Many consider jazz as true American music. And though it’s hard to pinpoint, it has allowed us to listen to playful rhythms, harmonious notes, fuller melodies, and improvisation that are blended through different styles. Indeed, jazz is a true art form in music.
And through its unique soulful quality, it has gifted us with some of the greatest performers in the history of humankind.
Read more as we are going to name some of the best jazz musicians of all time in this post.
We open up this list with this iconic drummer named Buddy Rich. Bernard Rich, or famously known as “Buddy”, was a child prodigy in music. He was one of the white American pioneers who embraced jazz music. And by combining power, speed, and virtuoso technique, he was able to make a name for himself as one of the most influential drummers even today.
Next on this list of the best jazz musicians of all time is pretty much a mainstay in all jazz-related discussions, Louis Armstrong.
“Satchmo” or “Pops”, as fondly called by his fans and peers, was credit for bringing jazz music into the mainstream. And through his gravelly voice, infectious personality, and mastery of the trumpet, he was able to get everybody’s attention and inspired many other musicians to follow his footsteps.
Louis Armstrong also revolutionized jazz by emphasizing solo play rather than relying on collective improvisation to produce great soulful music.
He is renowned for his freedom and versatility in the way he played music. Herbie was the avant-garde for playing traditional jazz, funk jazz, twist, bebop, and jazz fusion. Also, he was the first of many to include synths while playing jazz music.
No one ever sang her soul out as Billie Holiday did. Eleanora Fagan is a legendary jazz performer because her audience can feel the emotions of every song she sang. And her style of delivery is unlike any other because she always left that mark that no one can ever sing the way she did.
He is a great composer not only in jazz music. Duke is best known for the many compositions he has made (3,000 songs, to be exact) and his band, The Duke Ellington Orchestra, is considered as one of the biggest bands during the swing era.
Many of his works like “Satin Doll’, “Mood Indigo”, and “In A Mellow Tone” are now considered as classics and have been a part of the standard jazz music ever since.
If there is one performer who has made a vital contribution to jazz music, that would be John Coltrane.
John invented the “Coltrane Changes” or “Coltrane Matrix”, a harmonic progression of chords that serves as a substitute for common chord progressions in jazz music.
His innovation is now adapted as a standard advanced harmonic progression for jazz music improvisation.
And the last entry on this list of the best jazz musicians of all time needs no introduction.
Miles Davis is considered as the best jazz artist for many reasons:
- He played an instrumental role in merging bebop with fusion.
- He took part in the hard bop movement and explored free jazz at the same time.
- His band paved the way for many jazz performers to embrace the music, including some of the artists we’ve previously mentioned here.
- He served as a ‘bridge’ for harmoniously combining jazz fusion with some of the iconic pop songs like “Human Nature” (by Michael Jackson) and “Time After Time” (by Cindy Lauper).
- His style of music was constantly evolving to meet the entertainment preferences of the preceding generations.
No wonder why many consider Miles Davis as the best of the best.