Greatest Jazz Musicians of All Time

Lois Armstong

Lois Armstong

Best known as Pops or Satchmo, Armstrong is the most influential jazz musician of all time. He had a significant influence on the making of the modern jazz music. Being a pro trumpet player; trumpet came to be accepted as a jazz instrument because of his influence. Armstrong was almost one of the foremost scat musicians and helps to increase its popularity. Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra have agreed that Armstrong’s songs inspired them a lot, while Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis were both inspired by his trumpet playing skills. He earned many awards as a result of his high influence on both jazz songs and playing the trumpet.

Duke Ellington

Ellington was a well-known composer, pianist and also served as a bandleader. He is known as one of the pioneers of jazz music. He was successful in other musical genres such as classical, soundtrack, blues and gospel music. As a result of his creative use of the orchestra, Ellington is involved in changing jazz into an art, almost the same as classical music. Some of the awards received by Ellington include; 13 Grammy Awards, an NAACP Spingarn Medal, and a Presidential Medal of Freedom. Some musicians that were influenced by his style of music include; Oscar Peterson, Earl Hines, Tony Bennett, Thelonius Monk amongst others.

Charlie Parker

Known by many as ‘Bird,’ Parker was a composer and the pioneer player of alto-saxophone. Many musicians of his era were influenced by his fast and clear tone of singing. His creative way of writing songs and composing music, and using chord processions influence other jazz singers of his time. It got to a time when the majority of other jazz singers tried to emulate Parker’s style of singing. His influence can still be felt in most contemporary jazz musicians.

Miles Davis

Davis was one of the popular jazz musicians of the 20th century. He is known to be behind major musical evolutions. He is responsible for the innovation of hard bop, cool jazz, Be-bop, funk, techno music and cool jazz.  He received over eight Grammy awards and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame during his lifetime. Some popular musicians that ascribe their musical style to Davis include; Herbie Hancock, J.J Johnson, John Coltrane, Bill Evans and many others.

Benny Goodman

Goodman was a leader of the most popular band of the 20th century. He was also referred to as the ‘King of Swing.’ He held a concert in 1938 at the Carnegie Hall, and this concert is still considered as an essential live show in the musical history of America. The concert helped to push jazz to the forefront as a form of art. He also helped the be-pop style to gain more popularity. He was also a well-known Civil Rights activist and didn’t tour in the southern states to elevate racial-equality.

Coleman Hawkins

Hawkins is a modern be-bop and jazz musician. His initial production of ‘Body and Soul’ in 1939 became a yardstick which most contemporary tenor saxophonists sort to attain. Famous saxophonists John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins admit to being influenced by Hawkins contribution to Saxophone.