Jazz – say what you want about it but it is undoubtedly a most respected American art forms. The genre has shaped the musical industry and has paved the way for some of the most prominent musical careers and geniuses. In fact, many jazz musicians are widely recognized as some of the best musical artists of all time. This is why coming up with a list of some of the most influential jazz musicians of all time can be downright tricky. However, I have managed to do so.

Here are some of the best jazz musicians that defied genre lines and became a roaring success.

Billie Holiday

Also known as “Lady Day”, Billie Holiday is considered to be one of the most exceptional popular singer of the 20th century. She is known for her deep, personal and intimate approach whenever she sings her songs. Her style and intonation is inspired by the instruments she have heard before. Her recording of the song “Strange Fruit” is considered one of the most important songs of all time due to its powerful theme.

Thelonious Monk

Pianist and composer Thelonious Monk is considered a top contributor to bebop music. He was responsible for some of the most complex and dissonant tunes in history of music. Monk’s eccentric persona has also helped greatly in popularizing jazz music. He was widely praised for his innovative approach to piano playing. Up to this day, Thelonious Monk is still one of the most celebrated pianists in all music.

Charlie Parker

When people think of jazz, it’s hard not to think of Charlie Parker. He was a jazz pioneer who plays the alto-saxophone, a bebop musician, as well as a composer. His quick, virtuosic playing, spotless tone, as well as improvisational skills greatly influenced other artists at that time. His innovation in composing songs, utilizing intricate chord progressions and groundbreaking harmonic form, transformed the de-facto standards for composition and significantly influenced other jazz musicians.

Louis Armstrong

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Known as “Satchmo” or “Pops”, Louis Armstrong is undoubtedly one of the most important American figures in history. This jazz trumpet player and singer from New Orleans has an incredible influence on music as a whole. His skills in the trumpet have made the instrument be recognized as a solo instrument in jazz music. His singing has greatly influenced other big artists like Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby. He is truly one of the greatest musicians of all time.