5 Jazz Music Artists That Helped Define Jazz

Sometimes it is surprising to note how many people know nothing at all about instrumental music or any music other than rock, pop, R&B, or hip-hop.

Jazz music in particular seems to be relatively inconsequential in many places, and a majority of the most well-known jazz music artists have passed on. Still, some people prefer listening to different types of music at times, and many who have been searching for unique vocal styles and improvisations have discovered the beauty and art behind jazz music.

Here are 5 jazz music artists you should listen to if you really want to learn about jazz:

1. Billie Holiday

When we discuss Billie Holiday today (1915-1959) it can be said that she remains one of the most popular jazz songwriters and female vocalists who ultimately helped define the jazz genre. Often referred to as “Lady Day”, Billie Holiday was a singer who displayed a very distinctive vocal style which greatly influenced pop and jazz singing styles. Billie Holiday’s most popular songs include: Good Morning Heartache, Lady Sings The Blues, God Bless The Child, and Strange Fruit.

2. John Coltrane

No serious discussion of jazz can be had without talking about John Coltrane (1926-1967). The impact he has had on jazz music is undeniable. Coltrane was a prolific composer, bandleader and jazz saxophonist who recorded over 40 sessions as a bandleader, and many more as a session sax player for fellow jazz musicians Thelonious Monk and Miles Davis.

Initially known for hard bop jazz and bebop, Coltrane is also recognized as one of the primary forerunners of free jazz. His most popular albums include: Giant Steps, A Love Supreme, and My Favorite Things.

3. Miles Davis

For many jazz fans, there is the idea that there would be no jazz at all if were not for Miles Davis (1926-1991). To many, his music is what jazz music is all about. In fact, Miles Davis is often recognized as one of the most innovative and influential jazz music artists of all time.

Davis was a trumpet player, composer, arranger, and bandleader who helped usher in several of the most important developments in jazz music including hard bop, bebop, cool jazz, and jazz fusion. Popular albums by Miles Davis include: Kind Of Blue, In A Silent Way, Bitches Brew, and Tutu.

4. Charlie Parker

Mostly referred to as “Bird” or “Yardbird”, Charlie Parker (1920-1955) was a jazz composer and saxophonist known for his ground-breaking approaches to rhythm, melodies, and harmony. Working on the alto and tenor sax and dubbed an icon for “hipsters”, Charlie Parker was also influential in helping to develop bebop. Many of his songs are now considered jazz standards. Popular songs by Charlie Parker include: Billie’s Bounce, Ornithology, and Anthropology.

5. Oscar Peterson

Though it can be said that jazz is primarily an American art form, Oscar Peterson (1925-2007) was a Canadian jazz composer and pianist. With 7 Grammy Awards to his credit, many consider Oscar Peterson one of the most talented jazz pianists to have recorded. Popular works by Oscar Peterson include: Night Train, Cole Porter Songbook, and Live at the Blue Note

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