Jazz Recommendations.

If you wanted to turn someone on to Jazz,what would you say
are must have's?
Charles Mingus-Black Saint and Sinner Lady, Thelonius Monk- Monk's Music, Duke Ellington-Far East Suite, Keith Jarrett, Koln Concert, Wayne Shorter- Speak No Evil, Andrew Hill- Point of Departure, Bill Evans-Waltz for Debbie, World Saxophone Quartet-Review, Heny Threadgill, Just the Facts and Pass the Bucket, Joe Lovano- From the Soul, Ben Allison-Ride the Nuclear Tiger.
Well, first of all send that someone to a good Jazz concert. Preferably in NY to
some nice Jazz club. Last time I visited a some friends in NJ, we all went out
to Village to a Jazz club. Both are usually not into Jazz, but they really enjoyed
the concert.

Otherwise, here are the records that go me started more than ten years ago:
John Coltrane "Love Supreme", Charlie Mingus "Mingus,
Mingus, Mingus", Duke Ellington "Money Jungle", and Count
Basie "April in Paris". Also, there were some basic Blue Note and
Verve samplers that I picked up at some store.

Also, I do not necessarily agree to get someone started with the softer side of
Jazz. Depending on his current taste in music, you could possibly bore
someone to tears ;-) The website recommended by Howard (Boa2) certainly
would be a good start.

Good luck,

You might try THIS THREAD for suggestions. I found it very helpful when I first started exploring jazz, particularly Sdcampbell's posts.

My suggestions for entry selections would be Miles Davis - Kind of Blue, Bill Evans - Waltz for Debby and Sonny Rollins - Tenor Madness.
I find that most of the suggestions given have a good degree of merit to them but fail to take into account some quite important facts that any potential new jazz listener and fan should be made aware of from the get go. To wit:

1) You will have a very hard time finding a halfway decent FULL TIME jazz radio station anywhere in the US - even in NYC (where I live). Hearing new music will therefore be a major challenge, so be prepared to buy quite a bit of music without hearing it first.

2) You will have a very hard time finding a halfway decent jazz section in any local record/CD store. Sure, there are plenty of online merchants with vast selections but if you're new to jazz and need help and advice, forget about getting any on the retail level.

3) You will often find youself quite alone with regards to your musical tastes. Kind of like an opera fan at a death metal concert. Friends who claim to be into jazz will really be listening to their old Steely Dan and Stones records. People will pay lip service to Duke and Basie and Satchmo and Lady Day and Prez but will know little about them or their music apart from "Take the A Train", "Hello Dolly" and "God Bless The Child". Basically the world of popular culture will slowly pass you by.

4) And finally, if you also happen to be an audiophile, you will have the additional hardship of suffering through endless discussions on the best "sounding" jazz recordings, regardless of the caliber of the musicans involved in the recording. Hence the worship of nonsense like "Jazz at the Pawnshop" and the latest female singer de jour who records with the microphone halfway down her throat.

I know I'm being a little harsh but I did leave out many of the good things about being a jazz fan. How about getting to buy countless reissues and box sets with previously unreleased material and alternate and incomplete takes, sometimes entire CDs worth of 30 second breakdown takes. Or listening to those crazed jazz DJs (that is, when you're lucky enough to find them) who can spend a good half hour talking about why take 5 of "Parker's Mood" is far superior to takes 4 and 2 and, of course, the incomplete takes 1, 3 and 6.
I echo most of the responses here already, including Ralphp's. His (presumably he) post raises a few points I would add.

Look around for jazz stations on line. I know that there is WBGO in Newark, NJ, and WMOT out of Tennessee; there's another full time one in the bay area. There's also WKCR in New York which features Phil Schaap. Though these stations tend to play a lot of more recent and local stuff (something jazz lovers can be really condescending toward), they do mix it up some. And it's free sampling when you're starting out. Also, you can catch sessions of the NPR jazz programming ("JazzSet", "Piano Jazz", "Live from Lincoln Center") on line as well. Great ways to get to know the music.

Because the radio outlets are fewer and farther between for us, you do need to be prepared to buy. Used shops, it goes without saying, are great. They also tend to be cheaper on brand new stuff, and tend only to carry the more mainline artists, good for getting one's feet wet.

As Goheelz suggested, notice the other artists backing the title artist. The greatest period of this music involved cats listenting while playing back up, and then turning it into their own thing.

As for particular titles, lately I cannot get enough of Ahamad Jamal's "Cross Country Tour." It's a two-disc set that features some of his greatest stuff, which, incidentally, proved a big inspriation for one Miles Dewey Davis. Also gotta push the following:

Rachelle Ferell, "First Instrument" - range AND control
Coltrane, "Blue Train" and of course, "Love Supreme"
Wes Montgomery, "Smokin at the Half Note"
Ellington, "Live at Newport 1956" - wanna hear a saxaphone start a riot?
Branford Marsalis, "Renaissance"

In any and all cases, good listening.