The history of jazz piano music is a long and winding road, with many talented musicians contributing to its evolution over the past 75 years. From the virtuoso American pianist and composer Jelly Roll Morton to the modern-day master Thelonious Monk, these 20 pianists have left an indelible mark on the genre. Jelly Roll Morton is often credited as being the first true composer of jazz piano music. He was a virtuoso American pianist, conductor and composer who some call the first true composer of jazz piano music.
Morton's influence can be heard in many of the jazz greats that followed him, including Chick Corea. Corea is one of the most prolific composers of the second half of the 20th century in the history of jazz piano music, with an impressive 40 years of recorded production. Herbie Hancock was another major figure in the history of jazz piano music. The Chicago pianist was a synthesis of the fusion movement, touring with some of the most important jazz ensembles of the 1960s.
He also became the acoustic pianist for Charles Lloyd Quartet on their successful tours of Western and Eastern Europe. Cool jazz was particularly popular among white musicians, likely due to its downplaying of jazz's African roots. It represented a stage in which jazz music joined the general trend towards sound sculpture, which was a quintessential part of twentieth-century Western music. These parties became very popular after World War II and gave way to occupying a respected place in the history of jazz piano music.
Thelonious Monk is widely accepted as one of the greatest masters in the history of jazz piano music. He was not only an incredibly cerebral pianist, but also one of the best composers of the Bebop era. Monk's influence can be heard in many modern-day jazz musicians, including Wayne Shorter, Ron Carter and Tony Williams who formed one of the best small jazz groups of the 1960s.