Music

The Best Avant-garde Jazz Bands/Artists 

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Updated July 23, 2019 1.4k votes 208 voters 21.4k views 105 items

Avant-garde jazz artists list, with photos, ranked best to worst by votes. List of good avant-garde jazz bands includes a filter so you can sort by the groups’s label and what albums they've put out. This list of the top avant-garde jazz bands in the world includes all musicians who have released recordings that have gotten distribution, and is an up-to-date list. Avant-garde jazz groups and artists are shown below along with any additional genres in which their music belongs. If available, you can also see information about where all avant-garde jazz bands on this list got started. These are truly the greatest avant-garde jazz bands of all time, since the most famous avant-garde jazz artists ever are listed, and the order is decided by actual fans of the best avant-garde jazz music.

You can click on the avant-garde jazz band names to see more information about that particular notable avant-garde jazz group. If they're near the top of the best avant-garde jazz artist list, though, then they should have at least some information available. All the top avant-garde jazz bands named on the list also have discographies on their pages if you click on the avant-garde jazz band names themselves.

List is made up of a variety of artists, including Medeski Martin & Wood and Elvin Jones. Downvote your least favorite artists and upvote the best ones. The best artists on this list are the ones with the most votes, so show things like Miles Davis and John Coltrane some love.

All important, significant and iconic names in avant-garde jazz music history deserve your votes, so make sure to choose wisely. You can only vote once on this list.

The list includes all new avant-garde jazz bands, and if there are any missing on the list, you can always add them yourself. Just make sure they aren't already on the list and check your spelling, because this is already an accurate compilation of the best examples of avant-garde jazz, as well as a good place to start if you're asking yourself, or friends, exactly how to get into avant-garde jazz music. Especially since the bands at the top of the list will at the very least be the best choices if you're looking for a list of good avant-garde jazz bands with which to start out. No point in listening to them if they aren't actually good or even half-way decent avant-garde jazz bands.

This list answers the questions "who are the best avant-garde jazz bands of all time?" and "who is the greatest avant-garde jazz musician ever?"

If you know enough about the genre, please vote based on the quality of the band's music instead of just voting for the most popular avant-garde jazz bands that you might've heard of, but not really listened to closely enough to cast an informed vote.

Get your social circle's opnion by re-ranking this list, making it votable then sharing it on Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter and more. (105 items)
list ordered by
1
John Coltrane is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Avant-garde Jazz Bands/Artists
Genre: Avant-garde jazz, Hard bop & Post-bop; Nationality: United States of America
2
Ornette Coleman is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Avant-garde Jazz Bands/Artists
Genre: Avant-garde jazz, Jazz fusion & Free funk; Nationality: United States of America
3
Miles Davis is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Avant-garde Jazz Bands/Artists
Genre: Jazz rap, Avant-garde jazz & Jazz-funk; Nationality: United States of America
4
Charles Mingus is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Avant-garde Jazz Bands/Artists
Genre: Orchestral jazz, Avant-garde jazz & Third stream; Nationality: United States of America
5
Eric Dolphy is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Avant-garde Jazz Bands/Artists
Genre: Avant-garde jazz, Third stream & Post-bop; Nationality: United States of America
6
Sun Ra is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Avant-garde Jazz Bands/Artists
Genre: Doo-wop, Kozmigroov & Avant-garde jazz; Nationality: United States of America
7
Pharoah Sanders is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Avant-garde Jazz Bands/Artists
Genre: Kozmigroov, Avant-garde jazz & World fusion music; Nationality: United States of America
8
Albert Ayler is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Avant-garde Jazz Bands/Artists
Genre: Avant-garde jazz, Rhythm and blues & Jazz; Nationality: United States of America
9
Cecil Taylor is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Avant-garde Jazz Bands/Artists
Genre: Avant-garde jazz, Jazz & Free jazz; Nationality: United States of America
10
Andrew Hill is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Avant-garde Jazz Bands/Artists
Genre: Avant-garde jazz, Hard bop & Jazz; Nationality: United States of America
11
Sam Rivers is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Avant-garde Jazz Bands/Artists
Genre: Avant-garde jazz, Jazz & Free jazz; Nationality: United States of America
12
Alice Coltrane is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Avant-garde Jazz Bands/Artists
Genre: Kozmigroov, Avant-garde jazz & Jazz; Nationality: United States of America
13
John Zorn is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Avant-garde Jazz Bands/Artists
Genre: Dark ambient, Noise rock & Klezmer; Nationality: United States of America
14
Rahsaan Roland Kirk is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Avant-garde Jazz Bands/Artists
Genre: Avant-garde jazz, Hard bop & Post-bop; Nationality: United States of America
15
Chick Corea is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Avant-garde Jazz Bands/Artists
Genre: Kozmigroov, Fusion & Avant-garde jazz; Nationality: United States of America
16
Mal Waldron is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Avant-garde Jazz Bands/Artists
Genre: Avant-garde jazz, Hard bop & Post-bop; Nationality: United States of America
17
Keith Jarrett is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Avant-garde Jazz Bands/Artists
Genre: Avant-garde jazz, Classical music & Smooth jazz; Nationality: United States of America
18
Henry Threadgill is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Avant-garde Jazz Bands/Artists
Genre: Avant-garde jazz and Jazz; Nationality: United States of America
19
David Murray is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Avant-garde Jazz Bands/Artists
Genre: Avant-garde jazz, Post-bop & Free jazz; Nationality: United States of America
20
Elvin Jones is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Avant-garde Jazz Bands/Artists
Genre: Avant-garde jazz, Hard bop & Post-bop; Nationality: United States of America
21
Wadada Leo Smith is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Avant-garde Jazz Bands/Artists
Genre: Avant-garde jazz and Free improvisation; Nationality: United States of America
22
John Gilmore is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Avant-garde Jazz Bands/Artists
Genre: Avant-garde jazz and Jazz; Nationality: United States of America
23
Steve Lacy is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Avant-garde Jazz Bands/Artists
Genre: Avant-garde jazz, Jazz & Dixieland; Nationality: United States of America
24
Paul Bley is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Avant-garde Jazz Bands/Artists
Genre: Avant-garde jazz, Post-bop & Free jazz; Nationality: Canada
25
Reggie Workman is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Avant-garde Jazz Bands/Artists
Genre: Avant-garde jazz, Hard bop & Jazz; Nationality: United States of America