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The Greatest Jazz Pianists

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So just who are the greatest jazz pianists? Well we have, as usual, scoured the net, magazines and books to conduct our poll of polls and this is the result. Of course we know many of you will disagree with the list, who is ranked above, or below, who, and we’re as ever, keen to hear from you as to who you think should be on the list.

There are a number of pianists that we are sorry to see fail to make the Top 36, the innovative Mary Lou Williams for one, Jacky Terrasson is another that we admire and so is the late Joe Sample. Just let us know your favourites and why.

We’re sursprised that bud Powell didn’t make it a little higher up the list and glad to see that Lyle Mays made it.

Scroll down for our playlist of the 36 Greatest Jazz Pianists…

But why 36? Well as we all know there are 36 black keys on a piano…

36. Andrew Hill
35. Dave Grusin
34. Cecil Taylor
33. Lyle Mays
32. Sonny Clark
31. Michel Petrucciani
30. Hank Jones
29. Scott Joplin
28. Ramsey Lewis
27. Wynton Kelly
26. James P. Johnson
25. Kenny Kirkland
24. Bob James
23. George Shearing
22. Joe Zawinul
21. Teddy Wilson
20. Horace Silver
19. Red Garland
18. Tommy Flanagan
17. Erroll Garner
16. Dave Brubeck
15. Jelly Roll Morton
14. Earl Hines
13. Count Basie
12. Fats Waller
11. Duke Ellington
10. Ahmad Jamal

9. Chick Corea
Chick Corea
8. Keith Jarrett
Keith Jarrett
7. Bud Powell
Bud Powell
6. McCoy Tyner
5. Oscar Peterson
Oscar peterson
4. Herbie Hancock
Herbie Hankcock
3. Bill Evans
Bill Evans
2. Thelonious Monk
1. Art Tatum




  1. Charles Thompson

    September 29, 2015 at 4:13 pm

    Wonderful list but Phineas Newborn should at least be in the top 20; he isn’t on the list at all. Good cases could be made for John Lewis, James Williams, Mulgrew Miller, Don Pullen , Joe Sample and Muhal Richard Abrams.

    • Erika Paul

      October 26, 2015 at 2:11 am

      Did someone forget Marian McPartland? Mary Lou Williams? Patrice Rushin? Diana Krall? Lil’ Hardin’?…

      • eddieb

        January 15, 2016 at 2:15 pm

        Diana Krall? Seriously? Just because she’s a woman? Even she wouldn’t think she should be on this list!

        • Ned Rodgers

          June 29, 2016 at 11:28 pm

          Eddie, you need to give Diana Krall another listen. She’s an awesome pianist.

          • Alexander Jeffrey Aerni

            June 30, 2016 at 12:53 am

            Plus, Diana Krall happens to be married to my favorite musical artist of all time, Mr. Elvis Costello!

          • mike

            December 15, 2016 at 7:35 pm

            I dont think so 🙁 she is a fake

          • Charles Wightman

            September 7, 2017 at 11:58 am

            Amen to that…She;s a terrific pianist…

      • Dan Waldis

        June 30, 2016 at 10:23 am

        Thank you!

      • Dan Waldis

        June 30, 2016 at 10:26 am

        Eliane Elias.

      • Andrew Petersen

        October 23, 2016 at 2:30 pm

        AMEN to Mary Lou Williams!

      • Gary Berger

        October 24, 2016 at 6:21 pm

        While I don’t agree with all the choices/rankings (who does??) I agree Diana Krall does not belong anywhere near this list.

        • Diana fuking Krall

          February 25, 2018 at 6:29 am

          While i appreciate most opinions, you dont belong anywhere on this planet.

      • Joeyjojo Shabadou

        November 9, 2017 at 1:55 am

        There are lots of great women jazz pianists but we shouldn’t put women on the list merely to be politically correct. Dianna Krall is a fine musician but is she really a great innovative pianist or just a good all around pianist and entertainer. I think you could make a strong case for Mary Lou Williams to be included on this list.

      • Jim D

        November 10, 2017 at 12:54 am

        And Joanne Brackeen as well!

      • Scott

        November 10, 2017 at 11:57 am

        Patrice Rushin? Diana Krall? This list is the all-time great jazz pianists. McPartland and Williams should probably make the list but the other two? Come on.

    • Funlola Famuyiwa

      October 26, 2015 at 11:19 pm

      I still can’t fathom how VInce Guaraldi didn’t get on the list. I mean, he was definitely one of the greatests of all time. Oscar Peterson should have been at the no 1 spot

      • Jim D

        November 10, 2017 at 12:55 am

        Totally agree.He should be there.

    • Joseph Russotti

      June 30, 2016 at 12:03 am

      My exact thought when reading this naive list. After Tatum , Monk and Evans its hard to set a pecking order, but the author needs to listen to Newborn; he was way ahead of many of the contemporaries listed.

      • matt

        July 16, 2016 at 3:06 am

        Phineas Newborn Jr should, of course,…. etc.,etc.
        After Tatum, Monk, Lyrical Bill, there is a swarm of fine contenders. Enjoy.

    • Villy Paraskevopoulos

      June 30, 2016 at 9:39 pm

      No Lenny Tristano at the list?How is this possible?Dave Grusin on the list? Before Andrew Hill?Cecil Taylor no 34?Keith Jarrett no 8?I think both three could be a little bit Higher.And Craig Taborn should be for sure on the list!Because I am not a sexist I can not forget of course one of my favorite Marilyn Crispell!

    • Hugh Palmer

      September 7, 2017 at 6:43 pm

      Earl Hines would hold the No.1 spot for me. Another who could really deliver when the atmosphere was just right was Dorothy Donegan.

    • MR. AL GEE

      September 9, 2017 at 3:23 pm

      What about Milt Buckner, Shirley Horn, Beegie Adair, Diana Krall, Joe Sample ??

  2. illaysabag

    September 29, 2015 at 5:14 pm

    the list includes a great pianists, but what about mal waldron, jaki byard, bobby timmons, paul bley, cedar walton, sun ra, alice coltrane?

    • Rodney Walton

      September 29, 2015 at 10:32 pm

      Thanks. Rodney Walton (Cedar’s son).

    • Camilla

      September 29, 2015 at 11:44 pm

      Yes you’re right
      ! What about them? They have been forgotten in the list?

    • Josh

      September 30, 2015 at 1:40 am

      exact omissions i was thinking!

    • Fabrizio Sebastiani

      October 27, 2015 at 7:04 am

      Mal Waldron should just be in the top 5. And I am surprised that Brad Mehldau was not mentioned …

  3. Bob Windy

    September 29, 2015 at 5:24 pm

    No Sun Ra? Something is very wrong here.

  4. Markus Mueller

    September 29, 2015 at 6:32 pm

    ridiculous list: Crusin, Kirkland, all these “Jazzrock” losers. And there are people like von Schlippenbach, Tippett, Mengelberg, Morab, Ivers…

  5. Markus Mueller

    September 29, 2015 at 6:32 pm

    ridiculous list: Crusin, Kirkland, all these “Jazzrock” losers. And there are people like von Schlippenbach, Tippett, Mengelberg, Moran, Ivers…

    • carlomorena

      September 30, 2015 at 7:55 pm

      Would love to be a ‘loser’ the way Kenny Kirkland was…:)…

    • Jazz Lover

      October 27, 2015 at 12:24 pm

      OMG! Kirkland a “rock loser”? One of the main proponents of the Herbie Hancock school of jazz who played with everyone, including the Marsalisis and Kenny Garrett is a loser! And rock no less! Go clean your ears and learn some lineage!! Next you’ll call Mulgrew Miller a folk musician who only played triads. Sheesh!!

      • Alan Palanker

        September 8, 2017 at 10:48 pm

        I knew Kenny very well when we were students at MSM…Most important he was a wonderful soul who made you feel important….

    • Pav

      January 15, 2016 at 5:27 pm

      Kirkland a jazz rock loser? Pfft

  6. Lynne Sampson

    September 29, 2015 at 6:54 pm

    Whenever I scroll through these lists I am pleased to find my CD collection has so many of the folks listed!!

  7. jacqueline friedrich

    September 29, 2015 at 7:15 pm

    No Ellis Larkins? List seems a bit sexist. No Marion McPartland? Barbara Carroll?

    • Gerry McDougall

      September 29, 2015 at 8:20 pm

      Sexist indeed! How come no mention of Eliane Elias, Diane Schuur, Blossom Dearie?

      • Caroline Thord-Gray

        September 30, 2015 at 10:37 am

        Tanya Maria?

    • Jim D

      November 10, 2017 at 12:58 am

      Agree..many left off.Marian especially.A d what a out Joanne Brackeen?Phenomenal.

  8. Alan

    September 29, 2015 at 7:43 pm

    I would have included Gene Harris.

    • Michael Lamprecht

      September 7, 2017 at 5:07 pm

      Auf jeden Fall , ich auch..

    • rich brunetti

      November 8, 2017 at 3:02 pm

      Dammed Right!!

  9. Pete Gage

    September 29, 2015 at 7:46 pm

    Andrew Hill at 36 – ridiculous!

    • John Evans

      October 25, 2015 at 3:26 am

      Exactly my reaction too.

      • Lutz Bacher

        June 29, 2016 at 9:06 pm

        Mine as well, John. And I might add a few others not on the list or mentioned above: Mary Lou Williams, Lennie Tristano, Stanley Cowell, Kirk Lightsey, Dave Burrell.

  10. Gerry McDougall

    September 29, 2015 at 8:00 pm

    No Eddie Higgins? No Eliane Elias? Where’s Marian McPartland, Bill Charlap, Joe Augustine?

  11. James Fleming

    September 29, 2015 at 8:05 pm

    In that case, why not make a list of the top 88 greatest jazz pianists ?

  12. j Wilson

    September 29, 2015 at 9:58 pm

    I can’t agree with this list. Everybody goes ape over Art Tatum.. But he was all arpeggio and flash . Teddy Wilson and fats should be a lot higher on that list. and Monk was a great composer but a rather lousy pianist.

    • Anton Spry

      June 30, 2016 at 10:24 am

      I always find “strong opinions” some kind of ridiculous, and mostly I don’t want to join in the battle of all the “experts” (I am, because my opinions are soooo different).
      But saying that Monk was “lousy as a piano player” … come on. If you don’t dig what his qualities as a pianist were then you don’t dig what jazz and blues are about.
      Apart from that: Nobody misses Cedar Walton?

  13. PianoPlayer

    September 29, 2015 at 9:59 pm

    Oscar Peterson 5 ?? Hahaha….he is the best . EVER>! after Tatum
    Fats Waller Earl Hines Erroll Garner 17 ??????
    the most shit rating ever! Teddy Wilson 21 WTF?
    it’s a joke? what about Hiromi ? What about Milt Buckner? Nat King Cole …… it’s a joke that’s what it is.

    • Elliot Zimmerman

      October 1, 2015 at 7:37 pm

      Nat King Cole was one of Ahmad Jamal’s favorites. Ahmad told me this personally many times.

      • Bryan

        November 8, 2017 at 8:57 pm

        Yes, if you listen to the superb 1946 Sinatra recording of “Sweet Lorraine” with the Metronome All-Stars, Cole’s piano is wonderful.

    • Funlola Famuyiwa

      October 26, 2015 at 11:23 pm

      Nat King Cole, was probably better known for his vocals, than being a piano player. His piano playing, to me was rather too simplistic and mundane when compared with the likes of Red Garland and Oscar Peterson.

    • Terry Hicks

      February 24, 2018 at 11:25 pm

      To put Erroll Garner at 17 is ludicrous-if you listen extensively he is really unparallelled musically-also had a great technique and he was certainly the greatest composer among all the jazz giants.I happened to meet Erroll on tour in 1972 and he was the most self effacing lovely man you could meet.Junior Mance told me in 2015 that everyone was blown away by Erroll in the early days in NY and they all wanted to play like him,
      Erroll is justifiably living a second life on the net and part of the problem for fans now is that Erroll died long ago and may have got overlooked somewhat.I understand that Art Tatum was very taken with him (”one day he will become something”)and I think Erroll drove him around a bit and even went up against Art in a piano duel(s). So he has to be right up there and is my favourite primarily because of his unique musicianship and his unmatched intros-beat that! He influenced a generation;one notable was Dudley Moore who could imitate Erroll’s playing very well esp the left hand-but nobody has ever quite sounded the same though Errolls brother said there was a Tommy—? in US(Cincinatti??) who he couldnt tell the difference -Linton his brother said he couldnt play one bar like Erroll -strangely, but he was a fine player himself and played trumpet in Dukes band;what a family!
      And note Erroll looked and sounded like he was having the time of his life-tragically died too young from lung cacer at 55yrs.
      Erroll said ”playing is like life -either you feel it or you dont” -so true.

  14. Simon

    September 29, 2015 at 10:07 pm

    George Cables, Stan Tracy, Carla Bley, Monty Alexander, Pete Johnson, – I vote for 88 otherwise there isn’t enough room on the piano stool.

  15. bob johnson

    September 29, 2015 at 10:08 pm

    many omissions:Geoff Keezer,Vic Feldman,Bobby Timmons,Derek Smith,Jimmy Rowles,Marcus Roberts,Vince Guaraldi.Lou Levy,Marian McPartland,Gerry Wiggins,Pete Jolly,Hamp Hawes,Monty Alexander,Cedar Walton,Russ Freeman,John Lewis,Ray Bryant,Joe Sample,Billy Taylor,Mulgrew Miller

    • Joseph Jones

      September 29, 2015 at 11:53 pm

      I would move Ahmad Jamal higher on the list and include the great be-bop pianist Al Haig.

    • Funlola Famuyiwa

      October 26, 2015 at 11:25 pm

      Include Junior Mance too.

  16. PhiDeck

    September 29, 2015 at 10:09 pm

    31) Pettuciani => Petrucciani


    September 29, 2015 at 10:27 pm

    Imposible que no figure uno de los creadores y geniales pianistas del principio: JELLY ROLL MORTON y luego el inmortal Fats Waller, el maravilloso Earl Hines, el grande Teddy Wilson.
    Parece que al o los autores de la lista no les gusta el jazz más tradicional, es una fea y equivocada discriminación.

  18. SergeantSlow

    September 29, 2015 at 11:31 pm

    No Lennie Tristano??

    • Bud Tristano

      September 29, 2015 at 11:42 pm

      I noticed that too!

    • john

      October 4, 2015 at 2:52 am

      a list of 36 jazz pianists with no Tristano, Billy Taylor of Timmons is completely stupid.

  19. Robert Werdine

    September 29, 2015 at 11:41 pm

    What about Paul Bley? He should at least be in the top-10.

  20. Cameron Beattie

    September 29, 2015 at 11:44 pm

    Phineaso Newborn is a huge miss – as others have pointed out Mulgrew and James Williams can be easily be added in front of a few on the list – Billy Taylor as well – and Hampton Hawes should be in the top 20 – sorry but Dave Grusin and Bob James are great players but no where near the virtuoso’s listed above – and for that thought Monty Alexander could blow most of these guys away – and what about Dick Hyman – I love Joe Zawinul and all of his music – but the list is of Pianists and a huge amount of his recorded work is Keyboard based -so not in the top 30 – finally Fred Hersch needs to be in the top 30 – for his musical diversity alone – owe and there is that Mehldau guy….

  21. Joseph Jones

    September 29, 2015 at 11:49 pm

    You can’t have a list like this and leave off Al Haig!!!!

    • Funlola Famuyiwa

      November 8, 2015 at 6:05 am

      And Michael Legrand!

  22. ouriel ohayon

    September 30, 2015 at 12:04 am

    hard to imagine a list like that without brad mehldau

    • RENATO

      October 24, 2016 at 2:39 pm


  23. A. Barnes

    September 30, 2015 at 12:18 am

    Keith Jarrett, for god’s sakes, but not Martial Solal? Please. (And if you think Monk wasn’t a great pianist, you don’t understand a single thing about his compositions or his playing.)

  24. Don Scott

    September 30, 2015 at 12:20 am

    I think it’s on of the first lists that is pretty good…..I play and little piano and guitar and fancy myself as fairly knowledgeable in guitar, bass and drums……Maybe I know just enough to get into trouble……no one can ever agree on any list……ever. but this one is close without dissecting and nitpicking it to death.

  25. Robbin

    September 30, 2015 at 12:49 am

    Where is Joe Sample, brad mehldau, and Carlos ruvacabla?


      September 30, 2015 at 10:32 am

      Have to agree that these names could fit in there somewhere. I suppose one needs to lay out specific “judgment” criteria too – I personally never believe in “the best muso in the world” stuff – it is Art after all !

    • Hans Bartenstein

      September 30, 2015 at 11:49 am

      You should be familiar with the Spanish language: It is Gonzalo Rubalcaba from Cuba

  26. Daniel

    September 30, 2015 at 1:03 am

    Nice list, but far from perfect! Here are my thoughts:

    BRAD MEHLDAU. The absence of Brad Mehldau is unforgivable – I checked like 10 times to be sure I didn’t just miss him.

    For Fred Hersch I checked 5 times.

    I disagree on Monk ranking so highly, he’s a great composer but not an amazing pianist.

    I wouldn’t know who to place #1, but I’d be choosing between Evans, Mehldau and Jarrett. I feel there’s some distance between those 3 and everyone else since they achieve greater deepness – even drama – in their playing while being as technically profficient as the other great ones. They also seem to find the perfect balance between restraint and expressivity while the others are simply on another level.

    Just below these, in the very next level of sensitivity and deepness, I’d place Fred Hersch, Ahmad Jamal, Michel Petrucciani and Marian McPartland.

    Finally, if we took into account virtuosism (true virtuosism, which involves making it sound clear and perfect) I’d add Hancock, Tatum, Peterson and Corea; Hancock being the one pianist who can get the best SOUND out of a grand piano – he’s absolute perfection playing chords.

    • Michael

      October 28, 2015 at 7:48 am

      Hey Daniel, yours is one of only few comments I could subscribe. Jarrett behind Monk? Never! As you said, the latter was a great composer and surely played an important role in jazz history, but he wasn’t a great pianist.

  27. Chrisrian Brockmeier

    September 30, 2015 at 1:52 am

    Charlie Parker, asked in an interview who would be hs favorite pianists, answered quickly “Al Haig.” The interviewer hesitated a bit obviously waiting for other names. “Some other names? finally he asked. Charlie’s Reply: “AL HAIG!”

    The very underestimated Dave MacKenna could be mentionned here. And Abdullah Ibrahim. And, of the younger generation, Robert Glasper. And, and, and…

    • Kiredeid

      June 29, 2016 at 5:05 pm

      Thanks for that piece of useful knowledge, I’m off exploring this mister Al haig’s world!

    • Joseph Jones

      June 30, 2016 at 8:46 pm

      I wonder if people know just how good Al Haig was

  28. steve robertson

    September 30, 2015 at 2:44 am

    Grusin and James (nice people!) are odd choices. Hill, Cables and Hersch should be higher. And how about Jess Stacy? Both Teddy W and Earl Hines felt he was their equal, and both are rightfully on this list.

  29. Barbara Burke

    September 30, 2015 at 3:00 am

    Not one great jazz piano played by a woman????

    • Joeyjojo Shabadou

      November 9, 2017 at 2:00 am

      I personally think Mary Lou Williams should be somewhere on the list, maybe even Elaine Elias but there are a lot more great male jazz pianists than female. I’m sorry. This is not the case with concert classical pianists.

  30. Percy W walters

    September 30, 2015 at 3:20 am

    No Dave Brubeck, what’s wrong with you people

  31. John Engstrom

    September 30, 2015 at 4:16 am

    Gene Harris? Fred Hersch? Brad Mehldau? Shelly Berg?

    • Gerald Fox

      October 24, 2016 at 3:50 am

      Yes. Where is Gene Harris?

  32. John Roberts

    September 30, 2015 at 4:27 am

    Hmm, didn’t see Kenny Barron there, y’all must not dig that muscular style. And Bill Evans really was the Master of them all.

    • michael wesolek

      June 29, 2016 at 10:10 pm

      there is a more influence on jazz innovation than bill evans . I do have some issues with some on list but the top 5 ( in a different order ) is very good but is debateable in some people.

  33. Skip

    September 30, 2015 at 4:34 am

    Joanne Brackeen should definitely be in the list.

  34. Mary

    September 30, 2015 at 4:51 am

    kenny Barron!

  35. amelia

    September 30, 2015 at 5:00 am

    Dr Billy Taylor, Geri Allen, Johnny Costa, Marian & Mary Lou, Claude Bolling

  36. Johan Ahlgren

    September 30, 2015 at 6:02 am

    Without a doubt I would add Phineas Newborn and Brad Mehldau to that list, and I could easily leave out Bob James and Dave Grusin. And if you go outside of the USA, and you should, you have to mention Abdullah Ibrahim and Jan Johansson.

  37. Laima

    September 30, 2015 at 6:17 am

    Gonzalo Rubalcaba should be on list.

  38. Laima

    September 30, 2015 at 6:18 am

    Gonzalo Rubalcaba should be on list.

  39. Pithy Prolix

    September 30, 2015 at 6:36 am

    Willie “The Lion” Smith is certainly a great oversight. His Commodore recordings are one of the great pinnacles of jazz.

  40. Jason

    September 30, 2015 at 6:56 am

    Great list but where’s Sun Ra?

  41. Bill

    September 30, 2015 at 7:01 am

    Bill Evans
    Diana Krall

  42. Martin Jahn

    September 30, 2015 at 7:31 am

    I’m astonished, that nobody referred Hampton Hawes.

  43. hans oberbanscheidt(OBBY)

    September 30, 2015 at 7:33 am

    bitte angebote in deutscher Sprache

  44. Laima

    September 30, 2015 at 7:39 am

    Gonzalo Rubalcaba should be on list, somewhere near the top. And Brad Mehldau, of course. If the list would be longer, I definitely would add Jimmy Rowles, Bill Charlap and Georgy Szabados.

    • dennis dlore

      September 7, 2017 at 10:15 am

      Hrrsch too

  45. Herman

    September 30, 2015 at 7:47 am

    And what about, f.e. Tete Montuliu?

    • Ned Rodgers

      June 29, 2016 at 11:44 pm

      Thanks Herman. I kept thinking doesn’t anyone know Tete Montoliu? And then I saw your post. I love Tete. He’s head and shoulders more talented than many on the list. And George Gershwin! I was having a drink one evening with Frank Strazerri and he said “George Gershwin could cut me”.

  46. Amun-Re

    September 30, 2015 at 9:31 am

    Eddie Palmieri, Chucho Valdez should be on the list

    • Gymrat

      November 8, 2017 at 4:10 pm

      I think Eddie’s brother, Charlie, would be an even better choice!

  47. harry

    September 30, 2015 at 9:56 am

    nina simone

  48. Russ Kassoff

    September 30, 2015 at 11:09 am

    Lists are silly. You can always make the case for any of these folks but as time goes on people forget the greats of a somewhat earlier day. Dave McKenna and Marian McPartland would certainly make my top 36 and it’s tough for me to exclude them in the top 20, Dave definitely in the top ten.

  49. Elias

    September 30, 2015 at 11:34 am

    Nat Cole, Lenny Tristano?

  50. Jon

    September 30, 2015 at 4:53 pm

    No women! WTF. No Mary Lou Williams?

  51. cisneros

    September 30, 2015 at 6:35 pm

    such a list is a nice provocation…simply to recall all who are mentioned justifies the exercise. however, I feel that the inclusion of lyle mays, dave gruisin and bob james can not be justified next to the exclusion of Sun Ra, Paul Bley, Tete Monteliu and Lennie Tristano. Duke should be in the top ten…wish he had recorded a solo album…

    • mike merrington

      October 24, 2016 at 3:31 pm

      Money jungle with minus and roach

  52. HEVF

    September 30, 2015 at 8:05 pm

    I disagree with the order of the entire list with the exception of Art Tatum. An I would move Bill Evans to #2 in front of Monk.

    The next time a poll like this is conducted, it should be taken among all the living jazz pianists. I mean Brubeck should be in the top 5, and Dave Grusin in the top 10 just based on the contribution they have made to jazz over the years. Other than that, might as well throw darts.

  53. Scott

    September 30, 2015 at 10:54 pm

    No Harry Conick Jr.?

  54. Brian Horn

    September 30, 2015 at 10:59 pm

    How this list can omit John Lewis, proves a point I always make that he is/was the most under rated pianist there is.. He was there at the start of modern jazz with Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis etc. I rate him up with Monk and far better than Art Tatum in his jazz input. As for Dave Brubeck, I like him but wouldn’t rate him at 16. Whats the reason for his omission. It’s beyond me!!!

  55. Richard

    September 30, 2015 at 11:36 pm

    Chucho Valdez.

    How does one compare pianists with different styles? Monk could have played like Tatum. Rather the genius opted to define his own style that fitted his original compositions and his improvisations. After a while, I find Tatum’s piano runs boring when compared to Monk’s dissonant notes and spacing.

  56. Jack Spencer

    October 3, 2015 at 8:14 pm

    And the arguing goes on! If that surprises anyone. Look, they’re all great, even the one you thought should be higher, or lower on the list.

  57. Shelody

    October 3, 2015 at 9:28 pm

    I think these lists are made up to include aspirants so when their agents or publicists are spinning they can through out the bomb ‘…they’ve been included in the Best Of …List’ and to wannabe enthusiasts it is the ultimate and for the lovers it’s a crime of omission. (yeah, McPartland, Dearie and Les McCann should NOT have been supplanted by anyone) Hell, even Jose Iturbi was a better jazz pianist than some of these listees.

  58. Michael Sturgulewski

    October 3, 2015 at 10:42 pm

    My interest is in most classical piano but admire jazz pianists who possess a solid thorough technique AND play with something resembling a pleasant singing tone. I have no use for the percussive style virtually devoid of dynamics that many exhibit. I agree with a couple of dozen on the list, but I would have thought that Maryanne McPartland deserved an entry somewhere. I agree with the guy who thought Iturbi was a better jazz pianists than many on this list.

  59. MJBonner

    October 4, 2015 at 1:18 am

    Wow -as a Jazz piano lover I could care less about the order, though it might be nice to see a list of living piano players. You should see the list I put together with the additional pianist mentioned in the comments here. My list is at 90 players, some of whom I have not heard before. I will enjoy the ride of just listening and enjoying…

  60. Paul

    October 4, 2015 at 3:05 am

    Scott Joplin is on this list. Hmmm, has anyone ever actually heard Scott Joplin play?? No, is the answer. How laughable is this list.

    • Joeyjojo Shabadou

      November 9, 2017 at 2:02 am

      Scott Joplin made about 6 hand played piano rolls, including a composition by W.C Handy but he certainly should not be on this list. He wasn’t a jazz pianist and he was more of a composer than a performer anyways.

  61. daniel

    October 4, 2015 at 7:05 am

    Lamont Jhonson,Rubalcaba,Phineas Newborn Jr.,

  62. Werner

    October 4, 2015 at 10:51 am

    Great artists- but I miss Erroll Garner !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  63. Marko

    October 4, 2015 at 5:44 pm

    A great list, but as many people already said, loads of pretty good pianists are missing! Gil Evans?

  64. Jim Knapp

    October 4, 2015 at 7:08 pm

    I’ll second the nominations of Jimmy Rowles, and even stronger, Hampton Hawes. The biggest selling Jazz LP in ’56 was Andre Previn & Shelly Mann’s “My Fair Lady”. Andre was a young European hanging around LA at the time. Listen to Andre’s chops and then listen to Hampton Hawes. One guess where Previn got his inspiration!!

  65. Eduard Paul

    October 4, 2015 at 9:47 pm

    There are so many great Jazz Pianists!!!! They cannot possibly all fit in a list of 36 musicians!!! I guess the first 36 pianists are some of the best! That’s the way to see it !

  66. Peter Allen

    October 5, 2015 at 2:20 pm

    Jessica Williams. Who? ‘The best unknown jazz piano player’

  67. Terry Hall

    October 7, 2015 at 12:28 am

    For me there is Art Tatum, Oscar Peterson and then everybody else.

  68. Richard Leigh

    October 23, 2015 at 8:33 pm

    Lists are a good way of focusing the mind, by making us consider who else could be there. I’d include Herbie Nichols, Richard Twardzik

    I’d include Richard Twardzik, Herbie Nichols, Mal Waldron, and of course the great Curley Kale, who died young (pre-natally, in fact), but would surely have been the best if he’d only survived long enough to get on record. He’s up there with George Hedges, another forgotten legend who never got to play with anyone at all. And what ***********headed moron is responsible for including the ham-fisted and unoriginal ……….

  69. Mike W

    October 24, 2015 at 2:55 pm

    Don Pullen!

  70. Manuel

    October 26, 2015 at 1:59 am

    Duke Ellington! He may not have been the virtuoso that Tatum was (Monk wasn’t either), but being the greatest jazz composer and orchestrator, he had developed what every classical pianist craves for and not always reaches: an endless pallette of pianistic colors. What makes a great pianist, in any style of music, is not how fast or how many notes he can play, but his ability to develop the richest variety of colors. That’s the real big challenge the piano presents.

  71. moshe ron

    October 26, 2015 at 5:12 am

    Must agree with some of the preceding comments: Mary Lou Williams, John Lewis, Paul Bley, Randy Weston, Jessica Williams not there, but the likes of Bob James, Dave Grusin and even Lyle Mays not only figure, but rank above Andrew Hill!
    I say: No way Jose!

  72. Marinella

    October 26, 2015 at 3:55 pm

    Brad Mehldau

  73. João Pedro

    October 26, 2015 at 4:00 pm

    Errol Garner?

  74. Alexander Alabin

    October 26, 2015 at 5:24 pm

    Danny Zeitlin? Clare Fischer? Marian McPartland? Sir Roland Hanna?

  75. Emery Dora

    October 26, 2015 at 9:27 pm

    What about Gonzalo Rubalcaba?

  76. Rodeobo

    October 26, 2015 at 11:33 pm

    Awesome list! I’d have moved Dave Brubeck up the list a bit as he was the first Jazz artist to really help Jazz get into the main stream by aggressively touring the college circuit in the 50’s and popularizing Jazz with the younger crowds. Also… a very important point, he and his band, “The Dave Brubeck Quartet” were the first ones to really compose, promote, and perform very difficult and amazing time signatures that were very progressive for that time. Paul Desmond, Eugene Wright, and Joe Morello, members of the quartet, were progressive too, with Joe really embracing the bizarre time signatures they’d use. Take Five is consistently regarded as the greatest Jazz tune of all time by many. Dave was also the second Jazz artist to be on the cover of Time Magazine, only second to the venerable Louis Armstrong.

  77. Sam

    October 27, 2015 at 7:26 am

    Richie Beirach???
    Clare Fischer???
    J.P. Johnson?
    Donald Lambert?

    Wtf ppl???

    At least Art is no1, but Oscar, Bud and Bill should be 2,3,4…

  78. Dan

    October 27, 2015 at 11:16 am

    1. Bill Evans
    2. …
    3. …
    4. …

  79. Harald Mikulla

    October 27, 2015 at 3:47 pm

    Ein persönlicher Favorit von mir ist Alan Broadbent!

  80. michael

    October 27, 2015 at 8:43 pm

    oscar peterson ?????

  81. Cochise Heffelfinger

    October 31, 2015 at 9:21 pm

    Mose Allison

  82. Evan Ginzburg

    January 15, 2016 at 12:17 pm

    Lists are worthless when they leave out folk like this: Where’s Sun Ra who was far more influential and certainly more entertaining than the vast amount of folk on this list. Barry Harris? Nina Simone on keys as great a pure pianist as anyone? Billy Taylor? Randy Weston? DON PULLEN who played until his fingers bled? He doesn’t deserve a top 36 spot!?

  83. Antoine Devine

    January 15, 2016 at 6:26 pm

    Michel Camillo. Had people cheering and crying at the 2003 Monterey Jazz Festival.

  84. Alex

    January 15, 2016 at 6:42 pm

    where is Alan Broadbent, Milgrew Miller, Brad Mehldau?

  85. Phil Richards

    January 15, 2016 at 8:13 pm

    Mary Lou Williams didn’t make the cut? Really? Eldar Djangirov?

  86. Gustavo Lopes

    January 15, 2016 at 10:05 pm

    Oscar Peterson? Há outros e bem melhores!!!

  87. Michael

    January 16, 2016 at 3:03 am

    What about Brad Mehldau or Vijay Iyer?

  88. H Daniel Mujahid

    January 16, 2016 at 5:36 am

    I really think this is difficult work. Nevertheless, we must find a way to include several outstanding persons not on the list, in my order of priority they are: Johnny O’neal, Phineas Newborn Jr, Terry Pollard and Mulgrew Miller.

  89. H Daniel Mujahid

    January 16, 2016 at 5:38 am

    I really think this is difficult work. Nevertheless, we must find a way to include several outstanding persons not on the list, in my order of priority they are: Johnny O’neal, Phineas Newborn Jr, Terry Pollard and Mulgrew Miller. In time, Benny Green will need to be on the list as well.

  90. Shecky

    January 16, 2016 at 4:03 pm

    No list is complete without Vince Guaraldi, Monty Alexander, John Beasley and Nat King Cole

  91. Keis Ohtsuka

    April 25, 2016 at 2:17 am

    Why 36 men?

  92. lutzSTÖHR

    May 5, 2016 at 8:53 am

    The best of all Jazz Pianist ist Keith Jarrett!
    In the combination of musical technique und being a great composer.

  93. JFSC3

    May 13, 2016 at 12:49 am

    Great list. WK is top ten for me. But the big name often overlooked is Sonny Clark – unmatched feel. Sonny is a “musician’s musician” – he would rank higher if this were polled from a sample only consisting of jazz pianists.

  94. stranger

    June 2, 2016 at 3:00 am

    Erroll Garner is a forgotten genius, should be placed at no.1 or no.2, his playing range was so wild and his style was so distinctive, his musical ability is outstanding. he was left handed and ambidextrous, he often fuses classical elements into his improvisation, this man really revolutionized jazz piano ,the no.10 Ahmad Jamal said Erroll Garner and Maurice Ravel were the supreme melodists of the 20th century, most of these top jazz pianists list will always be like art tatum- herbie hancock-bill evans so and so, I mean they are good, but people need to listen to more music.

  95. Amano Khambata

    June 29, 2016 at 11:06 am

    1. Keith Jarrett & Chick Corea
    2. Ketil Bjornstadt
    3. Ahmad Jamal
    4. Joe Zawinul
    5. Herbie Hancock
    6. Claude Bolling
    7. Mc Coy Tyner
    8. Hiromi
    9. Oscar Peterson
    10. Gonzalo Rubalcaba
    ( These are the pianists who define jazz today. The contributions of Duke Ellington, Nat KIng Cole, Scott Joplin, Dave Brubeck, Art Tatum , Brad Mehldau , Nina Simone, Gil Evans, Michel Legrand & Jelly Roll Morton cannot be overestimated )

  96. Kjeld Madsen

    June 29, 2016 at 1:24 pm

    You forgot Kenny Drew and Cecil Tayler should have had a higher range. And Scott Joplin on the list? Lists are silly.

  97. Kool2bbop

    June 29, 2016 at 3:35 pm

    Gene Harris should be among the best 10!!!

  98. Jaguar

    June 29, 2016 at 8:44 pm

    Being an Old Cool Cat, I think that it is difficult to choose the top 50 let alone 36!
    I have seen live Count Basie, Duke Ellington with their Bands, Earl “Fatha” Hines (Solo).
    Jacques Loussier, John Lewis, Dave Brubeck, Oscar Petersen with their groups. Also worth a mention was Joshua Riffkin playing Scott Joplin. Diana Kroll mentioned by others continues to grow in stature, and should make the top 50. Live for me the Number One spot has to be Earl “Fatha” Hines, I stood behind him, within touching distance, at a Jazz Club in the UK whilst he played “All night long”, (sorry Lionel), thrilling the Club Cats in the 60’s. Old hands playing very sweet music..

  99. Charlie West

    June 29, 2016 at 8:48 pm

    Jessica Williams is not well known by most jazz lovers (though she has released dozens of excellent CDs: She is much admired by jazz pianists and the few jazz radio stations that still exist (e. g., KCSM). I think she should have made the list.

  100. Joe Wilson

    June 29, 2016 at 9:10 pm

    Thelonius Monk?? What? Not one of the 36 Best?

  101. Ned Rodgers

    June 29, 2016 at 11:46 pm

    Tete Montoliu belongs very high on the list.

  102. Pete Muller

    June 29, 2016 at 11:48 pm

    It’s a great list, but I’m willing to bet that every time you poll the same people you’d end up with different results. No one has a timeless list of The Greatest. For instance we could compile a list of the best percussive players the list would completely change — if you get my drift.

  103. Robert McKenzie

    June 29, 2016 at 11:49 pm

    Gone but not forgotten is Nat ” king ” Cole, accomplished jazz pianist before his voice overcame the ” 88 .”

  104. Sam

    June 30, 2016 at 12:28 am

    Kenny Barron and Cedar Walton!!!!!!!!!!

  105. ray

    June 30, 2016 at 1:18 am

    Alan Broadbent, Aaron Diehl, Hiromi,
    there are so many out there. A list of the ten greats certainly would include
    Tatum, Evans, Bud Powell. Shearing, Oscar, Michele Le Grand ( for the few of us who have heard him live).
    Bill Charlap deserves recognition. Monk is in the Pantheon, not for his playing, but for the totality that he brings to the genre

  106. Joethefish

    June 30, 2016 at 1:37 am

    No Linus?

  107. Sheri

    June 30, 2016 at 3:58 am

    Bill Evans is my number 1. And Shirley Horn should be on the list.

  108. Sheri

    June 30, 2016 at 4:00 am

    Brad Mehldau is wonderful also.

  109. John T. Wilkinson

    June 30, 2016 at 7:19 am

    I want to add Stevie Wonder… yeah… he’s not be bopping or doing fancy jazz rifts… but no one can play like him nor can anyone have thought of the insanely beautiful and complex phrasing. And quite frankly I tire of “patterns” that a few of the persons above play over and over and over and over… regardless of how technically difficult they are to execute.

  110. Gary Gardner

    June 30, 2016 at 8:05 am

    Where’s Dave Brubeck and Nat King Cole? They surely must be up there with the best. Brubeck was one of the most innovative pianists of his time. Nat king Cole was a jazz pianist before he became a singer. So please give credit where credit is due.

  111. edu iglesia

    June 30, 2016 at 9:51 am

    1.- Bill Evans
    2.- Keith Jarrett
    3.- Oscar Peterson

  112. Dan Waldis

    June 30, 2016 at 10:36 am

    I think there are two important ones missing. First, Lennie Tristano had a bigger influence on jazz piano than most people think about. Tristano contributed some extremely interesting rhythmic perspectives.

    Secondly, Clare Fischer had a huge influence, and no one (as far as I could see) has mentioned him. Herbie Hancock, several times during interviews, has given Clare credit for a significant part of his harmonic knowledge. Clare’s vocal arrangements were unique, beginning with the Hi-Lo’s. :And he used all that harmonic knowledge in his playing.

    • Dan Waldis

      June 30, 2016 at 10:42 am

      Ok, I take it back. Two other people mentioned Clare Fischer. My faith is restored! 🙂

  113. Dan Waldis

    June 30, 2016 at 10:37 am

    And the list has 36 pianists because there are 36 black keys on the piano? Oh good lord… 🙂

  114. Bruce Colman

    June 30, 2016 at 2:32 pm

    Hank Jones much, much higher…and I’m the biggest Basie fan you can imagine, but don’t believe as a PLAYER he rates with players who were or are featured in trios and quartets…as some have said, Mary Lou Williams should be in here.

  115. Bruce Colman

    June 30, 2016 at 2:35 pm

    does anyone think Herbie should be moved lower for inflicting “Watermelon Man” on the world–and still playing it in public in the 20-teens? (but he IS one of the great interviews, commentators, raps, talkers in the jazz world…and, in the 1960s, helped direct where the music would go.)

  116. Phil Levering

    June 30, 2016 at 4:57 pm

    My top ten list would definitely include Kenny Barron. And Bill Charlap, in the top 36.

  117. Keith Dubois

    July 1, 2016 at 5:42 pm

    Wow, Bill Evans before Oscar Peterson. Even Bill wouldn’t agree with that. Certainly Fats Waller should have been further up the list, and what about James P. Johnson, who’s name should have gone above Waller’s. There’s also seminal figure Jelly Roll Morton, flamboyant nemesis of Jame P. Speaking of nemesis about how could you forget Donald Lambert one of Art Tatum’s rivals, I know a little to obscure for you. How was Phineas Newborn, adversary of Oscar Peterson left of the list, or Al Haig or Lenny Tristano, or Clyde Hart or Kenny Drew., just to name a few. Hampton Hawes is another deserving pianist who both Art Tatum and Oscar Peterson admired so greatly. Why is Bud Powell rated so low when most pianist during his time “and much later” tried to emulate him.? How Nat King Cole was left out boggles the mind, he was only crucial in developing the Jazz trio, a format that made Bill Evans and so many others so popular.

    • Rolf Westerberg

      August 1, 2016 at 6:08 pm

      Bill Evans is the greatest of all jazzpinaist.Oscar Petersson as you mentionedmissused his tecnical ability.and his playing sterotype and you could foresight until boring.what happens.Bill evans had an nusicality creativity and a deep the is unmatched by any player.His beautifully sound and inovativ chord and sofisticated rythm was outstanding.He manged to allways play with such an high level despite his drug problem.He was a genious that contributed to the music as the great classical composers

  118. Tom Randall

    July 11, 2016 at 3:21 pm

    Lenny Tristano? Oh, I know. Lenny Tristano! How about Lenny Tristano? Or Dave McKenna. Don Shirley? Not sure what category he goes in. Nat King Cole was marvelous.
    And now heresy time. Tatum’s technique was phenomenal. Second to none. But his playing is mechanical and soulless. After hearing a few songs I just want to move on to someone with with some heart in their playing. I’d listen to just about anyone else on the list before Tatum.

  119. Mikol Shane

    August 21, 2016 at 1:08 pm

    The top 10 is MINT……….JIMMY SMITH is a HUGE oversight, though. “The Sermon”was a game changer.

  120. John Preece

    September 9, 2016 at 11:04 am

    Lists are always subjective, I rate McPartland Peterson and Waller very highly. McPartland because apart from her undoubted talent she was very gracious when I spoke to her between sets at the Hickory House. At 88 yrs I have heard most of the musicians on the various lists. I told Benny Green that so much of the music around the 60’s was musicians music, he told me how difficult a particular note was, but hey, I just like the sound . By the way nobody has mentioned George Zack, his contribution to Muggsies Someday Sweetheart and others really pleased me.
    While beauty is in the eye of the beholder, everyone hears beautiful music as it appeals to their ear.

  121. Paul Alsing

    October 16, 2016 at 4:28 am

    I can’t believe that Dorothy Donegan has not been mentioned at all! This amazing musician has got to be the most overlooked jazz pianist of all time!

  122. James D'Olimpio

    October 23, 2016 at 4:44 pm

    Agree with many comments,especially Marion MacPartland. and Vince Guaraldi.And did I miss Dr Billy Taylor?What about George Gershwin? And Nat Cole ? The list goes on ,doesnt it?

  123. Pete Meyer

    October 23, 2016 at 7:23 pm

    Can’t believe no one is mentioning Kenny Barron.


    October 24, 2016 at 12:34 am

    I can”t believe no one mentioned PHINEAS NEWBORN JR.!

  125. bakasha

    October 24, 2016 at 3:47 am

    YOU MUST be CRAZY!!!!
    NO CHUCHO VALDES!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Between Chucho and Art Tatum a toss up as #1..2-3 Oscar

  126. charlie

    October 24, 2016 at 9:40 am

    I would have included John Lewis and everybody has their own list but this is YOUR list so there should be no criticism at all. Nobody can make a favorite list for someone else. If you made this list top 100 there would still be people with their favorites not on it. You explained that in the beginning so there should be no complaining. I did pick up a few names that I will make an effort to find for my own listening pleasure.

  127. DAN CELLI

    January 5, 2017 at 11:57 pm

    Johnny Costa is comparable to Art Tatum. I don’t see him on the list, maybe he’s 37 and there isn’t any room for him.Some pianist’s here are GOOD but not great. Costa Is GREAT. Check out his FLYING FINGER”S CD. DAN CELLI.

  128. Ben Shaw

    February 11, 2017 at 6:27 pm

    From the early 30’s to the late 40’s boogie woogie was a commercial force in jazz. My list:
    1. Meade Lux Lewis
    2. Pete Johnson
    3. Albert Ammons
    4. Jimmy Yancey
    5. Mary Lou Williams
    6. Freddie Slack
    7.Alan Toussant
    8.Pinetop Smith
    9. Hazel Scott
    10. Art Hodes

  129. RICK

    February 11, 2017 at 7:36 pm

    Erroll Garner, Dave Brubeck, “Count” Basie, “Fats ” Waller & “Duke” Ellington not in the top ten….”SCANDALOUS” ! Who conducted this survey ? A bunch of rock musicians ?????

  130. Bill

    February 11, 2017 at 7:58 pm

    You made an attempt that is insurmountalble for each have left an indubitable mark on jazz from Tatum to Evans to Brubeck to Jamal………but Chick……come on.

  131. JBs

    February 11, 2017 at 8:28 pm

    Ahmad Jamal’s The Awakening solidifies his spot as one of the best pianists of all time, if not the greatest.

  132. frank nuciforo

    February 11, 2017 at 9:06 pm

    No Kenny Barron but you have that crackpot Keith Jarrett on this list?…… Please……

  133. Peter Calascione

    February 12, 2017 at 12:30 am

    As with all harmonic instruments (and probably even melodic ones) there are so many elements in playing them). Probably, the pianoforte is the most complex in terms of expression – so I am quite unsure about the validity of “the greatest piano player”. Greatest how; for what?
    There are a few names missing on your list, such as Vince Guaraldi, Russ Freeman, Dudley Moore, Egberto Gismonti, Claude Bolling; each of these have special talents that deserve mention.
    In short, I suggest you might devise a poll based on categories – such as as harmonic creativity, melodic creativity, originality, interpretation, composition and form building, playing technique, influence on other musicians etc etc

  134. BrooklynG

    February 12, 2017 at 12:41 am

    I love Monk, but respectfully disagree about placing him at #2. As Leonard Feather wrote in The Encyclopedia of Jazz when ranking pianists, Monk’s influence was primarily as a composer and a leader, not an instrumentalist.

  135. Peter Calascione

    February 12, 2017 at 12:42 am

    Further to my earlier comment:

    If there is one piano player who, in my opinion, comes out tops in all categories it has to be
    the astounding Bill Evans.
    OK – Keith Jarrett a close second; Art Tatum for playing technique; Erroll Garner for sheer swing;
    Michel Petrucciani for lyrical style; Thelonious Monk for innovation – but there’s more, of course,
    and Oscar Peterson has had his moments (Blues for the Prairies, Hogtown Blues etc) – his rubato is pretty good too.

  136. Jay Nelson

    February 12, 2017 at 12:43 am

    1 Bill Evans
    2 Thelonious Monk
    3 Ahmad Jamal
    4 Dave Brubeck
    5 Oscar Peterson
    6 Red Garland
    7 Bud Powell
    8 Keith Jarrett
    9 Art Tatum
    10 Chick Corea
    11 Duke Ellington
    12 Fats Waller
    13 Count Basie
    14 Earl Hines
    15 Jelly Roll Morton
    16 Herbie Hancock
    17 Vince Guaraldi
    18 Tommy Flanagan
    19 McCoy Tyner
    20 Horace Silver
    21 Teddy Wilson
    22 Joe Zawinul
    23 George Shearing
    24 Bob James
    25 Kenny Kirkland
    26 James P Johnson
    27 Wynton Kelly
    28 Ramsey Lewis
    29 Scott Joplin
    30 Hank Jones
    31 Michel Petrucciani
    32 Sonny Clark
    33 Lyle Mays
    34 Cecil Taylor
    35 Dave Grusin

  137. Gilad

    February 12, 2017 at 1:02 am

    First of all, there is a severe under-representation of brilliant, young pianists: Hiromi, Jason Moran, Robert Glasper, Brad Mehldau, Fabian Almazan, Bill Laurance, Cory Henry, James Francies, Tigran Hamasyan, perhaps even the Wunderkind Joey Alexander. And from the older (but still highly active!) one should mention Eliane Elias, Chucho Valdes, Uri Caine. The problem with lists like this is that they draw a stagnant picture of a very vibrant art. Jazz is not a relic, it’s alive and kicking (and in new directions!).

  138. Pål Westerbeek

    February 12, 2017 at 1:24 am

    Let’s take the white keys on the piano too? Plenty more good jazzpianists! I give you two european pianists: Jan Johansson, Sweden and Louis van Dyke from Holland.

  139. Pål Westerbeek

    February 12, 2017 at 1:24 am

    Let’s take the white keys on the piano too? Plenty more good jazzpianists! I give you two european pianists: Jan Johansson, Sweden and Louis van Dyke from Holland.

  140. Ignacio buhacoff

    February 12, 2017 at 2:13 am

    Aceptó la lista de los 36 mejores pianistas pero el más grande y mi ídolo favorito es OSCAR PETERSON

  141. Ben

    February 12, 2017 at 3:34 am

    Art Tatum definitely #1. I would not put Monk at #2. Also, McCoy should be higher ranking than #6. Maybe swap with Monk…
    But, still a pretty good list of all the greats I know of. Thank you!

  142. Charles Dawkins

    February 13, 2017 at 2:58 pm

    And what about Hadda Brooks?

  143. joseph cavano

    February 15, 2017 at 7:09 am

    Of course then there is Erroll Garner. Downgraded by some because he was accepted by the unwashed masse and not given to pontification about the very real profound nature of jazz, he is hardly to blame that playing piano came so effortlessly to him or that he always believed audiences should be entertained. Hell, he was playing the most complex chords and rhythmns long before self-described experts got around to giving them names.
    Sometimes I think Garner was not human. It was as if in some deep, dismal basement some music happy monster of an inventor asembled all those traits needed to master the piano and placed them inside the Elf’s five foot two frame. Garner’s ear for music was legendary. He did not have to rely on playing set riffs and pretending it was improvisation. He merely heard a song in his head and made up the new melody using that tune alone. As to rhythmn, as they say in NY,” Forget about it”. He was completely ambidextrous and playing three against fours etc ( a horror to most human pianists) was like taking candy from a baby to him. He swung like no other. Check out Ellington’s and Juan Tizol’s Caravan if you want to see what it is like to muscially pat your head and rub your stomach at the same time.
    Sure some of the more obvious and elememtary things he did on piano could be imitated by lesser pianists. Taken as a whole , however, I doub t there has ever been as spontaneously creative a pianist as Erroll Garner.
    Some scientists claim if you put a monkey at a typewriter and gave him 100,000 years or so, he would eventually write MacBeth or Romeo and Juliet.
    I’m pretty confident it will be just as long before we have another Erroll Garner.

  144. Edward L Glassner

    February 15, 2017 at 7:21 pm

    All men? No Mary Lou Williams, Geri Allen, Renee Rosnos, Marian McPartland …

  145. somedrunkbloke

    February 17, 2017 at 6:39 pm

    You forgot to include Mal Waldron and Paul Bley.

    1 Thelonious Monk
    2 Andrew Hill
    3 McCoy Tyner
    4 Mal Waldron
    5 Paul Bley
    6 Cecil Taylor
    7 Every other jazz pianist

  146. somedrunkbloke

    February 17, 2017 at 6:47 pm

    @anyone that hasn’t heard Mal Waldron – First Encounter yet, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

  147. ypsi-slim

    February 23, 2017 at 5:00 pm

    C’mon people – waht about Barry Harris?

  148. Thaddeus Lovelock

    March 6, 2017 at 11:22 am

    What about Herbie Nichols and Kenny Drew, both of them brilliant pianists.

  149. Thaddeus Lovelock

    April 13, 2017 at 3:20 pm

    I enjoy Monk’s music but I wouldn’t put him at number two. Probably top ten. There were better pure piano players. But Art definitely deserves to be number one.

  150. Red Daddio

    April 22, 2017 at 6:35 pm

    Lists such as these are never definitive but are made to be debated and argued; to think of them in any other way is pointless. My take-away is we can enjoy live music from several ‘all-time’ greats – Ahmad, Chick, Keith, McCoy, Herbie –whether they are Top 10 or not is irrelevant.

  151. Michael Chesler

    April 23, 2017 at 4:47 pm

    Alexander Von Schlippenbach, Aki Takase, Marilyn Crispell, Paul Bley, Joel Futterman, Connie Crothers, Stanley Cowell, Sun Ra, Fred Van Hove, Mal Waldron, Misha Mengelberg, Don Pullen, Alice Coltrane and so many more. AND WHEN WILL MOSAIC MOVE FORWARD WITH ANY OF THESE ARTISTS, PLEASE??? Can we move beyond the Count Basie, Benny Goodman, The 1940’s-50’s and at least start looking at free jazz in a meaningful way? Ok, you gave us a Braxton and Threadgill set..MORE???

  152. Bob Matthews

    April 23, 2017 at 5:29 pm

    Another vote for Al Haig.
    Al Haig was Bud Powell’s favorite pianist. “He’s my idea of a perfect pianist.”

  153. Martin Davidson

    April 23, 2017 at 5:51 pm

    My top 14 jazz pianists in alphabetical order, based on 60 years of listening:
    Paul Bley
    Eddie Costa
    Hasaan Ibn Ali
    Earl Hines
    James P Johnson
    Thelonious Monk
    Jelly Roll Morton
    Herbie Nichols
    Bud Powell
    Art Tatum
    Cecil Taylor
    Stan Tracey
    Lennie Tristano
    Richard Twardzik

  154. John Burton

    April 23, 2017 at 6:15 pm

    How about the five best who are not on the list:

    Lennie Tristan
    Dick Twardsik
    Phineas Newborn
    Kenny Drew
    Kenny Barron

  155. Jim Millett

    April 23, 2017 at 7:50 pm

    Have never really understood the Art Tatum worship. He had a flashy technique with all those runs and arpeggios, but I’ve never heard him swing. A list like this is never going to please anyone. A brilliant musician like Marian McPartland being left off is inexcusable. And no Billy Taylor? Anyway, the list is an interesting exercise because it makes one think.

  156. Michael von Winterfeldt

    April 23, 2017 at 9:36 pm

    first, it is totally wrong to make up a “Top Ten List” of pianists, jazz or classical. Pianists are musicians and musicians are artists and not marathon runners, tennis players or race car drivers.
    Second, nobody remembers Mel Powell and Johnny Guarnieri? The list should be extended to at least 88 names without ranking them. Pianists as any other professional musician are certainly competing with their art yet not for being ranked but for getting loved, respected, and paid well for their performances!

  157. Donald Julian

    April 23, 2017 at 10:05 pm

    Don Shirley And the great Marian!

  158. Elliot

    April 24, 2017 at 12:58 am

    Phineas Newborn -John Lewis-Billy Strayhorn -should be in the top 10 – 15.
    Oscar Peterson number 2 after Art Tatum.
    I am glad that The Count and the Duke are in the top. It seems that they get forgotten as pianists
    Piano has so many fantastic players that for me I have a huge amount of favorites.
    Oh yea don’t forget Bobby Timmons!!!!!

  159. Sanford Josephson

    April 24, 2017 at 2:03 am

    Any list without Billy Taylor has no credibility. Would also have included Bobby Timmons, Marian McPartland, Mary Lou Williams, Dick Hyman, Bill Charlap. To me, Keith Jarrett is very overrated.

  160. Axel Melhardt

    April 24, 2017 at 7:54 am

    It is wonderful that so many fans discuss the pianist-list – JAZZ IS ALIVE!!!!!

  161. Dirk Meijer

    April 24, 2017 at 11:56 am

    Myra Melford is missing, and yes Diana Krall belongs there. She has listen very good to Gene Harris, but nevertheless, “Live in Paris” proves she is a very good piano player. Mulgrew Miller needs to be in there definitively. Fred Hersch is missing.

  162. Elliot

    April 25, 2017 at 3:54 am

    Kenny Barron-Mal Waldron-Dick Hyman -Alan Broadbent-Jess Stacy–Marian McPartland
    Roger Kellaway-Ray Bryant – etc etc etc
    I bet jazz lovers could come with a 100’s of great pianists but of course the one’s at the top
    won’t change it just the way it is.
    We are all very lucky and should be grateful for so much great music!!!

  163. Dr Paul Winson

    April 26, 2017 at 5:34 pm

    Al Haig – A master jazz pianist
    Acknowledged by the inventors of modern jazz, Charlie Parker and Bud Powell -and Stan Getz – as their first choice
    A beautiful filigree touch, consistent and even fingering, and excellent pedalling
    Swings effortlessly at any tempo, never thumps the instrument, as do inferior pianists . Unparalled accompanying for horns and singers
    Created and delightful improvisations that remain engaged with the melody but are always resolved at conclusion
    For more insight on the man and insight into his music, see ‘The Death of A Bebop Wife’ Grange Rutan for further insighet into Haig

    • Virginia

      September 8, 2017 at 7:48 pm

      Stan Getz didn’t play the piano, did he?

  164. JohnE

    April 27, 2017 at 4:09 am

    Disappointing to see that no one has mentioned Satoko Fujii so far. Extraordinarily versatile, and a composer/arranger as well as a piano player.

  165. Chris

    April 29, 2017 at 8:26 pm

    Jaki Byard is a most obvious ommission.

  166. Bill Cox

    May 18, 2017 at 11:54 pm

    Agree with most of the picks, but Gene Harris and Beegie Adair should have been included.

  167. ed

    June 20, 2017 at 10:30 pm

    so cheesy to make a list, moreso when it has to nod to the commercial stars of the recent era. sad!

  168. John R

    June 22, 2017 at 12:31 am

    I agree with the many serious ommissions mentioned by others. First and foremost, Phineas Newborn Jr. When Memphis musicians and friends of Newborn first heard players like Bud Powell, they were not impressed because anything Bud did, Newborn could do more easily. He was described by Leonard Feather in the 1950’s as the greatest American born pianist of his day (after Art died).

    I also am shocked that there are no women on this list. Any of these women in my opinion were superior to several names on this list: Marian McPartland, Mary Lou Williams, Joanne Brackeen, Renee Rosnes, Eliane Elias, Geri Allen, Jessica Williams, Hiromi, and a few others.

    Also some pianists from outside the U.S. have to be given serious consideration: Gonzalo Rubalcaba (unbelievable chops and ideas), Eldar Djangirov (I heard and hung out with him when he was still in his teens–made me want to quit playing), Tete Montoliu, Bobby Enriquez (amazing Filipino pianist not mentioned once in this thread), Adam Makowicz (from Poland–I also saw him live and hung out with him. Not mentioned by anyone in this thread), Marian Petrescu (unbelievable), Michel Camilo.

    Yes let’s expand this to 88 pianists and not rank them.

  169. Dan

    July 7, 2017 at 2:57 am

    Uh…Lennie Tristano….where is he?

  170. Olav

    July 8, 2017 at 11:14 am

    “So just who are the greatest jazz pianists?”
    The question is ridiculous, because it is impossible to answer.
    How to compare Oscar Peterson and Thelonious Monk?!

  171. John

    July 14, 2017 at 11:19 am

    It is actually not a bad list. Of course, there has to be an element of subjectivity and many of the pianists who didn’t make the list could have been there. Oscar Peterson is much too high for my taste. While Herbie Hancock and McCoy Tyner certainly deserve to be there, they should not be in front of Bud Powell.

  172. Maurice Gawronsky

    July 14, 2017 at 12:30 pm

    Throughout my musical career my favourite pianists were Wynton Kelley Oscar Peterson and Bill Evans

  173. Pete M

    July 14, 2017 at 1:59 pm

    There is an alternative top 100 list over at I think it was please some of you (and it includes 3 females in the top 36.) That list is voted on by average joes and jills. Be careful with actually trying to join Ranker, though. Two of their “log in” sites told me the site was not secure.

  174. mark borowsky

    July 14, 2017 at 2:47 pm

    I am impressed that Art Tatum is number one ( no argument here ), and that Fats Waller and James P. Johnson made the lst, although they should both be much higher. Tough to include Joplin, who, although he was a great composer, and, arguably the first , left no recordings, save for his ( no doubt edited ) piano roll of Maple Leaf Rag.

  175. David Norum

    July 14, 2017 at 3:31 pm

    As one of the great Monk fans of all-time, owning every single one of his recordings (okay not the very latest film music release yet, but until then) having an all-Monk ensemble in college that I arranged 35 of his comps for, and my primary influence as a jazz pianist, to rank him #2 jazz pianist is crazy. If you take into account his composing and his position as a pioneer of bebop he should certainly be near the top but as pianist solely, not #2, really not Top 10. As far a people who were left off the list Jessica WIlliams (another Monk aficionado) deserves a serious consideration.

  176. David Norum

    July 14, 2017 at 3:39 pm

    Anyone else own the album Mingus Plays Piano? There is some terrific stuff there, let’s say he maybe could have snuck into the Top 36 if he focused on piano instead of bass, not chops wise but getting music out of those 88 keys wise. Very under-appreciated album.

  177. riccardo castanea

    July 14, 2017 at 5:54 pm

    so you include Duke Ellington and keep out BILLY STRAYHORN an RED GARLAND??? agree bout the first ten

  178. Bruce Snyder

    July 14, 2017 at 6:17 pm

    Really like the different posts mentioning those left off the list, especially the more “obscure” and “forgotten” players like Bobby Enriquez (who I vividly remember seeing at Newport) and Dorothy Donnegan. I might add to that list, Hazel Scott, Horace Tapscott and Bobby Scott (puns? intended).

  179. Kaleo

    July 14, 2017 at 6:26 pm

    Can agree with the top three but not with Herbie Hancock being better than Keith Jarrett.

  180. David FT

    July 14, 2017 at 6:29 pm

    I’m far from being a fan of this kind of lists. Anyway I’m positive that Tete Montoliu should be somewhere in this list.

  181. Jack Nordine

    July 14, 2017 at 7:00 pm

    You have Bob James and Cecil Taylor on this list, but you do not have Elmo Hope? You should be ashamed!


    July 15, 2017 at 2:50 am

    DID YOU INCLUDE DAVE MCKENNA? He had the most awesome LEFT HAND of any of them..and NEWSWEEK BACK IN THE LATE 70s called him the greatest jazz pianist IN AMERICA!

  183. Phyllis

    July 15, 2017 at 3:16 am

    Missing: Ellis Marsalis, Bill Charlap, Fred Hersch , Diana Krall, Barry Harris

    • Virginia

      September 8, 2017 at 7:46 pm

      Ellis Marsalis is a trumpet man, I believe. Maybe he also plays piano?

  184. Lutz Bacher

    July 15, 2017 at 6:46 am

    I’m astonished that no one has mentioned Don Friedman.

  185. Dirk

    July 15, 2017 at 11:38 am

    Missing Dollar Brand / Abdullah Ibrahim

  186. Doc

    July 15, 2017 at 4:43 pm

    It would not matter who is on the list. Someone will always come along and refute it.

  187. Max

    July 17, 2017 at 8:07 pm

    Dave Grusiin and Bob James? As already pointed out by other folks here, there a few important omissions: Mal Waldron, Brad Mehldau, Don Friedman, Barry Harris, Lenny Tristano, Mary Lou Williams, Marian McParland……. . Next thing someone is going to put Kenny G in the same category as Steve Lacey and Dave Liebman for best Jazz soprano sax !?

  188. Chuck Sutherland

    July 23, 2017 at 9:32 pm

    You missed Dave Zoller. One of the true greats. Finishing work on a Theloneous Monk anniversary album. He is amazing!

  189. Richard

    September 6, 2017 at 6:40 pm

    1. Bill Evans

  190. Steven Tarlow

    September 6, 2017 at 6:43 pm

    Perhaps this list should have gone with 88, still matching the number of keys. Too many great ones left off, as mentioned in the comments. If you needed to make some room in the 36 for the glaring omissions, conisder removing Shearing, Mays, Grusin and James.

  191. Beppe

    September 6, 2017 at 6:43 pm

    …and Nat King Cole ?

  192. Lyon francois

    September 6, 2017 at 6:49 pm

    Sans vouloir oublier le passé, (je me souviens des concert live de Michel a Miramas et sur le port de Cassis)…
    S l’on se concentrait un peu sur les pianistes actuels; certes il y a la technique pure , mais surtout l’émotion que seuls certains savent transmettre en concert live.
    A.Jahmal, Lyle May, OK, mais aussi Steve Kuhn et encore Omar Sosa (exceptionnel de prestance et d’emotion sur scene)!

  193. George

    September 6, 2017 at 6:51 pm

    Brad Mehldau

  194. Dimitrios

    September 6, 2017 at 8:34 pm

    At least a dozen people complainig that the mediocre Diana Krall didn’t make it in the list yet no one mentions Horace Tapscott. OK.

  195. booshka

    September 6, 2017 at 8:57 pm

    If in all this beautiful list there was no place for lennie tristano who wrote this list should do some homework.

  196. booshka

    September 6, 2017 at 9:02 pm

    Um jaki byard?

  197. booshka

    September 6, 2017 at 9:07 pm

    mal waldron ? I do not know who wrote this list and where he will take the information but a bit disappointing …

  198. Marcike

    September 6, 2017 at 9:35 pm

    Missing Mulgrew Miller, Barry Harris, Kenny Barron, Fred Hersh and Don Grolnick from the older generation, Gerald Clayton, Christian Sands, Bill Charlap and Robert Glasper from the younger ones. The ranking is ridiculous (Monk for 2nd etc…) IMO.

  199. Gilles Chaumel

    September 6, 2017 at 10:36 pm

    No Paul Bley??? Unacceptable. No Fred Hersch? Unacceptable. No Jason Moran? Oh, come on!

  200. aristotelis tsipianitis

    September 6, 2017 at 11:24 pm

    Bill-“the thrill-Evans.

  201. Bill Meek

    September 7, 2017 at 2:39 am

    This is why I’m against lists or tallys of who are the greatest this or that . This all depends on subjective judgments in time and space and who’s doing the judging. These are all all great pianists but there are probably many we never heard of and some who were excluded . No females? BTW, no Denny Zeitlin?

  202. Reuben

    September 7, 2017 at 4:43 am

    Monk is my favorite

  203. Frikkie

    September 7, 2017 at 12:36 pm

    Rick Wake man? ?

  204. Eli Johnson

    September 7, 2017 at 9:50 pm


  205. judy bunt

    September 8, 2017 at 12:20 pm

    Claude Bolling
    Hazel Scott
    Allen Toussaint (Bright Mississippi)

  206. nigel foster

    September 8, 2017 at 2:47 pm

    The Modern Jazz Quartet got me and countless others into modern jazz, as opposed to trad and Dixieland. Where the hell is John Lewis? How could you do this! For shame. For shame.

  207. Virginia

    September 8, 2017 at 7:42 pm

    Bobby Enriquez is my favorite! He’s a wild one! Fast, fast, fast! Others not mentioned: Monty Alexander, Roger Kellaway, Billy Taylor, Dave McKenna, Gene Harris, Steve Kuhn

  208. William McElhiney

    September 8, 2017 at 9:14 pm

    How about Martial Solal?Do they all have tu\o be American?

  209. Suzume Shi

    September 9, 2017 at 2:18 am

    Bill Evans should be #1. And where the hell is Brad Meldau?

  210. Jason Finch

    November 7, 2017 at 11:04 pm

    Elmo Hope. Cedar Walton. Stanley Cowell.

  211. Jason Finch

    November 8, 2017 at 4:08 am

    Sun Ra??

  212. Christopher Terry

    November 8, 2017 at 12:22 pm

    Aw, man. Have you got no heart? No Albert Ammons and Pete Johnson? Magicians of the boogie woogie. Bringers of joy.

  213. Marc De Mey

    November 8, 2017 at 12:26 pm

    I can spot most of the pianists I like, but if the number of albums in my collection is a good parameter I’m missing Monty Alexander. He gave (and still gives me) the largest goose bumps.

  214. md92468

    November 8, 2017 at 1:16 pm

    It’s hard to take seriously a top 36 jazz pianists list that doesn’t include Mary Lou Williams….

  215. Svend-Erik Otto

    November 8, 2017 at 1:41 pm

    I´ll miss Eddie Haywood, and as pianoplayer Nat King Cole, and last – Slim Gaillard, not for his skills but for make me happy, with his swing drive. Love him

  216. Ebbe Søndergaard

    November 8, 2017 at 4:56 pm

    No one encompasses Herbie Hancock.

  217. Steven Brooke

    November 8, 2017 at 6:16 pm

    Underrated: Wynton Kelly and Red Garland…and where is Cedar Walton?
    Way overrated: Chick Corea, Dave Brubeck, Ramsey Lewis

    • Mphela Motimele

      November 9, 2017 at 7:46 am

      Absolutely agree with you assessment – and Gene Harris deserve a spot

  218. Richard

    November 9, 2017 at 3:27 am

    An exercise in futility.

  219. Bryango

    November 9, 2017 at 4:18 am

    Mal Waldron

  220. Dan Tubbs, Jr.

    November 9, 2017 at 4:54 am

    Jessica Williams is one of the most under appreciated jazz pianists today. She has performed with other amazing musicians for years, and I only recently discovered her. She is a creative heart and soul jazz pianist.

  221. Joe James

    November 9, 2017 at 4:57 am

    Cedar Walton and Mulgrew Miller should be at the top but are missing???

  222. Mphela Motimele

    November 9, 2017 at 7:44 am

    whoever compiled this list has clearly never hear Gene Harris play

  223. Fabian

    November 9, 2017 at 8:06 am

    Eldar Djangirov , Mike Garson ?

  224. Jerry Lipkins

    November 9, 2017 at 1:12 pm

    There is no best jazz pianists in this world but one fucking dangerous fucking idiot who got the pretension to class them .

  225. John Jordan

    November 9, 2017 at 7:07 pm

    Lets not argue about who is missing it is impossible to have all names available, but in real terms in matters not a hoot because Bud Powell and Monk are there.

  226. Preben Kolding

    November 13, 2017 at 6:13 am

    Considering that both Oscar Peterson and Georg Shearing claim to have been greatly influenced by him I find it strange that Nat King Cole haven´t made your list!

  227. Observadordepirata

    November 16, 2017 at 3:11 am

    No Brad Mehldau ? Unbelievable!

  228. Shomari Adofo

    November 19, 2017 at 6:41 am

    Barry Harris, should be in the top twenty. John Hicks could really burn the keys, and Brother Newborn, was on par with the great Oscar Peterson.

  229. Randolph

    December 2, 2017 at 4:18 am

    This is a sorry list of the greatest jazz pianist. how can Chick Correa and Kieth Jarrett be ahead of Earl Hines and Horace Silver. Phineas Newborn is not here.This is total crap.This is posted by some Johnny come Lately.

  230. Talking Stein

    March 12, 2018 at 4:57 am

    Jazz Pianists? Have you ever heard “Mack the knife” by Nina Riche?

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