The Great Jazz Artists

Louis Armstrong

“Fire—that’s the life of music, that’s the way it should be.” – Louis Armstrong


As Benny Goodman, never one to waste compliments, once put it, “He was so exciting, and so inventive in his own way that he just lifted the whole thing.” – Richard M. Sudhalter

James P. Johnson

“Served as a stylistic model for Duke Ellington and Fats Waller and a whole generation of pianists. His fingerprints are all over the first half of 20th century music.” – Scott E. Brown, M.D.


“Earl Hines was the first major jazz pianist to to utilize both of his hands in adventurous flights without missing a beat.” – Scott Yanow

Coleman Hawkins

“From whom did Hawkins copy? I don’t think he copied anybody. He was a creator. He led.” – Benny Carter

Lionel Hampton

“Motored by a seemingly limitless supply of energy and stamina, Hampton’s playing is known the world over for its relentless physicality, unhampered technical facility, and a seemingly imperturbale inventiveness.” – Gunther Schuller, The Swing Era


“Lester’s style was light, and as I said, it took him maybe five choruses to warm up. But then he would really blow; then you couldn’t handle him in a cutting session.” – Mary Lou Williams


“As with any drummer, fast tempos gave Rich his most spectacular showcases. He would rip off terse breaks, sometimes in a blur of machine guns fire, other times with the most unexpected twist of time or phrase.” – John McDonough

Thelonious Monk

“His left hand is not constant – it wanders shrewdly around, sometimes powerfully on the beat, usually increasing it in variety and occasionally silent…and Monk had a beat like the ocean waves” – Paul Bacon, The Record Changer 1948


“I believe that Paul Desmond shares with Benny Carter the title of most lyrical altoist. He is a profoundly beautiful player” – Julian Adderley


“Not that it necessarily follows that one who plays that beautifully is also a marvelous person, but I think one can discern in Clifford Brown’s case that the particular kind of extraordinary playing was linked to an equally special human being.” – Ira Gitler


“Joe could play the melody, add the chords and make the fills. That had never been done before quite the way he did it.” – Joe Diorio

Art Blakey

“A powerful drummer with a trademark drum roll that could scare off all but the bravest jazz musicians, Art Blakey was one of the giants of his instrument.” – Scott Yanow

Donald Byrd

“We called him ‘The Knife because when he’d get up to blow, his playing had almost a slashing effect on the rest of us. He’d slash, chop, and before he was through, cut everybody down to size.” – Mel Lewis

Grant Green

“Grant Green was a master of rhythm accent and displacement and this is a far more subtle virtuosity than encyclopedic harmonic knowledge or quicksilver arpeggio running.” – Bob Blumenthal

Miles Davis

“Miles Davis had the ability to assimilate new developments in the direction the music was taking and then expound upon it, showing his sidemen a vision of the music yet to be played, like a beacon.” – Todd Coolman

John Coltrane

“Coltrane seems to have the power to pull listeners right out of their chairs.” – Zita Carno, Jazz Review 1959

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