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Famous Jazz Musicians


So who are the most famous jazz musicians and influential jazz piano players of the twentieth century?

There are many - too many to list here!

So we've picked a few of our own favourite famous jazz musicians who we admire - their talent, originality and contribution to the history and development of jazz has been extraordinary.

We've also included videos of them playing so you can hear how brilliant they are.

Let's start with....

Duke Ellington (1923-1974) - one of the most influential figures in jazz music. His style covered not only blues, but others like gospel, and classical.

He was a talented jazz piano player as well as a composer and arranger.

Some of his most famous piano pieces include Don't Get Around Much Anymore and It Dont Mean A Thing If It Aint Got That Swing.



Moving down the list of famous piano players is jazz legend George Shearing - an extraordinary jazz pianist, arranger and composer. His Lullaby of Birdland is a jazz classic.

George was born in the London in 1919 but moved to America in 1947.



More famous pianists in the world of jazz include Thelonious Sphere Monk (1917-1982), widely recognised as one of the American 'jazz greats', and one of the most influential 20th century composers.

He is seen by some as the founder of the 'be-bop' style.




Keith Jarrett (born 1945) has been extremely successful not just as a jazz pianist but as an improviser, composer and classical pianist.

He continues to be an influential and unique figure on the jazz scene.



Herbie Hancock (born 1940) is another hugely successful jazz musician.

Herbie was classically trained (like many famous jazz piano players) and his jazz style has been influenced by contemporary classical composers like Ravel and Debussy.

Some of his most famous piano pieces include Cantaloupe Island - you'll probably recognise the tune even if you don't know much about jazz....



Canadian Oscar Peterson (b 1925) is considered one of the most 'virtuosic' of jazz piano players, with his amazing speed and dexterity.




These incredible jazz piano players have made huge contributions to the history of jazz music and continue to do so today.






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