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Bands/Musicians The Best Jazz Composers of All Time  

Ranker Music
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List Rules Vote up who you think are the greatest Jazz composers of all time

These are the greatest Jazz composers ranked from best to worst by Jazz fans all over the globe. Much like Jazz itself, the backgrounds of the musicians on this list are extremely diverse. Jazz is about what's between the notes, and when it comes to looking at the best Jazz composers of all time, that's just where you have to look to find them. Between the notes. It goes without saying that Jazz will always be "cool." A few of the most famous Jazz composers have written music that is still popular today. Actually, some of the best Jazz music has burst onto the scene in the last few years alone.

What are some of the names you will find on this best Jazz composers list? “I Got It Bad (and That Ain't Good)” and “Don't Get Around Much Anymore” are just two famous Jazz standards with music by Duke Ellington. He regularly wrote songs so they could be performed by his Jazz orchestra. Charlie Parker is another talented composer of Jazz music.

Jazz composer Herbie Hancock is most famous for writing free-style Jazz, but he also includes elements of Funk and Pop into his catchy tunes. Other famous musicians who are featured on this top Jazz composers list include Dizzy Gillespie, Ornette Coleman and Thelonius Monk.

Who do you think is the best Jazz composer? Make sure to give your picks a thumbs up!

1
66 17
Duke Ellington is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
Duke Ellington Côte d'Azur Concerts on Verve, The Blanton–Webster Band, American Freedom

2
57 15
Thelonious Monk is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
Thelonious Monk Misterioso, Monk's Dream, Monk's Music

3
52 16
John Coltrane is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
John Coltrane A Love Supreme, My Favorite Things, Giant Steps

4
50 17
Miles Davis is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
Miles Davis Bitches Brew, Kind of Blue, Agharta

5
37 8
Charlie Parker is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
Charlie Parker Portrait, Bird: The Complete Charlie Parker on Verve, The Complete Savoy and Dial Studio Recordings 1944-1948

6
49 17
Charles Mingus is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
Charles Mingus Alternate Takes, Money Jungle, Blues & Roots

7
40 14
Herbie Hancock is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
Herbie Hancock Maiden Voyage, Jazz Africa, Tempest in the Colosseum

8
33 10
Louis Armstrong is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
Louis Armstrong Hot Fives and Hot Sevens, American Freedom, C'est si bon

9
37 14
Wayne Shorter is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
Zedzep added Wayne Shorter The Young Lions, 1+1, A Tribute to Miles

10
28 8
Dizzy Gillespie is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
Dizzy Gillespie Night in Tunisia, The Trumpet Summit Meets the Oscar Peterson Big Four, Jazz at Massey Hall

11
16 3
Bill Evans is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
Bill Evans Waltz for Debby, We Will Meet Again, Bill Evans With Symphony Orchestra

12
11 1
Horace Silver is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
Horace Silver The Cape Verdean Blues, Song for My Father, Horace-Scope

13
22 9
Dave Brubeck is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
Dave Brubeck A Dave Brubeck Christmas, Giants of Jazz, Time Further Out

14
18 6
Chick Corea is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
slaft added Chick Corea Now He Sings, Now He Sobs, Time Warp

15
19 7
Ornette Coleman is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
Ornette Coleman The Shape of Jazz to Come, At The "Golden Circle" Stockholm, Volume 2

16
9 1
Billy Strayhorn is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
Billy Strayhorn Lush Life, Great Times! (feat. Billy Strayhorn), Cue for Saxophone

17
8 1
Mary Lou Williams is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
Mary Lou Williams The Chronological Classics: Mary Lou Williams 1949-1951, The Chronological Classics: Mary Lou Williams 1951-1953, The Chronological Classics: Mary Lou Williams 1953-1954

18
8 1
Tadd Dameron is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
Tadd Dameron Fontainebleau, The Chronological Classics: Tadd Dameron 1947-1949, Mating Call

19
11 4
Sonny Rollins is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
slaft added Sonny Rollins Sonny Side Up, Planet Jazz: Sonny Rollins, Sonny Rollins and the Contemporary Leaders

20
14 7
Count Basie is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
Count Basie Ella & Basie: On the Sunny Side of the Street, April in Paris, One O'Clock Jump

21
8 3
Fats Waller is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
Fats Waller Classic American Music, A Portrait of Fats Waller, Ain't Misbehavin'

22
5 0
Eric Dolphy is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
Eric Dolphy ‘Out to Lunch!’, Cornell 1964, Straight Ahead

23
5 0
Duke Pearson is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
Duke Pearson Introducing Duke Pearson's Big Band, I Don't Care Who Knows It, Sweet Honey Bee

24
5 0
Benny Carter is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
Benny Carter My Kind of Trouble (feat. Joe Pass, Art Hillery, Andy Simpkins & Ronnie Bedford)

25
6 1
Django Reinhardt is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
Django Reinhardt The Complete Django Reinhardt and Quintet of the Hot Club of France Swing/HMV Sessions 1936-1948, Django Reinhardt & Stéphane Grappelli, Django Reinhardt

26
11 6
Carla Bley is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
Carla Bley Live!, Escalator Over the Hill, The Ballad of the Fallen

27
5 0
Benny Golson is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
Benny Golson Complete 1957-1958 Quintet & Sextet Sessions, Terminal 1, Tune In Turn On: To the Hippest Commercials of the Sixties

28
5 0
Bud Powell is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
Bud Powell Complete Live at Birdland May 17, 1950, The Scene Changes: The Amazing Bud Powell (Vol. 5)

29
7 2
Clare Fischer is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
Clare Fischer Latin Patterns, Extension, Just Me

30
10 5
Pat Metheny is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
slaft added Pat Metheny Day Trip, Pastorius / Metheny / Ditmas / Bley, Zero Tolerance for Silence

31
13 9
Max Roach is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
Max Roach Historic Concerts, Money Jungle, Study in Brown

32
10 6
Joe Zawinul is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
slaft added Joe Zawinul 75, The Rise & Fall of the Third Stream, My People

33
9 5
Jelly Roll Morton is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
Jelly Roll Morton The Complete Library of Congress Recordings, The King & Mister Jelly Lord, Quadromania Jazz Edition: Jelly Roll Morton: Sidewalk Blues

34
9 5
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slaft added John McLaughlin and the Mahavishnu Orchestra Adventures in Radioland, Montreux Concerts

35
6 2
Lyle Mays is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
Darko Babic added Lyle Mays The Pat Metheny Group in Concert, As Falls Wichita, So Falls Wichita Falls

36
5 1
Jimmy Giuffre is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
Jimmy Giuffre Free Fall, Music for Brass, The Life of a Trio

37
4 0
Gil Evans is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
Tad Richards added Gil Evans Sketches of Spain, Quiet Nights, Into the Hot

38
4 0
Joe Henderson is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
Joe Henderson Mode for Joe, Inner Urge, In 'n Out

39
4 0
Herbie Nichols is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
Herbie Nichols Herbie Nichols Trio, The Prophetic Herbie Nichols Vol. 2, The Prophetic Herbie Nichols Vol. 1

40
4 0
Cedar Walton is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
Cedar Walton Breakthrough!, Hank Mobley Quintet, The Promise Land

41
4 0
Cal Massey is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
Cal Massey Blues to Coltrane

42
4 0
Gigi Gryce is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
Gigi Gryce Nica's Tempo, Modern Jazz Perspective, Jazz Lab

43
4 0
Sun Ra is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
Sun Ra Jazz in Silhouette, The Solar-Myth Approach, Volume 2

44
7 4
Billy Taylor is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
Billy Taylor The Chronological Classics: Billy Taylor 1945-1949, The Chronological Classics: Billy Taylor 1952-1953, Cross Section

45
4 1
John Lewis is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
John Lewis Helen Merrill / John Lewis, Animal Dance, European Encounter

46
4 1
Russ Freeman is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
slaft added Russ Freeman Drive, Holiday, Nocturnal Playground

47
4 1
Sidney Bechet is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
slaft added Sidney Bechet The Sidney Bechet Story, The Complete American Masters 1931-1953, Giants of Jazz

48
3 0
Mal Waldron is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
Tad Richards added 2 people agree with you!Mal Waldron Live at Dreher Paris 1981, The Peak Vol. 2, Remembering the Moment

49
3 0
Booker Little is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
Booker Little Booker Little and Friend, Out Front, Booker Little 4 and Max Roach

50
3 0
Charles McPherson is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
Charles McPherson Manhattan Nocturne, Beautiful, Con Alma!