Best Jazz Artists

The Top Ten

1 Miles Davis Miles Davis

most albums, songs; he invented a different kind of jazz

A true innovator. I don't know anything about Jazz, but the few albums I've heard by him blew me away


A true innovator. changed jazz.

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2 John Coltrane John Coltrane

he is such a freakin great saxaphonist. any jazz saxaphonist (like myself) studies him day in and day out and can only dream of being as good as him - fireinside96

God given talent and the greatest emotional output ever. The greatest. Period

His music is great but Davis was more creative.

3 Louis Armstrong Louis Armstrong Louis Armstrong, nicknamed Satchmo or Pops, was an American trumpeter, composer and singer who was one of the most influential figures in jazz.

While John Coltrane and Miles Davis are certainly worthy of consideration for being the greatest; I think it would be beyond unfair to rank them ahead of Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong for receiving that honor. Born a poor boy in New Orleans (1901), and then learning to play, sing and perform while developing the sound and style of Jazz music as it evolved throughout it's height in the 1920's-1940's, has made him one of the most influential and iconic musicians not only of Jazz, but of the 20th Century altogether. Not only was his wide and colorful smile unique and inviting, but he also possessed a unique signature voice that emoted the blues and performed insane trumpet solos that have never been duplicated to the effect that he had captured with an audience. Just take a listen again to masterpieces such as "I Get Jealous", "Blueberry Hill", "Shadrack", "Skokian", "What A Wonderful World", La Vie En Rose", "Mack the Knife", "When the Saints Go Marching In". Similar to what another ...more

No matter who is the next generation of good Jazzmen/women, no matter how many classic jazz albums have come out, no matter how many good jazz instrumentals we hear or have heard, Louis Armstrong will be to jazz as Elvis was to rock, and Michael Jacskson was to pop. He will be the king of Jazz forever - greatesttop10s

*Louis Armstrong's instrument of choice that he performed insane solos on was primarily a coronet and not a trumpet, as I had mistakenly suggested in an earlier comment.

Louis Armstrong is the best most iconic jazz figure in the history of jazz. he is "Satchmo", "Pops", "Ambassador Satch"! I say this and I'm 13!

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4 Frank Sinatra Frank Sinatra Francis Albert "Frank" Sinatra was an American singer, actor, and producer who was one of the most popular and influential musical artists of the 20th century.

Don't understand why he is not at number one?

Frank Sinatra is timeless, he truly deserves the top place

He had the biggest voice ever "made"!

Not jazz

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5 Duke Ellington Duke Ellington Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington was an American composer, pianist, and bandleader of a jazz orchestra, which he led from 1923 until his death in a career spanning over fifty years.

he is just awesome. I can't stop listening to him. Whenever I open Itunes, the first song I listen to is always one of Duke Ellington's songs.

Duke Ellington is the sound of interwar, the sound of the classiest jazz. So many greats out there but Duke will always be the true icon.

He's the best of the best his music is inspiring and he composed and played his whole life like 50 years

Sir Duke should be 1 or 2. A great pianist and composer. Surely better than 5 on list.

6 Django Reinhardt Django Reinhardt more.

Greatest guitarist of all time

A Gypsy Jazz Man. Who'the thunk it? Only in America. We are blessed.

He is my idol!

7 Charlie Parker

Really, #9... Name any jazz musician who could solo as good as "bird"... Still can't think of one? Exactly!

8 Herbie Hancock

My new favorite jazz artist (with me being a saxaphonist Bennie's work is the key element for me). - fireinside96

9 Ella Fitzgerald Ella Fitzgerald Ella Jane Fitzgerald was an American jazz singer often referred to as the First Lady of Song, Queen of Jazz and Lady Ella.

Ella Fitzgerald should be right at the top of this list. No one does ballads and up-tempo numbers with the same fluency and consistency as Ella. Even fellow greats like Bing Crosby, Duke Ellington and Ira Gershwin have praised her beyond themselves

It's hard to believe that this lady is so low down on this list. I love Amy Winehouse, she had an incredible Jazz voice but to place her above Ella? Come on! - Britgirl

One of the best singers ever and a queen of jazz

I adore this woman. She's just amazing. - Britgirl

10 Norah Jones Norah Jones

Norah Jones as 6? No offense, but this must be a joke. - classick

The Contenders

11 Return to Forever

Absolutely! One of Jazz's all-time best groups. Their first album, "Return to Forever," is a gem and one of my very favorites.

Their album "Romantic Warrior" is jazz fusion at its finest. - BrideiMacBella

Sorry. I had not heard of this group, vut will look it up

12 Charles Mingus

Crazy and weird, yet not free chaos. Structured chaos is Mingus

The liner notes on one of his albums are from his physcologist. That tells you how good he is!

If you don't think he's the best, listen to hatian fight song. The End

No legitimate jazz artist ranking has Mingus outside of the top 10. His compositions were simply unreal. "Structured chaos" as someone else here put it. If you haven't heard much of his stuff I recommend Moanin' (Mingus Big Band version), The I of Hurricane Sue, Adagio ma non troppo, and Ysabel's Table Dance especially.

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13 Tony Bennett

He's still got it. Don't belive me? Listen to the album Cheek To Cheek he made with Lady Gaga, who, by the way also has an incredible rich voice for Jazz. - Britgirl

14 Weather Report
15 Amy Winehouse Amy Winehouse Amy Jade Winehouse was an English singer and songwriter known for her deep expressive contralto vocals and her eclectic mix of musical genres, including soul, rhythm and blues, and jazz. She is also a well-known member of the 27 Club, as she overdosed on alcohol at age 27.

Amy Winehouse absolutely does not get the credit she deserves. What my generation, and even some of the older generations seem to have an extremely difficult time understanding is she LIVED the jazz lifestyle! Our greatest jazz vocalist and other jazz musicians have been through some of the same things (i.E. - Billie Holiday, Charlie Parker) The difference is, following her horrid relationship with her ex husband and her bad decision to engage in hard drugs she was "raped" for lack of better word by the ridiculous tabloids. There are no words good enough to describe how huge her talent is, as both a singer and song writer. The standards she has sang are impeccable and her own material is original, thought provoking and beyond a pleasure to listen to.

She had just something special. If you only listen to the sound if her voice (and not to the lyrics) you know what she's singing about.

And her lyrics: I haven't understood yet how a person can put so many emotions in a few words... she was a personality, there isn't another person who is as 'different' as her.

She is THE jazz musician for me, I'll never forget her! - AllRockMusicGirl

Amy was an incredible talent with a totally unique voice who was enjoyable whether drunk or sober. Too bad she said no, no, no.

She isn't jazz. More like R&B.

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16 Chick Corea

Unbelievable keyboard player... The melodic lines he thinks of on the spot are inconceivable!

17 Mahavishnu Orchestra

Maybe more on the rock side than jazz, but the styles and purely insane masturbation produced in the music makes them one of the best in all jazz rock/fusion.

18 Billie Holiday Billie Holiday Eleanora Fagan, professionally known as Billie Holiday, was an American jazz musician and singer-songwriter with a career spanning nearly thirty years.

Are you guys kidding me? Billie Holiday is one of the jazz greats! Everything about her is amazing... Her signature style of singing half a beat behind but never off tune and the obvious pain and experience in her voice as she sings. Honestly... When she sings it lets you know that no one will ever sing like that again... The era of great jazz singers is over...

19 Al Di Meola Al Di Meola Al Di Meola is an American jazz fusion and Latin jazz guitarist, composer, and record producer of Italian origin.
20 Dizzy Gillespie
21 Chet Baker

Brilliant and very talented trumpeter/singer who lived through his music. His music could completely wrench your heart but sound so sweet and heavenly all at the same time.

Dreamy... He bleeds through his music and all you can hear is his raw emotion. Brilliant!

22 Charlie Christian
23 Wes Montgomery Wes Montgomery

He helped introduce jazz to popular music.

Easily the greatest Jazz guitarist who ever lived. And when you think that he just played with his thumb for picking and three fingers for fretting... damn. Spectacular

24 Sonny Rollins
25 Nat King Cole Nat King Cole Nathaniel Adams Coles, known professionally as Nat King Cole, was an American singer who first came to prominence as a leading jazz pianist.
26 Ornette Coleman
27 Dexter Gordon
28 Dave Brubeck

He should be in top 5. incredible charisma and unbelievable beauty.

29 Thelonious Monk

His style of piano playing is unique. Each person in his quartet is so talented. He has the best jazz quartet I have ever heard in my life.

Perhaps my favorite jazz pianist

30 Cab Calloway

Not on list! - Opium_Den

31 George Benson George Benson

I'm thinking George Benson should be a lot higher then 17 not only does he hum the solo but plays it. Very gifted note for not guitarist (Plus he plays clean undistorted for the most part lead AND RYTHEM Guitar simultaneously. Goerge for #1

come on guys. George is a great fusion of jazz and soul. Just take a listen to Give Me The Night. he is the king. - fireinside96

31? Really wow you have to be kidding me. I expected him to be in at least the top 5 - Sabbath

32 Bill Evans

One of the best jazz pianist

33 The Modern Jazz Quartet
34 Robbie Williams Robbie Williams

Swing When You're Winning

35 Stan Getz

So good

36 Marcus Miller

Amazing bassist - emilk

37 Wayne Shorter
38 Diana Krall
39 Julie London

Best Female singer in my opinion... I love her song called, Cry me a river it is soft and relaxing and is full of great emotion with her voice and the lyrics in the song... The song will give you strong emotional feel I guarantee it.

40 Jamie Cullum

Momentum is his momentum on Jazz

41 Sun Ra

Aw yeah I love his space themed music! How was this not on the list?! Atlantis, Lanquidity and Space is the Place are amazing albums. - SammySpore

42 Clifford Brown

Wow! Not on the list - Opium_Den

43 Coleman Hawkins

No Hawk on the list - Opium_Den

44 Michael Buble Michael Buble

He's #1 no questions

45 Vagif Mustafazadeh

His works... Life itself... I can't describe. Just listen, dream and enjoy the harmony of music... - Yunis

46 Stacey Kent
47 Benny Goodman

Benny Goodman is obviously the best. His jazz band was the first jazz band to ever play at carnegie hall.

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48 Max Roach Max Roach

Max actually has INTERSETING music! Think of that!

49 Joe Pass Joe Pass

He has such a vast expanse of musical knowledge. He is called the virtuoso for a reason. I'm not saying the classic jazz artists like Ellington and Coltrane aren't great, they definitely are, I just think that Joe Pass is under recognized for his talent and skill.

50 Nikki Yanofsky

Incredible, vote! She sung the 210 Olympic theme song! - Bigpickleman

Amazing Artist, deserves to be in the top 20!

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List Stats

700 votes
99 listings
10 years, 34 days old

Top Remixes (8)

1. Duke Ellington
2. John Coltrane
3. Miles Davis
1. Django Reinhardt
2. Charlie Christian
3. Wes Montgomery
1. Miles Davis
2. John Coltrane
3. Charlie Parker

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