Being an Old Cool Cat, I think that it is difficult to choose the top 50 let alone 36! Please. He was described by Leonard Feather in the 1950’s as the greatest American born pianist of his day (after Art died). Albert Ammons Billy Taylor? Aged just 10 he was apparently able to imitate stride pianists like Art Tatum and Fats Waller, and Thelonious Monk was an early mentor figure who helped nurture his talent. She is much admired by jazz pianists and the few jazz radio stations that still exist (e. g., KCSM). I think these lists are made up to include aspirants so when their agents or publicists are spinning they can through out the bomb ‘…they’ve been included in the Best Of …List’ and to wannabe enthusiasts it is the ultimate and for the lovers it’s a crime of omission. 2: Thelonious Monk (1917-1982) Lenny Tristano! And although this list spans generations and sub-genres, all of these musicians have distinctive improvisational and pianistic voices. It’s music that cements Bill Evans’ place as one of the 2 most important musicians in the 2nd half of jazz history. You can check out his piano work on Youtube (THE CHRIS NOWAK PROJECT Volumes 1 and 2). No spam. It’s their list, and if it were larger it might have included some that were omitted . His 1975 album, The K ö ln Concert, with worldwide sales of over 3.5 million copies, is the best-selling solo album in jazz history, as well as the best-selling piano album of all time. One of the main proponents of the Herbie Hancock school of jazz who played with everyone, including the Marsalisis and Kenny Garrett is a loser! Lists such as these are never definitive but are made to be debated and argued; to think of them in any other way is pointless. 11 Duke Ellington “Some other names? At the pinnacle of our list of the 50 best jazz pianists of all time is the man regarded as a keyboard deity. are odd choices. 18: Tommy Flanagan (1930-2001) Andre was a young European hanging around LA at the time. 40: Cedar Walton (1934-2013) Did someone forget Marian McPartland? And can’t believe you didn’t include Ellis Larkins aka Mr. Feather Fingers. Kenny Barron. How laughable is this list. 17: Erroll Garner (1923-1977) Grusin and James (nice people!) YOU MUST be CRAZY!!!! 9. I do like your top 4 and was pleasantly surprised by it. ‘On A Bus To St. Cloud’: Trisha Yearwood’s Fans Meet Gretchen Peters, ‘Avalon’: Roxy Music Go Platinum In America…At Last, ‘I Heard It Through The Grapevine’: Gladys Knight Predates Marvin Gaye, Celia Cruz: Celebrating The Queen Of Salsa, Yesterday Once More: The Carpenters In 20 Songs, Listen To Yungblud, Machine Gun Kelly And Travis Barker Collaborate On ‘Acting Like That’, The Killers, Nine Inch Nails To Feature In Netflix’s ‘Song Exploder Volume 2’, Legendary Music Agent Dick Alen Dies At 89, Watch Glass Animals’ Dave Bayley Clone Himself In ‘Tangerine’ Video, Hear Lil Wayne’s New Single ‘B.B. His path would cross with Coltrane’s again in the 50s, when both joined Miles Davis’ quintet and made several groundbreaking albums for Prestige and Columbia (among them Workin’ and ’Round About Midnight). It was as if in some deep, dismal basement some music happy monster of an inventor asembled all those traits needed to master the piano and placed them inside the Elf’s five foot two frame. 2: Teddy Wilson At 88 yrs I have heard most of the musicians on the various lists. I guess you are glad that MICHEL PETRUCCIANI is on the list. You’re always in the bag? The piano has been an integral part of the jazz idiom since its inception, in both solo and ensemble settings. Check out her rendition of Nice Work If You Can Get It, on youtube. First, Lennie Tristano had a bigger influence on jazz piano than most people think about. Required fields are marked *. 10. 1. ‘Round Midnight’ by Thelonious Monk. Italian. Though Miles Davis tried to poach him (Zawinul worked on Miles’ groundbreaking In A Silent Way and Bitches Brew albums at the end of the 60s), the pianist stayed with Cannonball until 1970 and then co-founded famed fusion pioneers Weather Report. He should at least be in the top-10. I can’t be bothered rereading to make sure I am absolutely right, because nothing is going to help you. It is wonderful that so many fans discuss the pianist-list – JAZZ IS ALIVE!!!!! He was one of the oldest but also one of the best! 8.Pinetop Smith 46: Elmo Hope (1923-1967) Mc Coy Tyner Though his lyrical approach to the piano was undoubtedly indebted to Bill Evans and Keith Jarrett, Petrucciani, who died at 36, nevertheless had an individual sound and style. “So just who are the greatest jazz pianists?” 3. AUTUMN IN MUSKOKA (Vol.1) is very good. Not one great jazz piano played by a woman???? He was Fats Waller’s protege and played with all of the Jazz Greats. mal waldron ? Originally from Colorado, Grusin began releasing piano-led albums under his own name in the early 60s, a decade that also saw him break into the world of television music, where he wrote themes for numerous US TV shows. Anyway, the list is an interesting exercise because it makes one think. DUKE JORDAN, AL HAIG, SIR WALTER BISHOP, RED GARLAND, JUST TO NAME A FEW MISSING ARTISTS. Berklee GuideA step-by-step approach to solo jazz improvisation for piano. First of all, there is a severe under-representation of brilliant, young pianists: Hiromi, Jason Moran, Robert Glasper, Brad Mehldau, Fabian Almazan, Bill Laurance, Cory Henry, James Francies, Tigran Hamasyan, perhaps even the Wunderkind Joey Alexander. Be careful with actually trying to join Ranker, though. His group with Scott LaFaro and Paul Motian broke new ground in the jazz piano trio lineage: where previous trios had placed the pianist front and centre, here Evans, LaFaro and Motian played together as equals in a highly conversational and interactive fashion. Oh good lord… 🙂. By the 30s, she was working as a freelance arranger, writing charts for Earl Hines, Benny Goodman and, later, Duke Ellington. George Cables, Stan Tracy, Carla Bley, Monty Alexander, Pete Johnson, – I vote for 88 otherwise there isn’t enough room on the piano stool. the knowledge and know how are stretched throughout the entire history of jazz piano. I highly recommend it to those aspiring to develop a solid foundation of solo jazz piano playing. He was one of the few remaining, one of the last, groups in jazz that continued to carry the flame. Lil’ Hardin’?…. The question is ridiculous, because it is impossible to answer. Second, nobody remembers Mel Powell and Johnny Guarnieri? When bebop arrived, in the mid-40s, she had an affinity for the revolutionary new style, and was a mentor to Thelonious Monk and Dizzy Gillespie. I always find “strong opinions” some kind of ridiculous, and mostly I don’t want to join in the battle of all the “experts” (I am, because my opinions are soooo different). When he was older, he was smitten by jazz and fell under the spell of modernists Bud Powell and Thelonious Monk. Take Five is consistently regarded as the greatest Jazz tune of all time by many. 22: Joe Zawinul (1932-2007) 33: Nat “King” Cole (1919-1965) Where is Joe Sample, brad mehldau, and Carlos ruvacabla? sad! It includes the intense modal jazz classic ‘Passion Dance’. It features Chick in a classic piano trio lineup with Miroslav Vitouš on bass and drummer Roy Haynes, who had previously featured on classic bebop recordings with Bud Powell and Charlie Parker. MARK EISENMAN?! I had a few jazz theory classes with Oscar in 1985/86 at York University and I shall always cherish the moment when he shook my hand after playing a guitar solo. Sadly, his life was blighted by drug addiction, which hastened his premature death at the age of 43. He played on a number of classic sessions with Parker, including the live albums The Quintet: Jazz at Massey Hall and Complete Live at Birdland. How to Play Jazz Piano. Look, they’re all great, even the one you thought should be higher, or lower on the list. Magicians of the boogie woogie. I do not know who wrote this list and where he will take the information but a bit disappointing …. 21: Teddy Wilson (1912-1986) My list is at 90 players, some of whom I have not heard before. Eddie, you need to give Diana Krall another listen. Mine as well, John. I really think this is difficult work. By the way nobody has mentioned George Zack, his contribution to Muggsies Someday Sweetheart and others really pleased me. Solo Classical Piano. Keith Jarrett initially attracted attention from the mid-1960s as a young sideman with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, Charles Lloyd’s quartet and Miles Davis. He died and was buried in Copenhagen. He is also a graduate of the same program that I graduated from (YORK UNIVERSITY, BACHELOR OF FINE ARTS-MUSIC MAJOR). The top 10 is MINT……….JIMMY SMITH is a HUGE oversight, though. Kenny Barron has to be included in the convo. But saying that Monk was “lousy as a piano player” … come on. Tatum would lead a Nat King Cole-style trio with Tiny Grimes on guitar and Slam Stewart on bass in his later career, but his best-known recordings are in the solo stride piano tradition of James P. Johnson and Fats Waller. Not mentioned by anyone in this thread), Marian Petrescu (unbelievable), Michel Camilo. Wonderful list but Phineas Newborn should at least be in the top 20; he isn’t on the list at all. Though he gleaned much from the left-hand stride-style of Art Tatum, alto saxophonist and bebop architect Charlie Parker was Powell’s main inspiration. And George Gershwin! A near-fatal diving accident in 1951 caused nerve damage to Brubeck’s hands and changed the way he played piano, where fleet-of-finger lines were replaced by dense block chords. 7 Every other jazz pianist, @anyone that hasn’t heard Mal Waldron – First Encounter yet, I’d love to hear your thoughts. the most shit rating ever! Steve Dobrogosz! To me, Keith Jarrett is very overrated. Don Shirley? And Scott Joplin on the list? 2-Bill Evans Criteria: These Jazz pianists were chosen for their originality, versatility, compositional skill, impact and influence in addition to their technical and improvisational playing of the instrument. How about Martial Solal?Do they all have tu\o be American? No Jason Moran? Myriad pianists have fallen under Evans’ spell, including Herbie Hancock, Keith Jarrett and, more recently, Brad Mehldau. Tristano was also a noted jazz teacher and it is claimed that his influence affected Miles Davis (on Birth Of The Cool) as well as Dave Brubeck and Gerry Mulligan. Way overrated: Chick Corea, Dave Brubeck, Ramsey Lewis, Absolutely agree with you assessment – and Gene Harris deserve a spot. 50: Lennie Tristano (1919-1978) The secret of a great solo lies creating music in the moment. Thanks Herman. There is an alternative top 100 list over at While many of his peers experimented with electric instruments and fusion during the 1970s and ‘80s, Tyner remained faithful to the acoustic jazz piano tradition until his death in 2020. So would you. Here is Brad playing in a duo with TIM MOHER. Keith Jarrett’s intense study of classical and jazz music make his improvisations and interpretations of existing musical material supremely unique. I rate him up with Monk and far better than Art Tatum in his jazz input. When the 50s arrived, there were others, such as Bill Evans, who fused the bop aesthetic with a sensibility nurtured on classical and romantic music, producing a densely-harmonised piano style that was supremely lyrical and richly expressive. Originally from Quebec, Canada, Peterson was a classically-trained child prodigy who fell under the influence of Art Tatum and Nat “King” Cole. My exact thought when reading this naive list. Mary Lou Williams And Brad Mehldau, of course. I enjoy Monk’s music but I wouldn’t put him at number two. From ragtime piano came the more sophisticated and virtuosic “stride” style of James P Johnson and Willie “The Lion” Smith – with its locomotive, two-step, left-hand accompaniment – in the 20s and 30s, which in turn led to Fats Waller and ultimately culminated with Art Tatum. The ranking is ridiculous (Monk for 2nd etc…) IMO. At least Art is no1, but Oscar, Bud and Bill should be 2,3,4…. Born in New York, he rose to fame in the 20s as an accompanist of blues singers. Cheers. What a treasure to discover Solo Piano Radio. I did pick up a few names that I will make an effort to find for my own listening pleasure. Debussy, Ravel); he ended as a full-blown “expressionist” (think Moussoursky, Rachmaninoff)–two opposite sides of the same coin of “Romantic art.” Bill had the biggest, heaviest hands of any pianist–his touch, always “deep in the keys,” could coax from the most stubborn piano the fullest ppp and fff in closely-voiced harmonies or the most evenly-played rapid runs thanks to minimal body movement and heavy, dead accurate fingers. They cannot possibly all fit in a list of 36 musicians!!! I feel John Lewis is most underrated here. one which is missing but stand out as performer as well as educator is dick hyman. Oscar Peterson should have been at the no 1 spot. A glowingly beautiful player–most of these players can’t touch the beauty of his ideas and the flow they get when he is at his best. Monk is in the Pantheon, not for his playing, but for the totality that he brings to the genre. 7: Bud Powell (1924-1966) A master of musical understatement. Have you got no heart? This amazing musician has got to be the most overlooked jazz pianist of all time! 33 Lyle Mays Nat King Cole, was probably better known for his vocals, than being a piano player. Claude Bolling 24: Bob James (Born 1939) Still, Money Jungle has proved highly influential, and many consider it to contain some of Ellington’s most advanced jazz piano playing. Art Tatum was famous for being able to drink large quantities of alcohol whilst performing without it having any adverse affect on the music, but unfortunately it impacted his health and he died in 1956, aged just 47. Ammmmmazing technique, overflowing with energy and creativity, she’s written beautiful songs and rearrangements. Freddie Slack From Brooklyn, New York, Kirkland had a fruitful association with the Marsalis brothers, Wynton and Branford, in the 80s and 90s, appearing as a sideman on many of their albums. And Bill Charlap, in the top 36. I have no use for the percussive style virtually devoid of dynamics that many exhibit. Probably top ten. After leaving Miles Davis in ’58, Miles called him back for a truly innovative recording: the result was “Kind of Blue,” the most successful jazz album of all time (artistically and commercially–still among the top sellers in jazz). He played as a sideman for Billy Eckstine and Charlie Parker, and was in bluesman Eddie Vinson’s band alongside a young John Coltrane. Bobby Enriquez is my favorite! Tete Montoliu belongs very high on the list. Evans took the influence of beboppers like Powell and added the flavour of impressionist classical harmony and a more overtly introspective sensibility. 11: Duke Ellington (1899-1974) I’m astonished, that nobody referred Hampton Hawes. Though influenced by Thelonious Monk and Art Tatum, Hill forged his own distinctive and complex style, both as a pianist and composer. He had a flashy technique with all those runs and arpeggios, but I’ve never heard him swing. I think it was please some of you (and it includes 3 females in the top 36.) Jazz Piano Solo. : If you are ranking, what are your criteria? Playing Solo Jazz Piano is an essential new book for creative jazz pianists. 19: Red Garland (1923-1984) Imposible que no figure uno de los creadores y geniales pianistas del principio: JELLY ROLL MORTON y luego el inmortal Fats Waller, el maravilloso Earl Hines, el grande Teddy Wilson. And if you go outside of the USA, and you should, you have to mention Abdullah Ibrahim and Jan Johansson. Take a one or two bar phrase and transpose it to all 12 keys. Whenever I scroll through these lists I am pleased to find my CD collection has so many of the folks listed!! Thelonious Monk was a jazz pianist and composer. A sideman for noted saxophonists Lou Donaldson, Sonny Rollins, Jackie McLean and Harold Land in the 50s, New Yorker Hope (real name St Elmo Sylvester Hope) was a bebop pianist with a bright sound, dynamic touch and, like Thelonious Monk, had a penchant for dissonance. POR LO VISTO NO ENTRAN MUJERES, LAS MENCIONADAS Y HAZEL SCOTT. Though hugely influential – Oscar Peterson was one of his prime disciples – Tatum’s life came to an end shortly after his 47th birthday. 5 Paul Bley List seems a bit sexist. Not sure what category he goes in. NOT A BAD LIST BUT YOU LEFT A LOT OF SOME OF THE BESTPLAYERS OUT. Sheesh!! J.P. Johnson? I still can’t fathom how VInce Guaraldi didn’t get on the list. Finishing work on a Theloneous Monk anniversary album. Me too. Willie “The Lion” Smith is certainly a great oversight. I think there are two important ones missing. Alexander Von Schlippenbach, Aki Takase, Marilyn Crispell, Paul Bley, Joel Futterman, Connie Crothers, Stanley Cowell, Sun Ra, Fred Van Hove, Mal Waldron, Misha Mengelberg, Don Pullen, Alice Coltrane and so many more. If you have no criteria, what is the point. Take a listen below (the solo starts at 4:05): Evans’ influence – like Bud Powell’s before him – was pervasive, and many future jazz piano stars (from Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea to Keith Jarrett and, more recently, Brad Mehldau) are indebted to him. Thanks for that piece of useful knowledge, I’m off exploring this mister Al haig’s world! Eddie Palmieri, Chucho Valdez should be on the list. This is a good summary of jazz pianists. There are a few names missing on your list, such as Vince Guaraldi, Russ Freeman, Dudley Moore, Egberto Gismonti, Claude Bolling; each of these have special talents that deserve mention. 4 Mal Waldron 29: Scott Joplin (1868-1917) Here is a sample of the boogie woogie specialist: Gone but not forgotten is Nat ” king ” Cole, accomplished jazz pianist before his voice overcame the ” 88 .”, Alan Broadbent, Aaron Diehl, Hiromi, Everybody goes ape over Art Tatum.. Jelly Roll Morton But he was a highly experimental jazz pianist and the extent to which Tyner changed the ‘language’ of jazz piano is perhaps somewhat overlooked: “No one — not Art Tatum, not Powell, not Monk, not Bill Evans — dropped a bomb on jazz pianists quite like McCoy Tyner. After Tatum, Monk, Lyrical Bill, there is a swarm of fine contenders. As good as Duke was at composing, I believe that most people have not noted that he wrote the simplest tune (melody) in the history of music. how can Chick Correa and Kieth Jarrett be ahead of Earl Hines and Horace Silver. He’s in my top 5. What? DAN CELLI. Charlie’s Reply: “AL HAIG!”, The very underestimated Dave MacKenna could be mentionned here. The late PAT LUDWIG from Kitchener, Ontario, Canada. Joanne Brackeen should definitely be in the list. If you look back through the history of jazz, the piano has been a key instrument in pretty much every style along the way. Jan Johansson should be on this list. Another hallmark of the Texan’s singular style was his use of two-handed block chords. 4. New Jack Swing Fashion And Style: A Photo Essay, Best David Sylvian & Japan Songs: A Singular Musical Mind, ‘E=MC2’: Mariah Carey’s 2008 Album Is A Celebration, ‘Feeling Good’: Nina Simone’s Joyous Emancipation Anthem, Photo: Library Of Congress/William Gottlieb. Also, McCoy should be higher ranking than #6. However, he soon developed as one of the major post-Evans/Tyner voices in jazz, playing in a range of settings, including on Miles Davis’ seminal jazz-rock albums In A Silent Way and Bitches Brew, and in Avant garde groups with Anthony Braxton. Remember, not every solo has to be full of double time lines, memorized licks, and theory devices. Of course then there is Erroll Garner. This is a reply to a to someone above who stated that Lennie Tristano was not on the list and mentioned the name Dave Burrell. Thelonious Monk Scott Joplin is on this list. There is some terrific stuff there, let’s say he maybe could have snuck into the Top 36 if he focused on piano instead of bass, not chops wise but getting music out of those 88 keys wise. Wow -as a Jazz piano lover I could care less about the order, though it might be nice to see a list of living piano players. Johnny Costa is comparable to Art Tatum. Bill, on the other hand, completed his archetypal journey be going full circle. And how about Jess Stacy? The next time a poll like this is conducted, it should be taken among all the living jazz pianists. One of an elite handful of jazz artists to score a big crossover pop hit in the 60s (‘Take Five’), California-born Brubeck, who grew up on a ranch, studied to be a vet but switched to music during college. People ignore this last period by Bill, whose drug addiction was due not only to the horrible tragedies in his life but to his determination not to betray either his art or the two young musicians who, for the first time, constituted “his” trio, expressing his vision and aesthetic. Hope you managed to listen to some of these great jazz piano players whilst checking out our list, and feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments section. Charlotte. Nice list, but far from perfect! 47: Duke Pearson (1932-1980) 3.- Oscar Peterson. 8 Keith Jarrett 30 Hank Jones Anyone else own the album Mingus Plays Piano? An intrepid improviser whose imagination knows no bounds. so cheesy to make a list, moreso when it has to nod to the commercial stars of the recent era. Look out Bill Evans!! As you said, the latter was a great composer and surely played an important role in jazz history, but he wasn’t a great pianist. He definitely should be included among the greats! I agree – especially Hines at no. I shall assume that he did not intentionally want to show off like he did with the piano. And from the older (but still highly active!) As a kind of mid-way point between the earlier albums with more straight ahead rhythms sections, and the classic but extremely introspective live sessions from the Village Vanguard, this first trio record with Scott LaFaro & Paul Motian serves as a great introduction to Bill Evans’ playing. 34 Cecil Taylor As we are interested in swing dance, the band has focused on dance styles of the swing era including early blues styles, charleston, lindy hop, … What is certain is that Tristano was an uncompromising innovator whose unorthodox conception of melody and harmony presaged the birth of free jazz. The contributions of Duke Ellington, Nat KIng Cole, Scott Joplin, Dave Brubeck, Art Tatum , Brad Mehldau , Nina Simone, Gil Evans, Michel Legrand & Jelly Roll Morton cannot be overestimated ). The programme has a nautical theme and includes tunes like ‘Dolphin Dance’ and ‘Maiden Voyage’, which have gone on to become jazz standards. It’s hard to take seriously a top 36 jazz pianists list that doesn’t include Mary Lou Williams…. Inspired to take up jazz after hearing Fats Waller’s ‘Honeysuckle Rose’, Austrian-born Zawinul ventured to the US in 1959, where he immediately made his mark as a pianist and composer in Cannonball Adderley’s band. such a list is a nice provocation…simply to recall all who are mentioned justifies the exercise. Michel Camillo. I would have included John Lewis and everybody has their own list but this is YOUR list so there should be no criticism at all. I can”t believe no one mentioned PHINEAS NEWBORN JR.! But he was all arpeggio and flash . Had people cheering and crying at the 2003 Monterey Jazz Festival. I’ll say I enjoyed this list overall. I give you two european pianists: Jan Johansson, Sweden and Louis van Dyke from Holland. Hired for his impeccable musical taste and sonic eloquence, Jones’ myriad sideman credits ranged from Dizzy Gillespie and Dexter Gordon to Anita O’Day and Marilyn Monroe. But you could hear how great he was on the records he is on. Respect from England. Herbie and Bud too low. Earl Hines Influenced by Teddy Wilson and Bud Powell, Brooklyn-born Kelly is best remembered for his association with Miles Davis between 1959 and 1961 (he played on the iconic 1959 LP Kind Of Blue). Damn it! 27 Wynton Kelly 39: Barry Harris (Born 1929) Roger Kellaway-Ray Bryant – etc etc etc He wasn’t a jazz pianist and he was more of a composer than a performer anyways. Tyner’s 1967 Blue Note debut features the pianist accompanied by Joe Henderson, Ron Carter and fellow Coltrane quartet-alumnus Elvin Jones. Bill Evans too high. From classical solo piano to contemporary and jazz solo piano music, we strive to provide a large variety of piano songs for solo piano fans, listeners, and supporters. Though their music infused Walton’s own style, he found his own voice on the piano and, after a stint with Kenny Dorham, John Coltrane and The Jazztet, he joined Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers in 1961, going on to cut nine albums with the group. Where the hell is John Lewis? 2 Andrew Hill If you need confirmation of this, go see the wonderful 1 hr docu on Hines @ Thanks to the album titled as Concert By The Sea from Errol Garner has to be one of best 3 and maybe the best with Art Tatum, Bill Evans and Oscar Peterson. Even she wouldn’t think she should be on this list! Lennie Tristano Thank you! I agree with the many serious ommissions mentioned by others. 4: Herbie Hancock (Born 1940) The audio or video files should ‘stream’ to your media player as they load. Secondly, Clare Fischer had a huge influence, and no one (as far as I could see) has mentioned him. Contemporary pianists who claim to have been influenced by him include Chick Corea and Brad Mehldau. I think it’s on of the first lists that is pretty good…..I play and little piano and guitar and fancy myself as fairly knowledgeable in guitar, bass and drums……Maybe I know just enough to get into trouble……no one can ever agree on any list……ever. Famously, there was tension between the three players during the recording, and some reviews have claimed that this is audible in the music. A nine-time Grammy nominee, Barron has been recording since the late 60s and his many collaborators include fellow pianists Tommy Flanagan and Barry Harris. 1. finally he asked. 10. It was the latter quality that made Miles Davis such a big fan of his music in the 50s, attempting to replicate Jamal’s light piano style in his groups of that era. I´ll miss Eddie Haywood, and as pianoplayer Nat King Cole, and last – Slim Gaillard, not for his skills but for make me happy, with his swing drive. For instance we could compile a list of the best percussive players the list would completely change — if you get my drift. DON PULLEN who played until his fingers bled? Lists are a good way of focusing the mind, by making us consider who else could be there. He usually led from the piano, adhering to a minimalistic less-is-more aesthetic and employing forceful percussive accenting and octaves so that his bluesy notes cut through the full band sound. But Art definitely deserves to be number one. Sadly, Timmons’ career was cut short, at 38, by his chronic alcoholism. Oscar Peterson number 2 after Art Tatum. Check out his FLYING FINGER”S CD. 13 Count Basie Tigran Hamasyan is by far one of the best piano players in the world. He is amazing! Sonny is a “musician’s musician” – he would rank higher if this were polled from a sample only consisting of jazz pianists. The jazz world has produced an abundance of super-talented piano masters in the past 100 years – many more than can be accommodated in this list of the 50 best jazz pianists of all time. “He’s my idea of a perfect pianist.”, My top 14 jazz pianists in alphabetical order, based on 60 years of listening: That wraps up our list of 12 modern jazz piano players to study and learn from. Downgraded by some because he was accepted by the unwashed masse and not given to pontification about the very real profound nature of jazz, he is hardly to blame that playing piano came so effortlessly to him or that he always believed audiences should be entertained. Jimmy Yancey He made a whole host of great albums, mostly for Blue Note, during the ‘60s as both bandleader and sideman, as well as playing piano in Miles Davis’ Second Great Quintet. The list goes on ,doesnt it? Richie Beirach??? November 2, 2018 | by Rebeca Mauleón. That band also included Wayne Shorter, Ron Carter and Tony Williams, and took a freewheeling approach to traditional structures and harmony. As both a composer and arranger, Morton was a seminal figure in the development of early jazz – among his most famous recordings is ‘Black Bottom Stomp’ – and he was also a noted pianist whose propulsive, jaunty style grew out of ragtime and anticipated the stride development. No Eddie Higgins? Duke is like Monk, inimitable–and of course, that partly comes from being a great composer first of all. 35 Dave Grusin. 44: John Lewis (1920-2001) 35: Brad Mehldau (Born 1970) That’s the way to see it ! In preparation for this year’s Piano Day (29 March), we’ve expanded and revamped this list, and added some of your suggestions. First and foremost, Phineas Newborn Jr. 4 Dave Brubeck 32 Sonny Clark Sadly, Clark was a heroin addict and died, aged 31, from a suspected (but never proven) overdose. Richard Twardzik. How is it possible to have this large a list without either Chucho Valdes or Bobby Enriquez? Yes let’s expand this to 88 pianists and not rank them. Gene Harris? 13: Count Basie (1904-1984) Another who could really deliver when the atmosphere was just right was Dorothy Donegan. Aw, man. 38: Mary Lou Williams (1910-1981) Its role is multifaceted due largely to the instrument's combined melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic capabilities. In the combination of musical technique und being a great composer. but this one is close without dissecting and nitpicking it to death. Sir Roland Hanna? By the 70s, though, James’ star was on the rise thanks to his being the in-house arranger at producer Creed Taylor’s influential CTI label. Mulgrew Miller needs to be in there definitively. 1: Art Tatum (1909-1956) Can we move beyond the Count Basie, Benny Goodman, The 1940’s-50’s and at least start looking at free jazz in a meaningful way? Jarrett put together a trio with drummer Jack DeJohnette and bassist Gary Peacock, which focused on standards from the Great American Songbook and bebop repertoire, proving extremely popular and recording prolifically until it disbanded in 2014. 2.- Keith Jarrett ! (Fulford Street Romp and Tippin Home From Sunday School). Kirkland a “rock loser”? As well as a dexterous pianist who enjoyed a long and fruitful stretch at Blue Note between 1952 and 1980, Silver was a prolific tunesmith (among his most famous compositions is ‘Song For My Father’). Donald Lambert? He was there at the start of modern jazz with Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis etc. I really think this is difficult work. You left off the link. It’s often overlooked that Washington, DC-born Edward Kennedy Ellington was a tremendous jazz pianist with his own inimitable style. He released his debut LP in 1956 and recorded regularly for a raft of different labels up until 2009. If you don’t dig what his qualities as a pianist were then you don’t dig what jazz and blues are about. Too many great ones left off, as mentioned in the comments. Given that he once claimed to have singlehandedly invented jazz, modesty was most certainly not a recognisable trait in the character of this New Orleans pianist born Ferdinand LeMothe – though he wholly deserves recognition among the best jazz pianists. I would move Ahmad Jamal higher on the list and include the great be-bop pianist Al Haig. Herbie Hancock, several times during interviews, has given Clare credit for a significant part of his harmonic knowledge. Sexist indeed! in US(Cincinatti??) He played with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers in the mid-60s before joining the groups of Charles Lloyd and, later, Miles Davis. 31: Michel Petrucciani (1962-1999) I love Bill Evans but he was not better then Bud Powell or Oscar Peterson! He embraced crowd-pleasing jazz fusion with his bands Return To Forever and later the Chick Corea Electrik Band, recording well-known compositions like ‘Spain’ and ‘Armando’s Rumba’. JOHN BALLYANTYNE!! 6: McCoy Tyner (Born 1938) I am not sure any of you know much about Jazz if you haven’t included my father Johnny Guarnieri. The list should be extended to at least 88 names without ranking them. Renowned for ornate filigrees and a hard-swinging style, Peterson was a dextrous improviser. In 1945 he was beaten over the head in a racially aggravated assault by a policeman, which contributed towards the psychiatric problems that plagued him for the rest of his life, and the consistency of his later work is patchy in comparison to his mercurial early recordings. and Vince Guaraldi.And did I miss Dr Billy Taylor?What about George Gershwin? Possessed of astonishing technique, his playing is characterised by flamboyantly decorated linear improvisation and lightening-pace right hand flights. As an initial piece, I have pulled this performance from the archives as it provides one of the most compelling interpretations of what has now become a jazz standard. He did not have to rely on playing set riffs and pretending it was improvisation. Diana Krall? Gonzalo Rubalcaba should be on list, somewhere near the top. You can always make the case for any of these folks but as time goes on people forget the greats of a somewhat earlier day. Shearing, Oscar, Michele Le Grand ( for the few of us who have heard him live). He would be more appropriate as a person in the TOP 50 for BLUES pianists. Agree..many left off.Marian especially.A d what a out Joanne Brackeen?Phenomenal. 43: Harold Mabern (Born 1936) 3-John Lewis. Posted by Discover Jazz | Jazz Music, Piano. I might add to that list, Hazel Scott, Horace Tapscott and Bobby Scott (puns? Next you’ll call Mulgrew Miller a folk musician who only played triads. They have him ranked a little too high. Bringers of joy. Analyze how the lines resolve, then try transposing these phrases to other keys. 29 Scott Joplin 10: Ahmad Jamal (Born 1930) Gonzalo Rubalcaba I have seen live Count Basie, Duke Ellington with their Bands, Earl “Fatha” Hines (Solo). agree bout the first ten. He is the ideal choice if you're looking to add some ambiance to your wedding breakfast, drinks reception or corporate drinks reception. Randy Weston? Thanks to you, Talking Stein, I went there ….. and No Thank You! Blind from birth, the much-honoured London-born Shearing (who, uniquely among the best jazz pianists, was a Sir, having been knighted in 2007) displayed an aptitude for the piano and accordion at an early age. No females? Mary Lou Williams? You missed Dave Zoller. Piano is surely one of the most versatile jazz instruments out there, and the diverse characters on this list have played in settings ranging from solo piano to big band. From Allentown, Pennsylvania, Jarrett started playing piano at the age of two and rapidly blossomed into a precociously gifted child prodigy steeped in classical music. Even Bill wouldn’t agree with that. Many modern jazz pianists are heavily influenced by Horace Silver’s playing and compositions as well. 7. King Freestyle’ Feat. He’s a classical performer, conductor, and musicologist whose immaculate performances gave Joplin’s ragtime compositions the respect they deserved. Há outros e bem melhores!!! ‘The best unknown jazz piano player’. That is a strange number? I personally think Mary Lou Williams should be somewhere on the list, maybe even Elaine Elias but there are a lot more great male jazz pianists than female. 45: Kenny Barron (Born 1943) I feel there’s some distance between those 3 and everyone else since they achieve greater deepness – even drama – in their playing while being as technically profficient as the other great ones. There are lots of great women jazz pianists but we shouldn’t put women on the list merely to be politically correct. Any of these women in my opinion were superior to several names on this list: Marian McPartland, Mary Lou Williams, Joanne Brackeen, Renee Rosnes, Eliane Elias, Geri Allen, Jessica Williams, Hiromi, and a few others. Alongside Herbie on piano, the superb band features George Coleman on saxophone, Freddie Hubbard on trumpet, Ron Carter on bass and Tony Williams on drums – so the rhythm section here is the same as that of the Miles Davis quintet of the era. I can’t believe that Dorothy Donegan has not been mentioned at all! MICHAEL KAESHAMMER?!!! Tatum, Evans, Bud Powell. Take another look and let us know what you think! They also seem to find the perfect balance between restraint and expressivity while the others are simply on another level. Without a doubt I would add Phineas Newborn and Brad Mehldau to that list, and I could easily leave out Bob James and Dave Grusin. If you take into account his composing and his position as a pioneer of bebop he should certainly be near the top but as pianist solely, not #2, really not Top 10. Powell is the archetypal bebop pianist, and was the first person to apply Charlie Parker’s chromaticism-filled improvisational language to the keyboard. Description “Playing Solo Jazz Piano” is an essential new book for creative jazz pianists. After Coltrane, Tyner established himself as one of contemporary jazz’s pre-eminent pianists with a series of astounding albums for Blue Note and, later, Milestone. Though influenced by Bill Evans, Hancock forged his own style in the 60s, both as a solo artist and as a member of Miles Davis’ pathfinding post-bop quintet. Solo pieces showcasing the versatility of the piano. Jazz is not a relic, it’s alive and kicking (and in new directions!). Jamal first recorded for OKeh in 1951, but it was later in the same decade when took his position among the best jazz pianists of all time, with the best-selling live album At The Pershing, which took his music to a larger audience. Hazel Scott When Memphis musicians and friends of Newborn first heard players like Bud Powell, they were not impressed because anything Bud did, Newborn could do more easily. Corea had recorded ‘Windows’, one of his best known tunes, with Stan Getz the previous year on Sweet Rain. Next thing someone is going to put Kenny G in the same category as Steve Lacey and Dave Liebman for best Jazz soprano sax !? 3 Ahmad Jamal 9 Art Tatum Seriously? And Shirley Horn should be on the list. Keith Jarrett, for god’s sakes, but not Martial Solal? The missing link between Art Tatum and bebop, his status as one of the best jazz pianists of all time is forever assured. 27: Wynton Kelly (1931-1977) “The Sermon”was a game changer. 1 Bill Evans A bunch of rock musicians ????? Arguably the most compelling album he made was 1955’s classic Concert By The Sea, which captures Garner in all his glory. Erroll is justifiably living a second life on the net and part of the problem for fans now is that Erroll died long ago and may have got overlooked somewhat.I understand that Art Tatum was very taken with him (”one day he will become something”)and I think Erroll drove him around a bit and even went up against Art in a piano duel(s). Nat king Cole was a jazz pianist before he became a singer. Pre-Made Blend: Romantic Piano + Christmas Favorites. There are a few solo piano entries in the jazz aristocrat’s extensive discography (most notably, perhaps, 1953’s The Duke Plays Ellington) that reveal the full extent of Ellington’s skills. Art Tatum was blind from infancy and mostly self-taught as a pianist, but he is considered by many to be the ultimate virtuoso in all of jazz. Thelonius Monk?? Lennie Tristano is $50. Solo jazz pianist & accompaniest I perform regularly as solo lounge bar entertainment or with the jazz duo/quartet ‘Standard Deviation’. Here are my thoughts: BRAD MEHLDAU. .but hey, it’s generated some thought and some memories and inspired some listening (at least on my part) and some discussion, all of which, I figure, is the point. This is not a simple task as if we accept that the Blues was the root of all Jazz music then there is a substantial catalogue of works from which to choose. A jazz piano colossus. When appropriate, these musicians are quoted and name-checked inside the article itself! 3 McCoy Tyner A.Jahmal, Lyle May, OK, mais aussi Steve Kuhn et encore Omar Sosa (exceptionnel de prestance et d’emotion sur scene)! I can’t agree with this list. 37: Bobby Timmons (1935-1974) My other 50% is Polish (some people call me a POWOP). where is Alan Broadbent, Milgrew Miller, Brad Mehldau? The biggest selling Jazz LP in ’56 was Andre Previn & Shelly Mann’s “My Fair Lady”. Acknowledged by the inventors of modern jazz, Charlie Parker and Bud Powell -and Stan Getz – as their first choice As for Dave Brubeck, I like him but wouldn’t rate him at 16. 🙂, And the list has 36 pianists because there are 36 black keys on the piano? Here he is with MICHAEL BRECKER. Pittsburgh-born Jamal possesses a delicate, nimble touch and intuitively knows how to use space to good effect. 9. You can also view videos on my YouTube channel . there is a more influence on jazz innovation than bill evans . Is there any chance that DAVE BURRELL is related to the jazz guitarist KENNY BURRELL? I shall say it again Tristano is #50!! Jazz Pianists? WK is top ten for me. (yeah, McPartland, Dearie and Les McCann should NOT have been supplanted by anyone) Hell, even Jose Iturbi was a better jazz pianist than some of these listees. Cedar was awesome.Listen to him all the time.Always inventive, always funky. And rock no less! Fats Waller Earl Hines Erroll Garner 17 ?????? 31 Michel Petrucciani No one has a timeless list of The Greatest. If you made this list top 100 there would still be people with their favorites not on it. Also, Phineas Newborn, Joe Sample, and Kenny Werner should have been included. or Geri Allen (R.I.P.) Whereas Keith selected his “spots’ on the basis of crowd size, money, etc., Bill remained an active soldier, about to go on another world tour when his body betrayed him. Jazz has had the broadest perspective of all genre's in music since it's first note to the present day. It proved extremely popular, with sales over 3.5 million, making The Köln Concert he best-selling solo album in jazz history, and the all-time best-selling piano album. Some even consider it the backbone of jazz ensembles – as crucial as the double bass that outlines the harmonic figures, and the trumpet that riffs and solos on the melody. No Paul Bley??? The great Jessica Williams. Required fields are marked *. Placing Ellington in a trio setting with bassist Charles Mingus and drummer Max Roach, Money Jungle is an intriguing, cross-generational meeting of three gigantic personalities, who were all great bandleaders in their own right. 26 James P Johnson Native New Yorker Thomas “Fats” Waller didn’t live to see his 40th birthday (he succumbed to pneumonia at 39), but nevertheless proved to be an influential pianist, particularly for his contribution to the evolution of the highly rhythmic stride style, an important foundation stone in jazz piano. How about Monty Alexander, Nina Simone, Dr Billy Taylor, Les McCann, Denny Zeitlin & Organist, Jimmy Smith? Yes. And now heresy time. All men? Mal Waldron should just be in the top 5. Both could be top 10, certainly top 25. Lists are silly. That’s because Ellington earned greater fame as a popular bandleader and composer during the big band swing era of the 30s. Cedar Walton and Mulgrew Miller should be at the top but are missing??? Wow, Bill Evans before Oscar Peterson. In time, Benny Green will need to be on the list as well. And Nat Cole ? 9: Chick Corea (Born 1941) .but it’s only as large as it is. No Eliane Elias? Have to agree that these names could fit in there somewhere. Phineas Newborn -John Lewis-Billy Strayhorn -should be in the top 10 – 15. Robert. I’m astonished that no one has mentioned Don Friedman. While i appreciate most opinions, you dont belong anywhere on this planet. That’s the real big challenge the piano presents. How about Lenny Tristano? He merely heard a song in his head and made up the new melody using that tune alone. James P Johnson If that surprises anyone. So he has to be right up there and is my favourite primarily because of his unique musicianship and his unmatched intros-beat that! How to compare Oscar Peterson and Thelonious Monk?! Check out Ellington’s and Juan Tizol’s Caravan if you want to see what it is like to muscially pat your head and rub your stomach at the same time. 41: Jaki Byard (1922-1999) Moreover, Bill kept the flame going, traveling round the world, too busy to go into a recording studio. Just because she’s a woman? In short, I suggest you might devise a poll based on categories – such as as harmonic creativity, melodic creativity, originality, interpretation, composition and form building, playing technique, influence on other musicians etc etc. Waller was also an organist and composer whose repertoire included the immortal tunes ‘Ain’t Misbehavin’’ and ‘Honeysuckle Rose.’. Instead of the status quo, he imitated the lines of saxophone and piano players and looked for new avenues of harmonic expression in all types of music. That list is voted on by average joes and jills. It had many of my favorites. Come on. I’d have moved Dave Brubeck up the list a bit as he was the first Jazz artist to really help Jazz get into the main stream by aggressively touring the college circuit in the 50’s and popularizing Jazz with the younger crowds. Here it is. He recorded for Blue Note, Prestige and Pacific Jazz in the 50s. Hancock was still just 24 years old when he recorded this 1965 classic. Al Haig was Bud Powell’s favorite pianist. Between Chucho and Art Tatum a toss up as #1..2-3 Oscar. Meanwhile, his European Quartet, with Jan Garbarek, Palle Danielsson and Jon Christensen, focused on more overtly melodic tunes. Lets not argue about who is missing it is impossible to have all names available, but in real terms in matters not a hoot because Bud Powell and Monk are there. Piano has so many fantastic players that for me I have a huge amount of favorites. TV fans are probably aware of the TV series HOUSE. The Modern Jazz Quartet got me and countless others into modern jazz, as opposed to trad and Dixieland. 4: Fats Waller What about Paul Bley? Keyboard Kings. Pianists as any other professional musician are certainly competing with their art yet not for being ranked but for getting loved, respected, and paid well for their performances! Second to none. 48: Dave Grusin (Born 1934) At least a dozen people complainig that the mediocre Diana Krall didn’t make it in the list yet no one mentions Horace Tapscott. One of the best jazz pianists still with us from the bebop era. He was a friend of OSCAR PETERSON but had lines that related more towards TEDDY WILSON. Pianists are musicians and musicians are artists and not marathon runners, tennis players or race car drivers. I highly doubt it that you are the REAL Diana Krall. Though, compared to many of the best jazz pianists, his influences are wide and varied – ranging from pop, rock, folk and classical music, to bebop, country and even electronic music – he has distilled them all into a unique style which is inspired by the lyricism of Bill Evans and spellbinding virtuosic improvisation of Keith Jarrett. Greatest how; for what? He also made many recordings under his own name, but today is mostly remembered as Billie Holiday’s accompanist. He made his first recording in 1945, but it was in the 50s, after he joined jazz impresario Norman Granz’s Verve label and led a piano trio, that he became a household name. His propulsive, dynamic style, with its dazzling finger-work, exerted a profound influence on both Duke Ellington’s and George Gershwin’s approach to the piano. Together with James P Johnson and Fats Waller, William Henry Joseph Bonaparte Bertholoff Smith (to give him his full name) was a noted practitioner of the stride style of playing. You have Bob James and Cecil Taylor on this list, but you do not have Elmo Hope? Dubbed The Marxist Mozart for his espousal of left-wing political causes, Texas-born Theodore Wilson was a virtuosic pianist who gained prominence in the swing era and worked as a sideman with some of the biggest names in jazz, ranging from Louis Armstrong and Benny Goodman to Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald. Hill, Cables and Hersch should be higher. Since then, jazz piano has been central to almost all of the major innovations in the music, from swing to bebop, modal jazz to the European Avant garde. Who conducted this survey ? The absence of Brad Mehldau is unforgivable – I checked like 10 times to be sure I didn’t just miss him. the list includes a great pianists, but what about mal waldron, jaki byard, bobby timmons, paul bley, cedar walton, sun ra, alice coltrane? Dick Twardsik Sorry Folks. Disappointing to see that no one has mentioned Satoko Fujii so far. Seriously? Herbie Hancock, 1964 (Photo by Francis Wolff) In keeping with our theme of quintessential jazz albums, we present this sampling of some of the music’s iconic piano masters in an array of formats - from solo piano to intimate duos, trios and larger ensembles. hard to imagine a list like that without brad mehldau, YOU ARE RIGHT.And HAMPTON HAWES, TEDDY WILSON- DUKE ELLINGTON- BJORN SVENSSON- WINTON KELLY -HORACE SILVER-MAL WALDRON-CEDAR WALTON ETC. To at least be in the solo jazz pianists: Jan Johansson Eddie Vinson’s alongside. For sure you would pick up on this list can omit John Lewis, proves point... S second album as a leader began in 1967 and, later, Miles Davis,,... The present day the site was not better then Bud Powell Threadgill set.. more?! Michel PETRUCCIANI is on forward to sharing more with you soon who thought Iturbi was a heroin and. Lista de los 36 mejores pianistas pero el más grande y mi ídolo favorito es Oscar Peterson and everybody... 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