Most influential jazz musicians

Jazz is a genre of music that made its appearance at the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century in the Southern part of the United States of America. The genre combines elements from the European music, American popular music and African music, including improvisation, polyrhythms, syncopation, blue notes and the swung note. Jazz is a popular music genre and also a versatile one, so it’s no wonder that there are many subgenres of jazz and also plenty of remarkable musicians that have affirmed themselves by playing and singing along the rhythm of jazz. Some of the most influential ones are:

  1. Louis Armstrong was an important figure in the history of the United States of America and also the most influential jazz musicians of all times. He is known for having an important role in the creation of modern jazz, with trumpet solos in jazz songs being its signature. The way he played the trumpet served as an influence for people like Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillespie, whereas his singing served as an inspiration for Frank Sinatra or Bing Cosby. As a result of his talent, Armstrong was awarded many prizes and honors.
  2. Duke Ellington was one of the most important leaders of music bands, as well as a great pianist and composer. He is known for debuting as a jazz singer, but he has proved his talent in numerous other musical genres, such as blues, classical, gospel, popular and soundtrack. Moreover, he is known for transforming jazz into a form of art, a thing that also made him receive important prizes and nominalizations, including 13 Grammy awards, a Pulitzer prize, a Presidential Medal of Freedom, a NAACP Spingarn Medal and Commemorative U.S. quarter to name a few. Just like Louis Armstrong, he has been an inspiration to fellow musicians, including Dizzy Gillespie, Oscar Peterson, Tony Bennett or Earl Hines.
  3. Charlie Parker was also known as the “Bird” and was an alto-saxophone player in the young jazz industry, a be-pop musician and also a composer. He was easily remarked because of his incredible talent at song writing, as he seriously influenced the standards of composition by using revolutionary harmonic forms and complex chord progressions in the process of composing his own songs. Also, he contributed to making the positive image of jazz musicians, making people consider them artists and not just simple entertainers. He was also a huge influence for the jazz musicians at the time, many of them trying to use his techniques in their own songs.
  4. Miles Davis was one of the greatest figures in the world of jazz music in the twentieth century, as he was involved in playing be-bop, hard bop, cool jazz, free jazz, fusion, funk and techno music. He was known for being a very innovative musician and therefore he received numerous prizes throughout his career, including 8 Grammy Awards and a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction. Also, he was a big inspiration to artists like Cannonball Adderley, Keith Jarrett or Bill Evans.
  5. Benny Goodman was a well known leader of a popular jazz band at the beginning of the twentieth century, called Goodman’s Big Band. Benny was considered the “king of swing” and his band’s concert from 1938 in Carnegie holds a special place along the most important live shows in the history of American music. Also, Goodman was a firm supporter of racial equality, which was the reason why he didn’t tour the Southern states. In addition to his influence in jazz and popular music, Goodman was also an activist in the Civil War, serving as an inspiration to other artists, as well.

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Origins of Jazz Music

Jazz music has, for some time, been considered one of the most emotional and deep of the musical styles out there. You can trace the origins of Jazz music back more than two hundred years, with a huge portion of Sub-Saharan Africans being enslaved during the early 1800s and the Atlantic Slave Trade was at its peak. In these days, the slaves tended to come from nations like the Congo, and they brought with them a strong spirit and love for music.

Using a countermetric structure to create a unique blend of new music, it reflected the speech patterns of native Africans, and it was a great part of their work day or ritual events. While the earliest form of Jazz was not quite so sophisticated as the typical European musical styles of the time, there was an incredible amount of come.

During these harsh times of slavery, many African based drum events were held until the mid-1840s in New Orleans, providing a platform for people to demonstrate their musical qualities. However, other influences in the early Jazz music’s also came from slaves who had learned the harmony of church hymns and were beginning to use this same theory in their own music.

During the early 19th century, many black musicians had begun to master how to play instruments like the violin which in the past had been a European thing. When musicians started to use this new fond understanding of new instruments to satirize European musical styles, they started to see incredible growth within the Americas and the Caribbean, as more cultures tapped into a unique style of music.

This was in the lead up to the beginning of the Afro-Latin progress from what it was to what is referred to as “New Orleans Jazz” and this was when rhythm started to come into play for many musicians. When drumming was outlawed for slaves, it was merely replaced by stomping and clapping instead.

After the Civil War, many African Americans started to play military drums and in time this started to create a whole new breed of this music – creating a unique African flair to the 19th century drum music. Even when you listen to jazz music today, it’s very easy to see the African inspired rhythm patterns within, due to the easier adaptation than European rhythms.

Jazz has, for many years, been considered quite a new form of music by some people but with more than two hundred years of history out there about jazz music, it’s incredible to see the various changes that have occurred within jazz in that time period.

Top Jazz Musicians

Nat King Cole

Nat King Cole is one of the most well admired jazz singers of all times. He is the first African-American seasoned and multi-talented artist, who also became a film and television actor, pianist, and admired T.V. personality. His admirable baritone voice has recorded popular songs such as the “Mona Lisa” as well as the “Nature Boy”.

A clever natural musician from Montgomery, Alabama was born on 17th of March in 1919. He is a well known jazz pianist who became a total jazz pianist performer in 1956. He was a black man who was able to conquer and penetrate the house as well as the heart of white Americans. He got his talent from his mother who was a choir director and from a father who was also a Baptist Pastor who loved to play religious songs. At the age of 4 he already began tinkering pianos that turned him into a piano man. At first he underwent a classical piano training which he is not much into it until he dropped it and shifted to jazz instead which is his musical passion. He was inspired with Earl Hines who was also a well known modern jazz singer at that time. When he was 15, he already performed as full time jazz pianists and made his very first recordings in the year of 1936, joined a musical variety show Shuffle Along. His career has continuously boomed and his songs made it to the top chart in the year of 1943. Among the top billed jazz songs he sang was “That Ain’t Right” and “Straighten Up and Fly Right”. He also recorded classical and ballad songs with the Trio. In 1950’s he became a solo performer and made more hits like the Mona Lisa, Unforgettable, and Too Young. He was able to collaborate harmoniously with other top jazz singers such as Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, crooner Frank Sinatra, and arranger Nelson Riddle.

It was in 1964 when he detected that he got a lung cancer and died of this disease 15th of February 1965 at a still young age of 45. His signature songs have been favorite classic songs that have been repeatedly used as soundtracks in films as well as in television programs. His popular song the Unforgettable has even became a posthumous hit when this was recorded by her daughter who is also a well-liked singer.

Nat King Cole tied a knot with Nadine Robinson at an early age of 17 and got a divorce in 1948. He again made vows with Maria Hawkins Ellington, a singer. They raised 5 children where two of these were their adopted children.

Frank Sinatra

A born exceptional musician, a jazz, a pop, a movie star, a multi talented frank Sinatra was born on the 12th of December, 1915 in New Jersey’s city called Hoboken. A product of a fireman as well as political organizer learned more how to sing when he was kicked out of school for unbecoming behavior.

It was in his late teens when he actively performing in different events singing, emceeing, and even becomes a stand-up comedian. It was in 1939 that he was given a break to show his talent when he was asked to join by Tommy Dorsey, a trombonist and a band leader. It was in 1942 when he decided to part ways with Dorsey’s band and went on solo and finally contract with Columbia. He became more successful when he appeared on several top grossing films like “Las Vegas Nights” where he won prestigious Academy award from the most reliable award giving bodies. Other movies he joined were “Anchors Aweigh” in 1945, “Take Me out to the Ball Game”, and “On the Town” in 1949 where he co-starred with Gene Kelly.

Even Frank Sinatra’s career slouched in 1950’s still he arose from it when he reinvented himself as being emotional character. In 1960’s, he became a commercial success. He recorded music with other famous musicians the likes of Duke Ellington of Antonio Jobim. Frank Sinatra didn’t accept any singing engagements where blacks are banned from audiences.

He was able to perform and record popular songs such as the “Swing Easy” in 1954, “Come Fly with Me” in 1957, “In the Wee Small Hours” in 1955. He also recorded songs with other jazz stars like Lena Horne, Barbara Streisand, Bono, Tony Bennett, and Ella Fitzgerald. He became a cultural legend of America when he died from heart failure in Los Angeles City, California.

Louis Armstrong

Louis Armstrong is one of the famous jazz singer of his time was born on the 4th of August in 1901 in his birthplace in the state of Louisiana, New Orleans. Known in his nicknames of Satchmo and Pops, he is a slave’s grandson, a prostitute’s son, and an unknown father. He had a tough life growing on the streets selling newspapers and working other odd jobs at an early age helping his mother with their everyday living. Music has been already in his blood since he was just a young boy where he used to hang-out in Storyville, red-light district where local bands are playing in brothels or in bars.

At an early age of 11, Louis Armstrong was arrested for an offense of firing pistol on New Year’s Eve and was thrown to learning institution for delinquents. This is where he got a formal training in music and become a band member of the school. During his teens, his musical talent has been harnessed as a cornet player until he becomes a soloist in a local band. He was able to pursue his career and even outperformed the band leader in the name of Joe Oliver aka King, who asked him to join them in the city of Chicago Illinois. It was in 1924 he went to New York and joined and became a trumpeter in big band of Fletcher Henderson. In 1925, he came back to Chicago and began recording music that made him popular in the music industry.

Armstrong was a skilled musician who shared his talent not only in America but in Europe as well. He was endeared by his fans with his entertaining, warm, and lovable vocals and he was the one who popularized a style of playing called “scat singing”. It was in 1940 when he ultimately risen to stardom and appeared in 30 films. In the year of 1964, his song was top billed on the first place of the pop chart, even surpassed the popularity of The Beatles. His music stint has continuously flourished until his death on the 6th of July in 1971 in the neighborhood of Corona, Queens, and City of New York. He was considered as Modern Jazz’s father.