The most famous jazz guitarists in history (countdown) (2023)

From early icons like Django Reinhardt and Charlie Christian to later greats like Joe Pass and Wes Montgomery, the subject of the best jazz guitarists is subjective and open to much debate.

However, there is a core grouplegendary jazz musicianson this instrument that had a huge impact on the development of the style.

We've put together this list of some of jazz's most famous guitarists, taking you from the very beginning of its history to those still playing today.

Goal? More great listening discoveries and, for the musicians among you, extra inspiration for making your own music!

21.John MacLaughlin

Pat Metheny described him as the greatest guitarist in the world;John MacLaughlinhe was born in Yorkshire, UK in 1942 and spent time in London in the 1960s, mainly lecturing and teaching (particularly Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin!).

Although this refined his guitar technique, he found it unsatisfactory and moved to the US, where he began playing with Tony Williams, Lifetime and Miles Davis, recording 'In a Silent Way' the day after Mclaughlin arrived in New York.

After working with Miles Davis, McLaughlin's study of Indian musical and philosophical concepts deepened. His guru Sri Chinmoy gave him the title "Mahavishnu" which led to the name of his band.mahavishnu orchestra' which is a confusing and revolutionary sound that enjoys international recognition, fusing the rhythmic concepts of North and South India with jazz and rock music.

Recommended album by John McLaughlin – The Inner Mounting Flame

In 1971, the Mahavishnu Orchestra's debut studio album 'The Inner Mounting Flame' was released featuring John McLaughlin on guitar, Jan Hammer (keyboards), Rick Laird (bass), Billy Cobham (drums) and Jerry Goodman (violin).

The raw and explosive performances and compositions of this album will enchant you even 50 years after its release.

20. Knock Martino

Born in 1944, Pat Martino was a jazz guitarist rooted in music tradition who, unlike many others, played with a mostly clean tonerock/fusion crossover-spelerson this list.

While he is known for playing mostly standard repertoire, his solos were groundbreaking and groundbreaking as he built his own modern sound with stripped-down and chromatic lines played at lightning speed with impeccable articulation.

Martino performed professionally until 1980, when he suffered a brain aneurysm, resulting in amnesia and an inability to remember anything about his jazz career. Martino then essentially re-learned the guitar, rediscovering a childlike playfulness and describing the guitar as his favorite toy.

Recommended album by Pat Martin – Footprints

With the great Billy Higgins on drums, Bobby Rose (guitar) and Richard Davis (bass), Footprints is a real highlight of Pat Martin's early career.

Martino effortlessly moves through some of his favorite standards with excellent narrative solo lines and excellent interplay between the 4 musicians on this 1972 record.

19. Larry Carlton

Unlike many of the top jazz guitarists who take the spotlight and showcase their virtuosity, Larry Carlton is first and foremost a studio guitarist who has performed on over 3,000 recordings, and his refined and versatile artistry has earned him numerous Grammy Awards .

His spacious and tasteful jazz-influenced playing can be heard with acclaimed artists such as Joni Mitchell, Steely Dan, Joan Baez and Michael Jackson.

Recommended album by Larry Carlton - Larry Carlton

In addition to his prolific musical production as a backing musician, Carlton's work as a leader showcases his fantastic bluesy/funk solos that catch the eye. Featured here is 'Room 335', ​​named after Carlton's studio where it was recorded, dedicated to hisiconic Gibson ES-335 guitar.

18.Allan Holdsworth

While not necessarily a well-known jazz guitarist to the general public, Allan Holdsworth is regarded among fellow musicians as one of the most advanced and pioneering guitarists who ever lived.

Born in Bradford, UK, Holdsworth is often called "John Coltrane on guitar", who pushed the boundaries with his phenomenal agility and pioneering concepts of music theory.

Recommended album by Allan Holdsworth – Sixteen Men of Tain

Since the 1980s, Allan Holdsworth has been known for his esoteric and infectious jazz fusion guitar playing and an early form of guitar synthesizer called the 'SynthAxe'.

All of these were present later in his career, but this 2000 release is a slightly less demanding listen as Allan Holdsworth's wizardry is used sparingly and his SynthAxe playing more subdued.

17.Emily Remler

Born in New Jersey in 1957, Emily Remler was a rising star, American jazz guitarist whose life and career were tragically cut short.

She began her recording career in 1981 and maintained a steady stream of releases, both as a bandleader and backing musician, until her untimely death in 1990 at just 32 years old.

Remler's early influences spanned jazz and rock, from Jimi Hendrix to Pat Martin, Charlie Christian and Joe Pass, and her recorded work foreshadowed what could have happened had her career developed.

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Recommended album Emily Remler – Firefly

While in California, Emily met Carl Jefferson, president of Concord Records, and got an album deal.

This album was her first recorded album under the Concord Jazz label and mixed two original compositions with six jazz standards and compositions written by greats like Wes Montgomery, of whom she is a big fan.

Due to the success of Firefly, Remler was offered a record deal extension for three more albums.

16.Barney Kessel

Guitarist Barney Kessel was a member of the Wrecking Crew, a famous L.A. collective. session musicians, 1960s. But he also had serious credibility in jazz, playing in the bands of Charlie Barnett, Artie Shaw and Oscar Peterson.

Known for his ability to emotionally accompany singers, he has recorded extensively with Billie Holiday and Anita O'Day, as well as being involved in the incredibly successful rendition of Julie London's 'Cry Me a River'.

Recommended Barney Kessel album - The winners of the poll

Kessel, bassist Ray Brown and drummer Shelley Manne dominated reader polls about their instruments in magazines likeDownbeat, metronome and Playboymid fifties. As a result, the three West Coast jazz stars recorded a series of albums called 'The Poll Winners'.

This, the first of five they would release under that name, is a fun and bouncy selection of standards. Kessel's sidekick performance in Sonny Rollins and the Contemporary Leaders also comes highly recommended.

15. George Benson

Influenced by Wes Montgomery and Grant Green, ten-time Grammy Award-winning guitarist and vocalist George Benson is widely recognized as the greatest jazz crossover artist of all time.

Blending soul, jazz and pop music, Benson is a jack of all trades with an innate ability to entertain with plenty of virtuosity and easy cool swagger.

Although most often advertised for his rich and deep vocals; Benson's ability to play jazz guitar earns him a spot on this list.

Recommended album by George Benson – The Other Side of Abbey Road

Alongside jazz greats like Ron Carter and Herbie Hancock, Benson covered an entire Beatles album, and work on it began just 26 days after the release of Abbey Road!

Expect a groovy and soulful performance from Benson, as well as exciting solo performances from Herbie Hancock and Freddie Hubbard.

14. Larry Coryell

First gaining fame with jazz vibraphonist Gary Burton, Larry Coryell was a versatile and versatile jazz guitarist whose refusal to conform to any genre led him to record with artists ranging from Ron Carter and Tony Williams to Art Garfunkel and Jon Anderson.

Recommended album by Larry Coryell – Eleventh House with Larry Coryell

Coryell's eclectic taste and fingerboard finesse can be seen with his pioneering fusion group, Eleventh House. Expect superb technical mastery, huge grooves and complex compositions on this rock, funk and RnB infused jazz fusion classic.

13.Charlie Byrd

Born in 1925, American guitarist Charlie Bird preferred classical guitar, unlike many of the electric jazz guitarists on this list. Byrd toured in World War II with his guitar in the military, where he first heard jazz music and surrendered in Europe.

His tastes continued to evolve in the early 1960s when President John Kennedy sent him on a State Department tour of Latin America. Here he found his love for Brazilian music.

Featured album by Charlie Byrd - Jazz Samba

When he returned from this Latin American tour, Bryd recorded 'Jazz Samba' with Stan Getz. This Bossa Nova record was perhaps the first to be recorded in America and was recorded at the height of the Bossa Nova craze in the United States, leading to widespread fame for Charlie Bryd.

12. Jim Hall

Like many of the guitarists on this list, Jim Hall was inspired to take up the instrument after hearing recordingsCharlie Christian.

He first gained attention as a member of the interactive, thoughtfulcoole jazzbandsuch as Chic Hamilton's Quintet and Jimmy Giuffre's Advanced Trio, before collaborating with Ella Fitzgerald, Ben Webster, Gerry Mulligan and other big names.

Some of the highlights of his incredibly rich, long and varied career include: his early drummerless trio sessions with Carl Perkins and Red Mitchell; his early '60s work with Sonny Rollins' quartet on The Bridge and What's New?; live duo albums with Ron Carter; Art Farmer's influential quartet with Hall, Steve Swallow and Walter Perkins or Pete Laroc; Paul Desmond's cool quartet on records like Take Ten.

Also a prolific composer, Hall continued to record until 2010 and was often joined in later years by talented younger musicians such as Bill Stewart, Larry Goldings, Scott Colley and Greg Osby.

Recommended Jim Hallalbum - Undercurrent (in Bill Evans)

Jim Hall and Bill Evans had a fruitful musical relationship in the 1960s, with Hall contributing to two brilliant Evans Quintet albums: Interplay and Loose Blues. They also made Undercurrent, a beautiful duo set from 1962.

Evans and Hall are first-rate soloists and accompanists, dividing soloist and competition duties equally, sometimes opting to improvise individual lines at the same time for exciting effect. The pair would team up again in 1966 as a duo with Intermodulation.

11. Knock Metheny

Iconic jazz guitarist Pat Metheny burst onto the scene as a prodigious talent in the mid-1970s, with a three-year stint in vibraphonist Gary Burton's band and, at age 19, the youngest professor in the history of Berklee College of Music.

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In an extremely broad career, he has collaborated with musicians as diverse as minimalist classical composer Steve Reich; jazz legends Ornette Coleman, Jim Hall and Herbie Hancock; Brazilian singer-songwriter Milton Nascimento and even pop star David Bowie.

His Pat Metheny Group, featuring longtime collaborator Lyle Mays on keyboards, was generally his main outlet forjazz fusion music, but he also published moretraditional jazz albums, pop Question and Answer in 1991., from Daveom Hollandom and Royem Haynesom.

He reached a level of mainstream popularity rarely achieved by jazz musicians, winning 20 Grammy Awards and becoming the first person to win Grammys in 10 categories.

Metheny was an early proponent of the 12-string guitar in jazz, and also used a 42-string Pikasso guitar and guitar synthesizer.

Drawing influences from throughout jazz history, as well as fusion, Brazilian music and folk from different cultures, he created a progressive sound that revolutionized the way we look at jazz guitar.

Recommended Pat Metheny album - Bright Size Life

Metheny's ECM debut came out in 1976 when he was just 21 years old, and it was also the first major recording of the great electric bassist Jaco Pastorius.

Bob Moses, with whom Metheny played in Gary Burton's band, completes this trio of very melodic improvisers.

The guitarist can be heard on six- and 12-string guitars, and many of his original compositions are inspired by his Midwestern upbringing. This is remembered as one of the most successful and fully formed debuts in jazz history.

10. Bill Frisell

Jazz guitarist Bill Frisell has an instantly recognizable sound, with a coil tone steeped in Americana and country music.

He first rose to fame in the 1980s and had a long association with ECM Records. His own bands often featured unusual instrumental line-ups, as evidenced by his use of cellist Hank Roberts in his quartet in the 1980s.

He was a longtime member of Paul Motian's bassless trio with Joe Lovan, who explored the frontman's compositions alongside standard songs, and also worked as a sideman with John Zorn and Jan Garbarek.

His own albums had different themes ranging from film scores, John Lennon music, standards, bluegrass and original compositions.

Recommended album by Bill Frisell – Have a Little Faith

This 1992 set features an incredibly wide selection of Americana music: Aaron Copeland's ballet Billy The Kid, Sonny Rollins' "No Moe," Madonna's 80s pop ballad "Live To Tell," Sousa's "Washington Post March," Victor Young's jazz standard 'When I fall in love'.

Scott Yanow's All Music album review called Have a Little Faith "One of the most inventive albums of the '90s."

9. Mike Stern

The 1970s were a pivotal time for jazz music, as the existing mix of cultures that led to hard bop and post-bop continued to evolve as new musical frontiers were explored.

The amplified sounds of musicians such as Jimi Hendrix began spilling over into the world of jazz, creating an amalgam often referred to as Jazz Fusion. One of the best jazz guitarists to reside here was the fierce, experimental and idiosyncratic Mike Stern.

After graduating from Berklee College of Music in the mid-1970s, Stern developed a flexible style with the ability to improvise extremely quickly and fluidly with his signature "big, spacious sound" using chorus, reverb and delay.

Recommended album by Mike Stern – Upside Downside

Upside Downside is a must for any guitar lover, as Stern exudes lyrical virtuosity on this funky electric jazz fusion album.

With spacious ballads over heavy beats, Mike Stern delivers exactly what you want to hear alongside Dave Weckle's fat 80s snares.

8. Joe Pas

A virtuoso instrumentalist, Joe Pass's innovative approach to soloing and clever arrangements of chords and melodies influenced countless later jazz guitarists.

Known for his versatility, he worked extensively as a session musician in Los Angeles, and also had high-profile appearances accompanying Oscar Peterson and Ella Fitzgerald, with whom he recorded a number of duo albums in the 1970s and 1980s.

Interestingly, he is quoted as consciously avoiding the influence of other great guitarists, instead transcribing Charlie Parker and trying to sound like a horn player:

“I never copied anything Charlie Christian played. I can't play any of his solos, I don't know how they go... I never copied Django."

Recommended Joe noalbum – Virtuoz

When listening to this 1973 solo set, it's sometimes hard to believe you're only hearing one guitar.


Proving that he didn't need the accompaniment of other musicians to swing hard or create a full sound, Pass is incredibly inventive with his use of techniques and textures onVirtuoso, perhaps the most important solo guitar record.

7. Kenny Burrell

Hailing from Detroit, a city that has produced an incredible number of famous jazz musicians, Kenny Burell was one of the most sought-after accompanists of the 1950s and 1960s. He recorded with Kenny Dorham, Chet Baker, Stan Getz, Blossom Dearie, Donald Byrd and many others.

The great jazz guitarist is still active, conducting jazz studies at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music in Los Angeles and continuing a remarkable career - debuting in 1951 with trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie.

He also made many well-received albums as a leader, perhaps best known for Blue Note Records and Prestige.

In the late 1950s, he held the guitar seat in Benny Goodman's former Charlie Christian band, and Duke Ellington famously described him as his favorite jazz guitarist.

Recommended Kenny Burrell album – Kenny Burrell and John Coltrane

'Freight Trane' (a 'Blues For Alice'-esque blues in Tommy Flanagan's flat) is one of the highlights of his enjoyable 1958 set, as is Burrell's own 'Lyresto'.

The rest is brilliantAlbums led by Burrellinclude A Night at the Vanguard and the soulful Midnight Blue.

6. John Scofield

John Scofield is known to have started playing the guitar at the age of 11 and did no homework for a year to perfect his skills.

This eventually led to his virtuoso skills as both player and composer, as he released over 30 records as a leader and played with artists such asMiles Davis, Dave Holland, Herbie Hancock, Jack DeJohnette and Ron Carter, which gave him a permanent place in the international jazz scene.

John Scofield is a stylistically diverse player whose sound uses a mix of post bop and rock with a harsh and distorted bluesy edge.

Recommended album by John Scofield – EnRoute

Considered a rite of passage for pianists and guitarists alike, the trio format is perfectly executed here by John Scofield's trio with Steve Swallow on bass and Bill Stewart on drums.

The three's long-standing friendship can be heard as they spontaneously spin through a mix of jazz standards and originals, such as at New York's Blue Note Jazz Club in 2003 on the album "EnRoute".

5. Freddie Green

Now it's time to turn our attention away from the spotlight of fiery solos and discover a jazz guitar legend who helped shape the role of the rhythm guitarist in swing music.

Often referred to as the master of rhythm guitar, Freddie Green epitomized the role of accompanist in the big band that has been an integral part of the Count Basie Orchestra for over 50 years.

Green rarely took solos and brought a minimalist approach, often playing just one or two note chords per bar.

Even when playing tighter chords, Green would mute certain strings so that only one note could be heard clearly and the others felt alone, creating his own unique, unassuming and unamplified sound that was still able to pierce the orchestra and create a strong pulse of a quarter. .

Recommended Freddie Green album: April in Paris

His signature style, heavy picks and brass instruments can be heard on Count Basie's album 'April in Paris'.

Recorded in 1955, Green can be heard in the iconic rhythm section featuring Count Basie, Papa Jo Jones and Walter Page, keeping the flame of the swing era alive with this vibrant record.

4. Charlie Christian

Christian was one of the first artists to embrace the electric guitar in the mid-1930s, popularizing it as a jazz instrument and achieving national fame with Benny Goodman's wildly popular swing outfit, which he joined in 1939.

His solo style is often described as 'horn style' and his linear improvisation style is remarkably similar to Lester Young's saxophone playing.

He was involved in the birth of bebop and played with Thelonious Monk, Kenny Clarke and Don Byas at Minton's Playhouse in Harlem.

Charlie Christianhe died in 1942, aged just 25, of tuberculosis, but since then he has influenced almost every famous jazz guitarist.

Featured album by Charlie Christian – Solo Flight, The Genius of Charlie Christian

Christian hardly ever recorded as a bandleader, but this compilation brings together some of his most important works with Benny Goodman, including some with Count Basie at the piano, as well as some of the quintet's songs under Christian's name.

3. Give green

Green generally chose an uncluttered linear style of jazz guitar, rarely playing chords.

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After early professional performances with gospel bands, hisbluesy, soulful soloshe could often be heard in the company of organists in hard bop or soul jazz formations.

Legendary Blue Note Records founder Alfred Lion was a big fan and Green recorded dozens of sessions as a bandleader and sideman for the label in the 1960s and early 1970s.

From the late 1960s until his death in 1979, aged just 43, his music became more fun and commercial.

Recommended Gun green album - Idle Moments

Green's 1960s Blue Note albums featured A-list bands - like themElvin Jones, McCoy Tyner, Louis Hayes and Larry Young appear on different sessions – and 1965's Idle Moments is no exception, featuring an incredible Green frontman, tenor saxophonist Joe Henderson andvibrafonist Bobby Hutcherson.

Duke Pearson's slow, moody title track is almost 15 minutes long.

2. Django Reinhardt

Before the invention of the amplifier, jazz guitarists usually played supporting roles within groups, as their solos could not be heard clearly in the rest of the ensemble.

Django Reinhardt, a Roma-French gypsy born in Belgium, changed that with his band Quintette du Hot Club de France, led by violinist Stéphane Grapelli.

With an instrumentation that contained only strings (Reinhardt, Grapelli, two rhythm guitarists and a double bass), the softer sound of the quintet clearly showed off Django's virtuoso acoustic solos.

He is regarded as one of the most influential European jazz musicians of all time, despite playing without the use of the third and fourth fingers on his left hand after being badly injured in a caravan fire when he was a teenager.

Recommended Django Reinhardt album - The Classic Early Recordings in chronologische volgorde

Most of Django's work predates the LP, but this compilation includes much of his classic work with Grapelli, as well as transatlantic recordings with great Americans like Coleman Hawkins.

Swing Era standards make up most of the repertoire, plus a few of Django's original compositions, including futureGypsyjazz standard'Swing 39' and 'Hungary'.

1. Wes Montgomery

Wes Montgomery is probably the most famous jazz guitarist in history and deserves his place at the top of this list for a number of reasons.

He was known for his unusual technique of plucking the guitar strings with his thumb, his peculiar way of playing octaves and the fact thathe used very heavy strings as a jazz player.

A self-taught guitarist, he was initially inspired by listening to Charlie Christian.

Montgomery was known for his stamina and worked long hours as a welder before playing all night jazz clubs in Indianapolis.

He played hard bop and soul jazz until the mid-1960s, when his albums began to take on a more commercial tone and the guitarist was often backed by the string sections of an orchestra.

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, he recorded with his brothers: Buddy Montgomery played vibraphone and piano, and Monk Montgomery played upright bass, later a pioneer of electric bass.

Wes died suddenly of a heart attack in 1968, at the height of his popularity. Pat Metheny calls him "the greatest guitarist of all time".

Wes Montgomery's featured album - Smokin' at the Half Note (featuring top Wynton Kelly Trio)

On this 1965 live album, Wes was accompanied by Wynton Kelly, Paul Chambers and Jimmy Cobb, the three of whom formed the rhythm section of Miles Davis's quintet from 1959 to 1963.

Montgomery's powerful solos on top of an incredibly rocking rhythm section make this one of the bestthe most influential jazz guitar albums ever.

You can also check out our guide to 10 great onesWes Montgomery-albums.

Thanks for reading our look at some of the most famous jazz guitarists of all time.

Of course there are many more we could have included so don't hesitate to add your comments below.

To delve deeper into the topic of the modern guitar scene, check out our selection of the most importantmodern jazz guitarists today.

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Who is a great jazz guitarist? ›

1: Wes Montgomery (1923-1968)

Start with Incredible Jazz Guitar of Wes Montgomery and explore further from there.

Who was the original jazz guitarist? ›

George Barnes

Some claim he was the first jazz artist to record with an electric guitar.

What jazz guitarist forgot how to play? ›

In 1980, Martino suffered a hemorrhaged arteriovenous malformation that caused a "near-fatal seizure". The resulting surgery, which removed part of his brain, left him with amnesia and no recollection or knowledge of his career or how to play the instrument that made him successful.

Who is the most famous jazz player of all time? ›

The greatest jazz musicians of all time: Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Wes Montgomery, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Charlie Parker (and others)... all had within them an infectious mix of talent from multiple human disciplines, and only with each important element carefully tended to and mastered, can the true jazz ...

Who was one of the greatest jazz musicians of all time? ›

Miles Davis, the trumpeter whose lyrical playing and ever-changing style made him a touchstone of 20th Century music, has been voted the greatest jazz artist of all time.

Who was a legendary jazz musician? ›

Duke Ellington.

His famous band, The Duke Ellington Orchestra, is arguably one of the most important big bands of the swing era, alongside the Count Basie Orchestra, and Benny Goodman's Orchestra. Many of his compositions have become part of standard jazz repertoire and are still played today.

Who was a great musician of the jazz Age? ›

Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Earl Hines, Art Tatum, Willie “The Lion” Smith and , of course, Fats Waller, knew about James P. Johnson, regarding him not only as their musical father but also as the greatest pianist in jazz.

Who is the most influential guitarist in modern jazz? ›

It's impossible to have a list of the top jazz guitarists without mentioning Wes Montgomery.
  • He's arguably the most influential jazz guitarist of all time.
  • Being completely self-taught, he developed an unusual picking technique – using only his thumb.

Who is the father of modern jazz guitar? ›

Born today, 1916, in Dallas, Texas, Charlie Christian was for a short time the most influential jazz musician, ever, and only exceeded in that regard by another great jazz Charlie, “Bird” Parker.

Who made jazz famous? ›

We start with Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong – the latter considered by many casual fans to be the 'founder' of jazz itself – and go through to musicians (like Chick Corea and Keith Jarrett) whose influence was felt well into the 21st Century.

Who were two famous musicians from the jazz Age? ›

Some of the popular jazz artists during this era were Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton, and Ethel Waters while introducing musical styles like scat singing and playing with an orchestra.

What is the hardest instrument to play jazz on? ›

The trumpet is probably the hardest instrument to play in jazz, but the rewards of mastering it (and the relative affordability of buying a beginner horn) make it well worth a try!

Why is jazz so hard to play on guitar? ›

“The jazz player needs a vast and extensive range of tools, because the music they play is based on sophisticated scales, and those scales are used to generate extremely complex chord structures. There are hundreds of code forms to learn and a great number of scale forms all over the neck in every key.”

What jazz musicians couldn t read music? ›

What great jazz musicians don't read music? Wes Montgomery, Erroll Garner, Django Reinhart and obviously Roland Kirk are probably the most well known that couldn't read at all.

Who was the father of jazz? ›

Louis Armstrong was born in a poor section of New Orleans known as “the Battlefield” on August 4, 1901. By the time of his death in 1971, the man known around the world as Satchmo was widely recognized as a founding father of jazz—a uniquely American art form.

Who is the king of cool jazz? ›

Miles Davis: The King of Cool.

Who has the best jazz music? ›

Duke Ellington is regarded by many as the greatest composer in all of jazz.

What was the greatest jazz concert of all time? ›

7 Greatest Jazz Concerts of All Time
  • Billie Holiday at Carnegie Hall, 1956. ...
  • Miles Davis final performance in Vienna, 1991. ...
  • Chet Baker In Tokyo, 1987. ...
  • Ellington' Sacred Concerts. ...
  • Nina Simone at Town Hall, 1959. ...
  • Ella Fitzgerald at Carnegie Hall, 1991. ...
  • Amy Winehouse at Porchester Hall, 2007.
Oct 7, 2021

What is the best selling jazz album of all time? ›

The best-selling jazz instrumental album of all time is Kind of Blue by Miles Davis, with five million certified units sold. It was certified: 5x Multi-Platinum on November 18, 2019. 4x Multi-Platinum on October 7, 2008.

Who was the first popular jazz musician? ›

Historians generally point to Buddy Bolden, a cornet player, as the first jazz musician.

Who is known as the queen of jazz? ›

Legendary jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald (April 25, 1917 – June 15, 1996) became known as the “First Lady of Song,” “Queen of Jazz,” and “Lady Ella” for her singular tone. Ella Fitzgerald's voice featured prominently on the 1940s musical soundtrack. She was one of the superstars of the era and an all-time musical great.

Who is the single musician that has had the biggest impact on jazz and popular music? ›

Music would sound much different today if there had been no Louis Armstrong. The man known as Satchmo and Pops made the soloist the focus of jazz and turned the music into an art. He developed the rhythmic language of swing and made it the foundation of jazz and popular music.

Who revolutionized jazz? ›

Louis Armstrong's improvisations permanently altered the landscape of jazz by making the improvising soloist the focal point of the performance. From the beginning of his career as a bandleader, Armstrong created ensembles to showcase his spectacular trumpet playing.

What was the #1 jazz song of 1920? ›

Some compositions written by jazz artists have endured as standards, including Fats Waller's "Honeysuckle Rose" and "Ain't Misbehavin'". The most recorded 1920s standard is Hoagy Carmichael and Mitchell Parish's "Stardust".

What is the oldest jazz? ›

On February 26, 1917, the Original Dixieland Jass Band released the world's first jazz record. The record's two songs, “Livery Stable Blues” and “Dixie Jass Band One Step,” became instant hits and introduced millions of people to the new genre of music.

Who was the first jazz musician to win a Pulitzer? ›

Marsalis has won nine Grammy Awards, and his oratorio Blood on the Fields was the first jazz composition to win the Pulitzer Prize for Music. Marsalis is the only musician to have won a Grammy Award in both jazz and classical categories in the same year. New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.

Who was the most influential jazz guitarist of the 1960s? ›

Despite a relatively short professional playing career due to his untimely death at the age of 45 in 1968, Wes Montgomery has arguably proved to be the most influential and loved of all jazz guitarists.

Who is a famous black guitarist? ›

16 Of The Most Famous Black Guitar Players You Should Know
  • Jimi Hendrix.
  • Chuck Berry.
  • B.B. King.
  • Tracy Chapman.
  • Robert Johnson.
  • Charlie Christian.
  • Elizabeth Cotten.
  • Albert King.
Feb 12, 2023

Who was the first white jazz musicians? ›

Cornet player Bix Beiderbecke was the first white jazz master. Born in Iowa, far away from any major source of black music, he was also the first major musician to learn about jazz from records, not first hand.

Which guitar is known as a jazz guitar? ›

While jazz can be played on any type of guitar, from an acoustic instrument to a solid-bodied electric guitar such as a Fender Stratocaster, the full-depth archtop guitar has become known as the prototypical "jazz guitar." Archtop guitars are steel-string acoustic guitars with a big soundbox, arched top, violin-style f ...

What is a jazz guitar called? ›

An archtop guitar is a hollow acoustic or semi-acoustic guitar with a full body and a distinctive arched top, whose sound is particularly popular with jazz, blues, and rockabilly players. Archtop guitar.

What is the most famous jazz? ›

The Jazz 100
1.Take FiveDave Brubeck
2.So WhatMiles Davis
3.Take The A TrainDuke Ellington
4.Round MidnightThelonious Monk
96 more rows

Who started jazz in America? ›

Buddy Bolden, an African-American bandleader called “the first man of jazz” by historian Donald M Marquis, was at the forefront of the jazz movement. Bolden played the cornet in dance halls during the day and in the red light district of New Orleans' Storyville at night.

Who invented jazz music? ›

Nick La Rocca, the Original Dixieland Jass Band's cornet player and composer, claimed that he personally invented jazz – though the cornetist Buddy Bolden had a much better claim, or even the Creole artist Morton, who certainly was the first to write jazz out as sheet music and always said he'd invented it.

Who was the most influential male jazz musician of the 1920s? ›

Louis Daniel Armstrong, born in New Orleans, Louisiana on 4th August 1901, went on to become the first major Jazz soloist and one of the most influential musicians of the 20th Century.

What is the hardest jazz band song? ›

You don't have to spend years in the jazz community to know which tune fits that role. Whether John Coltrane's “Giant Steps” is the most difficult jazz standard of all time is a matter of opinion, but most would agree that more than any other contender, its name serves as shorthand for improvisation intimidation.

What is the easiest jazz instrument to learn? ›

Saxophone is one of the easiest jazz instruments (compared to say, a trumpet). The fingerings run up and down, are easy to learn.

What is the #1 hardest instrument to play? ›

1. Violin. The violin is a wooden stringed instrument that's part of a larger family of similar instruments. It's the smallest and highest-pitched instrument in its family and normally has four strings, although some violins can have five.

Why do jazz guitarists not bend notes? ›

The hollow-body archtop guitar was originally designed and built to be an entirely acoustic instrument, and early jazz bands used them that way for strumming rhythm -- no pickup, no microphone, no amplifier. Bending notes on such a guitar is very difficult and does not work well.

Why are jazz guitar picks so small? ›

As you might have guessed from the name, these guitar picks were first used by jazz guitarists. This is because the smaller shape and sharper point of the pick gave them greater control when playing fast licks and solos.

Why does jazz use so many 7th chords? ›

Seventh chords create a much fuller sound than triads and are used in jazz music to create richer harmonic progressions. There are 5 main types of seventh chord that you need to learn – major, minor, dominant, half diminished and diminished.

Why did some Americans dislike jazz music? ›

Jazz also lacked the structure and rules of classical music, with a majority of the music played being improvised. Jazz also had African American roots, leading some to believe that racial tension was a reason for the negative energy around the music.

Did the Beatles listen to jazz? ›

Show tunes and jazz were everywhere for the Beatles.

Who are the famous jazz guitarists today? ›

Contemporary jazz guitarists include Kurt Rosenwinkel, Gilad Hekselman, Julian Lage, Tom Misch, Mike Moreno and Lionel Loueke. These young jazz guitarists represent a new generation of musicians carrying on the jazz guitar tradition.

What instrument is the king of jazz? ›

Perhaps the most iconic jazz instrument of all time, the saxophone has been a consistent in jazz through its history, adapting to the different styles that have emerged in it's history.

Who is the greatest virtuoso jazz? ›

Art Tatum

Art Tatum was blind from infancy and mostly self-taught as a pianist, but he is considered by many to be the ultimate virtuoso in all of jazz.

Who was the most powerful drummer in jazz history? ›

Duke Ellington once called Bellson “the world's greatest drummer.” As one of the titans of the big band era, he had a brilliant career backing artists like Tommy Dorsey, Count Basie and Benny Goodman, and also achieved fame leading his own band where he pioneered the use of two bass drums. A true jazz hero!

Who is the king of classical jazz? ›

The orchestra led by Paul Whiteman, the self-proclaimed “King of Jazz,” was one of the country's most popular musical groups in the 1920s. Playing a blend of popular and classical music that would hardly be classified as jazz today, Whiteman sold millions of records.

Who is considered by many to be the greatest jazz soloist in history? ›

Many scholars call Louis Armstrong the first great jazz soloist.


1. Top 5 Most Influential Black Guitarists
(The Spark Music Academy)
2. Top 20 Greatest Male Guitarists of All Time
3. The TEN Greatest JAZZ ALBUMS | Ranked
(Andy Edwards)
4. 10 Essential JAZZ ARTISTS
(Andy Edwards)
5. 10 Best Jazz Albums of All Time
(Learn Jazz Standards)
6. The most feared song in jazz, explained


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