The Most Influential Jazz Musicians. Part 1

It’s no secret that some artists leave a more profound imprint in their industry than others. Some are able to revolutionize the way people view particular artistic mediums, some challenge social structures and set norms, others start a new artistic movement. Whatever it is, those people are worth the spotlight for the positive mark they have left on humanity. Jazz has been around since late 19th century and has influenced the world greatly. A comprehensive list of the most influential musicians is nearly impossible since there were tons who contributed in one way or another; this list is an attempt to name some of the all-time greatest.

Miles Davis

Listed as the number one jazz musician of all time by many, Miles Davis has indeed brought to the world what few can offer. Upon having received a taste of a musician’s life, he studied at the Juilliard School of Music and spent his free time in Harlem learning all that he could get his hands on relating to jazz. Over his career that lasted for five decades, he managed to explore and adopt a great range of musical directions, which made him into such a monumental figure since he drove the stylistic development of many jazz branches. From cool jazz to bebop, he had something to say everywhere. Having received numerous awards as both a soloist and with a band, having many of his tunes used as soundtracks in great movies of the time, Davis died at the age of 65 from a combination of stroke, pneumonia and respiratory failure.

Louis Armstrong

Louis Armstrong
Louis Armstrong

Also known as Satch, Pops and Satchmo, he is the man behind “What a Wonderful World”, a song that literally everyone knows and admires. A trumpeter, a vocalist, a composer, an actor – he encompassed such diverse set of abilities and talents that it was almost impossible for him not to affect the music industry in a substantial way. Just the fact that he was born in New Orleans, the capital of jazz, carries significance of its own. Among his contributions to jazz was his ability to transform the understanding of jazz from the improvisations of a band to a solo performance. On top of his extraordinary abilities with a trumpet, he was an owner of a steady, rich, gravelly voice, which earned him even more fame. His work left an imprint not only in the music industry though; he was one of the first African-American public figures who managed to overcome the racial boundaries – his music was appreciated by blacks and whites alike. Such positive image of a black man led many African-American youths to explore their possibilities and laid foundations for a more racially-inclusive society.

Charlie “Bird” Parker

Speaking of man with a difficult character, Parker was certainly one of them. He struggled a lot with heroin addiction and had numerous health issues. His behavior escalated over the years, became more erratic, he became less and less reliable as a musician, as a father, as a husband, as a friend. None of that stopped him from becoming a monumental figure in the world of jazz. He is considered to be the father of bebop, because with his advanced technique and incredible talent and skill he was able to create unique harmonies, chord substitutions and other innovations that were highly possible due to his incredible ability to play the saxophone. An outstanding documentary, “Bird”, was created by Clint Eastwood to commemorate Parker’s life and influence.

Related Post