Best Jazz Guitar Albums

A List Of The Best Jazz Guitar Albums Ever Recorded

A list of the best jazz guitar albums ever recorded. We bring you a collection of essential albums by such luminaries as Reinhardt, Hall, Montgomery, Metheny and many other jazz guitar greats.

We couldn’t keep it to a top ten, and could quite easily have added more. However, the fifteen albums listed below represent for us the pinnacle of recorded jazz guitar.

The albums included in this list cover a wide range of styles; from laid-back jazz-funk to uplifting gypsy jazz. They are timeless recordings, sounding as fresh and inventive today as they did the day they were made. 

If you’ve got some of these albums in your collection and haven’t listened to them for a while then hopefully this article will inspire you to rediscover them.

If you’re just starting out on jazz guitar then these are the albums you need to check out. Perhaps one day your own album will be in a list of best jazz guitar albums!

Best Jazz Guitar Albums (A List, In No Particular Order)

Click on any of the album covers to read reviews and hear audio samples on Amazon.

1. Jim Hall – Concierto

Jim Hall – Concierto

Jim Hall – Concierto: click the album cover to read the reviews at Amazon.com

button

We start this list with an album by one of the true greats of jazz guitar, namely Jim Hall, whose melodic yet inventive soloing has inspired a whole generation of jazz guitarists.

The centrepiece of this album is an utterly spellbinding arrangement of the Adagio from Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez (you can hear it below). The quality of the other tracks is equally as high.

Jim Hall’s deceptively understated playing is complemented by a top class ensemble: Chet Baker in particular plays some unforgettable solos.

We’ve got the remastered version of the album, which features illuminating alternative takes of some of the tracks.

Concierto is one of our very favourite jazz guitar albums, and is worth getting hold of for the beautiful Adagio alone.

You can read reviews and listen to sample tracks from Concierto at Amazon.com, or at Amazon.co.uk for those in the UK.

2. Joe Pass – Virtuoso

Joe Pass – Virtuoso

Joe Pass – Virtuoso: click the album cover to read the reviews at Amazon.com

button

Joe Pass was a master of solo jazz guitar, and on Virtuoso he’s at the top of his game. Featuring solo arrangements of twelve jazz standards, this is a must-have album for anyone wishing to explore solo jazz guitar.

Read reviews and listen to sample tracks from Virtuoso at Amazon.com

Read reviews and listen to sample tracks from Virtuoso at Amazon.co.uk

3. Pat Metheny – Bright Size Life

Pat Metheny – Bright Size Life

Pat Metheny – Bright Size Life. Click the album cover to read the reviews at Amazon.com

button

Metheny’s lyrical soloing is (necessarily) pushed to the fore in this minimal three-piece ensemble. On Bright Size Life, Metheny is joined by Jaco Pastorius (bass) and Bob Moses (drums). It’s tough call between Bright Size Life and Question and Answer for the best ‘small ensemble’ Metheny recording. We think the freshness and feel of this album just pushes it ahead.

Read reviews and listen to sample tracks from Bright Size Life at Amazon.com

Read reviews and listen to sample tracks from Bright Size Life at Amazon.co.uk

4. Al Di Meola – Elegant Gypsy

Al Di Meola – Elegant Gypsy

Al Di Meola – Elegant Gypsy. Click the album cover to read the reviews at Amazon.com

button

Elegant Gypsy was recorded in 1977, and is a classic jazz/fusion guitar album, with strong compositions and virtuosic performances. Al Di Meola’s trademark high-speed alternate picking and the album’s Spanish influence make Elegant Gypsy an exciting and enjoyable listening experience.

Read reviews and listen to sample tracks from Elegant Gypsy at Amazon.com

Read reviews and listen to sample tracks from Elegant Gypsy at Amazon.co.uk

5. Django Reinhardt – Djangology

Django Reinhardt – Djangology

Django Reinhardt – Djangology. Click the album cover to read the reviews at Amazon.com

button

No list of the best jazz guitar albums would be complete without Django Reinhardt. The Belgian-born, French guitarist is one of the greatest jazz musicians that ever lived, and Djangology captures the essence of his playing beautifully.

Djangology is a compilation of tracks Reinhardt recorded in 1949 with his long time collaborator, violinist Stephane Grappelli. Despite being recorded over half a century ago, Reinhardt’s playing still sounds full of life and energy. Djangology is a ‘must have’ jazz guitar album.

Read reviews and listen to sample tracks from Djangology at Amazon.com

Read reviews and listen to sample tracks from Djangology at Amazon.co.uk

6. Jim Hall/Bill Evans – Undercurrent

Jim Hall/Bill Evans – Undercurrent

Jim Hall/Bill Evans – Undercurrent. Click the album cover to read the reviews at Amazon.com

button

Undercurrent, recorded in 1962, features the relatively unusual jazz guitar / piano pairing. The tracks – mostly standards – sound fresh and exciting in the guitar / piano context. The sense of two greats playing off of each other is very apparent.

After the upbeat first track, ‘My Funny Valentine’, the mood becomes sombre and rather melancholy. This beautiful album is definitely one for those quiet, reflective moments.

Read reviews and listen to sample tracks from Undercurrent at Amazon.com

Read reviews and listen to sample tracks from Undercurrent at Amazon.co.uk

7. John McLaughlin – Extrapolation

John McLaughlin – Extrapolation

John McLaughlin – Extrapolation. Click the album cover to read the reviews at Amazon.com

button

Recorded in 1968, Extrapolation is McLaughlin’s first album as a bandleader, but this legendary guitarist’s innovative style is already well developed. Part bop, part fusion – with a hint of rock – Extrapolation is testament to the innovative spirit of the late 60’s / early 70’s.

Read reviews and listen to sample tracks from Extrapolation at Amazon.com

Read reviews and listen to sample tracks from Extrapolation at Amazon.co.uk

8. Kenny Burrell – Midnight Blue

Kenny Burrell – Midnight Blue

Kenny Burrell – Midnight Blue. Click the album cover to read the reviews at Amazon.com

button

Midnight Blue is about as laid-back as it gets. This is real late-night jazz-blues: sit back and imagine you’ve got these guys on stage in front of you.

Read reviews and listen to sample tracks from Midnight Blue at Amazon.com

Read reviews and listen to sample tracks from Midnight Blue at Amazon.co.uk

9. Mike Stern – Standards (and Other Songs)

Mike Stern – Standards (and Other Songs

Mike Stern – Standards (and Other Songs). Click the album cover to read the reviews at Amazon.com

button

Recorded after stints with both Miles Davis and Jaco Pastorius, Standards (and Other Songs) finds Mike Stern in a mood that is more ‘jazz’ than ‘fusion’. Stern’s trademark fluid, boppy lines sound great in this traditional ‘standards’ context.

Read reviews and listen to sample tracks from Standards (and Other Songs) at Amazon.com

Read reviews and listen to sample tracks from Standards (and Other Songs) at Amazon.co.uk

10. Wes Montgomery – The Incredible Jazz Guitar of Wes Montgomery

The Incredible Jazz Guitar of Wes Montgomery

The Incredible Jazz Guitar of Wes Montgomery. Click the album cover to read the reviews at Amazon.com

button

Pretty much guaranteed to be on any list of the best jazz guitar albums, The Incredible Jazz Guitar of Wes Montgomery is the definitive album by one of the greatest (if not the greatest) jazz guitarists.

Read reviews and listen to sample tracks from The Incredible Jazz Guitar of Wes Montgomery at Amazon.com

Read reviews and listen to sample tracks from The Incredible Jazz Guitar of Wes Montgomery at Amazon.co.uk

11. George Benson – Breezin’

Breezin

George Benson: Breezin. Click the album cover to read the reviews at Amazon.com

button

Breezin’ is the ultimate laid back, soul/jazz guitar album. Benson’s playing and tone are second to none. The musicianship in those pre-digital days is stunning, and the whole album has a wonderful pre-digital warmth.

Read reviews and listen to sample tracks from Breezin’ at Amazon.com

Read reviews and listen to sample tracks from Breezin’ at Amazon.co.uk

12. Pat Martino – Footprints

Pat Martino – Footprints

Pat Martino – Footprints. Click the album cover to read the reviews at Amazon.com

button

If you haven’t heard Pat Martino, prepare to be amazed. One of our all time favourite guitarists at Guitar Command, Pat Martino’s playing is the perfect balance of incredible technique, musical awareness and inventiveness. Footprints is arguably the album that best captures Martino’s remarkable playing.

Read reviews and listen to sample tracks from Footprints at Amazon.com

Read reviews and listen to sample tracks from Footprints at Amazon.co.uk

13. John Scofield – A Go Go

John Scofield – A Go Go

John Scofield – A Go Go. Click the album cover to read the reviews at Amazon.com

button

John Scofield’s edgy, cool playing perfectly compliments the acid-jazz grooves laid down by the Medeski, Martin & Wood trio. An album that gives you the feel of being in the room with a small group of musicians at the top of their game.

Read reviews and listen to sample tracks from A Go Go at Amazon.com

Read reviews and listen to sample tracks from A Go Go at Amazon.co.uk

14. Bireli Lagrene – Standards

Bireli Lagrene – Standards

Bireli Lagrene – Standards. Click the album cover to read the reviews at Amazon.com

button

French Gypsy guitarist Bireli Lagrene’s playing takes up where Django Reinhardt left off. Lagrene has explored Hot Club-style jazz and fusion, but on Standards he’s playing more straight-ahead bop, albeit with a ‘gypsy’ feel.

Read reviews and listen to sample tracks from Standards at Amazon.com

Read reviews and listen to sample tracks from Standards at Amazon.co.uk

15. Pat Metheny – Still Life (Talking)

Pat Metheny – Still Life (Talking)

Pat Metheny – Still Life (Talking). Click the album cover to read the reviews at Amazon.com

button

This is the other side to Metheny’s recorded output. Still Life (Talking) is a big-sounding, heavily orchestrated album that still manages to contain some very personal moments, such as ‘Last Train Home’.

Beautifully produced, Still Life (Talking) is Jazz-fusion with a latin flavour. One of our all-time favorite jazz guitar albums.

Read reviews and listen to sample tracks from Still Life (Talking) at Amazon.com

Read reviews and listen to sample tracks from Still Life (Talking) at Amazon.co.uk

Best Jazz Guitar Albums: Conclusion

We tried to keep this list of the best jazz guitar albums to being a top ten, but it ended up being a top fifteen! There’s no doubt that there are many more we could (should?) have included.

Compiling this list of jazz guitar albums has been an enjoyable task, to say the least. While writing this article we revisited many old friends, some of whom we’ve neglected in recent years; listening to them has been like reliving our youth.

It’s amazing how listening to an album can bring back memories and emotions from the past. We’ve found ourselves back in childhood bedrooms, back in university halls, back in our first band rehearsals. We’ve found ourselves whistling along to solos, and anticipating the next tracks of albums we haven’t heard for several years.

I guess that’s the power of great music.

We hope that you have enjoy this list of the best jazz guitar albums. If you have any comments and / or suggestions, feel free to leave them in the comments below.

6 thoughts on “A List Of The Best Jazz Guitar Albums Ever Recorded

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*