Oscar Peterson is widely regarded as one of the greatest jazz pianists of all time. His extravagant and virtuosic striding style, reminiscent of the old Art Tatum, has earned him seven Grammy Awards, including one for Lifetime Achievement in 1997. Hank Jones, a dean of the instrument, declared that Peterson was “far above any pianist alive today” and Marian McPartland described him as “the best technician I've ever seen”. Count Basie is best known as the leader of a big band that propelled jazz fans through the 1940s and beyond, but his piano skills also deserve recognition. His album
The Köln Concertsold more than 3.5 million copies, making it the best-selling solo album in jazz history and the best-selling piano album of all time.
He was a pioneer in comping (a way of playing chords to support the soloist) and his scarce but effective way of playing influenced generations of great
jazz pianists. Peterson had been playing the piano for fifteen years when he met John Coltrane in the early '60s and became deeply spiritual. This inspired him to develop a freer style of jazz piano, which he showcased with his own bands and name. Brad Mehldau began to succeed on the New York jazz scene in the early 1990s, graduating from the New School around the same time as guitarist Peter Bernstein and pianist (and now owner of a jazz club) Spike Wilner.
One of the most influential albums in jazz history is Money Jungle by Duke Ellington, featuring Charles Mingus on bass and Max Roach on drums. It contains some of Ellington's most advanced jazz piano performances and proved to be extremely popular. Fats Waller was born in 1904 and is credited with laying some of the most important foundations of modern jazz piano. Alice Coltrane was also known as a harpist and organist, but her contribution to free jazz piano and experimental cosmic sounds have demonstrated her legacy.
Chick Corea adopted a jazz fusion that pleased the public with his bands Return To Forever and, later, with the Chick Corea Electrik Band, recording compositions known as “Spain”, influenced by Latin jazz, and “Armando's Rumba”.If you want to explore further, don't miss our selection of the 10 most essential jazz piano albums. Oscar Peterson is undoubtedly one of the greatest jazz pianists of all time, but there are many other greats who have made their mark on this genre.