I first got into jazz in the early 1950s, when I was in high school. My mother was the buyer of radios, phonographs and recordings in a local department store and she would bring home some of the early pop and jazz LPs that began appearing in substantial numbers at the time. I heard Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw along with other big bands like those of Billy May, Ralph Flanagan and Ray Anthony. My appetite was whetted and I began to seek out other jazz recordings using Down Beat and Metronome magazine reviews as guides. Playing in a combo that worked Bar Mitzvah parties practically every Saturday night, I had some funds available for LP purchases and soon I was creating a collection that included just about every 5-star reviewed album in Down Beat.
West Coast Jazz was very much in vogue at the time and many of my earliest acquisitions were albums of artists like Gerry Mulligan, Dave Brubeck, Chet Baker and Shorty Rogers. Stan Getz was another favorite but I quickly branched out into other young stars like Clifford Brown and Horace Silver. Soon to be iconic jazz labels like Blue Note, Prestige, Contemporary, Bethlehem and Pacific Jazz were the sources of most of my earliest LPs. By 1955, the 10 in. LP was pretty much history and by 1956, 12 in. jazz albums were being issued in large numbers, even by major labels like Columbia, RCA Victor, Decca and Capitol. By mid-decade, a stylistic transition was also occurring from “cool” or “west coast” to a new sub-genre that became known as “hard bop.”
The compilation lists the LPs, along with their covers, in my early collection, spanning the years 1950-1955 sorted by year of release. This was created from memory as documentation of exactly which albums I owned disappeared long ago. Included in the list are several items that I “inherited” from my parents and are the ones issued the earliest, before I officially became a collector.
Caveat: I no longer own any of the LPs listed, some of which are quite rare. They are long gone having been sold, donated or lost and in most cases, replaced with CD reissues.
Catalog numbers are indicated. Clicking on a thumbnail often results in an enhanced image. I suspect that many of the album covers will evoke memories among viewers of my age group. It should be noted that all of the music contained on the LPs listed was recorded no later than 1955; however, some of the albums recorded in the latter part of 1955 were not released until early 1956 as indicated.
Here are LPs released in 1956 (but recorded in 1955).