New to the world of jazz and looking for some popular songs to fall in love with? Or maybe you’re a jazz connoisseur just looking for some ideas of what to listen to? Of course, music taste is subjective, but these are some well-loved favorites. So without further ado, and in no particular order, here are some of the most popular jazz songs of all time!
“My Favorite Things” — John Coltrane (1961)
John Coltrane’s name is synonymous with jazz, so it’s no surprise this song shows up often in top jazz song lists. This song was originally written to be included in The Sound of Music. This bop jazz classic also features McCoy Tyner on piano, Steve Davis on bass, and Elvin Jones on drums. This is a bright, melodic, upbeat tune that is totally worth a listen (or several!). The more you listen, the more you appreciate the improvisation and the way each person plays off the other.
“It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)” — Duke Ellington (1931)
This jazz standard has been covered by many jazz singers, including Ella Fitzgerald, and it is seen as an iconic song of the swing era of jazz. This song has some serious dance-ability power to it! You’ll feel like you’re in an old-time dance parlor. Check out this rendition by Ella Fitzgerald and Duke Ellington on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1965.
“So What” — Miles Davis (1959)
This is the first track on Miles Davis’s album Kind of Blue. Fun fact: This was recorded in one take, and Miles Davis was recording with a new band he had only just met! Many would argue that this song is one of Miles Davis’s best hits, if not his greatest hit of all!
“‘Round Midnight” — Thelonious Monk (1943)
This song is actually one of the most recorded jazz standards written by a jazz musician. Written in the bebop style of jazz and recorded by Monk himself in 1947, it was also recorded by other artists from Cootie Williams in 1944 all the way to Jon Batiste in 2018.
“Don’t Know Why” — Norah Jones (2002)
Looking for something a little more modern? This song launched Norah Jones’s career when it was released as a single and picked up by radio stations. Jazz lovers and those who are not into jazz alike have probably heard this song. Her smooth voice and calming melodies wowed audiences and caused it to reach number 30 on the Billboard Hot 100.