Top 10 Albums of 1950

LPs weren’t all that common in 1950. Nevertheless, the beginning of the decade saw the releases of several classics. Charlie Parker tops the list; an obvious choice. Also making waves are Stan Kenton and Bud Powell, two innovative pianists who would play large roles in shaping modern jazz throughout the 1950s. Frank Sinatra, Les Paul and Ella Fitzgerald, along with two unlikely, foreign oddities from Central and South America, round out the Top 10.

The most surprising inclusion might be the posthumous release from the late, great Bunk Johnson (69-years-old when he died of a stroke in 1949). The Last Testament of a Great New Orleans Jazzman is a fascinating look at the origins of the genre as interpreted by someone who was actually there.

Without further ado, here are my picks for the Top 10 albums of 1950.

10. Ella Sings Gershwin


Artist: Ella Fitzgerald

Genre: Swing

Always a pleasure to hear one of the greatest singers of all time. Especially when she’s singing Gershwin.

9. Piano Solos


Artist: Bud Powell

Genre: Bebop

Not as good as the sequel, and not as good as Thelonious Monk, but Piano Solos #1 is another reason why Bud Powell should be given his due as one of the progenitors of modern jazz.

8. Sones of Mexico


Artist: Trio Aguilillas

Genre: Son jaracho

This delightful mariachi tape is only six songs and 19-minutes long, which means even a staunch musical conservative could grow to appreciate this. Continue reading…

7. Swing and Dance with Frank Sinatra


Artist: Frank Sinatra

Genre: Swing

I could listen to Swing and Dance with Frank Sinatra twice, maybe three times in a row before my natural Sinatra fatigue would kick in. Continue reading…

6. Voice of the Xtabay


Artist: Yma Sumac

Genre: Exotica

The voice of Yma Sumac is one of the most impressive musical instruments of all time, something that truly must be heard to be believed. Because of my general unfamiliarity with the culture, Sumac is as Peruvian as my palate gets. Even though the backing orchestration is Hollywood’s idea of South America, Sumac’s Incan inclinations transcend the cheesy fanfare. Her voice is ancient and timeless, and the song “Ataypura” is featured in The Big Lebowski, which is even more timeless. A winning combination.

5. The New Sound


Artist: Les Paul

Genre: Avant-Garde Jazz

Even though Les Paul is a household name, the man’s music is seldom heard Continue reading…

4. The Last Testament of a Great New Orleans Jazzman


Artist: Bunk Johnson

Genre: Dixieland

Bunk always stayed true to his original essence — an authentic Nawlins sound circa 1908. Continue reading…

3. Piano Solos #2 


Artist: Bud Powell

Genre: Bebop

Who needs hair of the dog when you have Piano Solos #2? Continue reading…

2. Innovations in Modern Music 


Artist: Stan Kenton

Genre: Avant-Garde Jazz

Kenton is easily one of the most underrated jazz composers of the entire 20th century…Considering the era and the context, this is one of the most daring jazz releases of all time. Continue reading…

1. Charlie Parker with Strings 


Artist: Charlie Parker

Genre: Bebop

It is defiantly modern and extremely contemporary, and even from a retrospective standpoint it doesn’t need gimmick or nostalgia to get by. Continue reading…

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