All posts filed under “Artists

Charles Mingus 10 Best Albums

The Best Charles Mingus Albums

Is there another jazz legend with a discography as far-reaching and ambitious as Charles Mingus? His influence extended beyond traditional jazz, reaching into other genres like avant-garde, experimental, and contemporary classical music. Not to mention his powerful political songs, blues-tinted bops and gospel-tinged classics.

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The Best British Jazz Albums

The 10 Best British Jazz Albums

Jazz is an American art form, and its roots are deeply embedded in the history and culture of the United States. However, across the pond, there has long been a thriving jazz scene, played out in smoky bars from The Shim Sham to The Flamingo Club and Ronnie Scott’s. From the swinging sounds of the 1960s to the jazz fusion revival of recent years, these 10 best British jazz albums reflect the depth and diversity of the British jazz scene, showcasing the immense talent and originality of some of its renowned musical stars.

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Thelonious Monk

The Best Thelonious Monk Albums

Thelonious Sphere Monk was a pioneer of modern jazz music. Known for his eccentricity and improvisational impishness, Monk’s performances said as much with their silences as the raw chords that dominated some of the more stripped-back ballads.

Monk was also one of the most prolific composers in the history of jazz. Throughout his career, he recorded albums for labels including Blue Note, Prestige Records, and Riverside Records. Somehow, we’ve managed to unpick all of those releases to find The Mad Monk’s 10 of the best.

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Bill Evans 10 Best Albums

The 10 Best Bill Evans Albums

Bill Evans’ greatest talent was his unparalleled ability to convey emotion through his music.  What stands out most about listening to his records today is the emotional breadth his piano reaches. Evans had depth in a way no other jazz musician did. His mature style, nuanced touch and widely imitated sound have left an indelible mark on the jazz landscape. Today, we revisit the 10 albums that put Bill Evans on the jazz map forever.

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The 10 Best Jazz Pianists

Here we celebrate the virtuosity, innovation and (sometimes frustrating) brilliance of jazz pianists. Throughout over a century of the genre, the piano has been a canvas for former child prodigies, creative geniuses and unconventional boundary pushers.

There have been so many incredible jazz pianists who have left an enduring mark on the genre over the years. Therefore, it is very difficult to leave out masters of the craft such as Bill Evans, Bud Powell, Fats Waller, Oscar Peterson, Dave Brubeck, Chick Corea, plus countless others.

One, then, must resort to personal preference. It is with this that we present 10 of the very best jazz pianists to have graced the ivories.

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The Best Blues Guitarists

The Best Blues Guitarists

Blues originated from the African-American tradition. This musical style embodies the hardships and experiences of African-American culture. Over the course of more than a century, many talented musicians have imbued blues with their own philosophy of life and music. In this article, we are going to take a look at the 25 best blues guitarists who shaped the blues music we experience today.

Memphis Minnie (1897-1973)

Memphis Minnie was a blues guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter. Most of the music she made was autobiographical where she expressed a lot of her personal life through music. As a singer-songwriter, Minnie’s lyrics were often bold, witty, and deeply personal. Her songs tackled a range of themes, from love and relationships to social issues and personal empowerment. Her vocals, delivered with a distinctive and emotive voice, further added to the impact of her music.

Memphis was the most popular female country blues singer of all time. She utilized fingerpicking and played primarily in Spanish and standard tunings. She had a brilliant contralto voice and flamboyant presence.

Recommended Albums:

Memphis Minnie Queen of the Blues - The 25 Best Blues Guitarists

Queen of the Blues

Columbia, 1997

Memphis Minnie: guitar, vocals

Son House (1902-1988)

Son House was an American Delta blues guitarist AND a preacher, pastor, and singer in his youth. He had a highly emotional style of singing and slide guitar playing.

Many guitarists of the 20th century such as Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, and Muddy Waters, have covered his songs. Robert Johnson was also influenced by Son House.

House often used open-G and open-D tunings. He had an unconventional approach to guitar playing which sets him apart from other Delta blues artists. His guitar technique was characterized by its rhythmic drive and percussive qualities. Also, he often used a bottleneck slide, which added a haunting, mournful quality to his playing. Moreover, his music was both primal and intricate, reflecting the depth of his emotions and experiences.

“White folks hear the blues come out, but they don’t know how it got there.”
–Son House

His voice was equally impactful, with a raw, raspy quality that resonated with authenticity.

Recommended album:

Son House Father Of Folk Blues - The 25 Best Blues Guitarists

Father Of Folk Blues

Columbia, 1965

Son House: guitar, vocals

T-Bone Walker (1910-1975)

The godfather of the modern electric blues guitar T-Bone Walker was an American blues musician, composer, songwriter, and bandleader. He pioneered West Coast blues and electric blues sound.

He had a major influence on talented and legendary guitarists that followed him. His recording of “Stormy Monday” inspired the great B.B. King to get an electric guitar. Jimi Hendrix admired him and even imitated Walker’s trick of playing the guitar with his teeth.

Walker’s music can be described as sophisticated, swinging electric music. His music was more intricate and his phrases tend to be much longer than other Delta blues guitarists. Walker’s guitar technique was characterized by his smooth, jazzy approach and intricate single-string solos. He was a master of fluid, melodic lines that combined elements of jazz and swing with the blues.

Recommended album:

T-Bone Walker – T-Bone Blues

T-Bone Blues

Atlantic, 1959

T-Bone Walker: guitar, vocals; Billy Hadnott, Joe Comfort: bass; Earl Palmer, Oscar Bradley: drums; Barney Kessel, R.S. Rankin: guitar; Lloyd Glenn, Ray Johnson: piano; Plas Johnson: tenor saxophone

Howlin’ Wolf (1910-1976)

One of the most influential blues musicians of all time, Howlin’ Wolf, was an American blues singer and guitarist. He was one of the artists who transformed acoustic Delta blues into electric Chicago blues.

Among the postwar musicians, Wolf was noticeable for his mesmerizing voice. In earlier years of his career, he played with a more aggressive sound than he did in his later years. He transforms the acoustic Blues of the South to the electric Blues of Chicago.

Wolf’s guitar technique was marked by its rhythmic drive and forceful strumming. He often played in an open tuning, allowing him to create a distinctive, percussive sound that complemented his vocals. While not as intricate as some other blues guitarists, his playing perfectly matched the intense emotion of his songs. His vocals, on the other hand, were a defining element of his style. Wolf’s deep, gravelly voice conveyed a range of emotions, from sorrow and longing to anger and desire.

Recommended Album:

Howlin Wolf - Moanin in the Moonlight - The 25 Best Blues Guitarists

Moanin’ in the Moonlight

Chess, 1959

Howlin’ Wolf: vocals, harmonica; Willie Johnson, Hubert Sumlin, Jody Williams, Lee Cooper, Otis “Smokey” Smothers: guitar; Willie Steele, Earl Phillips, Fred Below, S. P. Leary: drums; Ike Turner, Hosea Lee Kennard, Otis Spann: piano; Willie Dixon: double bass; Adolph “Billy” Dockins: tenor saxophone

Robert Johnson (1911-1938)

A master of Delta Blues and one of the most influential guitarists of the 20th century, American guitarist Robert Johnson is described as the first-ever rock star. His life and death have given rise to legends, the most common one being that he sold his soul to the devil in exchange for his musical success.

It is astonishingly impressive that someone with a recording career of mere seven months earned the mark of one of the greatest. Although he is noted for his mastery of the Delta Blues style, in his own time he could play a wide range of musical styles. His technique was remarkably advanced for his time, able to create a full and dynamic sound as a solo performer.

Johnson used microtonality while singing by subtly inflecting the pitches and was also known for using the guitar as “the other vocalist”.

Recommended Album:

Greatest Blues Albums Robert Johnson - King of The Delta Blues Singer

King of the Delta Blues Singers

Columbia, 1961

King of the Delta Blues Singers is one of the 10 Greatest Blues Albums of All Time

Robert Johnson: guitar, vocals

Lightnin Hopkins (1912-1982)

Lightnin Hopkins is an American country blues singer, guitarist, and songwriter. His music is described as the embodiment of jazz and poetry. He grew up with the sound of the blues which developed an appreciation for the music.

Hopkins is one of the most influential guitarists of all time. He had a distinctive fingerstyle technique which he acquired by playing all by himself without any accompaniment.  He played bass, rhythm, lead, and percussion all at the same time. His music followed a standard 12-bar blues structure but had enough free and loose phrasing.

His blues technique was deeply rooted in his personal experiences, and his music reflected the essence of everyday life in the South. Hopkins’s approach was deceptively simple, yet deeply emotive, often combining repetitive patterns with unexpected melodic shifts; and his vocals were equally captivating, with a voice that exuded a world-weary yet resilient quality.

Lightnin Hopkins’s music has influenced and inspired a generation of blues musicians like Stevie Ray Vaughan and Jimi Hendrix.

Recommended Album:

Lightnin Hopkins - Lightnin' Hopkins

Lightnin’ Hopkins

Folkways, 1959

Lightnin’ Hopkins: guitar, vocals

Muddy Waters (1913-1983)

Known as the Father of Chicago blues, Muddy Waters was an American blues singer and musician. He was an eminent figure in the blues scene after World War II. His style of playing is often cited as “raining down Delta beatitude”.

His early music bore the mark of Delta blues but as one of the first blues musicians he experimented with electric sound revolutionizing the blues scene and influencing many great musicians, including Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, and Keith Richards.

Waters’ guitar playing was characterized by his expert use of slide techniques, where he would use a glass or metal slide to create soulful, moaning notes. His playing often combined a driving rhythm with intricate lead lines, showcasing his ability to weave storytelling into his guitar work. Songs like “Hoochie Coochie Man” and “Mannish Boy” are prime examples of his skill in both slide and rhythm playing.

Recommended Album:

Muddy Waters - Hard Again

Hard Again

Blue Sky, 1977

Muddy Waters: vocals, guitar; Bob Margolin: guitar; Pinetop Perkins: piano; James Cotton: harmonica; Willie “Big Eyes” Smith: drums; Charles Calmese: bass guitar; Johnny Winter: guitar, producer, miscellaneous screams

Sister Rosetta Tharpe (1915-1973)

Sister Rosetta Tharpe was an American singer and guitarist. She was one of the greatest gospel singers and among the first gospel artists who gained the admiration of R&B and rock and roll audiences.

Tharpe was a pioneer in guitar techniques incorporating heavy distortion and had a crucial influence on the British blues scene. She blended traditional folk with urban blues music.

Her contributions to the blues and gospel genres extended beyond technique. Tharpe’s willingness to experiment with her sound, blending sacred and secular themes, laid the foundation for the fusion of gospel and early rock music. Her hit song “Strange Things Happening Every Day” is often considered one of the earliest examples of rock and roll.

“Can’t no man play like me.”
–Sister Rosetta Tharpe

Recommended Album:

Sister Rosetta Tharpe Gospel Train

Gospel Train

Mercury, 1956

Sister Rosetta Tharpe: vocals, guitar; George Duvivier, Lloyd Trotman: bass; Panama Francis: drums; Ernest Richardson: guitar; Harry ‘Doc’ Bagby: organ; Ernie Hayes: piano; The Harmonizing Four: vocals

John Lee Hooker (1917-2001)

John Lee Hooker, often referred to as the “Boogie Man,” was a legendary blues guitarist and singer. His blues technique was deeply rooted in a raw and primal sound that captured the essence of the Delta blues while embracing a more modern and electrified approach.

Hooker’s guitar playing was characterized by its repetitive, driving patterns and hypnotic rhythms. His use of a single-chord vamp created a unique groove that became his signature sound. Moreover, his playing was deceptively simple–simple harmony, pentatonic scale, and modal harmony–yet incredibly effective, using subtle variations and pauses to create tension and release within his songs.

His vocals, marked by a deep, gravelly voice, further added to the atmospheric quality of his music. Hooker’s lyrics often told stories of struggle, love, and everyday life, and his ability to convey emotion through both his voice and guitar resonates deeply with listeners.

Recommended album:

John Lee Hooker The Real Folk Blues

The Real Folk Blues

Chess, 1966

John Lee Hooker: guitar, vocals; Lafayette Leake: piano, organ; Eddie Burns: guitar; S.P. Leary (Fred Below?): drums

Albert King (1923-1992)

Once nicknamed “The Velvet Bulldozer”, Albert Nelson (stage name Albert King) is one of the greatest and most significant blues guitarists of all time. He is one of the three kings of blues.

Cf The three kings of the Blues: Albert King, B.B. King, and Freddie King

Albert King played right-handed guitar upside-down, as he was left-handed. That imparted an unusually authentic character to his playing. His extensive use of open drop tuning along with lighter-gauge strings made his string-bending techniques quite unique among his peers.

He has influenced many legendary blues musicians like Stevie Ray Vaughan, Eric Clapton, and Jimmi Hendrix. He earned his place in both the Blues Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Recommended album:

Albert King Born Under A Bad Sign

Born Under a Bad Sign

Stax, 1967

Born Under a Bad Sign is one of the 10 Greatest Blues Albums of All Time

Albert King: lead guitar, vocals; Booker T. Jones: keyboards, organ, piano; Isaac Hayes: keyboards, piano; Steve Cropper: rhythm guitar; Donald Dunn: bass guitar; Al Jackson Jr.: drums; Wayne Jackson: trumpet; Andrew Love: tenor saxophone; Joe Arnold: baritone saxophone, flute

B.B. King (1925-2015)

One of the three kings of blues, B.B. King is an American blues guitarist, singer, and songwriter. He is often cited as the single most important electric guitarist of the last half of the 20th century.

B.B. King has an instantly recognizable playing style characterized by fluid and voice-like bending as well as soulful vibrato. His staccato picking lends a percussive element to his playing. The precision with which he bends to a whole tone or above is godlike, to say the least.

His mastery of phrasing is also evident from his singing prowess. He has the power and subtlety in his vocal and dynamic ranges.

Recommended album:

b.b. king completely well

Completely Well

BluesWay, 1969

B.B. King: vocals, lead guitar; Hugh McCracken: rhythm guitar; Paul Harris: organ, acoustic and Fender Rhodes electric piano; Jerry Jemmott: bass; Herbie Lovelle: drums; Bert “Super Charts” DeCoteaux: string and horn arrangements

Chuck Berry (1926-2017)

Chuck Berry, often referred to as the “Father of Rock and Roll,” played a crucial role in shaping the sound and direction of modern music. His blues technique, intertwined with rock and roll’s infectious energy, set the stage for the genre’s evolution and global impact.

His music is full of memorable melodies, rhythm, and witty lyrics. Berry was able to infuse country music, jazz, and pop music to create a new genre of music and his music enchanted a wide range of listeners. His use of double stops, bends, and rapid-fire licks created a signature sound that bridged the gap between blues and the emerging rock genre. Moreover, his stage presence and showmanship, complete with his iconic duckwalk, added an extra layer of excitement to his performances. Yes, Chuck Berry is the father of Rock and Roll!

“All of us are footnotes to the words of Chuck Berry.”
–Leonard Cohen

Recommended Album:

Chuck Berry Is on Top

Chuck Berry Is on Top

Chess, 1959

Chuck Berry: vocals, guitars; Johnnie Johnson, Lafayette Leake: piano; Willie Dixon: double bass; George Smith: bass; Fred Below, Ebbie Hardy, Jaspar Thomas: drums; Jerome Green: maracas; The Moonglows: backing vocals

Freddie King (1934-1976)

The last, but not the least, of the “Three Kings of the Blues Guitar” is Freddie King. This American guitarist and singer had an eminent influence on electric blues music.

Freddy King played with a powerful sound with an intuitive style. Like other great blues guitarists, his guitar playing incorporated subtle nuances resembling human voice. His music combined Texas and Chicago blues which gave a standout characteristic to it.

He was one of the busiest musicians of his time, constantly touring and being on the road almost 300 days out of the year. King has influenced guitarists like Eric Clapton, Mick Taylor, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Lonnie Mack.

Recommended Album:

Let s Hide Away and Dance Away with Freddy King

Let’s Hide Away and Dance Away with Freddy King

King, 1961

Freddie King: guitar, vocals; Fred Jordan: guitar, rhythm guitar; Willis Williams: bass guitar; Phillip Paul: drums; Gene Reid, Clifford Scott: saxophone; Sonny Thompson: piano

Buddy Guy (1936)

A master of Chicago blues, Buddy Guy is an American blues guitarist and singer. This eight-time Grammy Award-winning guitarist has been influential on some of the big names of blues such as Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, Keith Richards, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Jeff Beck.

His playing style is unique and quite different from other Chicago Blues artists as his compositions span from most traditional and creative blues to avant-rock and free jazz. Also, his mastery of dynamics and enthralling tension release gave him an edge over his peers.

Buddy Guy had a flamboyant and energetic presence on stage. His powerful voice and fiery solos were enough to captivate his listeners.

Recommended Album:

Buddy Guy Damn Right I Got The Blues

Damn Right, I’ve Got the Blues

Silvertone, 1981

Buddy Guy: lead vocals, lead electric guitar; Greg Rzab: bass guitar; Richie Hayward: drums; Mick Weaver: Hammond B-3 organ, piano, electric piano; Pete Wingfield: piano; Neil Hubbard: rhythm guitar; John Porter: bass guitar; Tessa Niles, Katie Kissoon, Carol Kenyon: backing vocals | Guests: Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Mark Knopfler: electric guitar; The Memphis Horns: Wayne Jackson, Andrew Love, Jack Hale

Roy Buchanan (1939-1988)

A pioneer of the Telecaster sound, Roy Buchanan was an American guitarist. He is considered a highly influential guitar player, although he never achieved stardom in his lifetime.

Buchanan’s playing characterized his extraordinary mastery of dynamics and touch. His ability to control the tone and volume of his guitar, combined with his innovative use of volume swells, created a vocal-like quality in his playing. Moreover, he taught himself a wide range of techniques like chicken picking and circular picking. Along with a plectrum he also used his thumb and index finger. He could play pinch harmonics at will and mute individual strings with right-hand fingers. He is particularly notable for his double stops and triple stops.   

Recommended album:

Roy Buchanan

Roy Buchanan

Polydor, 1972

Roy Buchanan: guitar, vocals; Chuck Tilley: vocals; Teddy Irwin: rhythm guitar; Pete Van Allen: bass; Dick Heintze: keyboards; Ned Davis: drums

Jimi Hendrix (1942-1970)

Jimi Hendrix was an American left-handed guitarist, songwriter, and singer. He is one of the most influential electric guitarists of the 20th century. His music still enchants listeners and he is unequivocally regarded as one of the most important guitarists in the history of popular music.

Jazz giant Miles Davis has compared Hendrix’s improvisational skills with those of another jazz giant John Coltrane. Hendrix has an unequaled sense of melody, harmony, and rhythm. He could make sounds on guitar that no one else thought was ever possible.

Hendrix’s blues technique marked his unparalleled ability to blend traditional blues phrasing with otherworldly effects and feedback. He seamlessly combined elements of Delta blues, Chicago blues, and R&B, creating a genre-defying sound. Also, his use of controlled distortion, feedback, and wah-wah pedals added new dimensions to his blues-inspired playing, pushing the limits of what the guitar could express. For this, he is one of the most innovative and exciting guitarists in the world. 

Recommended Album:

Jimi Hendrix Electric Ladyland

Electric Ladyland

Reprise, 1968

Jimi Hendrix: vocals, guitars; Noel Redding: backing vocals, bass guitar; Mitch Mitchell: backing vocals, drums, percussion

Mike Bloomfield (1943-1981)

One of the first popular music superstars of the 1960s, Mike Bloomfield is an American blues guitarist and composer.

He earned his earlier fame as an instrumentalist and alsp started singing in the later years of his career. Mike played on Bob Dylan’s album Highway 61 Revisited. He also performed with Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, and many other Chicago blues artists.

Mike Bloomfield played a pivotal role in shaping the blues-rock movement of the 1960s. His blues technique marked fiery improvisation, expressive phrasing, and a deep understanding of the Chicago blues tradition. However, he preferred a clean tone for his guitar. He used to incorporate lines based on Indian and Eastern scales with his Chicago blues style, and this gave his playing a fluid-like texture.

Mike’s work with bands like The Paul Butterfield Blues Band helped bridge the gap between traditional blues and the emerging rock scene. His use of vibrato, bends, and stinging notes created a distinct and electrifying sound. Moreover, his solos reflect emotional depth and dynamic range, showcasing his ability to convey a wide spectrum of feelings through his guitar.

Recommended Album:

Paul Butterfield Blues Band

The Paul Butterfield Blues Band

Elektra, 1965

Paul Butterfield: lead vocals, harmonica; Mike Bloomfield: lead guitar; Elvin Bishop: rhythm guitar; Jerome Arnold: bass guitar; Sam Lay: drums, lead vocals; Mark Naftalin: organ

Eric Clapton (1945)

Eric Clapton, an English rock and blues guitarist, ranked second in Rolling Stone’s list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time”. Also, he is the only musician who has been inducted three times into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: as a solo artist, with the Yardbirds, and with Cream.

His mastery of expressive phrasing, impeccable timing, and emotional depth redefined how the blues could be felt and conveyed through the instrument. Clapton’s signature “woman tone,” achieved through a combination of his guitar’s settings and touch, allowed him to coax soulful, singing notes from his instrument, evoking a range of emotions.

Drawing inspiration from blues legends like Robert Johnson and B.B. King, Clapton combined their influences with his own unique touch. His ability to seamlessly blend intricate solos with soulful rhythm work grounded his versatility as a musician.

Recommended Album:

Eric Clapton Slowhand


RSO Records, 1977

Eric Clapton: lead vocals, guitars; Dick Sims: keyboards; George Terry: guitars; Carl Radle: bass; Jamie Oldaker: drums, percussion; Mel Collins: saxophones; Yvonne Elliman, Marcy Levy: harmony, backing vocals

Peter Green (1946-2020)

Peter Green, was an English blues rock singer-songwriter and guitarist. He was one of the key figures in the development of the British blues scene and a founding member of the band Fleetwood Mac.

Green’s blues technique was characterized by its hauntingly soulful melodies and a rich, nuanced tone. He possessed an innate ability to channel raw emotion through his instrument, captivating listeners with every note. Moreover, he favored minor modes to set up a dark and gloomy ambiance in his compositions. He has also been praised for his swinging shuffle grooves and his tendency to express emotion in his songs.

“He has the sweetest tone I ever heard; he was the only one who gave me the cold sweats.”
–B.B. King on Peter Green

Recommended Album:

Peter Green In The Skies

In the Skies

PVK/EMI, 1979

Peter Green: vocals, guitar; Snowy White: guitar; Peter Bardens: keyboards, Hammond organ, electric piano; Kuma Harada: bass guitar; Reg Isidore, Godfrey Maclean: drums; Lennox Langton: percussion, congas, bongos, timbales

Rory Gallangher (1948-1995)

Hailing from Ireland, Gallagher’s playing was characterized by raw energy, exceptional dexterity, and an unwavering commitment to his craft. His blues technique was a fusion of traditional blues roots, jazz, Celtic music, and his own distinctive flair, creating a unique sound. At the same time, his playing was virtuosic and fierce, with amazing control over dynamics even when playing really fast.

His talent on both acoustic and electric guitar earned him admiration from other acclaimed guitarists of his time but he didn’t enjoy much commercial success. For this reason, he is “the greatest guitarist you’ve never heard of”.

Recommended Album:

Rory Gallagher Tattoo


Polydor, 1973

Rory Gallagher: guitars, vocals, harmonica, saxophone, mandolin, bouzouki; Gerry McAvoy: bass guitar; Lou Martin: keyboards, accordion; Rod de’Ath: drums, percussion

Stevie Ray Vaughan (1954-1990)

Stevie Ray Vaughan is one of the most celebrated blues musicians in this world. His influence is still imprinted on the guitarists of this era.

Vaughan’s mastery of techniques like string bending, vibrato, and lightning-fast picking set him apart as a modern blues titan. His soulful, grit-laden vocals seamlessly complemented his guitar work, creating a powerful synergy that resonated deeply with listeners.

Stevie Ray Vaughan reinvigorated the blues genre with his explosive technique, searing tone, and unparalleled passion. Emerging from Texas, Vaughan’s blues style was a potent blend of fiery energy and heartfelt expression, paying homage to his influences while carving out a distinctive path of his own. His distinctive and virtuosic playing was paired with his impeccable sense of rhythm and melody.

His untimely passing in 1990 robbed the world of extraordinary talent, but his legacy endures through his recordings.

Recommended Album:

Stevie Ray Vaughan Texas Flood

Texas Flood

Epic, 1983

Stevie Ray Vaughan: guitar, vocals; Tommy Shannon: bass guitar; Chris Layton: drums

Joe Bonamassa (1977)

Joe Bonamassa is an American blues rock guitarist, singer, and songwriter. He started his career at the age of twelve. Bonamassa’s playing is characterized by its precision, adaptability, and deep emotional resonance. His masterful command of phrasing, dynamic range, and expressive vibrato infuses his solos with a signature sound that captivates audiences. Drawing inspiration from blues legends like B.B. King, Albert King, and Eric Clapton, he channels their influences into his own unique style, marked by intricate riffs and soulful melodies.

He is a highly revered guitarist in the blues world and one of the most important blues guitarists of his generation, plus, his commitment to preserving the essence of the blues while pushing its boundaries has earned him a dedicated following base.

Recommended Album:

Joe Bonamassa Dust Bowl

Dust Bowl

J&R Adventures, 2011

Joe Bonamassa: guitars, vocals, tzouras, baglama, slide bouzouki, mandolin; Carmine Rojas, Michael Rhodes: bass; Anton Fig: drums, percussion, Hammer guitar; Rick Melick: organ, piano, synthesizers, accordion; Peter Van Weelden: spoken word; John Hiatt, Glenn Hughes, Beth Hart: vocals; Vince Gill, Blondie Chaplin: guitar; Chad Cromwell: drums; Steve Nathan, Arlan Schierbaum, Reese Wynans: Hammond organ; Tony Cedras: trumpet

John Mayer (1977)

John Mayer is an American singer, songwriter, and guitarist. He has released eight studio albums and all of those albums were successful.

Mayer’s guitar playing is characterized by his impeccable touch, soulful phrasing, and impressive command of both acoustic and electric instruments. Yet, his approach to guitar playing is quite unique. In particular, he uses his left-hand thumb extensively by fretting lower strings with it. He primarily uses fingerpicking, although he occasionally utilizes guitar picks. John Mayer is known for playing complicated and unusual patterns. Also, he showcases amazing control over string bends and vibrato but incorporating slaps into his playing is what makes his playing unique to him.

Recommended Album:

John Mayer Continuum


Aware Records, 2006

John Mayer: vocals, guitars, production; Pino Palladino: bass guitar; Steve Jordan: drums, percussion, backing vocals | Ricky Peterson, Roy Hargrove, Willie Weeks, Ben Harper, Clayton Cameron, Manolo Badrena, Larry Goldings, James Valentine, Jamie Muhoberac, Charlie Hunter, Jim LeBlanc-Barnes, Lester Snell, Boo Mitchell, Willie Mitchell, Carlos Saucedo, Harley Pasternak, Jeannie Martinez, Kristen Moss, Lee Padgett, Maggie Slavonic, Ricky Cytonbaum, Sandy Vongdasy

Derek Trucks (1979)

Derek Trucks is an American guitarist, songwriter and band leader. Trucks’ slide guitar skills are nothing short of extraordinary, characterized by his remarkable tone, fluid phrasing, and intricate slide work. He effortlessly melds Eastern and Western musical scales, creating a unique sonic palette that sets him apart. He is one of the best slide guitar players in the world today and was a child prodigy having his first paid performance at age 11.

His music is rooted in blues and rock but he frequently utilizes the elements of  Southern rock, and jazz. He also has interests in Pakistani, Indian, and Latin music. Trucks studied at the Ali Akbar College of Music in San Rafael, California.

Trucks tune his guitar in an open E tuning and use his signature glass slide by Dunlop.

Recommended Album:

The Derek Trucks Band Joyful Noise

Joyful Noise

Columbia, 2002

Derek Trucks: guitar; Yonrico Scott: drums, vocals, percussion; Kofi Burbridge: flute, vocals, keyboards; Todd Smallie: bass, vocals | Susan Tedeschi, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Rubén Blades, Solomon Burke: vocals

Samantha Fish (1989)     

Samantha Fish is an American singer-songwriter and guitarist. She exhibits amazing vocal prowess and virtuosic guitar playing. She is one of the best blues guitarists in the world with a soulful voice.

Although she is known as a blues guitarist, she is, at the same time, also noted for her eclectic playing style frequently incorporating rock, country, funk, and bluegrass.

Samantha Fish’s blues technique reflects her commitment to authenticity, innovation, and a deep respect for the roots of the music. Her dedication to preserving the essence of the blues while infusing it with her own unique perspective has earned her recognition as a rising star in the genre.

Recommended Albums:

Samantha Fish Black Wind Howlin’

Black Wind Howlin’

Ruf Records, 2013

Samantha Fish: guitar, vocals; Charlie Wooton: bass guitar; Mike Zito: guitar, vocals, backing vocals; Yonrico Scott: drums, percussion; Johnny Sansone: harmonica; Paul Thorn: vocals; Bo Thomas: fiddle

Discover next: The Best Jazz Guitarists

You can listen to the Spotify playlist “The Best Blues Guitarists” with all the artists listed above plus 25 extra for more than 3 hours of magnificent blues music.

Final Words

This concludes the list of 25 best blues guitarists of all time. I hope I have mentioned your favorite blues artists and introduced you to new artists for you to dig into.

The Best Jazz Bassists

The 10 Best Jazz Bassists

The bass has a unique and crucial role in the world of jazz. It’s not just about providing the foundation for the rhythm section; the bass must be a beating pulse for the sound, adding melody and crafting narratives whilst redefining the boundaries of the instrument.

In this list, we pay tribute to 10 of the best jazz bassists ever to pluck the four strings.

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Best of Miles Davis

Best of Miles Davis Albums

Miles Davis was a transformative figure in the world of jazz, pushing boundaries and frequently reinventing the genre throughout his career. From his early bebop recordings in the 1940s to his groundbreaking explorations of modal jazz, fusion, and electronic music in the following decades, Davis constantly challenged conventions and created innovative and influential music.

His talent as a trumpeter, composer, and bandleader, combined with his restless spirit of experimentation, solidified his status as one of the most important and iconic figures in the history of jazz.

Here we tackle the most unenviable of tasks: the 10 best Miles Davis albums.

Miles Davis – On The Corner

10. On The Corner

Columbia, 1972

Miles Davis returned from a two-year hiatus with On the Corner, a groundbreaking fusion of jazz, funk, rock, and electronic music. Despite initial chaos during recording, the album challenged jazz conventions, embracing funk rhythms, electronic instrumentation and repetitive grooves.

Its immersive atmosphere and experimental production techniques anticipated genres like jazz-funk and electronic music. While initially poorly received, On the Corner has gained critical acclaim over time, marking Davis’ last fully conceptual album of the ’70s before he shifted focus to live performances.

Miles Davis: electric trumpet with wah-wah, organ; Michael Henderson: bass guitar with wah-wah; Don Alias: drums, percussion; Jack DeJohnette, Al Foster, Billy Hart: drums; James Mtume: percussion; Carlos Garnett, Dave Liebman: soprano, tenor saxophone; Bennie Maupin: bass clarinet; Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock: Fender Rhodes, keyboards; Harold Ivory Williams: keyboards; Cedric Lawson: organ; Dave Creamer, Reggie Lucas, John McLaughlin: guitar; Khalil Balakrishna, Collin Walcott: electric sitar; Paul Buckmaster: cello; Badal Roy: tabla

Best of Miles Davis Albums Relaxin’ with the Miles Davis Quintet

9. Relaxin’ with the Miles Davis Quintet

Prestige, 1958

Relaxin’, part of Miles Davis’ Prestige recordings released in 1958, captures the extraordinary talent and chemistry of the renowned Miles Davis Quintet. Despite contractual obligations, the band recorded four albums’ worth of tunes in marathon sessions.

The album showcases their seamless interplay, reimagining jazz standards like Thelonious Monk’s “‘Round Midnight” and launching Davis’ career with standout performances on tracks like “My Funny Valentine.” Davis’ restrained yet masterful trumpet playing, use of dynamics, and the quintet’s embodiment of the hard bop style make Relaxin’ a quintessential example of their musical prowess and improvisational balance.

Miles Davis: trumpet; John Coltrane: tenor saxophone; Red Garland: piano; Paul Chambers: bass; Philly Joe Jones: drums

Sketches of Spain

8. Sketches of Spain

Columbia, 1960

Sketches of Spain is a unique album. Almost half of the record features a new arrangement of “Concierto de Aranjuez” by Spanish composer Joaquín Rodrigo. Inspired by Alan Lomax’s recordings in Galicia and Andalusia, the album blends jazz, European classical and world music styles.

Davis showcases his mastery of flugelhorn and trumpet in true style throughout the album. The opening track, “Concierto de Aranjuez,” is a guitar concerto by Rodrigo. From the passionate “Concierto de Aranjuez” to the introspective “Solea,” the album takes listeners on a captivating journey. Davis’s expressive playing and the ensemble’s interpretation create a profound listening experience.

This pioneering exploration of Spanish music genuinely helped to improve jazz’s horizons and paves the way for future cross-cultural collaborations.

Miles Davis: arranger, trumpet, flugelhorn; Gil Evans: arranger, conductor; Johnny Coles, Bernie Glow, Taft Jordan, Louis Mucci, Ernie Royal: trumpet; John Barrows, James Buffington, Earl Chapin, Tony Miranda, Joe Singer: French horn; Dick Hixon, Frank Rehak: trombone; Bill Barber, Jimmy McAllister: tuba; Danny Bank: bass clarinet; Albert Block, Eddie Caine: flute; Harold Feldman: clarinet, flute, oboe; Romeo Penque: oboe; Jack Knitzer: bassoon; Paul Chambers: bass; Jimmy Cobb: drums; Elvin Jones, José Mangual Sr., Elden “Buster” Bailey: percussion; Janet Putnam: harp


7. Milestones

Columbia, 1958

A good entry point into the musical world of Miles.

Milestones is a pivotal album in Miles Davis’ discography, serving as a bridge between his earlier hard bop style and the groundbreaking modal jazz experimentation found in his masterpiece, Kind of Blue. The title track, “Milestones,” stands out as one of the first examples of modal jazz, showcasing Davis breaking away from traditional chord progressions and emphasizing improvisation over a limited set of scales or modes.

The album features an exceptional lineup, including John Coltrane on tenor saxophone, Red Garland on piano, Paul Chambers on bass, and Philly Joe Jones on drums. Despite being over six decades old, Milestones remains timeless, with its innovative and forward-thinking nature still captivating listeners today.

The album’s unconventional moments add an intriguing element, and its accessibility makes it an excellent starting point for new fans. While Davis was not the first to explore modal foundations in jazz (usually attributed to George Russell), his contribution lies in successfully implementing and popularising this innovation.

Miles Davis: trumpet, piano, flugelhorn; Julian “Cannonball” Adderley: alto saxophone; John Coltrane: tenor saxophone; Red Garland: piano (except on “Sid’s Ahead”); Paul Chambers: double bass; Philly Joe Jones: drums

Miles Davis - Bitches Brew - Jazz Fusion

6. Bitches Brew

Columbia, 1969

Towards the end of the 1960s, Miles Davis realized he needed a new direction to lead him into the next decade. On the back of this, the often strange and intense Bitches Brew was born.

The album’s creation was a testament to Davis’ innovative spirit, utilizing extensive editing and tape manipulation techniques to assemble its intricate sonic tapestry. The result was a captivating blend of extended improvisations and spontaneous, adventurous solos that pushed the boundaries of traditional jazz.

Davis and his ensemble envisioned the album as a sprawling jam session, seeking to capture the essence of freedom and exploration in the sounds of the time. He drew inspiration from the music of the day, from artists like Sly and the Family Stone and the young musicians who were reshaping the musical landscape.

Genre-wise the record has almost everything, incorporating elements of rock, funk, and R&B into the jazz context. Once Davis was satisfied with the recordings, the album was then assembled through extensive editing and other techniques such as tape manipulation.

What’s even more surprising is that he did not provide sheet music for the album to any of the musicians involved. The move was a risky but effective strategy that has helped to carry Bitches Brew through the decades.

All tracks were recorded at Columbia Studio B, NYC, during four sessions, lining up different musicians:
August 19, 1969: Miles Davis (tpt); Wayne Shorter (ss); Bennie Maupin (bcl); John McLaughlin (el-g); Chick Corea (el-p); Joe Zawinul (el-p); Dave Holland (b); Harvey Brooks (el-b); Jack DeJohnette (d); Lenny White (d); Don Alias (perc); Jim Riley (perc)

August 20, 1969: Miles Davis (tpt); Wayne Shorter (ss); Bennie Maupin (bcl); John McLaughlin (el-g); Chick Corea (el-p); Joe Zawinul (el-p); Dave Holland (el-b); Harvey Brooks (el-b); Jack DeJohnette (d); Don Alias (d); Jim Riley (perc)

August 21, 1969: Miles Davis (tpt); Wayne Shorter (ss); Bennie Maupin (bcl); John McLaughlin (el-g); Chick Corea (el-p); Joe Zawinul (el-p); Larry Young (el-p); Dave Holland (b); Harvey Brooks (el-b); Jack DeJohnette (d); Lenny White (d); Don Alias (perc); Jim Riley (perc)

January 28, 1970: Miles Davis (tpt); Wayne Shorter (ss); Bennie Maupin (bcl); John McLaughlin (el-g); Chick Corea (el-p); Joe Zawinul (el-p); Dave Holland (el-b); Billy Cobham (d); Jack DeJohnette (d); Airto Moreira (perc)

Around About Midnight

5. ‘Round About Midnight

Columbia, 1957

The record that best captures the traditional Davis sound of the 1950s, with fingerprints of his signature melodic and expressive trumpet throughout the album from start to finish.

His playing style, characterised by its lyrical beauty and emotive quality, draws listeners in and creates an instantly profound emotional connection. Davis’s ability to convey a wide range of emotions through his trumpet is particularly evident on tracks like ” ‘Round Midnight” and “Dear Old Stockholm.”

The album was also Davis’ debut on Columbia Records, which kickstarted his most successful period. Named after the Thelonious Monk song, this album is the peak of the sessions he recorded with Columbia whilst seeing out his contract with Prestige.

Having not long recovered from heroin addiction, Davis’ reunion and subsequent collaboration with Thelonious Monk granted the album a higher reputation when it was first released.

Miles Davis: trumpet; John Coltrane: tenor saxophone; Red Garland: piano; Paul Chambers: double bass; Philly Joe Jones: drumset

The Complete Live at the Plugged Nickel Miles Davis

4. The Complete Live at the Plugged Nickel 1965

Legacy, 1995

As tempting as it was to place the seven-and-a-half-hour-long jazz pilgrimage at the top of this list, that would be too easy.

This electrifying and extraordinary live recording, compiled from two unforgettable nights at Chicago‘s renowned Plugged Nickel Club in December 1965, immortalises the unique brilliance of Davis and his band. This is Davis’ musicians at their improvisational best.

With Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter on bass, and Tony Williams on drums. Many times, you hear Davis and crew pushing their improvisations to the limit of what you previously thought possible. The live repertoire mainly contains jazz standards and includes the likes of “Stella by Starlight,” “All of You,” “So What,” and “Walkin’.”

The recording even knocked the socks off Hancock, who said upon listening back to the record that he was “knocked out by their sheer raw intensity and honesty.”

Miles Davis: trumpet; Wayne Shorter: tenor saxophone; Herbie Hancock: piano; Ron Carter: bass; Tony Williams: drums

Miles Davis In A Silent Way

3. In A Silent Way

Columbia, 1969

Davis’ infamous jazz-and-rock fusion record confounded music fans and critics at the time. Released over ten years after his best albums, In A Silent Way marked a significant shift in Davis’ musical direction and showed yet again that Davis still had the ability to push the boundaries of genre and experimentation.

Unusually for Davis, the album incorporated electric instruments throughout an entire record for the first time. The electric piano, guitar and bass featured here, along with traditional jazz instrumentation, would pave the way for Bitches Brew the following year. However, this album was no mean warm-up act.

Recorded in just three hours in February 1969, the jazz-rock album is a stunning, epic jazz odyssey that fits nicely in between both genres.

Miles Davis: trumpet; Wayne Shorter: soprano saxophone; John McLaughlin: electric guitar; Chick Corea: electric piano; Herbie Hancock: electric piano; Joe Zawinul: electric piano, organ; Dave Holland: double bass; Tony Williams: drums

Miles Davis Birth of the Cool

2. Birth of the Cool

Capitol Records, 1957

Perhaps the seminal record of the ‘cool jazz’ movement of the late-1950s. Birth of the Cool was a compilation album recorded in three sessions over the course of nearly eighteen months. As referenced in the title, the album sets the scene for a departure from the energetic and complex bebop style that was dominant at the time.

Instead, the record embraces a more relaxed, melodic and laid-back approach to jazz. Birth of the Cool introduced a large ensemble known as the ‘Miles Davis Nonet’ (later referred to as the ‘Miles Davis Nonet of ’48’), comprising notable musicians such as Gerry Mulligan, Lee Konitz, J.J. Johnson, and Bill Barber, among others. The result was a smoother, more sophisticated and intricate sound made up of subtle layers, complex harmonies and musical lyricism, all performed by a very diverse group of players.

The laid-back “Boplicity” is abundant in rich harmonies, while the orchestral textures of “Moon Dreams” is a haunting ballad that shows why the album was such a brilliant group effort. The excellent “Godchild” is the standout track with its memorable solos and a catchy melody that lingers long after the triumphant Lewis-penned “Rouge” finishes.

Discover more with our Birth of the Cool in-depth review

Miles Davis: trumpet; Lee Konitz: alto saxophone; Gerry Mulligan: baritone saxophone; Al McKibbon (A3, A6, B3), Joe Shulman (A1, A2, A5, B1), Nelson Boyd (A4, B2, B4, B5): bass; Kenny Clarke (A4, B2, B4, B5), Max Roach (A1 to A3, A5 to B1, B3): drums; Junior Collins (A1, A2, A5, B1), Gunther Schuller (A3, A6, B3), Sandy Siegelstein (A4, B2, B4, B5): French horn; Al Haig (A1, A2, A5, B1), John Lewis (A4, B2, B4, B5): piano; J. J. Johnson (A3, A4, A6, B2 to B5), Kai Winding (A1, A2, A5, B1): trombone; John Barber: tube

Miles Davis - Kind Of Blue

1. Kind of Blue

Columbia, 1959

The album that changed everything. Over sixty years after its release, Kind of Blue is still considered one of the best – if not the best – jazz albums of all time.

The release of Kind of Blue was a watershed moment in jazz history. The album pioneered a new jazz style known as ‘modal jazz’. Forgetting that Davis would depart from this sound just a few years later, the blues-inspired scales created here continue to greatly inspire modern-day musicians.

The more you listen to Kind of Blue, the more you recognize the extraordinary improvisation from each musician. From the brilliant bluesy solos in “Freddie Freeloader”, to the haunting “Blue in Green”, and the spacious and ethereal atmosphere of “Flamenco Sketches”, a cool sophistication runs a thread through the entire record.

The album featured an exceptional lineup of musicians, even by Davis’ exceptional ensemble standards. The cast included the iconic John Coltrane on tenor saxophone, the exuberant Cannonball Adderley on alto saxophone, the brilliant Bill Evans and Wynton Kelly on piano, the skilful Paul Chambers on bass (responsible for that bassline on the album’s opener “So What”) and Jimmy Cobb, whose elegant drumming formed the pulse of the record.

Together, they crafted an introspective and timeless record that remains the best-selling jazz album ever sold.

Discover more with our Kind of Blue in-depth review

Miles Davis: trumpet; Julian “Cannonball” Adderley: alto saxophone; John Coltrane: tenor saxophone; Bill Evans: piano; Paul Chambers: double bass; Jimmy Cobb: drums

Best Miles Davis Albums:

  1. Kind of Blue (Columbia)
  2. Birth of the Cool (Capitol Records)
  3. In A Silent Way (Columbia)
  4. The Complete Live at the Plugged Nickel 1965 (Legacy)
  5. ‘Around About Midnight (Columbia)
  6. Bitches Brew (Columbia)
  7. Milestones (Columbia)
  8. Sketches of Spain (Columbia)
  9. Relaxin’ with the Miles Davis Quintet (Prestige)
  10. On The Corner (Columbia)

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Herbie Hancock is a jazz pianist, keyboardist, and composer who has had a long and illustrious career spanning over six decades. He has released numerous albums as a leader, has collaborated with some of the biggest names in the music industry, and was even part of Miles Davis’ Second Great Quintet (1964–68).

In this post, we will be taking a look at the 10 best Herbie Hancock albums of all time, as a leader. From his early work on Blue Note to his pioneering contributions to jazz fusion and electronic music, these are the albums that showcase the full range of Hancock’s incredible talent and versatility and represent the best of what Herbie Hancock has to offer: incredible jazz music.

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Los Angeles, 2005 (Photo: William Ellis)
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