Over the years there have been a lot of great jazz musicians and choosing the best artists of all time certainly wasn’t easy. I had to leave out a couple of my favorites, simply because the list was getting too long, but this is what I’ve come up with. Hopefully you’ll agree with me on at least a few, and maybe you’ll even discover a “new” artist to listen to. I also look forward to reading your comments and suggestions, and feel free to tell me who a few of your favorites are.
Miles Davis (1926-1991)
An American trumpeter, composer and bandleader, Miles Davis is easily one of the greatest jazz artists of all time. For more than 5 decades he played and composed some of the most recognizable songs of all time, and his music is just as popular now as it was when it was first recorded. Some of his best loved songs include “So What”, “Blue in Green” and “All Blues”.
John Coltrane (1926- 1967)
Many people agree that the “Trane” died way too soon, and when he passed away the world lost one of the greatest jazz musicians of the time. He was a saxophonist and composer, and one of his best loved songs “In a Sentimental Mood” is also a personal favorite of mine. If you aren’t familiar with his work, I suggest that you listen to his 1961 album “My Favorite Things”.
Duke Ellington (1899-1974)
Even if you are new to jazz chances are you have at least heard of Duke Ellington. For more than fifty years he was a great composer, bandleader and jazz pianist. He once said that “by and large, jazz has always been like the kind of a man you wouldn’t want your daughter to associate with”, and I think this is a perfect quote to explain the feelings the music can evoke. He also collaborated with John Coltrane, and this recording is one that everyone should listen to at least once.
Billie Holiday (1919-1959)
There have also been some great female jazz artists, and one of the best is Billie Holiday. Her sultry voice blends in perfectly with the band, and she has also written some of the best loved jazz tunes of all time. Some of my favorites include “Summertime”, “Strange Fruit” and “Gloomy Sunday”.