Jazz has been around for over a century and the most influential jazz musicians have contributed largely to the changing soundscape of this genre. From funk, acid-jazz, and fusion, to polyrhythm, improvisation, and syncopation, the artists on this list are truly musical masters who enjoyed long term careers in the industry. As a mix between European classical music and African folk songs, jazz has long been considered one of the most rhythmic genres, due to its predominance of instrumental riffs and heartfelt melodies.
For music buffs, jazz legends attain an almost god-like status, given their talent, passion, and perfected artistry. For those of you interested in the sulky sounds, check out our previous article on the 10 most legendary blues songs, where you might find a cross-genre singer or two. However, if you’re curious to know whose magic swept the crowds off their feet, here’s our compilation of the most influential jazz musicians ever.
6. Duke Ellington
One of Jazz’s biggest legends, Duke Ellington is a pianist, composer, and infamous band leader that has inspired generations of modern day musicians. Furthermore, he’s also one of the most versatile artists on the spectrum, as he used his orchestra to interpret gospel, blues, classical, and pop songs, in addition to his jazz repertoire. Owner of 13 Grammys, a Presidential Medal of Freedom, and a Pulitzer Prize, Ellington is not one to be overlooked.
5. Louis Armstrong
Another pioneer of the jazz genre is Louis Armstrong, also known as “Satchmo” and “Pops”. Originating from New Orleans, he became famous as a trumpet player, installing the trumpet solo as a significant contribution to jazz melodies. And while his instrumental skills inspired other iconic figures like Miles Davis, Armstrong gained a large fan base as a singer who showcased his raspy voice perfectly. In fact, Frank Sinatra named him as one of his favourite artists back in the day.