List of Famous Jazz Composers People

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)

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  1. 1
    Duke Ellington
    Photo: Freebase/Fair use

    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 profile ...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
  2. 2

    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 architects ...more

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    • Age: age 75
    • Birthplace: USA, Chicago, Illinois
    • Profession: Film Score Composer, Jazz Pianist, Songwriter, Pianist, Musician, + more
    • Credits: Harlem Nights, Death Wish, Blowup, Indecent Proposal, Colors, + more
  3. 3
    John Coltrane
    Photo: Freebase

    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: Jazz Casual: John Coltrane, Jazz Icons: John Coltrane: Live in '60, '61 & '65, Jazz Casual
  4. 4

    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 ended up ...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
  5. 5
    Max Roach
    Photo: Freebase/Public domain

    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, USA
    • 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
  6. 6

    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: 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
  7. 7
    Billy Taylor
    Photo: Freebase/CC-BY

    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
  8. 8

    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: USA, Chicago, Illinois
    • 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
  9. 9

    John D'earth is an American post bop/hard bop jazz trumpeter born in Holliston, Massachusetts who has appeared on recordings by Dave Matthews and Bruce Hornsby as well as recording a number of CDs on his own. He currently resides in Charlottesville, Virginia.more

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    • Age: age 65
    • Birthplace: Holliston, Massachusetts, United States of America
    • Profession: Musician, Jazz Composer, Trumpeter, Composer, Jazz Musician
  10. 10

    Steve Lacy, born Steven Norman Lackritz in New York City, was a jazz saxophonist and composer recognized as one of the important players of soprano saxophone. Coming to prominence in the 1950s as a progressive Dixieland musician, Lacy went on to a long and prolific career. He worked extensively in ...more

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    • Age: Died at 70 (1934-2004)
    • Birthplace: New York City, New York, United States of America
    • Profession: Saxophonist, Jazz Composer
    • Credits: Nasty Love, Steve Lacy: Master of the Soprano Sax
  11. 11
    Marcus Shelby
    Photo: Freebase/Fair use

    Marcus Shelby is a teacher, composer, arranger and bassist.more

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    • Age: age 49
    • Birthplace: Anchorage, Alaska, United States of America
    • Profession: Bassist, Jazz Composer
  12. 12

    Randy Weston is an American jazz pianist and composer, of Jamaican parentage. He was described by Marian McPartland as "one of the world's great visionary pianists and composers". Weston's piano style owes much to Duke Ellington and Thelonious Monk, but it is highly distinctive in its qualities: ...more

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    • Age: age 89
    • Birthplace: New York City, New York, United States of America
    • Profession: Jazz Pianist, Bandleader, Jazz Composer, Teacher
  13. 13

    Ken Vandermark is an American jazz composer and saxophone and clarinet player. A fixture on the Chicago-area music scene since the 1990s, Vandermark has earned wide critical praise for his playing and his multilayered compositions, which typically balance intricate orchestration with passionate ...more

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    • Age: age 51
    • Birthplace: Warwick, Rhode Island, United States of America
    • Profession: Film Score Composer, Saxophonist, Musician, Jazz Composer, Jazz Performer, + more
    • Credits: Parallax Sounds
  14. 14

    Hiromi Uehara, known as Hiromi, is a jazz composer and pianist born in Hamamatsu, Japan. She is known for her virtuosic technique, energetic live performances and blend of musical genres such as post-bop, progressive rock, classical and fusion in her compositions.more

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    • Age: age 36
    • Birthplace: Hamamatsu, Japan
    • Profession: Jazz Pianist, Jazz Composer
  15. 15

    Andrew Arthur Allen Jr

    Andrew Arthur Allen Jr is a jazz musician.more

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    • Age: 70
    • Profession: Musician
  16. 16

    David Berger

    David Berger is a musician, jazz composer, and music arranger.more

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    • Age: age 66
    • Birthplace: New York City, New York, United States of America
    • Profession: Musician, Jazz Composer
  17. 17

    Paul Cram

    As an award-winning bandleader, arranger, film and concert music composer, Canadian tenor saxophonist, clarinetist and jazz iconoclast, Paul Cram has a multi-faceted career that bridges the milleniums.more

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    • Age: age 63
    • Birthplace: Victoria, Canada
    • Profession: Saxophonist, Bandleader, Jazz Composer, Clarinetist
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