Charles Mingus, Jr. (April 22, 1922 – January 5, 1979) was an American jazz musician, composer, bandleader, and human rights activist. Having released numerous records of high regard, Mingus is considered one of the most important composers and performers of jazz as well as a pioneer in bass technique. Dozens of musicians passed through his bands and later went on to impressive careers.
Miles Dewey Davis III (May 26, 1926 – September 28, 1991) was an American jazz trumpeter, bandleader, and composer. Widely considered one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century, Miles Davis was, with his musical groups, at the forefront of several major developments in jazz music, including cool jazz, hard bop, modal jazz, and jazz fusion.
Herbert Jeffrey "Herbie" Hancock (born April 12, 1940) is an American pianist and composer. He is regarded not only as one of the greatest living jazz musicians, but also as one of the most influential jazz musicians of the 20th century. His music embraces elements of funk and soul while adopting freer stylistic elements from jazz.
Joe "King" Oliver (December 19, 1885 – April 10, 1938) was a jazz cornet player and bandleader. He was particularly noted for his playing style, pioneering the use of mutes. Also a notable composer, he wrote many tunes still played regularly, including "Dippermouth Blues", "Sweet Like This", "Canal Street Blues", and "Doctor Jazz". He was the mentor and teacher of Louis Armstrong.
John William Coltrane (sometimes abbreviated to "Trane"; September 23, 1926 – July 17, 1967) was an American jazz saxophonist and composer. Working in the bebop and hard bop idioms early in his career, Coltrane helped pioneer the use of modes in jazz and later was at the forefront of free jazz. He was prolific, making about fifty recordings as a leader during his recording career, and appeared as a sideman on many other albums, notably with trumpeter Miles Davis and pianist Thelonious Monk.
John Birks "Dizzy" Gillespie (October 21, 1917 – January 6, 1993) was an American jazz trumpet player, bandleader, singer, and composer. Together with Charlie Parker, he was a major figure in the development of bebop and modern jazz. He taught and influenced many other musicians, including trumpeters Miles Davis, Fats Navarro, Clifford Brown, Arturo Sandoval, Lee Morgan, and Jon Faddis.
A big band is a type of musical ensemble associated with playing jazz music and which became popular during the Swing Era from the early 1930s until the late 1940s. Big bands evolved with the times and continue to today. A big band typically consists of approximately 12 to 25 musicians and contains saxophones, trumpets, trombones, singers, and a rhythm section.
Alton Glenn Miller (March 1, 1904 – missing December 15, 1944), was an American jazz musician, arranger, composer, and bandleader in the swing era. He was one of the best-selling recording artists from 1939 to 1943, leading one of the best known "Big bands". Miller's signature recordings include In the Mood, American Patrol, Chattanooga Choo Choo, Tuxedo Junction, Moonlight Serenade, Little Brown Jug and Pennsylvania 6-5000. While traveling to entertain U.S.
William "Count" Basie (August 21, 1904 – April 26, 1984) was an American jazz pianist, organist, bandleader, and composer. Widely regarded as one of the most important jazz bandleaders of his time, Basie led his popular Count Basie Orchestra for almost 50 years. Many notable musicians came to prominence under his direction, including tenor saxophonists Lester Young and Herschel Evans, trumpeters Buck Clayton and Harry "Sweets" Edison and singers Jimmy Rushing and Joe Williams.
Lionel Leo Hampton (April 20, 1908 – August 31, 2002) was an American jazz vibraphonist, pianist, percussionist, bandleader and actor. Like Red Norvo, he was one of the first jazz vibraphone players. Hampton ranks among the great names in jazz history, having worked with a who's who of jazz musicians, from Benny Goodman and Buddy Rich to Charlie Parker and Quincy Jones. In 1992, he was inducted into the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame.
George Vital "Papa Jack" Laine (September 21, 1873 – June 1, 1966) was the most busy and perhaps the most important band leader in New Orleans in the years from the Spanish-American War to World War I. Many of the New Orleans musicians who first spread jazz around the United States in the 1910s and 1920s got their start in the Laine bands. Laine was a drummer, but was more noted for his skills at arranging and booking bands.
Sun Ra was born in Birmingham, Alabama. He was a prolific jazz composer, bandleader, piano and synthesizer player, poet and philosopher known for his "cosmic philosophy," musical compositions and performances. "Of all the jazz musicians, Sun Ra was probably the most controversial," critic Scott Yanow said, due to Sun Ra's eclectic music and unorthodox lifestyle.
Theodore Leopold Friedman, better known as Ted Lewis (June 6, 1892 – August 25, 1971), was an American entertainer, bandleader, singer, and musician. He led a band presenting a combination of jazz, hokey comedy, and schmaltzy sentimentality that was a hit with the American public. He was known by the moniker "Mr. Entertainment".
Wilbur C. Sweatman (Brunswick, Missouri, February 7, 1882 - New York City, March 9, 1961) was an African-American ragtime and dixieland jazz composer, bandleader, and clarinetist. Sweatman started out playing violin, then took up clarinet instead. He toured with circus bands in the late 1890s, and briefly played with the bands of W.C. Handy and Mahara's Minstrels before organizing his own dance band in Minneapolis, Minnesota by late 1902.
Cabell "Cab" Calloway III (December 25, 1907 – November 18, 1994) was an American jazz singer and bandleader. Calloway was a master of energetic scat singing and led one of the United States' most popular African American big bands from the start of the 1930s through the late 1940s.
Fletcher Hamilton Henderson, Jr. (December 18, 1897 – December 28, 1952) was an American pianist, bandleader, arranger and composer, important in the development of big band jazz and swing music. His was one of the most prolific black orchestras and his influence was vast. He was often known as "Smack" Henderson.
Armand John "A.J. " Piron (August 16, 1888–February 17, 1943) was an American jazz violinist, band leader, and composer. In 1915, Piron and Williams together started the Piron and Williams Publishing Company, and in their first year of business published Piron's composition, “I Wish That I Could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate”, which became his biggest hit. After touring briefly with W.C.
Thomas Francis Dorsey (November 19, 1905 – November 26, 1956) was an American jazz trombonist, trumpeter, composer, and bandleader of the Big Band era. He was known as "The Sentimental Gentleman of Swing".. He was the younger brother of bandleader Jimmy Dorsey. After Dorsey broke with his brother in the mid thirties, he led an extremely popular band from the late thirties into the nineteen fifties. Dorsey disliked improvisation and had a reputation for being a perfectionist.
Paul Mares (June 15, 1900 – August 18, 1949), was an American early dixieland jazz cornet & trumpet player, and leader of the New Orleans Rhythm Kings. Mares was born in New Orleans. His father, Joseph E. Mares, played cornet with the military band at the New Orleans lakefront and ran a fur and hide business. Like many New Orleans cornetists of his generation, Joe Mares's main influence was "King" Joe Oliver.
Donald Matthew Redman (July 29, 1900 – November 30, 1964) was an American jazz musician, arranger, and composer. Redman was announced as a member of the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame on May 6, 2009. Redman was born in Piedmont, West Virginia. His father was a music teacher, his mother was a singer. Don began playing the trumpet at the age of 3, joined his first band at 6 and by age 12 he was proficient on all wind instruments ranging from trumpet to oboe as well as piano.
Joseph "Sharkey" Bonano (he sometimes billed himself as Sharkey Banana or Sharkey Bananas) (April 9, 1904 – March 27, 1972) was a jazz trumpeter, band leader, and vocalist. Sharkey was known for playing searing hot and technically virtuoso trumpet with a beautiful tone. His great musical abilities were sometimes overlooked in part because of his love of being an entertainer; he would often sing silly lyrics in a high raspy voice and break into dance routines on stage.
Harry Haag James (March 15, 1916 – July 5, 1983) was an American musician and bandleader. James was an instrumentalist of the swing era, employing a bravura playing style that made his trumpet work identifiable. He was one of the most-popular bandleaders of the first half of the 1940s, and he continued to lead his band until just before his death, 40 years later.
Arthur Jacob Arshawsky (May 23, 1910 – December 30, 2004), better known as Artie Shaw, was an American jazz clarinetist, composer, and bandleader. He is also the author of both fiction and non-fiction writings.