The Jazz 100 (Part 3 – Thoughts from Robin Lloyd and Abe Beeson)

So now you’ve seen the list, and you’ve got some introductory analysis on the Jazz 100.

I felt that it was appropriate for the next step to be getting some thoughts from a fresh pair of eyes…and who better than two of the best in the business, KPLU’s Midday Jazz host Robin Lloyd and Evening Jazz host Abe Beeson?

Thoughts on The Jazz 100

By Robin Lloyd

Taking the list for what it is, entertainment content, a super-subjective popular-vote collection:  it’s not bad!

Do I have strong objections to anything on the list?

Yes: “What a Wonderful World” and “At Last”—neither of these say JAZZ to me, though they’re great in their own way.

Would I re-order the list?  Absolutely.  “Take Five” is wonderful, and it served as an introduction to jazz for an entire generation, but my preference would have something by Dizzy Gillespie in the #1 spot.

Would I object to sitting down and listening to this list in its current state?  No, not at all.

I see it like the growth rings in a tree trunk—it shows a cross-section of styles and eras of mainstream jazz.  The branches of the tree (avant-garde, fusion, etc) just aren’t, well, quintessential enough.

The Top 100 Quintessential Jazz Songs – Wrong Again.

By Abe Beeson

Have you ever sat down to make a list of the “best” of something? It sure is fun, but don’t expect anyone else to agree with you. “Best of” lists are always wrong. Music is just too personal, it touches people in different ways, and music carries baggage and memories that belong only to the one brain between those two ears. But despite the inherent incorrectness of such lists, they do wonders to spark passions and invite heated discussion – and what’s wrong with feeling passionate about music?

What I’ve found most interesting about KPLU/Jazz 24’s Top 100 Quintessential Jazz Songs list is the passion it has provoked in listeners and the comments they’re leaving at this website. It’s a jazz fan’s opportunity to show their passion, to explain why they love a particular song, maybe complain a bit about missing songs or artists (No Sarah Vaughan??) and to thrill at the obvious passion of fellow fans. Here are a few of my favorite posts:

“No one can question the trumpet or vocal marvels of Louis Armstrong, but come on, does this Holy List really need ‘What a Wonderful World’?”

“If you’ve never heard the song ‘Inside Straight’ by Cannonball Adderley, do yourself a favor. It’s probably the sweetest groove I’ve ever heard.”

“Unfair that the whole Kind of Blue album is there, while only the first track of A Love Supreme – which is supposed to be a suite, complete in itself and undivisible – is featured.”

“100 is not enough space for the TOP one hundred – maybe we need a bigger crowd.”

“This is not a list of the greatest jazz songs, this is a list of what people think are the greatest jazz recordings.”

Exactly. And for my part, you can see my picks for the Top 100 here: http://

Thanks again for your comments, and if you haven’t – show us your passion! Most of all, enjoy the list – even if your favorite isn’t here, there’s a lot of fun to be had in listening. And if I may… maybe the next list will be Top Jazz Artists of the 21st Century?

Tomorrow, I’ll do my best to respond to some of your questions and comments about the Jazz 100.

The Jazz 100 (Part 2 – An Audio Discussion with KPLU’s Kirsten Kendrick)

The Jazz 100 (Part 1 – The List)

The Jazz 100 (Part 2 – An Audio Discussion with KPLU’s Kirsten Kendrick)

Now that you have seen the list (and hopefully developed some opinions and had a chance to give the music a listen), you can now hear my first impressions of the list in my discussion with KPLU‘s Morning Edition host Kirsten Kendrick. Tomorrow, KPLU’s Midday Jazz host Robin Lloyd and Evening Jazz host Abe Beeson offer their opinions of the Jazz 100.

Listeners pick top 100 jazz recordings of all time

Listen to the Q&A here:


What is the greatest jazz recording ever? That’s the questions we asked listeners of KPLU and our jazz stream Jazz 24. From that, we came up with our list of the Top 100 Quintessential Jazz Songs of All Time.

KPLU music and news host Kevin Kniestedt tabulated the nearly 3,000 votes.  One thousand five hundred songs were nominated over a period of several weeks.

“Take Five” Takes Number One

The number one song – far and away – was “Take Five” from “Time Out” by Dave Brubeck. Kevin says this isn’t a surprise, given that “Take Five” was the first jazz single to sell a million copies in 1959.

Strong Showing from Miles

Number two on the top 100 was “So What” from “Kind of Blue” by Miles Davis (also released in 1959). In fact, all five tracks on “Kind of Blue” made the list. Davis was one of five artists making up one-third of the top 100 list (the others were John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk, Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong).

Coltrane Fans Divided

Kevin says fans of saxophone legend John Coltrane were divided on which of his songs they liked best. A range of his songs made the list – “A Love Supreme Part 1: Acknowledgement,” “Giant Steps,” “Naima,” “My Favorite Things” and “Lush Life” (with vocalist Johnny Hartman).

Ladies Sing the Ballads

Most of the ballads that listeners selected came from female vocalists. For example, all four of Billie Holliday’s recordings on the list were ballads. Kevin says voters looked to instrumentalists for mid tempo or up tempo tunes rather than ballads.

Charlie Parker: Late but Strong

Saxophone great Charlie Parker didn’t show up on the list until No. 71, but he ended up with four songs on the list (“Koko,” Yardbird Suite,” “Donna Lee” and “Ornithology”).

Standards Stand the Test of Time

A lot of early jazz recordings made the list – proving they can stand the test of time. They included “In the Mood” by Glenn Miller and “Sing, Sing, Sing” by Benny Goodman. One of the newer jazz standards that was featured prominently on the list was “Birdland” by Weather Report. It was recorded in 1977 and ended up at No. 8 on the list.

The Jazz 100 (Part 1 – The List)