Many people listen to jazz when they want to relax. Some people put on jazz when they are having a romantic evening with a partner. As a jazz musician myself I often get asked, why is jazz so soothing? Keep reading to learn why jazz is so relaxing and which albums you should listen to if you have looking for some soothing jazz.
Jazz music is often considered soothing due to its use of beautiful harmonies, syncopated rhythms, and improvisation. These elements create a sense of unpredictability and spontaneity that can be relaxing to listen to. Additionally, jazz music is often associated with feelings of nostalgia and longing, which can also contribute to its soothing qualities. The improvisational nature of jazz allows for a wide range of emotional expression, which can make it an emotionally resonant genre for many listeners.
Here are my top 7 favorite relaxing/soothing jazz albums of all time!
Kind of Blue is an album by jazz musician Miles Davis, released in 1959. The album is widely considered to be one of the greatest and most influential jazz albums of all time. It features Davis on trumpet, along with a group of notable jazz musicians including John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderley, Paul Chambers, and Jimmy Cobb. The album is notable for its use of modal jazz, which is characterized by a focus on scales and modes rather than chords and harmony. This allowed for greater flexibility and improvisation by the musicians, and helped to create a new sound that was influential in the development of jazz.
The album features five tracks, including "So What", "Freddie Freeloader", "Blue in Green", "All Blues", and "Flamenco Sketches". These tracks are known for their melodic and improvisational nature, as well as their use of unconventional harmonies and chord progressions. The album has a smooth and relaxed feel, with a heavy emphasis on the blues. The musicianship is outstanding throughout the album, with virtuosic solos and seamless ensemble playing.
Kind of Blue received widespread critical acclaim upon its release and has since been widely considered one of the greatest jazz albums of all time. It has also had a significant impact on the development of music, influencing a wide range of genres including funk, soul, rock and electronic music.
If you are looking for a relaxing jazz album, this is the place to start!
If you liked Kind of Blue you might also like this album. It features Bill Evans, the same pianist from Kind of Blue.
Undercurrent is an album by jazz pianist Bill Evans, released in 1962. It features Evans on piano, along with Jim Hall on electric guitar. This album is notable for its interplay between the two musicians, who have a strong sense of unity and understanding, creating a fluid and cohesive sound.
The album features eight tracks, including "My Funny Valentine", "I Hear A Rhapsody", "Skating in Central Park" and "Darn That Dream". These tracks are known for their melodic and harmonically rich sound, Bill's sensitive touch on the piano and the dialogues between the musicians. The album has a introspective, contemplative mood with a high focus on melody.
Undercurrent received critical acclaim upon its release, it is considered to be one of Bill Evans's finest album and a important milestone of the piano trio format, The interplay between the musicians is highly skillful and inventive, with Evans' piano work being particularly noteworthy for its harmonic sophistication. The album is often cited as a major influence on later jazz piano duos and it is considered a classic of modern jazz.
Let's stick with Bill Evans for one more album... he is one of the jazz greats after all!
Moon Beams is an album by jazz pianist Bill Evans, released in 1962. This album features Evans on piano, along with Chuck Israels on bass and Paul Motian on drums. This is the second album that this group recorded together, the three musicians were on a good working relationship and their interplay is very cohesive. If you are even interested in learning to play the piano like Bill Evans, check out our piano lessons in Ann Arbor.
The album features eight tracks, including "Re: Person I Knew", "I Fall In Love Too Easily" and "Stairway To The Stars" . These tracks are known for its melodic beauty and Evans's improvisational skills. The mood on the album is contemplative, introspective and has a good balance between ballads and uptempo songs.
Moon Beams was well received upon its release, it's considered an important addition to Bill Evans's discography, and it is considered one of the best examples of his piano trio work. The album features some of Evans's most innovative and sophisticated work as a pianist, and the interplay between the musicians is excellent, highlighting their strong understanding of each other. The album features some strong melodies, sophisticated harmony, and inventive improvisation, it is considered a classic of modern jazz.
Believe it or not, my next favorite relaxing jazz album features another musician from the Kind of Blue recording session...
Ballads is an album by jazz saxophonist John Coltrane and his quartet, released in 1963. The album features Coltrane on tenor saxophone, along with McCoy Tyner on piano, Jimmy Garrison on bass and Elvin Jones on drums.
The album consists of eight tracks, most of them are standards, such as "Say It (Over and Over Again)", "You Don't Know What Love Is", "All or Nothing at All" and "I Wish I Knew". The album is known for its ballads, which show a different side of the quartet than their more hard-driving and intense modal work. Coltrane and his bandmates, who were known for their virtuosity and intense improvisational abilities, here opt for a more contemplative and introspective approach, showcasing their mastery of melody, harmony, and phrasing. Coltrane's tender saxophone playing, in particular, is showcased to great effect on this album, and his performance on the tracks is considered by many to be some of his finest work.
Ballads received positive reviews upon its release and it's considered as a important addition to Coltrane's discography. The album also showcases the strong synergy between the members of the quartet, with all of the musicians displaying a high level of skill and understanding of each other. The album is often seen as a great example of Coltrane's ability to convey emotion and expressiveness through his playing and a must-listen for any fan of Coltrane and jazz in general.
Let me give you one more John Coltrane suggestion!
John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman is a collaborative album featuring jazz saxophonist John Coltrane and vocalist Johnny Hartman, released in 1963. The album features Coltrane on tenor saxophone, along with the accompaniment of a small ensemble consisting of McCoy Tyner on piano, Jimmy Garrison on bass, and Elvin Jones on drums. The album is known for its intimate and soulful nature, which showcases the unique chemistry between Coltrane and Hartman as they interpret a selection of classic and standards songs.
The album contains six tracks, all of them standards, such as "They Say It's Wonderful", "Dedicated to You" and "Lush Life". Hartman's vocals are smooth and melodic, and his voice is the perfect complement to Coltrane's saxophone playing which is warm and sensitive. The musicians backing the vocalist and saxophonist are also excellent and provide a lush and rich accompaniment.
John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman received widespread critical acclaim upon its release and is considered a classic of jazz history. It is notable for showcasing Coltrane's ability to play in a more reserved and contemplative style, and for Hartman's soulful and emotive vocal performances. The album also highlights the chemistry between the two musicians, and the ensemble's ability to create a beautiful and intimate atmosphere. For Jazz vocalist and Coltrane fans, this album is a must-listen, and for anyone looking for a great album to listen to for some relaxing and soulful music.
Ballads is a compilation album by jazz saxophonist Dexter Gordon, released in 1991. The album features Gordon on tenor saxophone, along with multiple different ensembles.
The album contains eight tracks all of them ballads, such as "I Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out to Dry", "You've Changed" and "Darn That Dream". The compilation album is known for its soulful and emotive nature and Dexter's ability to convey complex emotion through his saxophone playing. Gordon's performances on the tracks are considered by many to be some of his finest work and the album showcases his mastery of the ballad form. He displays impressive control over his instrument and his phrasing is always evocative and thoughtful.
The album was well received upon its release and is considered an important addition to Dexter's discography. It's also consider a classic of jazz balladry, as it showcases Dexter's ability to convey emotion and expressiveness through his playing. The ensemble also provides a lush and rich accompaniment that is perfectly suited to the ballads. For fans of jazz ballads and Dexter Gordon, this album is a must-listen.
This next album might be a bit controversial, but I think we need to represent some west coast jazz too...
Chet Baker Sings is an album by jazz trumpeter and vocalist Chet Baker, released in 1954. The album features Baker singing and playing trumpet, accompanied by a small ensemble including Carl Perkins on piano, Carson Smith on bass, and Bob Neel on drums.
The album contains a collection of 12 tracks which are primarily standards and popular songs of the time. The album is known for its intimate and introspective nature, with Baker's voice and trumpet playing in perfect harmony. His vocal performances are understated, yet emotive and his trumpet playing is melodic and sensitive. The ensemble provides a subtle and restrained accompaniment that complements Baker's singing and playing.
Chet Baker Sings was well received upon its release and it is considered an important album in Baker's discography. It's considered a classic of "cool jazz" and Baker's singing and trumpet playing were praised for their subtlety and expressiveness. The album is also notable for being one of the first recordings where Baker sang, and it would be the start of a long career as a vocalist. This album showcases Chet's ability to convey emotion and expressiveness both vocally and through his trumpet playing, making it a must-listen for fans of Chet Baker and cool jazz in general.
Well I hope you've enjoyed this list of relaxing/soothing jazz albums. Please let me know what you think!