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Best Jazz Artists of all Time

Updated on July 1, 2016

Jazz Immortals

Miles Davis is one of the greatest Jazz singers of all time. He has inspired a generation of performers with his legendary vocals.
Miles Davis is one of the greatest Jazz singers of all time. He has inspired a generation of performers with his legendary vocals. | Source
Nat King Cole was born in Alabama and has made numerous Jazz hits. His voice was very soulful and his music touched the heart.
Nat King Cole was born in Alabama and has made numerous Jazz hits. His voice was very soulful and his music touched the heart. | Source
Herbie Hancock began in 1961 and he has a very distinctive musical style. His music had very slow and deep drum beats.
Herbie Hancock began in 1961 and he has a very distinctive musical style. His music had very slow and deep drum beats.
Billie Holiday is the first lady of Jazz. She had a beautiful voice and her music seemed to really come from her heart.
Billie Holiday is the first lady of Jazz. She had a beautiful voice and her music seemed to really come from her heart. | Source
John Coltrane is a legend when it comes to Jazz and Soul. His music is legendary and it is still listened to worldwide.
John Coltrane is a legend when it comes to Jazz and Soul. His music is legendary and it is still listened to worldwide. | Source
Louis Armstrong could sing and play instruments fluidly. He became one of the most popular jazz artist in history with his unique style.
Louis Armstrong could sing and play instruments fluidly. He became one of the most popular jazz artist in history with his unique style. | Source

Legendary Jazz Musicians

This list is composed of ten of the greats from the jazz industry. There are hundreds of famous jazz musicians but, the people in the following list stand out because of their exceptional talents.

1. Miles Davis: Miles Davis was born in Illinois and he is considered one of the top jazz musicians in history. Although he studied music at Juilliard, eventually he dropped out and learned music from the best of his era. The tuba and the horn were a major part of his beautiful music. He is the best trumpeter in music history. My favorite song by Miles Davis is: Afterglow. He had a big influence on music.

2. John Coltrane: John Coltrane was the best saxophonist ever and his voice always set the tone for the songs. He was very spiritual but, he also had many love ballads as well. He changed jazz into what it is today, so much so that he won a Pulitzer Prize for his musical innovations. My favorite song by Trane is: Chasin the Trane. Sonny Lison, the former heavyweight boxing champion used to jump rope while listening to Coltrane. I am not as familiar with this artist just because, I don't listen to just saxophone music except maybe at Christmas time but, if a boxer listened to him to train, he must be good.

3. Nat King Cole: He is a legendary Pianist, and his baritone voice has captivated millions for thirty years before his untimely passing at the young age of only forty five. Piano, double bass and guitar were his trademarks on tour. He had many Christian Gospel tunes. My favorite song by Alabama born Nat King Cole is: Let There Be Love. Nat King Cole is in the Alabama Music Hall of Fame in Tuscumbia, Al. He sang duets with his daughter. These were recorded after his death. His voice was laid down on the track and hers was added to it. This made a great duet. I was always amazed that they never sang together while he was still alive.

4. Herbie Hancock: Herb started out in 1961 and he still produces new music this day. He started out with Miles Davis but, started his own unique sound by blending in funk and heavy drum beats with his jazz to set himself apart. My favorite song by Herbie Hancock is: Rockit. Slightly before my time but, well worth mentioning.

5. Louis Armstrong: Louis Armstrong Pops is the master of the Cornet and a trumpet king also. Armstrong had a very deep voice and he used this voice to perform solos to much success. His band, "The All stars", staged shows all over the country and Armstrong was in 32 films too. My favorite song by Louis Armstrong is: Takes two to Tango.

6. Duke Ellington: Duke Ellington sang blues, jazz and gospel from 1915 until his death in 1974. He is the best musical composer the world has ever seen and even though he had an orchestra it was not uncommon for Duke to dance on stage while the music played on. My favorite song by Duke Ellington is: Satin Doll. Ellington is very underrated because his voice and skills on the instruments were second to none.

7. Charlie Parker: Yardbird is credited with inventing bebop and his fast tempos will make you tap your feet. He was a constant moving object onstage and his songs were a combination of classical music and jazz. His work with other artists was amazing as well. My favorite song by the incomparable Charlie Parker is: A Little Taste.

8. Dizzy Gillespie: He was very unique for his time. He had a bent rimmed horn made just for him and his trumpet skills were second to none. Dizzy Gillespie carried on in his magical career from 1935 until his death in 1993 at the age of 75. My favorite song by this Jazz and composing great is: Salt Peanuts.

9. Billie Holiday: Holiday, was the first lady of jazz and really a pioneer for women in music, period. Her jazz music had a feeling of pop music to it but, at the same time her voice could be very soulful. My favorite song by Billie is: God Bless the Child.

10. Art Blakey: Easily the best drummer in Jazz music history, Blakey mixed blues, funk and jazz with his amazing drum beats to rock the nation with a different style of jazz. My favorite song by Art Blakey is: Along Came Betty. He could have some upbeat songs and some sad ones as well.

Birthplace of Miles Davis

Where Was He Born?


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John Coltrane

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The Starting Eight!

The following is a list of the eight basic Jazz instruments used by jazz musicians.

1. Clarinet

2. Upright Bass

3. Guitar

4. Piano

5. Drums

6. Saxophone

7. Trumpet

8. Trombone

Each of these instruments takes many hours of practice in order to become good at.

Instrument Ranking

Cast your vote for Saxophone

Nat King Cole

© 2012 Buster Johnson

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