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The Greatest Swing Jazz Musicians of All Time

Updated September 28, 2020 465 votes 106 voters 5.5k views

Here are the top-20 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. 

  • Count Basie is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Swing Jazz Musicians of All Time
    Video: YouTube

    Considered one of the giants of jazz, Count Basie played for swing dancers all over the country in the 1930s and 1940s, 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.

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  • Artie Shaw is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Swing Jazz Musicians of All Time
    Video: YouTube

    Artie Shaw was an innovator of Big Band music and a proponent of third stream. He played for troops in the Pacific during WWII later in his career, ending his own career in the 1950s, stating that trying to perfect the clarinet would ultimately end him, and that he couldn't take the instrument any further. 

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  • Django Reinhardt is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Swing Jazz Musicians of All Time
    Video: YouTube

    Django Reinhardt is considered one of the greatest guitarists of all time, becoming a pioneer in making jazz music mainstream in Europe. Because his third and fourth fingers were permanently damaged, he only played with his thumb and forefinger, creating an entirely new technique of playing called "hot" jazz guitar. His arrangements and playing technique has created an entirely different sub genre of jazz, known as Gypsy Jazz or Gypsy Swing. 

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  • Sidney Bechet is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Swing Jazz Musicians of All Time
    Video: YouTube

    A trouble-making clarinet/soprano sax player who played for the Revue Nègre alongside dancer Josephine Baker, Bechet was more successful with his career in Europe than in the US. He was deported a few times after going to prison in London and Paris. 

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