Study Guide for Jazz Appreciation

Instruments and significant contributors to Jazz Style



Sidney Bechet- Clarinet, Dixieland.1st star wind player in jazz. Played with Louis Armstrong in Chicago recordings, later switched to soprano sax.

Coleman Hawkins- Tenor, 1st big star of the Saxophone, regular/rapid vibrato, played solos based on chord/harmonic structures, played w/ Louie in Fletcher Henderson Band

Lester Young- Tenor, starred in Count Basie Band, solos based on linear/melodic concept

Charlie Parker- Alto, known as “Bird”, innovator of Bebop, added complexity to harmonic structures by using “extensions” in chords and melodies both written and improvised, super fast tempos, non-vibrato, known for challenge w/ drug abuse

Stan Getz- Tenor, soft velvet like tone referred to as “The Sound”, helped introduce Brazilian rhythms like Bossa Nova  through the music of of A.C. Jobim .

John Coltrane- Tenor, intense brilliant tone, long complex solos, solos often utilize sequence of patterns borrowed from vigorous practice routine, brought Hard Bop into Free by including notes “outside” of chord changes, Church of John Coltrane. Famous  Q-Tet w/ McCoy Tyner, Jimmy Garrison, Elvin Jones.

Ornette Coleman- Alto, innovator of Free Jazz

Michael Brecker- Tenor/EWI electronic wind instrument, The Brecker Brothers Band, innovator in use of wind controlled synthesizer, frequent guest artist on many recordings


Other important players- Ben Webster, Johnny Hodges, Sonny Rollins, Paul Desmond, Wayne Shorter




Louis Armstrong-Coronet, known as Satchmo, 1st and best known of originators of Jazz, major contributions to Jazz Style, improvisation, and Trumpet technique (“special effects”). Early recordings in Chicago bring Jazz to the Radio, life long career.

Harry James- Band leader, very technical player, big sound, developed concept of big band trumpet section

Dizzy Gillespie-co-originator of Bebop, expanded range, very fast tempos, one of the more or less “clean living” jazz artists.

Clifford Brown- transition figure in evolution of Bop, big tone, fast tempos, wrote tunes with original chord progressions, died at 25 in car accident.

Miles Davis-biggest figure in modern jazz, best known innovator of Cool Jazz, emphasis on subtle playing, could play a solo with very few “well placed” notes, also involved in development of Hard Bop, early career in N.Y. with Parker and Gillespie, Miles Band of 60’s w/ Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, and Tony Williams. 1968 album Bitches Brew said to be 1st example of Fusion style

Art Farmer- “The Best” Cool Jazz improviser, known for smooth tone, subtlty.

Maynard Ferguson- Most famous high note player, amazing air flow, Stan Kenton Band.

Wynton Marsalis-best known member of famous Jazz family, Brought traditional Jazz back to popularity in the 80’s and 90’s. Innovative use of rhythm in modern Hard Bop. Current Ambassador of Jazz. Plays both Classical and Jazz.


Other important players: Bix Beiderbecke, Roy Eldridge, Don Cherry, Freddy Hubbard, Arturo Sandoval, Roy Hargrove.





Louis Armstrong- evolution of jazz singing style, developed scat singing, unique sound, life long career

Billie Holiday- laid-back feel, improvised lyrics to standard songs, drug problems

Ella Fitzgerald- popular swing singer, ultimate bebop scat soloist, long successful career

Chet Baker- trumpet player, defines Cool style with laid-back vocalizing, album: “My Funny Valentine”

Sarah Vaughn- cool jazz/pop vocalist, deep tone, development of post-bop vocal style

Johnny Hartman- Deep dark vocal stylist in the manner of Nat King Cole, fabulous album with Coltrane quartet

Jon Hendricks- vocalise, developed Vocal Jazz ensemble concept w/ Lambert, Hendricks, and Ross.

Bobby McFerrin- amazing vocal range from low bass to soprano, albums feature multi-part singing w/ self, solo performance ability to sing bass and soprano “at the same time” using hocketing technique.


Other important singers- Bessie Smith, Frank Sinatra, Mel Torme, Johnny Hartman, Diane Reeves, Diana Krall.




Jelly Roll Morton- self proclaimed “Fatha of Jazz”, earliest recordings of stride style

James P. Johnson- brought stride to New York, influenced Thelonious Monk

Fats Waller‑ development of swing feel, entertainer, popular songwriter, wrote Ain’t Misbehavin and Honeysuckle Rose

Bud Powell- ultimate Bebop Pianist, development of comping w/ simplified left hand

Thelonious Monk- best-known composer of Bebop, wrote Blue Monk, Round Midnight, Well You Needn’t, and Strait No Chaser. Use of dissonance and rhythmic displacement.

Art Tatum- greatest stride player, incorporated Bebop complexities into stride, fast tempos, sightless

Bill Evans- Ultimate Cool pianist, master of Hardbop, Introspective, floating time, polychords, classical training.

McCoy Tyner- use of quartal harmony, John Coltrane Q-tet, influenced Chick Corea.

Oscar Peterson- Afro-Canadian, compared to Art Tatum, huge hands, ultra fast tempos.

Cecil Taylor- model Pianist of Free Jazz style, vigorous/intense, atonal, textural

Chick Corea- innovative use of electronic instruments in Jazz, classical training in piano and composition, young player with Miles Davis, Return To Forever, The Electric Band.


Other important players: Willie the Lion Smith, Earl Hines, Teddy Wilson, Wynton Kelly, Red Garland, Dave Brubeck, Herbie Hancock, Keith Jarrett, Lyle Mays.






Guitar Players-


Django Reinhardt- Belgian, swing era, incredible speed, ornate style, missing a finger

Freddy Green- Basie Band, developed model for approach for comping on guitar, “Do Freddie”

Charlie Christian- On stage at on-set of bop with Monk at Minton’s, influenced generation of guitarists

Wes Montgomery- Developed what became the model “sound” for jazz guitar, featured use of octave playing technique

John McLaughlin- integrated sound of rock guitar into contemporary jazz, influence of world music, Bitches Brew, Mahvishnu Orchestra, Shakti

Pat Metheny- Composer, biggest star in present day contemporary jazz, merges jazz, classical composition techniques, world music, and fusion.


Other important guitarists-Les Paul, Joe Pass, Stanley Jordan, John Scofield, Mike Stern.


Bass Players-


Walter Page- Early 20’s beginnings in Texas territorial band, The Blue Devils, w/ young Count Basie. Innovators of modern rhythm section. 1935 Basie Band developed the “Walking Bass” approach to time keeping combined with harmonic support.

Slam Stewart- Most recorded jazz bassist of the 1940’s. Known for soloing using a bow while singing simultaneously an octave higher. Nickname for percussive “slamming” sound. Down Beat Bassist of the year in 1945. Played primarily in small groups with Art Tatum, Lester Young, Benny Goodman, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie.

Ray Brown- 1945, Leading New York Bop session player with Parker and Gillespie. Briefly married to Ella Fitzgerald. Long affiliation with Oscar Peterson. Known for precision playing, beautiful tone, and tasteful solos.

Paul Chambers- One of premier bassists in jazz history, known for beautiful tone, fluid technique, impeccable time, and magnificent sense of swing. At 20, joined the first Miles Davis quintet along with John Coltrane, Philly Joe Jones, and Red Garland. Participated on two of the greatest albums in Jazz, ColtranesGiant Steps (“Mr. P.C.) and Miles’ Kind of Blue. Died of TB at 33.

Charles Mingus- Early career with Louis Armstrong Big Band (1943), In New York in the 50’s played with Duke Ellington, Stan Getz, Art Tatum, and Bud Powell. Best known as composer as part of Jazz Composer’s Workshop in NY from 1953-55. 1962 disastrous rehearsal-concert known as The Town Hall Concert. Suffered from deep psychological problems.

Jaco Pastorius- One of the most influential Bass players of all time, created fretless electric bass by removing frets and filling gaps with wood putty, sanding, and varnishing the finger board. Referred to frets as “speed bumps”. Use of harmonics. “Singing” style accomplished by exclusively utilizing the bridge pick-up while plucking strings directly above the bridge and boosting the midrange frequencies. Favorite Bass known as the “Bass of Doom”. Best known as Bass player in the Band Weather Report. Died as a result of massive brain hemorrhage following a bar fight with karate expert bouncer.

Victor Lamont Wooten- Best known for Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, virtuoso abilities, considered best Bassist since Jaco Pastorius.

Other notable bass players- Scott LaFaro, Ron Carter, Gary Peacock, Eddie Gomez, Brian Bromberg, Richard Bona.




Gene Krupa – Played w/ Benny Goodman Big Band, entertaining soloist, best example of swing era drummer, expanded role of drummer beyond simple time keeping.

Max Roach- Greatest Bebop drummer, known for melodic solos, use of polyrhythm, lighter touch on kick drum, style included use of kicks, hits, and bombs.

Philly Joe Jones- Highly interactive, melodic content, known for throwing cymbal at young Bird at jam session.

Elvin Jones- resisted use of repeating patterns, active playing style, use of poly-rhythm, drummer in famous Coltrane quartet w/ McCoy Tyner and Jimmy Garrison.

Tony Williams- discovered by Miles Davis at 19 yrs old, re-defined role of jazz drummer, vigorous and energetic style, introduced mix of jazz and rock drumming styles, played in Davis Quintet w/ Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, and Ron Carter.

Steve Gadd- as youth played in Stan Kenton Big Band, energetic fills, pioneered use of poly-rthythm in fusion, highly creative, session player on many many albums, CD audio sample library.


Other notable drummers- Art Blakey, Jack Dejohnette, Dave Weckl, Antonio Sanchez.