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 is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list List of Famous Jazz Composers
    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: 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
  3. 3
    John Coltrane is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list List of Famous Jazz Composers
    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: Malcolm X, Zodiac, Kids, Vanilla Sky
  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: USA, South Carolina, Cheraw
    • 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 is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list List of Famous Jazz Composers
    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, 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
  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: 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 is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list List of Famous Jazz Composers
    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: 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
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