Jazz musicians are not like other musicians. They put their hearts and souls into the music they perform and the songs they sing. Not all jazz music has lyrics, but the ones that do will touch your soul. Since jazz originated from Western African culture, most of the great jazz musicians of the past were African American. You will learn more about them in this article.
You can easily recognize a jazz musician because they like to merge blues, marches, and ragtime into their musical compositions. Jazz musicians are usually good at singing and playing instruments. The most commonly played jazz-friendly instruments are the piano, saxophone, trombone, and trumpet.
A lot of people remember the famous male jazz musicians, but there were a lot of good female jazz singers too. To find out more information, below are the top 8 greatest jazz musicians of all time.
1) John Coltrane
John Coltrane formulated his musical compositions perfectly. The spirituality of his jazz music can be felt whenever you listen to his music. Some believe that when Coltrane played the saxophone, he could actually signal the spirit world through his beloved instrument. Coltrane is credited as the pioneer of free jazz with his “Hardbop” and “bebop” jazz style.
2) Charles Mingus
Charles Mingus was a pioneering jazz bass player and composer who was known for being inventive and improvisational in his performances. The energy behind his music certainly helped revolutionize a new era of jazz between the 1950s and 1960s. His free jazz style does not hold back or try to be polite in any way. It is a rebellious tone that also teaches people valuable lessons about life.
3) Herbie Hancock
Herbie Hancock is best described as a progressive jazz musician because his style has evolved with the times. His performances have a range that includes fusion funk and electronically synthesized sounds. One of his songs “Head Hunters” manages to blend together pop with funk and soul music. His styles include electro, jazz fusion and funk. He is credited as being one of the founders of the post-bop sound of chill website.
4) Mary Lou Williams
Mary Lou Williams got to live and contribute to both the classic and contemporary ages of jazz. She was a jazz pianist and composer who recorded over 100 compositions, most of which she wrote herself. She even wrote compositions for other great jazz musicians like Benny Goodman and Duke Ellington. In addition, Williams was a music teacher to future jazz greats like Dizzy Gillespie, Bud Powell, Miles Davis, and Charlie Parker. Williams is perhaps one of the most reputable female jazz players of 20th century American history.
5) Nat King Cole
Nat King Cole had a voice to remember. Even people who didn’t follow jazz could still appreciate the talent of Cole. He was a master of piano and string instruments. Future musicians tried to emulate the sounds of his work, but none of them could reach the level of skill that Cole expressed when he was alive.
6) Louis Armstrong
Louis Armstrong was given numerous nicknames, such as “Pops” and “Satchmo.” He is adored and remembered as an influential jazz musician and trumpeter. Between the 1920s and 1960s, Armstrong helped evolve the popularity and style of jazz, which would be later followed by other jazz musicians. Notable singers like Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra were reportedly influenced by Armstrong’s work as well.
7) Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington is best known as a jazz music pioneer, but he also performed other music genres as well. Some of which include gospel, popular, classical, and blues. His greatest instrumental talent was on the piano. Historians credit Ellington for the creative way that he converted jazz into a form of art. Not only was he a charismatic performer, but he also utilized the orchestra wonderfully.
8) Dizzy Gillespie
Dizzy Gillespie is a jazz trumpeter, singer and composer who you might recognize for two reasons. First, the complex rhythm and harmonic style to his jazz music cannot be matched by anyone else. He founded a new style of jazz known as bebop, which would become the influence of other aspiring trumpeters and jazz musicians. Some of which include Jon Faddis, Miles Davis, Lee Morgan, and Chuck Mangione. Second, if you got to see Gillespie perform live, then you got to see his cheeks turn big and wide whenever he blew into his trumpet.