40 Legendary Jazz Artists: Who is Best Known for Jazz?

The history of jazz music is much younger than the centuries-old history of Western classical music, but it has still made a huge impact on the world. Jazz has its roots in New Orleans, where creative musicians such as Louis Armstrong, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis and Duke Ellington helped propel it into a wide variety of popular musical styles. Louis Armstrong, who had the famous nickname “Satchmo”, was born in New Orleans in 1901 and raised by his grandmother in one of the poorest areas of the city. Charlie Parker, also known by the nicknames “Bird” and “Yardbird”, was an American jazz saxophonist who created the jazz style known as “bebop”.

After touring and playing with several bands, he moved to New York in 1939 to pursue music. Miles Davis is an iconic figure in jazz history and one of those names that people know even when they're not familiar with jazz music. Born in Illinois in 1926, Davis would end up in New York City to study at Juilliard School. But in 1944, he left Juilliard to play in Charlie Parker's group, after which he went on to write his music and record solo records. John Coltrane, like Miles Davis, helped establish modal harmonies in jazz music.

Born in 1926 in North Carolina, Coltrane directed many recording sessions that are now classic records in jazz recording literature. Duke Ellington was born in Washington D. C. in 1899 and by the 1930s he was famous for leading great jazz bands and orchestras.

One of his best-known pieces of music was “It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing). Thelonious Monk was born in North Carolina in 1917 and became known for his inventive piano performance that involved dissonant harmonies and unexpected twists in his improvisational melodies. Before jazz, Monk worked as a church organist in his teens before getting more work in jazz by the 1940s. Ella Fitzgerald was born in Virginia in 1917 and moved to Harlem when she was a teenager to start singing in nightclubs. She became well known for her ability to improvise deeply and emotionally.

Chet Baker was born in Oklahoma in 1929 and was equally skilled at singing and playing the trumpet. He had the nickname “prince of cool” due to his influence on the cool jazz movement. After leaving the army in 1951, he began to dedicate himself to music and played many concerts with Charlie Parker. Count Basie was born in New Jersey in 1904 and moved to Harlem to be closer to some of the best jazz performers of the time. He conducted his orchestra for more than 50 years and helped start many younger careers in the process.

Billie Holiday was born in Philadelphia in 1915 and had a difficult childhood. But by the time she was a teenager she had moved to Harlem and started singing in nightclubs. Sarah Vaughan was born musically gifted; she began learning piano at age 3, and by her teens she was playing with musicians like Duke Ellington. Ray Brown was born in Pittsburgh in 1926 and became a legendary jazz double bass player who regularly played with jazz icons Oscar Peterson and Ella Fitzgerald. After becoming known in the Pittsburgh jazz community, Brown moved to New York City where he began dating and playing with big names such as Dizzy Gillespie, Art Tatum and Charlie Parker. J.

J Johnson established himself more as a soloist by leading small jazz combos across the country after playing with many different groups during the 1950s. Benny Goodman is credited with helping jazz become a popular genre that is respected as legitimate music in the United States; one concert at Carnegie Hall is described by critics as one of the most important moments for jazz music there. Django Reinhardt was born in Belgium 1910; his first legal name was Jean, becoming known on the jazz scene under the nickname “Django”.Coleman Hawkins, nicknamed “Hawk”, was born Missouri 1904 and was one of the first people to popularize the tenor saxophone in the jazz world. He moved to New York City 1923 and quickly began playing with some of the best players there between swing jazz and bebop music of 1940s.

Stan Getz went to high school New York City at age 16 where he played with big names such as Nat King Cole and Linoel Hampton. Ornette Coleman was born Fort Worth Texas 1930; he was a jazz saxophonist whose main contribution to jazz was developing free jazz genre 1959. These 40 legendary musicians have made an indelible mark on jazz music over time; their influence can still be felt today.