To me, as I’ve said it countless times, jazz is like a recurrent dream – something familiar, exotic, that I can’t define, but which still manages to surprise me every time I listen to it. And it’s sad to see that it is starting to lose its popularity in the modern era because I think it is one of those genres that stimulates your brain and relaxes you completely.
Another fellow human being who loves the genre is the famous Japanese author Haruki Murakami that harnesses the power of many great jazz songs to transport his readers to his mystical lands. Maybe it should be a hint to the general public that this kind of music still has plenty to offer. And to pay homage to that idea, here are some of my favorite jazz artists of all time.
Charles Mingus was what we would call a pioneer. He mastered the bass and added a new layer to jazz via his unique sounding creations. His style is not something that could be duplicated, which is a feature I appreciate in my artists. He had an energy that transpired through his songs, which lead him to score many awards and praises.
This next name, I think, needs no introduction. Nat King Cole was a phenomenon and a household name, and adopted a clean and straightforward style that spoke to many of his contemporaries and even to many today. Not only that his compositions are a trademark, but his instantly recognizable voice is too, and if you don’t know who he is, do yourself a favor and look him up on Youtube as you will get hooked on his tunes.
If I had to choose one jazz musician to listen to my whole life, it would be Billie Holiday. I just feel raw emotions coming from her vocal cords, not notes or words. She was unstoppable, and one female musician who indeed showed the world that women are just as good as men in any field. She alone wholly transformed the music scene and even invented a new way to manipulate tempo and phrasing.
One last artist that everyone should listen to is Ella Fitzgerald. This tragic icon was an instant addiction for me. Her music is so compelling and relevant even to this day, something that is proven by the dozens of Grammys she won over the years, and by the fact that many of the Top 100 artists quote her as a major inspiration.
This is my list of the top artist who transformed jazz for me. The list is incomplete, as many other musicians got me addicted to their sound, but it would be hard to feature them all.