Album Reviews92 Modern Jazz Albums You Need to Listen to

92 Modern Jazz Albums You Need to Listen to

On Learn Jazz Standards I often encourage listening to lots of jazz music. If you aren’t listening to the music you simply won’t ever truly get it. At the end of the day, listening to jazz is easily one of the most important parts of your jazz education.

Often when I talk about this I’m referring to records from the early jazz era, the swing era, bebop, hard bop, cool jazz and even early free jazz era. These are important records to listen to so you can learn the fundamentals of jazz, it’s tradition and where this music comes from. These are artists like Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, among many others.

But the great thing about jazz is it’s a constantly changing and evolving music. It always has been if you look back through jazz history. When you look at modern jazz today you see a huge range of influences. Some artists have kept closer to the swing tradition, some have incorporated R&B, hip-hop, rock, Latin styles, and some have even created unique styles of their own.

Back in the earlier days of Learn Jazz Standards, we had created many album reviews of newer jazz albums in an effort to promote the great stuff that was going on in jazz today. These are all albums we love and were important to our jazz education coming up. While we don’t write jazz album reviews anymore, we want to make sure you check out these albums.

By no means is this a list of “the best” modern jazz albums. This is simply a list of the ones we like, and from these, you can discover hundreds more.

Go ahead, browse through the albums! If you want more information on them, click the “i” button. If you want to listen to one or consider purchasing it, click on the Amazon button. I hope you give a bunch of these a listen! If you’d like, leave a modern jazz album you would suggest in the comments below.

92 Modern Jazz Albums You Need to Listen to


Brent Vaartstra
Brent Vaartstra
Brent Vaartstra is a professional jazz guitarist and educator living in New York City. He is the head blogger and podcast host for which he owns and operates. He actively performs around the New York metropolitan area and is the author of the Hal Leonard publication "Visual Improvisation for Jazz Guitar." He's also the host of the music entrepreneurship podcast "Passive Income Musician."


  1. Hi Larry,
    certainly an impressive list. A shame, though, that among 92 albums just 2 of them are not male dominated. Being a female hobby musician myself, I somehow find it hard to stomach that women are not featured more.

    • Hi Thea, thanks for the critique! It certainly wasn't intentional by any means. And while we don't do album reviews anymore I would certainly would have loved to feature more female albums. So many talented women in jazz from Emily Remler all the way to Linda Oh.

  2. My latest podcast of Discovering Jazz is loaded onto itunes, and I give a callout to Such an amazing blog and podcast you have, Brent. So much material it's overwhelming.

    My latest program came from me giving a listen to some of the first few of the 92 Modern Jazz albums you listed, and playing some tracks from some that interested me. Hope you enjoy it..

    One question it stirs up……is there really a great deal of difference between jazz from the 2000's versus most of the great stuff from the 60's to 90's? What do you think some of those differences are? If I listened to a bunch of jazz albums from the last 20 years…… would I know that it was from the last 20 years?

    Just a thought.

    • Hi Larry, thanks for sharing your show, and I appreciate you mentioning LJS! I think the real difference starts in the 90's until now. You had a real different set of sound emerging, with artists like Kurt Rosenwinkel, Brad Mehldau, and many others. I think harmonically the original music starts to change in the New York jazz scene. Listen to artists like Aaron Parks, Mike Moreno, and those are just listing a few. So much to talk about on this subject, so little time. Thanks again for the mention!

      • Thanks Brent. I will try to listen to those artists. Is there anything in particular I should listen for in terms of how the music starts to change harmonically?

  3. Hi Brent
    I'm a litlle surprised not to find any album from one of the greatest guitarists of these last years (John Abercrombie) who left us some weeks ago and for me as interesting and maybe even more than J.Scofield and B.Frisell 🙂

    A Facebook page is dedicated to him where you can find his discography :


  4. Sounds like great selections….I'll try to listen to some of these. Might I also suggest: Eulalia by Bob Dorough (2011) and Movin' Forward by Robi Botos (Toronto pianist and composer) (2015.


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