When you need some musical inspiration to move forward, the best place to look is back. A number of talented and innovative musicians throughout the years can serve as valuable sources of ideas and motivation.
You can’t discuss jazz in the 20th century without mentioning the name of Miles Davis. Constant reinvention of his style helped propel the emergence of fusion, be-bop and other genres. His landmark Kind of Blue is the best-selling jazz album of all time and it was honored as a national treasure by a unanimous vote of the U.S. House of Representatives. Past members of his ensembles read like a who’s-who of musicians with names like Herbie Hancock and John Coltrane.
The man known as “Bird” influenced a generation with his fast playing and improvisational abilities on the alto sax. His songwriting broke new ground with its complex chord progressions. Thanks to Parker, the public began to view jazz musicians as artists rather than just entertainers.
Clarinetist and bandleader Goodman is widely known as the “King of Swing,” but he also worked extensively in jazz music, helping to popularize be-bop and cool jazz. His historic Carnegie Hall concert in 1938 is considered to be the event that signaled the arrival of jazz as a “respectable” art form.
Roach was another pioneer of the be-bop movement and one of a handful of musicians who developed the modern style of jazz drumming. His skill was so profound that he could play entire shows solo, virtually unheard-of for a drummer.
Through his music and his personal style, Monk contributed to the image of jazz musicians as idiosyncratic artists. His compositions included complex, dissonant harmonies and he often took breaks from his piano during performances to dance while the rest of his band continued to play.
Who has been your personal source of musical inspiration? Share the name in our comments, and be sure to follow our SongCast blog for helpful news and tips.