Jazz Piano?

Alright, a few months ago I would have told you that I hate Jazz. I'm 24, I'm not supposed to like it. Problem is, my wife loves the stuff. So I'm watching MTV one day, and hear an interview with Jamie Cullum. I think, "Hey, here's something my wife will like, and something I could probably get into as well."

Turns out I love jazz piano. I've tried to listen to brass and guitar leads, but nothing hits me like piano does. Problem is, I don't have much of a collection-- none would be the more appropriate term. I need more.

So where should I start?
Brubeck, Evans, Monk,
Tower Records under Jazz
Classic Records
Might try Audioquest music and Bruce Katz Band (blues not jazz but great blues piano)
The above are all great suggestions. Bill evans is classic but don't forget oscar peterson. For 'popular' try claude bolling (suite for flute and jazz piano was one of the most popular jazz discs of all time at one point). There are lots more. Enjoy
Dick Hyman does (emulates/simulates/copies) just about every major jazz piano style there ever was,(and quite well I might add) from rag to swing and beyond.
Add to the previous list: Tyner,Hancock,Corea,Peterson.
Early Jazz: Jelly Roll Morton,James P. Johnson
Swing: Duke Ellington,Count Basie,**ART TATUM**
Bop: Bud Powell
Hard Bop:McCoy Tyner
Modern: Oscar Peterson,Bill Evans,Horace Silver,Herbie Hancock

Mark Gridley's one volume jazz text is a good read and a good introduction to jazz.
Many of these recommendations are fairly hard core jazz piano, and may not be as accessible to a rock fan. Don't want to scare you off right away. Jamie Cullum is nice jazz piano without going over the top. I would suggest a few others that are a bit more accessible and less hard core, like:

David Benoit
Diana Krall
Claude Bolling

Then move up a notch to:

Vince Guaraldi
Michael Petruicianni (may have spelled it wrong)
Bill Evans
Dave Brubeck
Jackie Terrasson
Marian McPartland

Then you can try harder stuff by:

Herbie Hancock
Kieth Jarrett
McCoy Tyner
Chic Corea
Oscar Peterson

I agree with the suggestions above and would add **KEITH JARRETT** to the list. He's often overlooked but in my opinion, he's one of the all time best jazz pianists. His Koln Concert album brought me to jazz over 30 years ago. Another favorite is Bill Evans. And of course Oscar Peterson...
Try going to www.accuradio.com, click on the "Jazz" tab, then choose "Piano Jazz". It's a great way to hear streaming jazz and decide on an artist/s that you may like. They have direct links to Amazon to purchase the CD. While there you can also check out other Jazz versions of Jazz. Good luck.
A great one to buy is "This One's for Blanton" by Duke Ellington and Ray Brown. Very accessible.
One of my favorites is Gene Harris, with the Three Sounds or his trio. You just can't go wrong with Gene Harris.
Marcus Roberts

Cyrus Chestnut
Coming from a rock perspective, you might try "The Bad Plus"...a piano, bass, drums trio that's comprised of young guys who play balls out. Their album "Give" is incredibly well produced. This is no lounge act piano trio. This is to piano what Hendrix was to guitar. For example, they do a version of Black Sabbath's"Iron Man", in addition to their own material. Get the idea? Interesting, challenging stuff.
The Smithsonian Collection of Jazz Piano is a great place to start. It takes you through the beginnings and all of the subsequent major movements in jazz, as well as some of its most important practitioners. The performances that they choose are great, and beautifully illustrate all of the stylistic elements that make jazz so cool to listen too. Indispensible.
Art Tatum
Wow... plenty of responses. I'll have to start searching for some of the names. Should be fun.
I have loved jazz piano for more than 40 years, and had the great pleasure to hear some of the "giants" of the instrument, including Earl Hines, Erroll Garner, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Teddy Wilson, George Shearing, Jimmy Rowles, Thelonious Monk, Bill Evans, Randy Weston, Marian McPartland, McCoy Tyner, Horace Silver, Chick Corea, Chucho Valdez, Michel Camillo, Gene Harris, and Michel Petrucciani. If I had to pick a "short list" of my "favorite four" to listen to for pure personal enjoyment, it would be Garner, Evans, McPartland, and Petruciani.

As Caroline452 notes above, however, no list of piano "greats" would be complete without the name of Art Tatum, one of the most gifted jazz musicians in the history of the music. And from the 1930's era, no one should overlook such greats as Willie "The Lion" Smith, Albert Ammons, Jelly Roll Morton, Meade "Lux" Lewis, and Pete Johnson.
If you further want to dig on electric keyboards jazz(i.e. contemporary jazz) start with Chick Corea's Electric Band and Miles Davis "Bitches Brew".
Check out Night Divides the Day: The Music of the Doors by George Winston
In my previous post, I failed to include a couple of fine pianists that should have been included. Beyond the obvious omissions of Oscar Peterson and Dave Brubeck, I should also have listed Tommy Flanagan, Ahmad Jamal, Barry Harris, Roland Hanna, George Cables, Keith Jarrett, and one of my personal favorites, Kenny Barron. If you want to branch out a bit and listen to some fine foreign jazz pianists, check out Abdullah Ibrahim (also known as Dollar Brand), Tete Montoliu, Eliane Elias, and Gonzalo Rubalcaba.
My favorites include Art Tatum who is probably the most technically proficient of any jazz pianist I have ever listened to. Very clean and articulate lines as if he were classically trained. He is a must if you are investigating where to start.

I personally like Errol Garner and Earl Hines. Bill Evans is quite enjoyable as well. There are many choices in this genre and many of the above mentioned would be included on my list.
Please consider Alan Pasqua on two recent recordings with the Peter Erskine Trio: Badlands, and Live at Rocco. He's tremendously sensitive with a great touch, and the music is melodic and easily relatable for someone new to jazz. I think you can still preview these on Amazon, if interested.
Art Tatum's piano teacher was his mother-who was classiclly trained.

At the risk of putting too fine a point on it,Tatum can be broken down into three periods. His third period is over my head but I listen to his second period stuff with my mouth opened in amazement.(See volume three of John Mehigan's JAZZ IMPROVISATION series for more.)

If you Google "Art Tatum"---"I feel lucky" ,you'll connect to a site of a private individual who will sell you an anthology disk(s). It sounds like a remaster of 50 to 60 year old recordings,but that's ok. The artistic merit of the work justifies it.
Check out Bill Evans 'Sunday at the Village Vanguard and/or Waltz for Debby.
Pure full swing fun: Gene Harris Trio plus One (the one being Stanley Turrentine)
jazz is a wonderful/terrible word to describe an enormous range of musical expression. at 24, you're "not supposed to like it"? otoh, i have a good friend who similarly perhaps, finds that a lot of jazz starts out with an (annoying) eclectic & somewhat "honking" melody line, and then takes off in a million different directions. later, you hear a few repeats of the somewhat lacking "theme", and then a rousing finish. so he proudly prefers r&r or popular music these days, but once upon a time was a huge fan of van morrison, frank zappa, & jethro tull. i was lucky- my father brought home a copy (now out of print) of dave brubeck's "my favorite things", my 1st real exposure to jazz. it's melodic, demonstrates a straightforward approach to improvisation, the songs aren't too long or too short, and each one is a classic. and, paul desmond is a treasure- no squeaks, honks, or stratospheric runs- just melodies within melodies. but getting a sense of what "jazz music" is is like christopher columbus trying to figure out where he was and where he was going next. my big dumb suggestion- watch ken burns' jazz documentary from beginning to end, and jot down what sounds good to you.
Try this trio: "e.s.t." Just Grand Piano, Double Bass and Drums. Very powerful.