Legends of Jazz
The classic and legendary jazz musicians who dominated jazz history while taking an almost God-like status were also very conscious and reflective in the way they dressed. Considered as cultural heroes and fashion trendsetters, these jazz icons have greatly contributed to the development of jazz which is one of the most well-respected art forms in America.
Over the period of the 20th century, jazz music experienced drastic changes as new musicians brought new influence and introduced new sound. Dixieland evolved into big-band which was then followed by be-bop, fusion, Latin and free jazz and various other distinct styles.
The following are some of the most popular jazz legends of all time:
Louis Armstrong, 1901-1971
Otherwise known as “Satchmo,” Louis Armstrong enjoyed a long and illustrious career in the world of jazz and proved that solo improvisations were highly feasible. Employing a diversity of tune sources such as originals, spirituals, folk tunes and blues, Armstrong also managed to bring a number of breakthroughs in trumpet playing techniques as well as extending its range.
Lester Young, 1909-1959
Also known as ”The Pres,“ Lester Young pioneered the vibrato-less sound which was eventually adopted by be-boppers. He also re-established jazz music’s rhythmic priorities and expanded the dynamics and range of the tenor saxophone.
Django Reinhardt, 1910-1953
Django Reinhardt is considered as one of the best guitar players of all time as well as the first important jazz musician from Europe who made a major contribution with the jazz guitar. His lyrical and sensuous style is felt in his song compositions which, according to Frank Vignola who is a jazz guitarist, reached almost 100 in number.
Charlie Parker, 1920-1955
Charlie Parker was in no doubt the greatest genius during the bebop era and was also recognized as one of America’s finest musicians in the 20th century. His contributions include the use of higher extensions of the chords and scale which produced extreme dissonance; expansion of the saxophone’s technical options; and extensive use of passing chords.
Miles Davis, 1926-1991
An American jazz composer, trumpeter, and bandleader, Miles Davis started his career playing bebop in the band of Charlie Parker. He helped in establishing the cool jazz genre by searching for a sound that is expressive, lighter and more relaxed. His studio album, King of Blue, remains the best selling jazz music album of all time.
John Coltrane, 1926-1967
Also known as “Trane,“ John Coltrane played with Miles Davis on several important albums which include Milestones. His notable contributions include the development of a technique known as sheets of sound; the use of unusual lineups; and the expansion of the harmonic vocabulary of jazz (Countdown, Giant Steps). He also performed interesting experiments with timbres, pan-modality and playing with no pre-determined structures.
Ornette Coleman, 1930-2015
Coleman was one of the major innovators of the 1960s’ ”free jazz“ movement which was also a term that he invented and used in his 1961 album. He’s known for his full abandonment of chord changes and the use of all rhythms and tonalities in his music. Recognized as the ”Father of the Avant-Garde,“ his album Sound Grammar was a recipient of the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for music.