Jazz legends

Jazz legends
Jazz legends. On the 15th anniversary of the death of Ella Fitzgerald, we look at the lives of some jazz greats and their work, from the classics to the music of modern-day jazz legends.
Ella Fitzgerald
Born: April 25, 1917

Career: Ella Fitzgerald's voice is instantly recognizable; her unwavering tone and scat singing is heard in countless jazz collaborations and earned her 13 Grammy Awards over the span of 59 years recording music
Benny Goodman
Born: May 30, 1909

Career: Known as "the King of Swing," Goodman was renowned for his fiery clarinet melodies and was the face of jazz for many years. He also led one of the first multiracial musical groups
Bessie Smith
Born: April 15, 1894

Career: One of the most famous jazz vocalists, Bessie Smith sang swing, blues and in traditional jazz genres. Her song "Downhearted Blues" earned a place in the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress
Dizzy Gillespie
Born: Oct. 17, 1917

Career: A pioneer in bebop and Afro-Cuban jazz, Dizzy Gillespie played trumpet, led his own band, sang and composed, all of which earned him the nickname "the Sound of Surprise"
Joe "King" Oliver
Born: May 11, 1885 

Career: Teacher to Louis Armstrong and a trendsetter in the use of mutes, Joe "King" Oliver made great musical strides in altering the sound of jazz horns
Louis Armstrong
Born: Aug. 4, 1901

Career: One of the most widely known jazz musicians, Armstrong pioneered improvisation and solo performance in jazz groups and helped popularize "scat singing"
Duke Ellington
Born: April 29, 1899

Career: Often called d the greatest composer in jazz, Duke Ellington wrote more than 1,000 works
Mary Lou Williams
Born: May 8, 1910

Career: May Lou Williams recorded more than 100 records and wrote hundreds of compositions, collaborating with a wide array of famous musicians throughout her 60-plus years on the jazz scene
Charlie Parker
Born: Aug. 29, 1920

Career: Charlie "Bird" Parker, whose saxophone style was a cornerstone of bebop, also became an icon for the Beat generation
Thelonious Monk
Born: Oct. 10, 1917

Career: Renowned for his unique improvisational style and the second most recorded jazz composer (after Duke Ellington), Monk deservedly earned his reputation as "one of the giants of American music"
Dave Brubeck
Born: October 6, 1920

Career: Dave Brubeck's musical style, with its elegant piano melodies featuring odd time signatures and contrasting, superimposed meters, is difficult to categorize but impossible to ignore
Billie Holiday
Born: April 7, 1915

Career: "Lady Day" Holiday is more than just one of the most famous female jazz musicians; she's also had a profound influence on pop singing both during and after her career
Miles Davis
Born: May 26, 1926

Career: Miles Davis had a profound effect on jazz through several groups he formed and eventually became the inspiration for Congress to pass a measure affirming jazz as a "national treasure"
Glenn Miller
Born: March 1, 1904

Career: Glenn Miller was best known for his hit records, his highly popular "big band" and his USO performances for military servicemen and women
Charles Mingus
Born: April 22, 1922

Career: An accomplished jazz bassist and composer, Charles Mingus also prided himself on his civil rights activism during his career
John Coltrane
Born: Sept. 23, 1926

Career: Saxophonist and composer John Coltrane was a major inspiration to an entire generation of jazz musicians
Nat King Cole
Born: March 17, 1919

Career: Nat King Cole was one of the first black Americans to host a TV variety show, and his international stardom as a pop singer expanded beyond his considerable talents as a jazz vocalist and pianist
Gene Krupa
Born: Jan. 15, 1909

Career: Gene Krupa, a leading jazz drummer known for his high-energy technique, was the first musician to record using a bass drum pedal and was also an innovator in the development of the drum kit
Wynton Marsalis
Born: Oct. 18, 1961

Career: Wynton Marsalis, a contemporary jazz icon, is best known for his superb trumpet skills and his educational efforts to bring jazz to young people.

Source: Special