Piano, bass, and drums make up a basic unit, an essential building block of jazz. In this classic three-piece format, there’s both no place to hide and no limit on the imagination. And when a piano trio is performing at its best—as is the case on the 10 recordings listed below—nothing is better.
For this JazzTimes 10, the albums aren’t ranked but placed in chronological order of recording. You may wonder why, say, Bud Powell or Oscar Peterson or Tommy Flanagan or McCoy Tyner or Chick Corea or Kenny Barron or Dave Burrell or [INSERT NAME HERE] isn’t included—and you’d be justified in doing so. The fact is there are simply way too many spectacular piano trios to fit into one list of 10. Maybe we’ll have to do a sequel. (We can hardly wait.) But in the meantime, feast on these.