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Building Your Jazz Collection: Top 5 Essential Albums and the Art of Vinyl Collecting

When it comes to jazz, building a vinyl collection that reflects the genre’s rich history and diverse styles is a rewarding journey. In this article, we explore the top five jazz albums that serve as cornerstones for any enthusiast’s collection. From iconic classics to avant-garde masterpieces, these albums not only showcase the brilliance of the artists but also hold a special place in the hearts of vinyl collectors. Join us as we identify the cornerstones of a collectible jazz collection.

  1. Miles Davis – Kind Of Blue
miles davis vinyl record kind of blue
Miles Davis – Kind of Blue (1959)

Miles Davis’s “Kind Of Blue” is often hailed as the greatest jazz album of all time. Recorded in 1959, this masterpiece features legendary musicians such as John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderley, and Bill Evans. To identify the first US pressing on vinyl, look for the “Six Eye” label used by Columbia Records at the time. Audiophiles seek out original pressings for the warm sound quality and historical significance.

  1. John Coltrane – A Love Supreme
john coltrane vinyl record album a love supreme
John Coltrane – A Love Supreme (1965)

“A Love Supreme” by John Coltrane is a spiritual and transcendent journey through jazz. Released in 1965, it showcases Coltrane’s quartet at its peak. The first US pressing can be identified by the “Van Gelder” stamp, referring to the renowned recording engineer Rudy Van Gelder. Collectors value the original pressing for its superior soundstage and instrument separation.

  1. Dave Brubeck – Time Out
the dave brubeck quartet vinyl record album time out
Dave Brubeck – Time Out (1959)

Dave Brubeck’s “Time Out” revolutionized jazz with its exploration of odd time signatures. Recorded in 1959, the first US pressing on vinyl can be recognized by the “Six Eye” label. This album not only introduces listeners to unconventional rhythms but also offers an engaging sonic experience. Audiophiles often seek out the original pressings for the nuanced reproduction of Brubeck’s piano and Paul Desmond’s saxophone.

  1. Charles Mingus – Mingus Ah Um
charles mingus vinyl record album ah um
Charles Mingus – Mingus Ah Um (1959)

Released in 1959, Charles Mingus’s “Mingus Ah Um” is a powerful and innovative work. Identifying the first US pressing involves looking for the “Six Eye” Columbia label. This album features a stellar lineup, including saxophonist John Handy and drummer Dannie Richmond. Collectors appreciate the original pressings for their dynamic range and the raw energy captured during the recording sessions.

  1. John Coltrane – Blue Train
john coltrane vinyl record album blue train
John Coltrane – Blue Train (1957)

“Blue Train” by John Coltrane, recorded in 1957, is a classic hard bop album that solidified Coltrane’s reputation as a virtuoso. The first US pressing on Blue Note records is identified by the presence of the “West 63rd Street” address on the label. Audiophiles value this pressing for its exceptional clarity, allowing listeners to fully appreciate Coltrane’s mesmerizing saxophone solos.

Bonus Album: Lee Morgan – The Sidewinder

lee morgan vinyl record album the sidewinder
Lee Morgan – The Sidewinder (1964)

Lee Morgan’s “The Sidewinder” adds a touch of soul jazz to our list. Released in 1964, the first US pressing on the Blue Note label can be recognized by the “New York USA” address. The infectious title track became a hit, making this album a must-have for any jazz collection. Audiophiles seek out the original pressings for their lively and dynamic sound.

The Importance of Grading and Encapsulation

For dedicated vinyl collectors, the condition of a record holds utmost importance. Grading and encapsulating rare jazz titles are essential for their preservation and elevate their status within any collection, especially in the global population report, given the scarcity of well-graded jazz records. Finding pristine or sealed copies is challenging due to the extensive play these popular jazz titles experienced over the years. Thus, when collectors chance upon a remarkably clean copy, opting for grading and encapsulation becomes advantageous. This service not only enhances authenticity but also establishes a clear record of provenance, adding significant value to the collector’s acquisition.


Building a jazz vinyl collection is not just about amassing records; it’s a journey through the history of a genre that has influenced music across the globe. From the iconic “Kind Of Blue” to the groundbreaking “A Love Supreme,” each album tells a unique story. Identifying first US pressings, seeking out the best-sounding versions, and embracing the world of grading and encapsulation add depth and authenticity to any jazz collection. So, let the crackling sound of vinyl transport you to a bygone era, where the genius of Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Dave Brubeck, Charles Mingus, and Lee Morgan continues to resonate. Happy collecting!

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