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Miles Davis

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1926 - 1991The musical legacy of Miles Davis seems too huge for one man. Especially since he was a vital part of nearly every important development of innovation and style in jazz after the Second World War. His protean approach put him at the forefront of bebop, cool, modal, hard bop, and fusion. From ...


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Duke Ellington

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1899 - 1974Composer, bandleader, and pianist Duke Ellington rates as one of the most original and important figures in 20th century American music. He came of age at the dawning of jazz in the 1920s and along with Louis Armstrong, George Gershwin, and Bessie Smith, propelled the genre into its rightful place as a ...


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Louis Armstrong

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1901 - 1971When speaking of Louis Armstrong, Bing Crosby once commented that he was “the beginning and the end of music in America. Though Armstrong didn't single handedly create jazz, he did steer it through five decades of development, breathing structure and imagination into its fiber. In the process he helped change the American ...


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Ray Charles

Read "Ray Charles" reviewed by Tim Kirker

1930 - 2004Often cited as “the genius of soul music, Ray Charles used his prodigious talents as singer, pianist, and bandleader to marry elements of blues and gospel into an exciting new genre. Initially ruling the R&B charts, Charles' gritty, passionate croon became the essence of soul and with his unique genre-crossing sensibility hit ...


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Charlie Parker

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1920 - 1955Charlie “Bird Parker was one of the founders of post-war jazz and one of its pre-eminent innovators. What Parker did for alto saxophone improvisation not only influenced countless sax players, but other instrumentalists as a whole. The leader of the bebop revolution played with pure velocity - focused, forceful, and cutting, exemplifying ...


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Django Reinhardt

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1910-1953In the sphere of improvisational guitarists one name always warrants mention: Django Reinhardt. He was in a class by himself and has been referred to as the Jimi Hendrix of jazz guitar. To this day no guitarist has come close to his style of playing. His tonal clarity, strength of melody, fullness of expression, ...


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Billie Holiday

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1915 - 1959Billie Holiday will always be admired for her ability to communicate the underlying tragedy of life in a song. Her gift for getting to the heart of a lyric and making it her own put her at the forefront of jazz singers. What she lacked in virtuosity she more than made up ...


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Fats Waller

Read "Fats Waller" reviewed by Tim Kirker

1904-1943Fats Waller's jazz legacy is an unlikely combination of pianist, composer, singer, and comedian. Sometimes referred to as “the greatest comedian who ever played jazz, Fats' appeal was as much visual as it was musical. From his physical presence (he had a huge girth and wore a size 15 shoe) and wildly arched eyebrows ...


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