Few things are as classically romantic as the 10 best jazz love songs of all time. They carry with them an air of love in its purest, most idealized form. And whether it’s an upbeat swing tune or a finely crafted ballad, all of them are guaranteed to move you in some way. Read on for some of the highlights of jazz’s close ties with the subject matter of love.
- Nina Simone – “My Baby Just Cares For Me”. Nina Simone’s deep, soulful voice glides perfectly along with the upbeat piano melody in this jazz love song. Its hard swinging rhythm makes it the perfect tune for you and your partner to dance to.
- Nat “King” Cole – “Stardust”. Singer and pianist Nat “King” Cole is known as one of the true masters of the jazz ballad. His voice soars over a sweeping string section and soft swing rhythm in “Stardust”. Its genius structure and fantastic lyrics will have any listener feeling amorous in a matter of seconds.
- Louis Armstrong – “A Kiss to Build a Dream On”. Though the legendary Armstrong is better known for “hot” jazz, he recorded some great jazz love songs back in the day. On “A Kiss to Build a Dream On”, his gruff voice and melodic trumpet lines create a strong sense of love and longing.
- Billie Holiday – “All of Me”. She may not have been the most virtuosic singer of all time, but few songstresses can match the passion with which Billie Holiday belted out her lyrics. She’s at her best and most soulful self on “All of Me”.
- Etta James – “The Very Thought of You”. When describing her voice, many find themselves coming back to the word “smoky” quite often. This style fits the romantic jazz standard “The Very Thought of You” perfectly, especially when combined with the downright sexy tenor sax on the recording.
- Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong – “They Can’t Take That Away From Me”. Fitzgerald and Armstrong recorded several classic jazz love songs together, but this one takes the cake. Their vocal chemistry is downright palpable on the track.
- Miles Davis – “Blue in Green”. Bill Evans, Davis’ pianist on this track, penned one of the most beautiful jazz progressions ever written on this ballad. Though it lacks lyrics, Davis’ trumpet, Coltrane’s saxophone, and Evans’ piano create the atmosphere of love better than any vocalist could.
- Sarah Vaughan – “Someone to Watch Over Me”. Vaughan was renowned for having one of the most powerful voices in music. Her version of the classic jazz love song “Someone to Watch Over Me” manages to be both uplifting and sweetly sad.
- Tony Bennett – “My Funny Valentine”. This great standard has been recorded by nearly every major jazz artist in the last century. Few, if any, performed it better than Tony Bennett. His nuanced voice ebbs and flows with the song’s interesting structure and powerful climax.
- Frank Sinatra – “Under My Skin”. No list of great jazz love songs is complete without Sinatra. His swinging rendition of “Under My Skin” has become one of the most celebrated and well known vocal jazz recordings in music, mostly because it’s just that good.
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