Help Where to start with jazz?????

The last couple of weeks I've become hooked to a radio statio called KCSM in San Mateo, CA. I love every song, all day all night. Where do I start diving into this new genre? Jazz is my last undiscovered territory. I want it all! What do you recommend??? Please no smooth jazz!!!
Bob James - "Grand Canyon Piano"

Buy it and give me a report back if that is your style?
Diana Krall.
I love jazz, but am not into "smooth Jazz." I love the Jazz of the late fifties.

I recommend John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, Horace Silver,
Cannonball Adderley.

Start with:

Soultrane -- John Coltrane

Steamin' -- Miles Davis

Straight, no Chaser -- Thelonious Monk

Song For My Father -- Horace Silver

Something Else -- Cannonball Adderley

Give those a try.
You also can't go wrong with --

Kind of Blue -- Miles Davis

Bag's Groove -- Miles Davis

Blue Trane -- John Coltrane

Thelonious Monk/John Coltrane

Sonny Rollins Plus Four

Way Out West -- Sonny Rollins

Incredible Jazz Guitar -- Wes Montgomery
I have a big jazz collection. I usually recommend Thelonious Monk--Monk's Dream, Charles Mingus--Black Saint and the Sinner Lady, Jackie McLean--One Step Beyond, Grant Green- Born to Be Blue. Email me if you want others.
Bassie Jam is a MUST have.
Try to find some various artists complilations and then buy individual albums by the artists you like best. See where it leads, I think discovering music that is new to you is the best part of this hobby.
i agree with many above, but 'must starts' to add:

dave brubek - time out

sonny rollins - saxaphone colossus

herbie handcock - headhunters (this may stretch your limits at first, but i would bet you grow to love it in time).

"The Sound of Jazz" an album on Columbia that was an outshoot of one-of TV show in the late fifties should give you some insight into various jazz performers of the period. A visit to the bookshop to pick up one of the guides to Jazz would be a great help also. Not to be difficult, but the world of Jazz is really big so don't get upset if you go down a few paths that don't lead to something you like; double back and go another way until you find a style or artists that you connect with. Good luck.
Not that I disagree with any of the suggestions, but whenever someone asks for where to start in jazz, and it is a frequent question, why are all the suggestions post 1950 music? The 50s and 60s were great and innovative years for jazz, but by then jazz had already become a niche music category catering to a small, but loyal fan base. The real glory days for jazz were the 30s and 40s when jazz was America's popular music. If you really want to understand jazz you have to go back to this period.

Pretty much all modern jazz starts with Louis Armstrong. You might then move on to Duke Ellington and then sample some bebop. Enjoy!
The Ken Burns Jazz PBS series was a great intro to
jazz. There is a multi-CD recording of music
from the early 1900's to the 1990's.

Listening to the radio is an excellent way to get
acquainted with jazz. Just go buy something you
heard and liked and then maybe another by the same

Pay attention to whether you relate more to
singers or instrumentalists. Is there some one
particular instrument that really gets you (I'm a
big fan of jazz organ and piano)?
Any one particular performer? How about the jazz blues?

Good luck with your new found taste for jazz.
If you haven't already, read the entire "Jazz Recommendations" thread at the top of this page. Oh, and don't forget Art Pepper or Dinah Washington. :-)
When I began exploring jazz I liked the following:
Miles Davis - "Kind Of Blue", "Sketches Of Spain"
Dave Brubeck - "Time Out"
Bill Evans Trio - "Waltz For Debbie", "Sunday At The Village Vangard", "Everybody Digs Bill Evans"
Ella Fitzgerald - "Clap Hands Here Comes Charlie"
Coleman Hawkins - "Night Hawk"
Sonny Rollins - "Way Out West", "Saxophone Colossus"
Art Pepper - "Meets The Rhythm Section", "Plus Eleven"
John Coltrane - "Blue Train"
Gene Ammons - "Blue Gene"
Louis Armstrong - "Satchmo Plays King Oliver"
Count Basie - "88 Basie Street"

The above are only a mix, but they give you a taste of different styles, vocals, piano trios, sax quartets and quintets and, in the case of "Sketches of Spain", jazz arranged to include an orchestra.
Here are some representative works from each of the periods.

Early Jazz--Louis Armstrong Hot Five or Hot Seven recordings.

Swing--Ellington,Live at Newport.

Bop--Charles Parker,Ornathology

Cool--Miles Davis,Kind of Blue

Hard Bop--Coltrane,Giant Steps

Modern--Bill Evans,Sunday Afternoon at the Vanguard.

Mark C. Gridley wrote a one volume jazz history that is an excellent read,much better than most textbooks. He includes lists of recordings.
For starters I'd recommend educating yourself by viewing something like the Ken Burns Jazz series, which you can probably rent. It's not perfect, but there is a huge range of jazz styles and so many performers. And This will give you an idea of the how the syles developed.
In a similar vein to PBB's suggetion above, I highly recommend Leornard Berstein's - Bernstein on Jazz. This recording features Bernstein talking about what to listen for in Jazz. It also includes separate performances with Louis Armstrong and Dave Brubeck. I only recently came across this gem, after 7+ years of heavy Jazz listening. It's still not too late for me to learn from it, and I strongly recommend it to those just getting started.
Buy a copy of AllMusic Guide to Jazz. When you next listen to this radio station pay attention to who is playing. Then research the artist in this guide and buy one of his more highly recommended discs. Often you can also get some hints about who to try next by watching who his sidemen are and researching them as well. That way you'll not waste money on records/artists that you aren't ready for or don't like (yet) and you will still be spending all you can afford on a jazz library that you will enjoy.
Wow, thanks for all the responses. It's really overwhelming! Just in the past few minutes I've enjoyed songs by BEN ALLISON, BABATUNE LEA, AKIRA TANA, LEE MORGAN, DONALD BYRD... Where does the good news stop!

I did see Ken Burns documentary last year and loved it. I was also at that time overwhelmed. Guess I just gota start with a few and network from there.

Thank god for the local jazz station: all that free music and no ads. guess I gotta make a pledge now.
If you like what you're hearing, you van start by looking for more of the same. Check out your local library for CDs of the artists that are on KCSM and listen to more of their body of work. As you get comfortble with them expand by checking out albums by their sidemen. As you progress, you'll find some styles that resonate with you and some that don't, but you'll be finding more that work for you and that's all that counts.
If you like Lee Morgan, start with Sidewinder.
Also -- do you want a complete education in jazz, or were you just looking for a few suggestions as a starting place? It is easy to get overwhelmed,
especially if you believe you have to have jazz from every period and start out with the thought that you are going to build a complete collection, which would mean purchasing around three or four thousand albums -- where to start? That's why I gave you five or six to get you started in one period -- try not to get overwhelmed. Also, a great way to get some exposure, believe it or not, is to go to Amazon -- they have a feature that will let you listen to 30
seconds to a minute of some of the songs on each album. While it isn't perfect, you can sample a lot of music that way in a short period of time.
If you are really interested in the whole picture, its best to accept it as a continuum. The very best way that I know to hip yourself to this is the Smithsonian Collection of Classic Jazz. It features essential recordings from the beginning of recorded jazz to the present. By listening to the selections in order you can develop a sense of the organic development of the music, and how it has adopted influences from other strains of contemporary music, from classical to hip hop. The supporting documentation is also superb. Its also a superb introduction to other superior recordings as it includes a detailed discography. Indispensible!
Easy: Kind of Blue. It's the album to start with…and stay with.
Check out "Bird and Diz". Charley Parker and Dizzy Gillespie with Thelonius Monk on piano. Good introduction to the Bop scene.
I *currently* have a pair of MartinLogan SL3s with my DNA 1/B and they sound wonderful, especially on jazz, vocals, strings, etc. I've heard better for rock, but these are still fairly punchy.

Unfortunately we're downsizing and they won't work in the new house. I've got a potential buyer coming by tomorrow, but drop a line if you're interested and I'll let you know if they're still available.