100 Must Know Jazz Tunes Consensus List

I was going through my computer deleting random “bad” photos I have been collecting for years when I found this gem among the photos.  I must have downloaded it while on my phone from Facebook or some other source because I have no recollection of downloading it at all.  I was about to delete it when I paused and took a look at it. Within a few seconds I was thinking “Wow, this is a great list of a hundred must know jazz standards!”  There is not one tune on this list I would disagree with!

100 Must Know Jazz Tunes Consensus List

I did a search online to see where it came from but couldn’t find this list posted anywhere on the internet.  I did find an iTunes track list of the standards in order which is cool (and one on Spotify also but I don’t use Spotify…….)  After some more research I found a reference to HSPVA. After another search I found that HSPVA stands for “High School for the Performing and Visual Arts” in Houston Texas.  I then did some more searches for the names on the sheet with the word “Jazz” next to them and I believe the names are Jazz Educators at different colleges around the country.  It’s hard to know 100% without the first names but that would be my guess. (Blancq,Dyas,Gasior,Goldman,Harris,Marantz,Pellera and Sneed)

I am very curious about what process the creator(s) took to come up with these tunes.  Each tune has a score next to it which I assume is some sort of vote count perhaps?  The first tune on the list “Take the A Train” has a score of 679.  I’m curious if 679 musicians voted on this tune, or maybe educators?  Maybe there was some other criteria that made up the scoring.  Very interesting……….

I don’t see any copyright on the page so I hope whoever made it doesn’t mind if I post it here for all to see.  I’ve decided to start using this sheet with my students as I do agree that these are some of the most popular jazz tunes called at gigs, jam sessions and functions from my experience. If you are going to start memorizing 100 jazz standards this list is the perfect place to start!

I hope by posting it here I can get some feedback on how it was compiled and put together.  Enjoy!    Steve

100 Must Know Jazz Tunes Consensus List

Steve About Steve

Steve Neff has been playing and teaching saxophone and jazz improvisation around the New England area for the last 30 years. He is the author of many effective jazz improvisation methods as well as founding the popular jazz video lesson site Neffmusic.com.


  1. Great list!

    In my personal selection, there would also be room for Black Orpheus and Shadow of Your Smile.

  2. Avatar Willard Wood says

    I have never heard several of these songs probably because I am a 1920’s thru 1950’s lover of the oldies—but in my opinion THE DUKES ” SOPHISTICATED LADY’ should be rated number 680 !! In 1933 it was on the charts for 13 weeks and in 1981 it was in a show on Broadway for 767 performances.

  3. Avatar Willard Wood says

    Oh by the way the list is for ” TUNES ” not Jazz Tunes !

    • Thanks Willard. Yes, I realized that but thought I would add the word “jazz” for the search engines as it might help others find it…………Steve

  4. Avatar Rob Payne says

    Since jazz musicians use standards all the time I’d consider all these to be jazz tunes. After all, if music is defined by its style, which it is, and a song is played in a jazz style it’s jazz is it not? I think I’d add “You Go to My Head” to the list, possibly one of the most beautiful tunes ever written. Same goes for “Laura”, which is the song I think of when somebody says haunting melody. I love the standards, sometimes that’s all I want to play. While improvising is important the melody of the song is equally important, though some people tend to forget that. I have as much respect for someone that can compose a really good song as much as I do someone who can play and improvise over “Confirmation” in all twelve keys. If you’ve never tried to write a song you should try it, you can learn a lot about music from it, and yourself.

  5. Avatar James Webster says

    Thanks so much for posting this! I recently heard about this exact list and I’ve been trying to track down a copy for myself. The story I heard about this list was that each tune was selected/voted in on one of two criteria.
    1. If the tune was called at a jam session you’d be embarrassed if you didn’t know it
    (for example Autumn leaves)
    2. If the tune was called at a jam session you’d feel relief instead of stress for having learnt it already (for example Giant Steps).
    If anyone has any more definitive info on the selection process I’d be interested to hear it.

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