The Jazz Piano Legends: Dave Brubeck, Duke Ellington, Count Basie and More

Dave Brubeck, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Wynton Kelly, Mary Lou Williams, Herbie Hancock, Thelonious Monk, Art Tatum, Ian McPartland, Keith Jarret, Fats Waller - these are just some of the legendary jazz pianists who have shaped the music landscape of the early 20th century. From the stride piano technique of Fats Waller to the bebop style of Thelonious Monk and the cool jazz of Dave Brubeck, these jazz piano legends have left an indelible mark on the genre. Born in 1920 in California,

Dave Brubeck

is considered one of the great pioneers of cool jazz. He had his musical opportunity playing a concert for Norman Ganz at Carnegie Hall in 1949 and drew most of his influences from Art Tatum and Nat King Cole.

He began playing the piano only in the 1970s and found that it was not only popular with the public but that it was also intensely satisfying in its own right. One of the great jazz composers and pianists Edward Kennedy Ellington or Duke Ellington, as he was more commonly known, was born in 1899 in Washington DC. From there, he made a brief leap forward to the formation of his sextet which quickly became a ten-member band and eventually a fourteen-member ensemble known as the Duke Ellington Orchestra. Between 1927 and 1931, his orchestra performed regularly at the Cotton Club forum in Harlem where it truly made a name for itself.

Count Basie is another great

jazz pianist

who played an integral role in reshaping the music landscape of the early 20th century. Basie was known for his orchestra, The Count Basie Orchestra, with several well-known songs such as Swingin' The Blues, One O'clock Jump and Five O'clock Jive. Born as Wynton Charles Kelly, he made his professional debut at age 12 and at 16 he was already an R&B sensation. He was part of the Miles Davies band from 1959 to 1963 and was the pianist of Davies' album Kind Of Blue which is still the best-selling jazz album in history. Next on our list is the great jazz pianist Mary Lou Williams who was born in 1910 in Atlanta Georgia.

In 1929 she moved to Oklahoma and first played for Andy Kirk's band The Twelve Clouds Of Joy and then took over the leadership of it. In 1942 she moved to New York where she moved from the swing music style to bebop. But always musically versatile she continued to arrange and in the 70s she wrote and arranged liturgical music for jazz ensembles. She joined the music faculty at Duke University in 1977 where she taught and continued performing until she died in 1981 at age 71 from cancer. Herbie Hancock's musical debut came in 1951 when he played a Mozart concert with The Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

By 1964 Monk went from being ignored to appearing on the cover of Time magazine a first for a jazz artist. Everyone agreed that no one played like Art Tatum and that he was one of the biggest influences for later pianists such as Oscar Peterson Bud Powell and Lennie Tristano. Another of the greats composer and pianist Dave Brubeck revitalized jazz in The 1950s and 1960s. Born in Slough England at 19 Ian McPartland began playing The piano in childhood and soon realised that she had a perfect tone. In The 1950s McPartland led her trio and remained a concert favorite for The rest of her career. Keith Jarret worked on several jazz collaborations with other artists and in 1967 he released his first solo album.

He caught The attention of The jazz world while working with Miles Davies in 1969 and in The 1970s Jarret led his jazz group. Thomas “Fats” Waller did not reach his 40th birthday (he succumbed to pneumonia at 3) but he nevertheless proved to be an influential pianist mainly because of his contribution to The evolution of The highly rhythmic stride style an important cornerstone of The jazz genre. Fats Waller was followed by another great stride pianist who achieved much success appearing on The radio and in movies performing in theaters and magazines throughout The 1940s -

Lennie Tristano

. Tristano helped close The transition from ragtime to jazz with his stride piano technique which was based on The locomotor and rocking joviality of ragtime but added more sophisticated harmonies and a stronger blues element. As one of The founding members of The Modern Jazz Quartet a pioneering group that merged bebop with The aesthetics of classical music Lewis was an influential musician whose shiny staccato piano style was indebted to Count Basie and saxophonist Lester Young. Later Bill would form a jazz trio that would revolutionize The piano trio by having each player not only support The pianist but also contribute in The same way. The harmonic palette created on The keyboard by

Art Tatum

and The way he played vocals and used dissonance completely revolutionized jazz piano. There is a Japanese pianist that probably nobody knows about but I think he should be on this list not because of The revolutionary twist he gave to The jazz piano which I don't think he would but because of The beauty of his music. I set out to incorporate some of Monk's influence into several of The arrangements of The new jazz and piano course for premium members.

I'm interested in most classical pianos but I admire jazz pianists who have a solid and thorough technique and play with something like a pleasant singing tone. Laurence is perhaps best known as a pianist arranger and collaborator of Grammy-winning jazz vocalist Kurt Elling. There are some solo piano entries in The extensive discography of The jazz aristocrat (including perhaps “The Duke Plays Ellington” from 1953) that reveal The full scope of Ellington's abilities but Duke Ellington who played “In A Sentimental Mood” with Coltrane sets a glorious closing with Trane. The art of jazz pianists is truly inspirational - the talent needed to improvise and create a piece of jazz is something that only a minority can do and that many people only dream of.