Musicians Who Were Influenced by Jazz

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


In this blog post, we take a look at some of the most influential musicians who were inspired by jazz. From Miles Davis to John Coltrane, these artists have shaped the course of music history.

Miles Davis

Miles Davis was an American trumpeter, bandleader, and compositionally skilled jazz musician. He is among the most influential and acclaimed figures in the history of jazz. His brilliant tone, extraordinary gift for improvisation, and modern trumpet playing style transformed the possibilities for all trumpet players who came after him. Davis’s best-known works include “Kind of Blue” (1959) and “Bitches Brew” (1970).

John Coltrane

John Coltrane was an American jazz saxophonist and composer, who was one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century. Coltrane’s style was a unique blend of bebop, hard bop, and modal jazz. He is considered one of the greatest saxophonists in history, and his groundbreaking work in improvising led to a new form of jazz called free jazz. Coltrane’s influence extends well beyond jazz, and he has been name-checked by some of the biggest names in music, including Jimi Hendrix, Miles Davis, and The Beatles.

Charlie Parker

Charlie “Bird” Parker was an American jazz saxophonist and composer who was a highly influential figure in the development of bebop, a form of jazz characterized by fast tempos, innovative harmonies, and often complex melodic lines. He is also celebrated as one of the greatest saxophonists of all time.

As a teenager in Kansas City, Parker began playing in the city’s vibrant jazz scene. He quickly developed his own style, which drew inspiration from both the blues and European classical music. He made his first recordings with Jay McShann’s band in 1941, but he gained national attention after moving to New York City in 1944 and playing with Dizzy Gillespie’s big band.

Parker’s inventive approach to harmony and melodic improvisation influenced many other musicians, including John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Wes Montgomery, and Sonny Rollins. He also had a significant impact on the development of jazz rhythm guitar through his collaborations with guitarist Barney Kessel.

Thelonious Monk

Thelonious Monk was an American jazz pianist and composer. He was one of the most distinctive and influential musicians of his time, and he left a lasting mark on the jazz world. Monk’s style was characterized by its dissonance, complex harmony, and use of unorthodox Harmonic ideas. His approach to the piano was highly idiosyncratic, and he was known for his use of space and silence in his playing.

Monk was a major influence on a number of younger jazz musicians, including John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Cecil Taylor, and Ornette Coleman. He also had a significant impact on Hank Jones, Bill Evans, McCoy Tyner, Wynton Kelly, and Herbie Hancock.

Dizzy Gillespie

Dizzy Gillespie was known for his unique style of jazz trumpet playing, which was influenced by African-American music. He was also an influential bandleader and composer, creating works such as “Manteca” and “A Night in Tunisia.”

Billie Holiday

Billie Holiday was an American jazz singer and songwriter. Throughout her career, she was influential in the development of jazz music and pop singing. Her vocal style, strongly inspired by jazz instrumentalists, pioneered a new way of manipulating phrasing and tempo. She was known for her vocal delivery and improvisational skills, as well as her lived life, which was often tumultuous.

Ella Fitzgerald

Ella Fitzgerald is one of the most influential jazz singers of all time. She was known for her fantastic vocal range and her beautiful tone. She influenced a generation of singers, including Aretha Franklin, Barbra Streisand, and Diana Ross.

Louis Armstrong

Louis Armstrong, byname Satchmo or Pops, (born August 4, 1901, New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.—died July 6, 1971, New York, New York), American jazz musician and bandleader, a major figure in the development of jazz as an art form and an inspiration to later jazz artists.

Armstrong began playing the cornet while still a child in New Orleans’s tough Storyville district. He earned a reputation as a fine performer on the instrument and began working in various orchestras around the city. In 1922 he moved to Chicago to join King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band. It was there that Armstrong began to develop his own style of playing and improvisation that would have a profound influence on all subsequent jazz musicians. He remained with Oliver for only about a year before striking out on his own with small groups in New York City and Chicago. These groups—which came to be known as the Hot Five and Hot Seven—made some of the most influential recordings in all of jazz history during the years 1925–28. Among these recordings were such classics as “Muskrat Ramble” (1926), “West End Blues” (1928), “Struttin’ with Some Barbecue” (1927), “Potato Head Blues” (1927), and “Avalon” (1927).

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