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Bands/Musicians The Greatest Swing Jazz Musicians of All Time  

Rachel Green
359 votes 61 voters 2.6k views

Here are the top 27 Greatest Swing Jazz Musicians of All Time. Many of the musicians on this list were bandleaders as well as sidemen, creating some of the most innovative and improvisational music ever. Their passion for music drove the impact they had on dancers, performers, and shows like. Additionally, many of these musicians greatly impacted the progression of music genres and future great musicians who would debut their revue later on. 

Check them all out. Up vote the best musicians you like, and down vote the ones you dislike. And while swing music may not be your favorite, there's enough complexity, sophistication, and nuance in the music, that anyone who appreciates music can respect what these guys did. Feel free to add on anyone who may have been left out. 
Louis Armstrong is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Swing Jazz Musicians of All Time
Photo:  skeeze/Pixabay/CC0 1.0
1 22 VOTES

Louis Armstrong


Louis Armstrong, known for his big personality and raspy voice, was a pioneer of trumpet and cornet playing in the early 1920's, during the birth of jazz. His career began when he played with Fate Marable, which toured on a steamboat traveling on the Mississippi River. 

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2 34 VOTES

Benny Goodman


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Known as the "King of Swing", Goodman's career began when he purchased all of Fletcher Henderson's songs. Goodman had one of the first well-known integrated bands and performed one of the most successful and popular concerts in history, the famous 1938 Carnegie Hall concert, making swing music become "respectable."

This arrangement of "Sing, Sing, Sing" is probably one of the most recognizable and well known swing songs today.

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3 14 VOTES

Count Basie


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Considered one of the giants of jazz, Count Basie played for swing dancers all over the country in the 1930's and 1940's, blowing away some of the most experienced dancers in the Savoy Ballroom. He was also involved in one of the greatest Battle of the Bands in history against Chick Webb at the Savoy Ballroom in 1938. Metronome Magazine stated:

 "Throughout the fight, which never let down in its intensity during the whole fray, Chick took the aggressive, with the Count playing along easily and, on the whole, more musically scientifically. Undismayed by Chick's forceful drum beating, which sent the audience into shouts of encouragement and appreciate and casual beads of perspiration to drop from Chick's brows onto the brass cymbals, the Count maintained an attitude of poise and self-assurance. He constantly parried Chick's thundering haymakers with tantalizing runs and arpeggios which teased more and more force from his adversary."

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4 22 VOTES

Duke Ellington


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Although better known for his darker, moodier, and more nuanced compositions, Duke Ellington often played swing at the Cotton Club in New York City, performing alongside vaudeville dancers. He hated referring to his music as "jazz", as he considered it restrictive and low brow.

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