Anyone looking to organize a special party should consider playing songs by iconic jazz artists such as Ella Fitzgerald, Ray Charles, Miles Davis, and many other talented musicians. In this article, we’ve compiled a list of 20 great jazz dance songs that you can listen to and enjoy.
Jazz is an iconic music genre that originated in the United States at the end of the 19th century. Today, it’s a recognized artistic expression around the world, and jazz dance songs are often played at high-level events and parties. Here are some of the best jazz songs to dance to.
- 1. “My Funny Valentine” by Frank Sinatra
- 2. “Cantaloupe Island” by Herbie Hancock
- 3. “Take Five” by Dave Brubeck
- 4. “My Funny Valentine” by Chet Baker
- 5. “West End Blues” by Louis Armstrong and His Hot Five
- 6. “Georgia On My Mind” by Ray Charles
- 7. “Lullaby For Birdland” by George Shearing
- 8. “My One And Only Love” by John Coltrane
- 9. “It Ain’t Necessarily So” by Peggy Lee
- 10. “Body And Soul” by Coleman Hawkins
- 11. “Mack The Knife” by Ella Fitzgerald
- 12. “I Was Doing Alright” by Dexter Gordon
- 13. “What A Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong
- 14. “Un Poco Loco” by Bud Powell
- 15. “Mood Indigo” by Duke Ellington
- 16. “The Girl From Ipanema” by Astrud Gilberto, João Gilberto & Stan Getz
- 17. “Let’s Do It (Let’s Fall in Love)” by Ella Fitzgerald
- 18. “St. Thomas” by Sonny Rollins
- 19. “So What” by Miles Davis
- 20. “Night and Day” by Joe Henderson
1. “My Funny Valentine” by Frank Sinatra
“My Funny Valentine” by Frank Sinatra is a song that pays homage to Valentine’s Day, as the protagonist of the song considers that every day should be Valentine’s Day. The track has been recorded over 1,600 times by more than 600 artists, both instrumentally and vocally because this song is a classic.
2. “Cantaloupe Island” by Herbie Hancock
Herbie Hancock’s “Cantaloupe Island” is one of the most iconic jazz dance songs in music. Its sounds are fast but at the same time relaxing and ideal for a get-together. “Cantaloupe Island” is a perfect instrumental track for those who know little about jazz as it will help you get acquainted with the genre.
3. “Take Five” by Dave Brubeck
Dave Brubeck’s “Take Five” is an instrumental jazz song that everyone may have already heard once. The title of the song alludes to taking a five-minute break from work. The success of this instrumental song at the time was surprising for Brubeck himself because he did not believe it would have as much impact as it did.
4. “My Funny Valentine” by Chet Baker
“My Funny Valentine” by Chet Baker is another version of the Sinatra original that stands apart. This particular version is slower and more enveloping and ideal for anyone wanting to be alone with themselves and reflect on what happened during the day. This version was created by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart for the musical comedy Babes in Arms in 1937.
5. “West End Blues” by Louis Armstrong and His Hot Five
“West End Blues” by Louis Armstrong and His Hot Five is a slow mellow jazz instrumental with Armstrong’s smooth backing vocals playing throughout the song. Its sound is distinctly soothing, though somewhat sad as it contains elements of the blues genre of music.
It should be remembered that jazz integrates perfectly with other rhythms, creating subgenres like swing, bebop, post-bop, Latin jazz, among others.
6. “Georgia On My Mind” by Ray Charles
“Georgia on My Mind” by Ray Charles is perhaps the most iconic jazz song and is recognized worldwide. The lyrics tell the story of a man from Georgia who is currently in another place and misses his home state very much. He laments that the only thing keeping Georgia alive in his head is that song.
7. “Lullaby For Birdland” by George Shearing
This classic tune is like a timeless piece of art from 1952. Its speedy rhythms have been the soundtrack to classy nights out, making any place feel like a high-end joint. Shearing’s creation is an anthem in jazz standards, setting the mood with an air of ease. It hit the scene with a bang and continues to sway audiences with its iconic rhythm.
8. “My One And Only Love” by John Coltrane
“My One and Only Love” by John Coltrane is one of the most romantic jazz dance songs ever. The lyrics speak of a man in love who feels happy just remembering his beloved. He feels that this love is reciprocated and therefore feels that she belongs to him.
9. “It Ain’t Necessarily So” by Peggy Lee
Peggy Lee’s “It Ain’t Necessarily So” is a song that names certain fragments of the Bible, claiming that the events described therein did not happen exactly that way.
The song created controversy for questioning the Bible. In addition, some considered it discriminatory because the song singled out African-American citizens as unfaithful to God, something that offended the community.
10. “Body And Soul” by Coleman Hawkins
If jazz had a crown jewel, this would be a strong contender. The saxophone takes center stage in this instrumental masterpiece, transforming the melody into an intimate conversation. It shook up the jazz scene with its perfection and continues to be revered as a musical marvel.
11. “Mack The Knife” by Ella Fitzgerald
This song narrates a chilling tale of the notorious criminal, Mack the Knife. It stirred up a storm due to its graphic language and unapologetic portrayal of crime, making it a tune that’s not for the faint-hearted. Its popularity, however, was immense, marking a dramatic chapter in jazz history.
12. “I Was Doing Alright” by Dexter Gordon
Think of a rhythm that cocoons you with its soothing notes, and you’ve got Gordon’s iconic jazz song. With its piano melodies stirring up a range of emotions, this track is more than just music – it’s a rhythmic journey.
13. “What A Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong
Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World” is an anthem among jazz dance songs. The lyrics tell of a man who imagines an idyllic world through simple things: day, night, friends, rainbows. The protagonist of the song simply sees the world as it is and is grateful for it.
14. “Un Poco Loco” by Bud Powell
“Un Poco Loco” means “a little crazy” in Spanish Bud Powell chose the title because this is one of those jazz dance songs that get you moving non-stop. It is a highly rhythmic song that is full of energy and vibe.
15. “Mood Indigo” by Duke Ellington
“Mood Indigo” by Duke Ellington is a standard jazz tune made in 1930. The lyrics were written by Irving Mills. It was originally labeled “Dreamy Blues” and was created for a radio program – Ellington’s first composition for a broadcast medium.
The expansion of jazz into mass media shows that jazz was being integrated into other areas of society and that it was no longer limited to a specific audience.
16. “The Girl From Ipanema” by Astrud Gilberto, João Gilberto & Stan Getz
“The Girl From Ipanema” by Astrud Gilberto, João Gilberto & Stan Getz has been sung in the Portuguese language. The lyrics of this song describe the admiration that a girl from Ipanema arouses every time she is seen passing by.
The authors of this song are Brazilians who achieved international transcendence. They are also accredited with making jazz popular in Latin America.
17. “Let’s Do It (Let’s Fall in Love)” by Ella Fitzgerald
This Fitzgerald classic is nothing short of enchanting. The song’s protagonist extends an open invitation to the man of her dreams to fall head over heels in love. She draws inspiration from the universal allure of love, capturing how it sweeps across countries and species alike. As they say, love knows no bounds!
18. “St. Thomas” by Sonny Rollins
“St. Thomas” by Sonny Rollins is an instrumental song that is considered to have the jazz standard. Its sounds are fast and inviting to dance. Few know that St. Thomas is inspired by a children’s song from the U.S. Virgin Islands where Rollins’ mother was from.
19. “So What” by Miles Davis
Tucked away in Davis’ 1959 album “Kind of Blue” is this jazz standard masterpiece. “So What” is an exploration of modal jazz with a sprinkle of swing. Its contemplative and reflective tones make it a timeless go-to for those introspective moments. Just hit play, and let it take you on a thoughtful musical journey.
20. “Night and Day” by Joe Henderson
Unveiled in 1965 as a part of Henderson’s fourth album “Inner Urge”, “Night and Day” is an instrumental jazz standard that invites thoughtful introspection. Its fast-paced rhythm is subtly tinged with melancholy, creating a captivating contrast.
Jazz dance songs offer a unique blend of mind and body enrichment. They’re like soul food for your ears, calming your mind after a strenuous day and uplifting your spirits for the challenges ahead.
These tunes might be dipped in shades of melancholy, but they still emanate an aura of tranquility, peace, and serenity. Let them awaken your zest for life and encourage you to embrace the liberating essence of jazz.