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Composers 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!
list ordered by

1
76 19
Duke Ellington is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
Côte d'Azur Concerts on Verve, The Blanton–Webster Band, American Freedom

2
64 17
Thelonious Monk is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
Misterioso, Monk's Dream, Monk's Music

3
59 18
Charles Mingus is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
Alternate Takes, Money Jungle, Blues & Roots

4
57 19
John Coltrane is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
A Love Supreme, My Favorite Things, Giant Steps

5
57 19
Miles Davis is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
Bitches Brew, Kind of Blue, Agharta

6
38 10
Charlie Parker is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
Portrait, Bird: The Complete Charlie Parker on Verve, The Complete Savoy and Dial Studio Recordings 1944-1948

7
43 15
Herbie Hancock is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
Maiden Voyage, Jazz Africa, Tempest in the Colosseum

8
40 15
Wayne Shorter is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
Zedzep added The Young Lions, 1+1, A Tribute to Miles

9
22 3
Bill Evans is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
Waltz for Debby, We Will Meet Again, Bill Evans With Symphony Orchestra

10
30 8
Dizzy Gillespie is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
Night in Tunisia, The Trumpet Summit Meets the Oscar Peterson Big Four, Jazz at Massey Hall

11
35 12
Louis Armstrong is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
Hot Fives and Hot Sevens, American Freedom, C'est si bon

12
7 0
Sun Ra is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
Jazz in Silhouette, The Solar-Myth Approach, Volume 2

13
7 0
Eric Dolphy is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
‘Out to Lunch!’, Cornell 1964, Straight Ahead

14
12 1
Horace Silver is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
The Cape Verdean Blues, Song for My Father, Horace-Scope

15
26 10
Dave Brubeck is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
A Dave Brubeck Christmas, Giants of Jazz, Time Further Out

16
22 7
Chick Corea is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
slaft added Now He Sings, Now He Sobs, Time Warp

17
21 7
Ornette Coleman is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
The Shape of Jazz to Come, At The "Golden Circle" Stockholm, Volume 2

18
11 1
Billy Strayhorn is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
Lush Life, Great Times! (feat. Billy Strayhorn), Cue for Saxophone

19
16 7
Count Basie is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
Ella & Basie: On the Sunny Side of the Street, April in Paris, One O'Clock Jump

20
12 4
Sonny Rollins is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
slaft added Sonny Side Up, Planet Jazz: Sonny Rollins, Sonny Rollins and the Contemporary Leaders

21
8 1
Tadd Dameron is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
Fontainebleau, The Chronological Classics: Tadd Dameron 1947-1949, Mating Call

22
8 1
Mary Lou Williams is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
The Chronological Classics: Mary Lou Williams 1949-1951, The Chronological Classics: Mary Lou Williams 1951-1953, The Chronological Classics: Mary Lou Williams 1953-1954

23
13 6
Carla Bley is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
Live!, Escalator Over the Hill, The Ballad of the Fallen

24
7 1
Django Reinhardt is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
The Complete Django Reinhardt and Quintet of the Hot Club of France Swing/HMV Sessions 1936-1948, Django Reinhardt & Stéphane Grappelli, Django Reinhardt

25
9 3
Fats Waller is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
Classic American Music, A Portrait of Fats Waller, Ain't Misbehavin'

26
11 5
Pat Metheny is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
slaft added Day Trip, Pastorius / Metheny / Ditmas / Bley, Zero Tolerance for Silence

27
12 6
Joe Zawinul is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
slaft added 75, The Rise & Fall of the Third Stream, My People

28
5 0
Duke Pearson is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
Introducing Duke Pearson's Big Band, I Don't Care Who Knows It, Sweet Honey Bee

29
5 0
Bud Powell is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
Complete Live at Birdland May 17, 1950, The Scene Changes: The Amazing Bud Powell (Vol. 5)

30
5 0
Benny Golson is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
Complete 1957-1958 Quintet & Sextet Sessions, Terminal 1, Tune In Turn On: To the Hippest Commercials of the Sixties

31
7 2
Clare Fischer is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
Latin Patterns, Extension, Just Me

32
5 0
Benny Carter is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
My Kind of Trouble (feat. Joe Pass, Art Hillery, Andy Simpkins & Ronnie Bedford)

33
13 9
Max Roach is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
Historic Concerts, Money Jungle, Study in Brown

34
9 5
Jelly Roll Morton is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
The Complete Library of Congress Recordings, The King & Mister Jelly Lord, Quadromania Jazz Edition: Jelly Roll Morton: Sidewalk Blues

35
6 2
Lyle Mays is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
Darko Babic added 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
Free Fall, Music for Brass, The Life of a Trio

37
5 1
John Lewis is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
Helen Merrill / John Lewis, Animal Dance, European Encounter

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

39
4 0
Gil Evans is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
Tad Richards added Sketches of Spain, Quiet Nights, Into the Hot

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

41
4 0
Gigi Gryce is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
Nica's Tempo, Modern Jazz Perspective, Jazz Lab

42
4 0
Cal Massey is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
Cal Massey Blues to Coltrane

43
4 0
Herbie Nichols is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
Herbie Nichols Trio, The Prophetic Herbie Nichols Vol. 2, The Prophetic Herbie Nichols Vol. 1

44
10 7
Anthony Braxton is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
Beyond Quantum, One in Two – Two in One, 3 Compositions of New Jazz

45
9 6
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slaft added John McLaughlin and the Mahavishnu Orchestra Adventures in Radioland, Montreux Concerts

46
7 4
Billy Taylor is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
The Chronological Classics: Billy Taylor 1945-1949, The Chronological Classics: Billy Taylor 1952-1953, Cross Section

47
6 3
Don Cherry is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
El Corazón, Codona 3, Codona 2

48
4 1
Sidney Bechet is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
slaft added The Sidney Bechet Story, The Complete American Masters 1931-1953, Giants of Jazz

49
4 1
Russ Freeman is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
slaft added Drive, Holiday, Nocturnal Playground

50
3 0
Kenny Wheeler is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Jazz Composers of All Time
Moon, One of Many, Deer Wan