Famous Jazz Players

Jazz is one of the most incredible forms of music that has had a huge influence on so many other genres.  Jazz was developed in the American south during the early 20th century as European and American music was mixed with African slave music.  Jazz evolved into so many other forms including ragtime, Dixieland and to a degree Big Band.  But who were the musicians responsible for this evolution?  Let’s look at some famous Jazz musicians.

Dizzy Gillespie

Dizzy Gillespie was critical to the development of bebop and modern style jazz, he was a trumpet player, singer, band leader and composer.  It was him and his incredible trumpet playing that influenced the likes of Miles Davis and Fats Navarro.  Gillespie spent quite a bit of time in Cuba and brought that influence back to America, creating Afro-Cuban Jazz.  Gillespie was fantastic at improvisation and add harmonic complexity to his music which had been unknown to jazz.  Known for songs like “Groovin High” and “Salt Peanuts” were so much different to other jazz tracks at the time.  He is still considered one of the most influential trumpet players in history.

Billie Holiday

“Lady Day” is one of the most popular jazz singers ever.  She wasn’t much of a songwriter but her singing was something else, with deep personal sound and profoundly intense.  She created a whole new style by playing with the tempo and phrasing of the lyrics.  The song “Strange Fruit” is widely considered one of the most important jazz tracks in history.  The lyrics are powerful, the theme is deep and the performance second to none.  She has won dozens of posthumous Grammy’s  and the Grammy for Best Historic Album.  She didn’t have a great range like other singers but her voice personifies jazz.  Check out one of her performances.

John Coltrane

John Coltrane is the very definition of cool, he is hands down one of the most influential musicians in jazz music.  Coltrane was a composer, sax virtuoso and he played with incredible intensity.  He could improvise like none other and he was credited with creating “sheets of sound”.  He could play tenor or soprano sax and he could play harsh or with a smooth sound.  He recorded an unbelievable amount of music with more than 50 albums in his catalogue.  He was inducted in to the Downbeat Jazz Hall of Fame, he has a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and he even has a church that worships him as a saint.