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POPULAR List of Famous Jazz Composers

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List of famous jazz composers, with photos, bios, and other information when available. Who are the top jazz composers in the world? This includes the most prominent jazz composers, living and dead, both in America and abroad. This list of notable jazz composers is ordered by their level of prominence, and can be sorted for various bits of information, such as where these historic jazz composers were born and what their nationality is. The people on this list are from different countries, but what they all have in common is that they're all renowned jazz composers.

List features people like Max Roach, John Coltrane and more!

From reputable, prominent, and well known jazz composers to the lesser known jazz composers of today, these are some of the best professionals in the jazz composer field. If you want to answer the questions, "Who are the most famous jazz composers ever?" and "What are the names of famous jazz composers?" then you're in the right place. (17 items)
Duke Ellington is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list List of Famous Jazz Composers
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Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington was an American composer, pianist and bandleader of jazz orchestras. He led his orchestra from 1923 until his death, his career spanning over 50 years. Born in Washington, D.C., Ellington was based in New York City from the mid-1920s onward, and gained a national ...more

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Age: Died at 75 (1899-1974)

Birthplace: Washington, D.C., United States of America

Profession: Film Score Composer, Pianist, Musician, Bandleader Lyricist, + more

Credits: Anatomy of a Murder, Ă…dalen 31, Check and Double Check, Paris Blues NET Playhouse, + more

Also Ranked

#10 on The Greatest Jazz Pianists of All Time

#13 on The Best Piano Composers Ever, Ranked

#1 on The Best Jazz Composers of All Time

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Herbie Hancock is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list List of Famous Jazz Composers
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Herbert Jeffrey "Herbie" Hancock is an American pianist, keyboardist, bandleader and composer. Starting his career with jazz legend Donald Byrd, he shortly thereafter joined the Miles Davis Quintet where Hancock helped to redefine the role of a jazz rhythm section and was one of the primary ...more

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Age: 75

Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States of America

Profession: Film Score Composer, Jazz Pianist, Songwriter, Pianist Musician, + more

Credits: Donnie Brasco, Zoolander, Office Space, Death Wish

Also Ranked

#4 on The Best Organists in Rock and Jazz Today

#46 on The Greatest Flautists of All Time

#8 on The Greatest Jazz Pianists of All Time

#7 on The Greatest Organists in Rock and Jazz History

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John Coltrane is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list List of Famous Jazz Composers
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John William Coltrane, also known as "Trane", was an American jazz saxophonist and composer. Working in the bebop and hard bop idioms early in his career, Coltrane helped pioneer the use of modes in jazz and was later at the forefront of free jazz. He organized at least fifty recording sessions as a ...more

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Age: Died at 41 (1926-1967)

Birthplace: Hamlet, North Carolina, United States of America

Profession: Songwriter, Saxophonist, Musician, Bandleader Composer

Credits: Malcolm X, Zodiac, Kids, Vanilla Sky

Also Ranked

#1 on The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time

#88 on The Most Beloved US Veterans

#1 on The Greatest Jazz Saxophonists of All Time

#2 on The Best Jazz Composers of All Time

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Dizzy Gillespie is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list List of Famous Jazz Composers
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John Birks "Dizzy" Gillespie was an American jazz trumpeter, bandleader, composer and occasional singer. AllMusic's Scott Yanow wrote, "Dizzy Gillespie's contributions to jazz were huge. One of the greatest jazz trumpeters of all time, Gillespie was such a complex player that his contemporaries ...more

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Age: Died at 76 (1917-1993)

Birthplace: Cheraw, South Carolina, United States of America

Profession: Film Score Composer, Musician, Bandleader, Actor Composer, + more

Credits: Stormy Weather, The Cool World, The Cosmic Eye, Jivin' in Be-Bop My Universe Inside Out, + more

Also Ranked

#4 on The Greatest Trumpeters of All Time

#10 on The Best Jazz Composers of All Time

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Max Roach is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list List of Famous Jazz Composers
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Maxwell Lemuel "Max" Roach was an American jazz percussionist, drummer, and composer. A pioneer of bebop, Roach went on to work in many other styles of music, and is generally considered alongside the most important drummers in history. He worked with many famous jazz musicians, including Coleman ...more

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Age: Died at 83 (1924-2007)

Birthplace: Newland, North Carolina, United States of America

Profession: Educator, Musician, Drummer, Composer Percussionist

Credits: How to Draw a Bunny, Behind the Scenes, Vers Madrid (The Burning Bright!), The Impossible - Pieces Of Fury

Also Ranked

#41 on The Best Drummers of All Time

#16 on The Best Jazz Composers of All Time

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Anthony Braxton is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list List of Famous Jazz Composers
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Anthony Braxton is an American composer and instrumentalist. Braxton has released well over 100 albums since the 1960s. Among the instruments he plays are the sopranino, soprano, C-melody, F mezzo-soprano, E-flat alto, baritone, bass, and contrabass saxophones; the E-flat, B-flat, and contrabass ...more

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Age: 70

Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States of America

Profession: Performer, Professor, Musician, Bandleader Jazz Composer, + more

Credits: The Dancing Soul of the Walking People

Also Ranked

#83 on The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time

#33 on The Greatest Jazz Saxophonists of All Time

#13 on The Best Jazz Saxophonists in the World

#20 on The Best Jazz Composers of All Time

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Billy Taylor is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list List of Famous Jazz Composers
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William "Billy" Taylor was an American jazz pianist, composer, broadcaster and educator. He was the Robert L. Jones Distinguished Professor of Music at East Carolina University in Greenville, and from 1994 was the artistic director for jazz at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in ...more

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Age: Died at 89 (1921-2010)

Birthplace: Greenville, North Carolina, United States of America

Profession: Jazz Pianist, Jazz Composer, Presenter, Teacher

Also Ranked

#25 on The Best Jazz Composers of All Time

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Abbey Lincoln is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list List of Famous Jazz Composers
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Anna Marie Wooldridge, known by her stage name Abbey Lincoln, was an American jazz vocalist, songwriter, and actress, who wrote and performed her own compositions. She was a civil rights advocate during the 1960s. ...more

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Age: Died at 80 (1930-2010)

Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States of America

Profession: Songwriter, Musician, Jazz Composer, Actor Singer

Credits: Mo' Better Blues, For Love of Ivy, Nothing But a Man, Great Women Singers of the 20th Century: Abbey Lincoln

Also Ranked

#20 on Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?

#34 on The Best Jazz Composers of All Time

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