To celebrate the EFG London Jazz Festival, The BBC and Jazz FM in the UK created a pop-up jazz radio station over this past weekend. During the course of the weekend, there were programmes celebrating the greatest jazz artists of all time. These had been voted on by listeners and a top 10 created, from a list of 50 shortlisted musicians drawn up by a panel of BBC jazz presenters, Jazz FM presenters, jazz musicians, critics, and journalists.
According to BBC presenter Helen Mayhew, Miles Davis was “a very worthy musician to have been voted in” at the top of the 50 chart of the greatest jazz artists ever. “The epitome of cool and an iconic character, Miles was at the forefront of key developments in the sound of jazz through each decade of his long career,” she added.
Describing the top 10 as “the best of the best,” Radio 3’s Geoffrey Smith said the first three positions were all occupied by “immortals” of jazz music. “Duke, the orchestral master; Louis, the father of us all; and Miles, the essence of the ever-changing contemporary spirit.”
The list of the ten greatest jazz artists was drawn from a list of 50 possible contenders. To some, it might look like a slightly strange and skewed list, but such is the nature of these things. Below are the rest of the top 50.
Mary Lou Williams
Do you agree with this list of the greatest jazz artists ever? Let us know in the comments below and listen to our Jazz Giants playlist here.