"Jazz has been called America's classical music, and for good reason. Along with the blues, its forefather, it is one of the first truly indigenous musics to develop in America, yet its unpredictable, risky ventures into improvisation gave it critical cache with scholars that the blues lacked. At the outset, jazz was dance music, performed by swinging big bands. Soon, the dance elements faded into the background and improvisation became the key element of the music. As the genre evolved, the music split into a number of different styles, from the speedy, hard-hitting rhythms of be-bop and the laid-back, mellow harmonies of cool jazz to the jittery, atonal forays of free jazz and the earthy grooves of soul jazz. What tied it all together was a foundation in the blues, a reliance on group interplay and unpredictable improvisation. Throughout the years, and in all the different styles, those are the qualities that defined jazz."

What Is This Thing Called "Jazz Guide"


The Jazz Guide website is the brainchild of three jazz friends from Frankfurt/Main, Germany. Our main intention was to help the jazz novice get a solid idea of the wide variety of jazz music as it developed over the centuries. Naturally, the choices we made are subjective, but the main goal was to reduce the enormous amount of existing jazz music to those recordings we deemed essential for each jazz style. If some era of jazz history appears to be represented more than others, it is an expression of our personal preferences. If you think, we've forgotten an important recording, please free to send us an E-Mail.

Our selection criteria:

We decided at first to select 10 recordings max. for each jazz style, but we soon felt that that would be a too narrow restriction and that various aspects of jazz history would have to be omitted. During our discussions, more and more records seemed essential to us. Those really interested in the essentials only are advised to stick to the records labeled as such. We only wanted to give a short introduction to jazz history, a starting point for the jazz friend. In no way are our choices meant as a suggested form of systematic or scientific cataloguing. Many essential recordings couldn't be clearly attributed to one of the main jazz styles (for example Miles Davis' "Kind Of Blue"). We therefore created the menu section "Beyond".

Sound samples:

Unfortunately we are unable to offer you any musical examples to actually listen to. Even though our site is strictly non-commercial, the license fees charged by the music industry would still be extremely high. For this reason, we can not offer any online sound samples, sorry. Most of the CDs listed are available through normal sales channels, though for some you'll probably have to search more intensively. We like to wish you a lot of fun exploring our site.