Famous Black Jazz Musicians

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

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 1 Louis Armstrong

Louis Armstrong
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Famous As: Trumpeter
Birthdate: August 4, 1901
Sun Sign: Leo
Nationality: American
Died: July 6, 1971

Louis Armstrong was an American trumpeter and singer who played an important role in the development of jazz. Thanks to his playing, trumpet became known as a solo instrument and jazz, which was previously known as a collectively improvised folk music, became a soloist's art form. Not surprisingly, Louis Armstrong is widely accepted as the embodiment of jazz. 

 2 Don Shirley

Don Shirley
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Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: January 29, 1927
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: Jamaican, American
Died: April 6, 2013

 3 Duke Ellington

Duke Ellington
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Famous As: Composer, Pianist and Bandleader
Birthdate: April 29, 1899
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: American
Died: May 24, 1974
Jazz legend Duke Ellington managed his orchestra till his death, and over a 6-decade-long career. He is known for his collaborations with legends such as pianist and composer Billy Strayhorn. He termed his music “American music” and refused to attach any category to it. He received a posthumous Pulitzer Prize.

 4 Thelonious Monk

Thelonious Monk
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Famous As: Jazz Pianist & Composer
Birthdate: October 10, 1917
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: American
Died: February 17, 1982

Thelonious Monk was an American jazz pianist and composer who was noted for his unorthodox approach and idiosyncrasy during his performance. Mentored by Mary Lou Williams, Thelonious Monk contributed to bebop and was associated with Columbia and Riverside labels. His run-in with the police affected his performance after his New York City Cabaret Card was confiscated following the discovery of narcotics in a car.

 5 Ralph Tresvant

Ralph Tresvant
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: May 16, 1968
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: American

 6 Jimi Hendrix

Jimi Hendrix
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Famous As: Singer & Musician
Birthdate: November 27, 1942
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: American
Died: September 18, 1970

One of the most celebrated musicians of the 20th century, Jimi Hendrix began playing guitar at the age of 15. As his career progressed, he became the first musician to use stereophonic phasing effects in recordings. Rolling Stone ranked him as the greatest guitarist and the sixth greatest artist of all time. He died under mysterious circumstances at the age of 27.

 7 Dizzy Gillespie

Dizzy Gillespie
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Famous As: Bandleader
Birthdate: October 21, 1917
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: American
Died: January 6, 1993

Jazz trumpeter, bandleader, and singer Dizzy Gillespie developed the virtuoso style of Roy Eldridge, modifying it with innovative harmony and rhythm. He popularized the bebop style of music and was famous for his signature horn-rimmed spectacles. His contribution to modern jazz earned him the title of the Ambassador of Jazz.

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 8 Michael McCary

Michael McCary
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: December 16, 1971
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: American

 9 Charles Mingus

Charles Mingus
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Famous As: Jazz Musician
Birthdate: April 22, 1922
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: American
Died: January 5, 1979
Jazz double bassist and pianist Charles Mingus is remembered for his stints with artists such as Louis Armstrong, Charlie Parker, Dannie Richmond, and Herbie Hancock, and was named to the Down Beat Jazz Hall of Fame. His scores and recordings are preserved in the Library of Congress.

 10 Esperanza Spalding

Esperanza Spalding
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Famous As: Music educator, Jazz musician, Singer
Birthdate: October 18, 1984
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: American

 11 Sarah Vaughan

Sarah Vaughan
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: March 27, 1924
Sun Sign: Aries
Nationality: American
Died: April 3, 1990

 12 Hugh Masekela

Hugh Masekela
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Famous As: Trumpeter, Composer, Jazz musician
Birthdate: April 4, 1939
Sun Sign: Aries
Nationality: South African

 13 Wes Montgomery

Wes Montgomery
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Famous As: Musician
Birthdate: March 6, 1923
Sun Sign: Pisces
Nationality: American
Died: June 15, 1968

 14 Jelly Roll Morton

Jelly Roll Morton
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Famous As: Pianist, Bandleader, Composer, Conductor, Jazz musician
Birthdate: October 20, 1890
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: American
Died: July 10, 1941

 15 Art Blakey

Art Blakey
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Famous As: Drummer
Birthdate: October 11, 1919
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: American
Died: October 16, 1990

 16 James Jamerson

James Jamerson
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Famous As: Bass player
Birthdate: January 29, 1936
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: American
Died: August 2, 1983

 17 McCoy Tyner

McCoy Tyner
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Famous As: Pianist
Birthdate: December 11, 1938
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: American
Died: March 6, 2020

 18 Max Roach

Max Roach
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Famous As: Musician
Birthdate: January 10, 1924
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Nationality: American
Died: August 16, 2007

 19 Buddy Bolden

Buddy Bolden
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Famous As: Musical Artist
Birthdate: September 6, 1877
Sun Sign: Virgo
Nationality: American
Died: November 4, 1931

 20 W. C. Handy

W. C. Handy
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Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: November 16, 1873
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: American
Died: March 28, 1958

 21 Don Cherry

Don Cherry
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Famous As: Jazz trumpeter
Birthdate: November 18, 1936
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: American
Died: October 19, 1995

 22 Louis Jordan

Louis Jordan
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Famous As: Singer, Actor, Saxophonist, Jazz musician
Birthdate: July 8, 1908
Sun Sign: Cancer
Nationality: American
Died: February 4, 1975

 23 Grover Washington, Jr.

Grover Washington, Jr.
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Famous As: Saxophonist
Birthdate: December 12, 1943
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: American
Died: December 17, 1999

 24 Cleo Laine

Cleo Laine
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Famous As: Actor, Singer, Jazz musician, Stage actor
Birthdate: October 28, 1927
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: British

 25 Freddie Hubbard

Freddie Hubbard
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Famous As: Trumpeter
Birthdate: April 7, 1938
Sun Sign: Aries
Nationality: American
Died: December 29, 2008

 26 Nathan East

Nathan East
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Famous As: Bassist, Jazz musician
Birthdate: December 8, 1955
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: American

 27 Horace Silver

Horace Silver
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Famous As: Pianist
Birthdate: September 2, 1928
Sun Sign: Virgo
Nationality: American
Died: June 18, 2014

 28 Ron Carter

Ron Carter
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Famous As: Musician
Birthdate: May 4, 1937
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: American

 29 William Onyeabor

William Onyeabor
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Famous As: Musician
Birthdate: March 26, 1946
Sun Sign: Aries
Nationality: Nigerian
Died: January 16, 2017

 30 Ramsey Lewis

Ramsey Lewis
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Famous As: Radio personality, Jazz musician, Pianist
Birthdate: May 27, 1935
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: American

 31 Charlie Christian

Charlie Christian
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Famous As: Guitarist
Birthdate: July 29, 1916
Sun Sign: Leo
Nationality: American
Died: March 2, 1942

 32 Mary Lou Williams

Mary Lou Williams
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Famous As: American jazz pianist
Birthdate: May 8, 1910
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: American
Died: May 28, 1981

 33 Joe Henderson

Joe Henderson
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Famous As: Musician
Birthdate: April 24, 1937
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: American
Died: June 30, 2001

 34 Ellis Marsalis Jr.

Ellis Marsalis Jr.
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Famous As: Pianist
Birthdate: November 14, 1934
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: American
Died: April 1, 2020

 35 Philly Joe Jones

Philly Joe Jones
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Famous As: American drummer
Birthdate: July 15, 1923
Sun Sign: Cancer
Nationality: American
Died: August 30, 1985

 36 Christian McBride

Christian McBride
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Famous As: Jazz musician
Birthdate: May 31, 1972
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: American

 37 Jackie McLean

Jackie McLean
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Famous As: Musician
Birthdate: May 17, 1931
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: American
Died: March 31, 2006

 38 Jonathan Butler

Jonathan Butler
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Famous As: Singer-songwriter, Jazz musician, Guitarist, Jazz guitarist
Birthdate: October 10, 1961
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: South African

 39 Milt Jackson

Milt Jackson
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Famous As: Jazz vibraphonist
Birthdate: January 1, 1923
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Nationality: American
Died: October 9, 1999

 40 Tommy Lee Flanagan

Tommy Lee Flanagan
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Famous As: Jazz Pianist
Birthdate: March 16, 1930
Sun Sign: Pisces
Nationality: American
Died: November 16, 2001

 41 Archie Shepp

Archie Shepp
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Famous As: Jazz Saxophonist
Birthdate: May 24, 1937
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: American

 42 Bobby Hutcherson

Bobby Hutcherson
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Famous As: Vibraphonist
Birthdate: January 27, 1941
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: American
Died: August 15, 2016

 43 J. J. Johnson

J. J. Johnson
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Famous As: Trombonist
Birthdate: January 22, 1924
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: American
Died: February 4, 2001

 44 Gatemouth Brown

Gatemouth Brown
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Famous As: Musician
Birthdate: April 18, 1924
Sun Sign: Aries
Nationality: American
Died: September 10, 2005

 45 Johnnie Johnson

Johnnie Johnson
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Famous As: American musician
Birthdate: July 8, 1924
Sun Sign: Cancer
Nationality: American
Died: April 13, 2005

 46 Pinetop Perkins

Pinetop Perkins
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Famous As: Jazz Pianist
Birthdate: July 7, 1913
Sun Sign: Cancer
Nationality: American
Died: March 21, 2011

 47 Teddy Wilson

Teddy Wilson
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Famous As: Jazz Pianist
Birthdate: November 24, 1912
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: American
Died: July 31, 1986

 48 James Reese Europe

James Reese Europe
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Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: February 22, 1880
Sun Sign: Pisces
Nationality: American
Died: May 9, 1919

 49 Eddie Harris

Eddie Harris
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Famous As: Musician
Birthdate: October 20, 1934
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: American
Died: November 5, 1996

 50 Earl Palmer

Earl Palmer
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Famous As: American drummer
Birthdate: October 25, 1924
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: American
Died: September 19, 2008