Jazz for someone who doesn't like jazz.

I've toyed with the idea of looking into jazz. Not sure why. Not sure what I'm looking for. Maybe just something to sound good on my system. I realize jazz is a broad category but much of what I hear I have not been attracted to. Don't ask me what I've heard.
What I'd like is a recommendation of two or three albums to start with. (I know that's insane)

And since I've given next to nothing to go on I'll point out a few things that I do like that might help narrow it down some maybe.

Jazz-like stuff I do like: Steely Dan. Almost all of their stuff. Van Morrison's jazz influenced stuff like Astral Weeks.
I like blues. Delta and hill country hard core blues.

I like a wide variety of rock from heavy metal, to prog rock to classic R&B.
Does any of that help? I know this is a crazy request but if I could get some recommendations I'll at least have somewhere to start. Not looking for specific recordings yet. Just content. When I find what I like I'll research the best recordings.
Thanks for any possible advice.

If you want find out and understand what swing is, you can't go wrong with Count Basie.

+1 Wes Montgomery

I have to agree with what I’ve read here.

Watch the Ken Burns Series!!!!

Some many great stories are told in this series. The first episode is about the historical roots of jazz and may seem a bit removed, but hang in there. I don’t know your age and who you’ve grown up with, but I have a huge appreciation for Louis Armstrong because of this series, as well as more enjoyment of many artists because of his perspective. 

Also, Clint Eastwood’s movie “Bird” helped get me into Charlie Bird.

I was in HS 2971-74, an era where “jazz” was associated with the stuff mothers did not approve - thus entered the era of the “stage band” in high school. We barely played any jazz, and the only ones keeping jazz alive were big band stars like Woody Herman, Buddy Rich and Maynard Ferguson, who were wise enough to add some rock tunes to keep us youngsters listening.

My advice: Find a “way in” that you like and continue to expand your horizons. Mine was through Buddy and Maynard and their high power big bands, learning what I liked, and slowly branching out.

Find some standard 40’s big band tunes you like. This is an easy  “pop” way in toward appreciating swing time.

Like Latin? Head that direction - lots and lots to choose from in that venue.

About all that soloing...it will grow on you. Really. Not all of it, but some. I still can’t stand - i.e. understand -  “A Love Supreme” by Coltrane, but I’ll listen to most of Miles all day long.

(This next section is pure jazz sacrilege, but too bad...)

A few more thoughts about that soloing stuff. I like to divide soloing (improv) into two camps (and of course this is way too simplistic, but bear with me). There are solos/soloists that “play around with the tune” and those who just “play the changes”. 

If you’re having difficulty with the likes of Bird and Coltrane et al, it might be because they tend to leave the tune behind and focus entirely on the chord changes. Other soloists like Miles, Stan Getz and Wynton Marcellis for example solo “around the tune” while they improv over the changes. Many find this much more accessible. It is NOT better or worse, but if your having trouble with one, try the other camp. A final note (shhh...this one is really, really sacrilegious)... you ARE allowed to fast forward through the solo (I’m checking over my shoulder for the jazz police as I write this).   

Other approaches:

Find a tune you like, and listen to several versions of it. Nutville (Nuttville), Autumn Leaves, I Can’t Get Started are a few that come to mind.

Try WATCHING some jazz - that approach can make it more appealing.

In this day and age of streaming music “learning to like jazz” is a lot easier and infinitely cheaper than 50 years ago. Skip through some “Essentials” of some artists

Here are some tunes/artists I find to be “more approachable”:

Enjoy the journey...

Miles Davis - So What, Freddie Freeloader, Walkin’, 

Cannonball Adderley - Autumn Leaves (weird intro)

Stan Getz - Girl from Ipanema, Four Brothers

Sonny Rollins - St. Thomas, The Eternal Triangle, 

Chet Baker - Autumn Leaves

Dave Brubeck - Gone With the Wind, 

Bill Evans - Waltz for Debbie, Autumn Leaves, 

Horace Silver - Nutville, Cape Verdean Blues, Song for My Father

Big Band Sounds: pick a few and see what gets your foot tapping.


Benny Goodman - Stompin’ At the Savoy, 

Artie Shaw - Begin the Beguine

50’s - 60’s

Stan Kenton - The Peanut Vender, 

Dizzy Gillespie - Manteca, Night In Tunisia

Count Basie - April in Paris, One O’clock Jump, Shiny Stockings 


Woody Herman - My Favorite Things, Somewhere, 

Maynard Ferguson - MF Horn 1 @ 2

Buddy Rich - Big Swing Face album, West Side Story Suite

Patricia Barbers debut album "Cafe Blue'. Excellent musicians all having opportunities to show their expertise.
Well, covid 19 precautions are in place, and older, they have to be careful. Perhaps you can call/talk to them now, hook up later.

Eventually, I think you should have that mighty fine couple over for dinner, ask for some recommendations, let them see/hear your system, let him see you handle/play, lift tonearm, .. IOW, they know you know how to carefully handle LP's, because, eventually he might offer to bring some of his lp's over to play on your system, or eventually borrow/lend with you.

I always want to know not only handling skills, but the cartridge/stylus shape/alignment skills before I loan my lp's to my audiophile friends. Not bore with technical discussion, just assure awareness/skills of the methods to get the best out of lps.
local audiophile group/club? ... perhaps they are having some virtual meetings.