BEST little know Jazz Album that you ever heard?

DUKE PEARSON THE RIGHT TOUCH 1969. I have it in my top 5 all time!


The Three, Joe Sample, Ray Brown, Shelly Anne. There is a direct to disk on vinyl. 

I'm not sure how many are familiar with the Bobo Stenson Trio but War Orphans is a great place to start.  He has more of a contemplative style and some of the best recording quality I've heard.  


You are so right ...

I concur completely ...


I'm not sure how many are familiar with the Bobo Stenson Trio but War Orphans is a great place to start.  He has more of a contemplative style and some of the best recording quality I've heard.  


WOW!! This thread took off :-)

Thanks to all who are posting. I’ve got some free time coming up and am going to listen as many of your recommendations, as possible.

One of my favorite "little knowns" is the CD, On The Town, Pete Malinverni Plays Leonard Bernstein. Pete interprets Bernstein tunes from a number of the Maestro’s Broadway shows. The song "Somewhere" is linked-


This thread would be a great advertisement for why you should have a streamer !!!  Enjoying the Bobo Stenson now, long weekend to listen to all the other great recommendations.  Then I’ll probably order a few on CD…

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By the looks of the responses so far, it seems as if the majority of my collection would be "little known jazz albums".

For me, jazz is a growing, living, evolving art form, and I am always seeking out musicians making new music. I don’t look at it like a museum piece.

Of course, I love the older stuff (my interest in jazz starts with post bop and modal jazz), but there is so much great stuff from the very recent past, and from all the decades since the 60’s, too. Not to mention, contemporary jazz musicians have chops as good as anyone from the past.

Here’s just a very few (I could list many more) contemporary musicians, that are little known, but creating something new:

Michael Formenak (bass) - Small Places (2012)

Craig Taborn (keyboards) - Daylight Ghosts (2016)

Steve Coleman and the Five Elements (sax) - The Sonic Language Of Myth (1999)

Steve Coleman and the Council of Balance - Synovial Joints (2015)

Nat Birchal (sax) - Sacred Dimension (2011)

Mary Halvoron (guitar) - Amarylis (2022)

Ingrid Laubrock (sax) - Last Quiet Place (2023)

Avishai Cohen (trumpet) - Big Vicious (2020)

Alex Machacek (guitar) - Improvision (2007)

Rob Mazurek and Exploding Star Orchestra (trumpet) - Lightening Dreamers (2023)


Chico Hamilton has many great albums — but in the late 60s early 70s I had a demo copy of his album The Head Hunters.  It took me many years to find another copy and I can’t find it on CD, download, or streaming (Qobuz).  Erik Gayle on guitar. 

Cecilia Strange "Blikan" and also "Blue"

JD Allen "Love Stone"

Caimir Liberski Trio "Evanescences"

Duke Pearson is mighty good. Try the big band recordings.

Allison Miller has two band members Todd Sicklafoose and Jenny Schienman who have many really good unknown records out.


Another in that band is Ben Goldburg, who has many great albums, but I am hosting Thanksgiving and the boss says I got to get to work so you will have to check him out.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!


@simonmoon Wednesdays 8:00-10:00 pm on KBGA (University of Montana radio station) is a show called, “Something Else!” by Bill Kautz.  
Great DJ. Good radio voice, professional, gives just enough talkin’ without being one of those blabberers, and plays avant-garde jazz & contemporary avant-garde classical.  
Great source for discovering current artists making that kind of music.

Bothwell stopped playing music in 1949, at age 30, though he continued in the music business for the next 40+ years...Street of Dreams contains almost all his recordings as a band leader from the 40's...

"Straight Ahead", album by Oliver Nelson with Eric Dolphy, recorded in 1961 by Rudy Van Gelder at the Van Gelder studios.  Sublime.

Little known is tricky, but I thought through my list of recordings that define jazz to me, perhaps one you may not have heard? You can skip the last one :-)

Armstrong - Hot 5 and 7

Blanton Webster band- Ellington

Love Supreme - Coltrane

Ahmad’s Blues - Ahmad Jamal

Quintet live at Massey Hall

Koln Concert - Keith Jarrett

Monks Music - Thelonious Monk  

Miles - Nefertiti

Jimmy Guiffre 3

Miles- Kind of Blue

Jj 35 if you can stream Don Bennet Sleeping Giant let me know, very dynamic cd , it has all the audiophile quality, it has been my reference cd to test my system for transient and musicality, Because if my system can play this cd right ? It means it can play any music I play including classical,This is the cd I played on Teajay system when we visited Him to listen to PS 12 Tekton. This cd right away I knew Teajay system was musically good and of course I end up buying ps 12.

Jj35 I also have the opportunity to hear those two pair of pioneer sub on Teajay system . I end up buying them too.Teajay was able to integrate them on his system beautifully as well.

Philosophy of the spiritual by Richard Davis. LP out of print but on Discogs sometimes.

Hands down, Nat Adderley’s, The Old Country. Featuring a young Vincent Herring on alto. Released on an obscure label in Japan only. The quintet is really really good, and the entire album is a masterpiece.

It’s been my go to recording for 35 years simply because the album was recorded so well and the music selections are so good.

I of course loaded the entire album on the tube.

Another is pianist Jessica Williams, Joy. Featuring the great Jay Thomas who doubles on Sax and Flugehorn It’s a live album with excellent acoustics Here’s Compassion from that album.

And a personal favorite, Jeannine from Adderley’s Old Country.

And, the great Bobby Shew’s, Breakfast Wine, never released to CD or digital, until I uploaded the album on the tube  :)





These lists give me lots of stuff to listen to.  Thanks 🙏 

Heres a few more:

Rodney Franklin / You’ll Never Know

Al Jarreau / Look to the Rainbow Live

Sea Level / Debut LP

Bob James & Earl Klugh / One on One

Grover Washington Jr / Paradise

Gino Vanelli / Storm at Sunup

Roger Nelson (Prince) -- "Loring Park Sessions ’77"

Lalo Schifrin -- "Black Widow"

Yuji Ohno -- "Lupin, the 3rd" anime soundtrack

Fish For Fish -- self-titled album and also their "Diving" album as well

And, finally Rhythmstick album which is compilation of various Brazilian artists such as Airto, Flora

"None But The Lonely Heart" 1997 release by Chris Anderson and Charlie Haden on Naim. Yes, that Naim. Anderson was Chick Corea's piano teacher but retired from performing due to his blindness and degenerative bone disease that made playing extremely painful. In this collaboration you can hear the effort he makes in voicing every chord, and Haden is at his peak, releasing 'Beyond the Missiouri Sky' with Pat Metheny that same year. Sound quality is as extraordinary as the performance. 

My favourite lesser-known jazz album is: 'The Don Ewell quartette'

"Yellow Dog Blues" on the 'Audiophile' label 'AP-66 monophonic"

My original copy is a reddish coloured vinyl. I think the recording

and performances are 'top shelf' There are a couple of 'stereo' re-issues

and I have a later 'Audiophile' reissue which is also pretty good.

I play this on friends systems and Everybody wants a copy!

Mine would be Blue Mitchell's "Step Lightly." It was his first date as a leader for Blue Note. It was recorded in 1963 but by the time I got released in 980, Blue was already dead. That's insane.

For a first date, this is an astounding recording, so assured and polished. And Blue's trumpet playing, as always, was divine. If you live in the New York metro area, you might have already heard parts of the title cut--its opening bars were used as the intro the WNYC-FM's Brian Lehrer show for decades.

My favorite cut is the ballad, "Cry Me a River." When Blue finally starts his solo, it's co clear and affecting that this often covered tune sounds fresh again..


Another that might be considered “little known” as a jazz album, but certainly not unfamiliar in terms of the music it contains is “A Charlie Brown Christmas” by the Vince Guaraldi Trio. 

‘Tis the Season!

Not much of a jazz-hound but John McLaughlin's first album: Extrapolation. 


Charlie Haden "The Montreal Tapes with Don Cherry and Ed Blackwell" (one of several "Montreal Tapes" recordings).  It's essentially the Ornette Coleman quartet without, well..........Ornette Coleman!  They pull it off on a well-recorded piece that's worth exploring.

Frank Morgan "Mood Indigo".  Way, way WAY underrated and relatively little-known alto sax player who was something of a Charlie Parker protege'.

Woody Shaw "In My Own Sweet Way".  Another (underrated) trumpet player who was held in very high regard by none other than Miles Davis.


Thanks for the heads up. I will check the show out.

Only some of my list I would consider avant-garde. Maybe "progressive" would be the best description for most of my list.

I got to say, though, I am constantly surprised on how few jazz fans that post on music forums, are into exploring new stuff. So many great, creative subgenres. So many musicians with chops as good as the masters from the past.



An artist not unheard of, but not that widely known either, is Jimmy Guiffre. Sax, clarinet, composer, arranger, bandleader. Start with his "1961" album by the Jimmy Guiffre 3, comprised of Guiffre, Paul Bley (piano), and Steve Swallow (bass). A two cd album with most tunes written by Guiffre, but Carla Bley composed some of the tunes.  Recording sounds great.


The threshold issue here is: "What do you mean by 'jazz' "?  Ellington, Mahavishnu, Wynton, Alice Coltrane, Keith Jarrett, Sun Ra, Sinatra?  And are you including boots?

But here's my two bits: In the 1970s & 1980s, I collected a lot of mind-bending "Rock in Opposition" music that combined jazz, classical chamber music, electronics, and sometimes even heavy metal.  Lots of Chick, Zappa, even Yes influences. I also traded Western CDs, with penpals in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, for some more conventional jazz records by world-class artists who are little-known here.

I can make a few recommendations.  A good first stop would be Komeda's "Astigmatic," which -- and this is admittedly a poor analogy -- is something like Eastern Europe's "Bitches Brew."  Tomasz Stanko is no Miles, but still great.  It's on Tidal, & you Google Komeda for context.  Like Miles, he used to collect young talented players and guide them to become great bandleaders in their own right (when he wasn't recording soundtracks for movies like "Rosemary's Baby").

A good place to start for the RiO releases is with the bands Art Zoyd, Univers Zero, and Zao (the French band with Yochk'o Seffer & album "Z=7L"  -- there are a lot of Zao's).  Their albums are extraordinarily diverse and often experimental, but you may hear echoes of Weather Report & Pere Ubu.  Again, you can find a smattering of these artists' huge catalogs on Tidal.   Another option is Cuneiform's glorious sampler album "Enneade", which is also on Tidal (Youchk'o's "Freya" track is pretty hot!)

This is a whole world of jazz that is generally unknown to Americans and most younger Europeans.

Oh, and there are East Europeans who have released a only few albums here, but who have huge catalogs of great records that never made it to our shores.  YouTube is sometimes the best (mid-fi) way to sample such artists, like Michael Urbaniak and Iva Bittova (the "Polish Laurie Anderson"!).  I see a newly remastered version of Urbaniak's fusion-y "Inactin" is on Tidal.


Cecil Taylor Spring of Two Blue Jays; Freddie Redd,The Connection.  The latter was an off-Broadway play I saw around 1960. The record was on Blue Note.

Given the caliber of responses posted here I think most will appreciate the superb jazz guitarist Ed Cherry. This is his trio performing in a small NYC venue in 2016.

@wharfy I believe you’ll really like these guys. They can play!!