Well, you asked. This is a list I received when I first became interested in Jazz.
Here are some classics that a) you need to hear and b) are also great....
1)Horace Silver - start with his earlier ones. I recommend The Jody Grind and Song For My Father
2) Charles Mingus - try Mingus Ah Um, Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus, and Mingus Dynasty
Sonny Rollins - Saxophone Colossus. Plus anything he did with his
quartet that included Jim Hall. His recent Road Shows discs are good
too, but SC is the place to start
4) Dave Brubeck - Time Out of
course, but Time In, Time Further Out, Live at Carnegie, Plays Disney,
Jazz Impressions of Japan, Jazz Impressions of Eurasia are all good
5) Ellington, Mingus, Max Roach - Money Jungle
6) if you like Sonny Clark, make sure you have Cool Struttin'
modern day - Etienne Charles' Creole Soul is great, as is Warren Wolf's
self titled disc. Joshua Redman and Christian McBride are both always
reliable and swinging. Joe Lovano.
8) like trombone? Try Frank
Rosolino, J.J. Johnson (The Eminent... discs v.1-2 are good), Curtis
Fuller and Steve Turre (modern)
9) organ? Jimmy Smith, Jack McDuff's
band that included George Benson on guitar, Joey DeFrancesco burns, as
do Tony Monaco and Barbara Dennerlein
10) early jazz: Louis Armstrong Hot 5s and Hot 7s; Sidney Bechet
11) Django Reinhardt was one of a kind on guitar
Thelonius Monk - so many. Riverside and Blue Notrs are classic. Later
Columbias are good but less revelatory. Live At The It Club from 1964
is a nice career survey thought
13) Art Blakey - Moanin' and "Roots and Herbs"
14) Modern Jazz Quartet - Django is a good place to start
15) Miles Davis - Bitches Brew, the album that kicked electric jazz in the pants
16 Clifford Brown/Max Roach quintet - EmArcy recordings. Super swinging post-bop
17) Lee Morgan - The Sidewinder is the classic. Live At the Lighthouse is the real eye-opener
18) Wayne Shorter - 60s Blue Note recordings are classic
19) Bobby Hutcherson - ditto
20) Andrew Hill - double ditto, esp. Point of Departure
21) Jackie McLean - Let Freedom Ring
22) Red Garland, Horace Parlan - two great, gospel-infused piano trios, each recorded quite prolifically
23) Cannonball Adderley - Something Else
Here are two good lists:
1) heavy on classic jazz, but can't go wrong with anything here: http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2008/05/19/100-essential-jazz-albums
2) Interesting, eclectic choices with a lot of more current (70s to today) stuffhttp://www.jazzwisemagazine.com/pages/jazz-album-reviews/11585-the-100-jazz-albums-that-shook-the-world