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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.