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.
John Coltrane, a towering figure in the realm of jazz, left an indelible mark on the music world with his revolutionary approach and boundless creativity. From his early days as a sideman with luminaries like Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis to his prolific career as a bandleader, Coltrane pushed the boundaries of jazz and redefined its possibilities.
It is one of the most iconic openings in musical history. Those first few seconds of A Love Supreme are infinitely recognisable to jazz music aficionados and instantly alluring to those hearing it for the first time.
From the first few seconds of the record, Coltrane hints at something magic. With the opening Asian gong and cymbal washes, the listener is plunged straight into a curious album with many musical meanderings, missing meanings and the feel of a smoky late-night underground jazz club.
Making a list called “The Three Greatest Jazz Albums of All Time” can raise the question, “Why three? Why not five, 10, or 50?”
It is because these three records are so good, so evidently beautiful, and are forever the foundation of jazz as we know it. If we were to add two, seven, or 47 albums for a more in-depth list (which we will soon do in another post), we would underemphasize how important the three following records were, are, and will be for many decades and maybe centuries to come.