Sp3. Are there any non-black musicians in the pantheon of jazz?
- 1 Discussion
- 2 Introduction
- 3 The meaning of pantheon
- 4 Implications for the pantheon of jazz musicians
- 5 Rankings of non-black musicians
- 6 Implications for pantheons of jazz musicians
- 7 Significant non-black jazz musicians
- 8 NOTES
Wynton Marsalis appears to claim that there are no white players in the pantheon of jazz: “Do I have a problem saying there are no white players in the pantheon of jazz? No. There’s Bird, Louis, Trane, Duke, Monk and Miles. Now let’s look at classical composers—Beethoven, Brahms, Bartók, Mozart. I can name all of them and never name a Negro. Is that a problem? No.”
If the pantheon of jazz only includes the musicians Marsalis mentions, then none of those players were white so Marsalis would be correct.
The meaning of pantheon
➢ What does "pantheon mean anyway?
Dictionary.com gives these relevant definitions for the meaning of pantheon:
- “3. the place of the heroes or idols of any group, individual, movement, party, etc., or the heroes or idols themselves.”
- “4. a temple dedicated to all the gods.”
- “5. the gods of a particular mythology considered collectively.”
- The origin of the word is from around 1375–1425 A.D. from late Middle English using the Latin word "panteon" from the Greek word "Panthēon" with "Pántheion," the noun use of the neuter of "pántheios" meaning "of all gods."
Merriam Webster Dictionary relevant definitions for pantheon:
Other dictionaries use these definitions for pantheon:
Implications for the pantheon of jazz musicians
Because the musicians that could be chosen to be in a jazz pantheon could theoretically be of any size, there is no upper limit for a jazz pantheon's size other than constrained by the entire size of the total number of past jazz musicians.
➢ What is the total current number of jazz musicians that have ever been on planet Earth 🌎?
➢ How should anyone determine the greatest jazz players?
There may possibly be little known great jazz players, especially amongst women in jazz. Of the established jazz musicians, one can start to sort them out by which ones contributed the most and had the largest effect on other players and the field of jazz itself. That list could be something like the following chosen from the most well known players. Vocalists get their own rankings.
Rankings of non-black musicians
- (NB1) See Charles Waring's lists ranking jazz musicians: "The 50 Best Jazz Singers Of All Time" at UDiscoverMusic.com, published May 17, 2021, “including loud, robust voices to delicate, refined ones, from vocal gymnasts to ultra smooth balladeers.” As seen in the table below, there are 15 non-black vocalists out of the top fifty (30%).
|Ranking of Non-black Jazz Vocalists from UDiscoverMusic.com's "50 Best All Time Vocalists"|
- (NB2) "The 25 Best Female Jazz Singers Of All Time," published March 12, 2021. Ten out of twenty-five (40%) are not black.
- (NB3) "The 50 Best Jazz Drummers Of All Time" “from big-band leaders to bebop pioneers and fusion futurists, published on July 15, 2021.” Twelve of the fifty best jazz drummers (24%) are not black, including two in the top ten (20%) (Buddy Rich #7 & Gene Krupa #8).
- (NB4) "The 50 Best Jazz Pianists Of All Time," “includes iconic bandleaders to unique talents who have shaped the jazz genre and revolutionized the role of the piano in music,” published February 16, 2021. Twelve out of fifty (24%) are non-black players, with three in the top ten (30%): (Bill Evans #3, Keith Jarrett #8, Chick Corea, #9), five in top twenty (Jelly Roll Morton #15, Dave Brubeck #16), eight in the top twenty-five (Joe Zawinul #22, George Shearing #23, Bob James, #24).
- (NB5) "The 50 Best Jazz Trumpeters Of All Time," published on June 15, 2021. Eleven out of fifty (22%) are non-black: (Chet Baker #7), (Bix Beiderbecke # 17), (Don Ellis #19), (Maynard Ferguson #21), (Tomasz Stanko #36), (Dave Douglas #38), (Arturo Sandoval #40), (Randy Brecker #46), (Mugsy Spanier #47), (Arve Henriksen #48), (Erik Truffaz #49).
- (NB6) "The 50 Best Jazz Saxophonists Of All Time," published on September 13, 2021. Fourteen out of fifty (28%) are non-black with two out of the top ten (20%) in Stan Getz #4 and Art Pepper #8:
|Ranking of Non-black Saxophonists from UDiscoverMusic.com's "50 Best Jazz Saxophonists"|
Charles Lloyd #40 of African, Cherokee, Mongolian, and Irish ancestry
- (NB7) "The 50 Best Jazz Bassists of All Time," “including those who elevated the instrument from a mere time-keeping role to versatile pathfinders and visionary composers,” published on August 20, 2021. Eighteen out of fifty (36%) are non-black with two in the top ten (20%) (Jaco Pastorius #1, Charlie Haden #9).
|Ranking of Non-black Jazz Bassists from UDiscoverMusic.com's 50 Best Jazz Bassists|
Richard Davis #26
- (NB8) Fidlarmusic.com ranks "The 20 Best Jazz Bassists of All Time" circled in yellow in table with five non-blacks in the top ten (50%) and an overall percentage of 40%: Jaco Pastorius #3, Bill Black (played with Elvis) #7, Scott LaFaro #8, Charlie Haden #9, Dave Holland #10, John Patitucci #13, George Mraz #15, and Eberhard Weber #17.
- (NB9) Matt Fripp at JazzFuel.com ranks the top ten jazz musicians of all time with Chet Baker #9 being the only non-black musician (10%):
- Miles Davis
- Louis Armstrong
- John Coltrane
- Charles Mingus
- Thelonious Monk
- Ella Fitzgerald
- Charlie Parker
- Duke Ellington
- Chet Baker
- Ornette Coleman
- (NB10) Matt Fripp at JazzFuel.com lists but does not rank order "The Best Jazz Musicians of All Time – 40 Legendary Jazz Artists"," September 18, 2020. There are nine out of forty non-blacks (22.5%).
| List (unranked) of Non-black musicians|
from Matt Fripp's "Best Jazz Musicians of All Time from 40 Legends"
- (NB11) JazzFuel.com ranks "The Best Jazz Saxophone Players In History (Jazz Legends)," from August 25, 2020 with two out of eight tenor players (25%) and two out of six alto players (33%) being non-black and circled in yellow in the table below for a total of four out of fourteen (28.6%)
- (NB12) Matt Fripp's "The 50 Best Jazz Albums of All Time (Essential Listening Guide)," from JazzFuel.com, May 5, 2020 with thirteen out of fifty by a leader who is non-black (26%).
|Ranking on Matt Fripp's "50 Best Jazz Albums of All Time (Essential Listening Guide)" by non-black leaders|
Dave Brubeck — "Time Out" (1959) (#6)
Implications for pantheons of jazz musicians
There is no doubt amongst all informed experts that African-Americans were the race most involved with jazz performances throughout its history. This does not entail that other races were not important contributors through all of jazz's history.
To get a rough approximation as to the percentage of non-black jazz musicians one can take an average from the combined percentages determined above from all of the (NB) percentages.
- (NB1) 30% — 50 best jazz singers
- (NB2) 40% — 25 best female jazz singers
- (NB3) 24% — 50 best jazz drummers
- (NB4) 24% — 50 best jazz pianists
- (NB5) 22% — 50 best jazz trumpeters
- (NB6) 28% — 50 best jazz saxophonists
- (NB7) 36% — 50 best jazz bassists
- (NB8) 40% — 20 best jazz bassists
- (NB9) 10% — Top 10 jazz musicians
- (NB10) 22.5% — 40 best jazz musicians
- (NB11) 28.6% — 18 best saxophonists
- (NB12) 26% — 50 best jazz albums
CONCLUSION: The total of (NBs) is 331.1 divided by twelve gives 27.6% non-blacks are in the pantheon of jazz music.
Jazz artists ranked from list of AcclaimedMusic.net's "Top (Musical) Artists of All Time" out of 4112
|Ranking of Jazz musicians by AcclaimedMusic.net's "Top Artists of All Time" out of 4,112|
16. Miles Davis
238. Amy Winehouse
AcclaimedMusic.net's "Top Jazz Albums of All Time" has approximately 17% non-black leader albums.
Significant non-black jazz musicians
Bix Beiderbecke (1903–1931)
- Bix Beiderbecke was born white in Iowa. He was one of the most popular and sophisticated jazz trumpet players of the Roaring Twenties. His smooth sound was especially popular on college campuses. Beiderbecke was sent to school in Chicago, but ended up becoming immersed in the jazz culture of the city. He joined the Wolverines jazz band and made his first recording in 1924. Beiderbecke then played with Frankie Trumbauer's band in St. Louis. In 1926, Bix joined the Jean Goldkette Orchestra and the radio broadcasts brought Beiderbecke national praise. All of the major players in the Goldkette band were white.
- Wikipedia: Jean Goldkette reports that Goldkette's band even beat Fletcher Henderson's (1897–1952) orchestra in a grand ‘battle of the bands’ at the Roseland Theater in New York in 1927: “The head arranger [of Goldkette's orchestra] was Bill Challis and the musicians included Bix Beiderbecke, Steve Brown, Hoagy Carmichael, Jimmy Dorsey, Tommy Dorsey, Eddie Lang, Chauncey Morehouse, Don Murray, Bill Rank, and Spiegle Willcox. Afro-American cornetist, Rex Stewart (1907 – 1967), a member of the rival Fletcher Henderson's band, wrote that "[Goldkette's Orchestra] was, without any question, the greatest in the world . . . the original predecessor to any large white dance orchestra that followed, up to Benny Goodman." English jazz discographer Brian Rust (1922 – 2011) also called it "the greatest band of them all."” In 1927, Biederbecke joined the Paul Whiteman (1890–1967) orchestra where his polished sound and precise rhythms melded well with the Whiteman orchestra's symphonic sound.
Austin High Gang (1901–1902)
Paul Whiteman (1890–1967)
- known as the "King of (symphonic) Jazz" in the 1920s in the United States 🇺🇸. Whiteman gained fame for the musicians that he employed, such as: Bing Crosby, Bix Beiderbecke, Tommy Dorsey, Johnny Mercer, and many more. An important contributions of Whiteman's was commissioning George Gershwin to compose "Rhapsody in Blue" first performed in New York in 1924. Whiteman's band recorded their own best selling composition, "Whispering," in the early 1920s. Although Whiteman's band was quite popular during the 1920s, he cannot be considered a true jazz musician since his band performed mostly popular dance and symphonic music and didn't try to incorporate much improvisation.
Benny Goodman (1909–1986)
- Caucasian, the ninth of twelve children born to poor Jewish emigrants from the Russian Empire. His father, David Goodman (1873–1926), came to the United States 🇺🇸 in 1892 from Warsaw in partitioned Poland 🇵🇱 and his mother, Dora Grisinsky, (1873–1964), came from Kaunas, Lithuania 🇱🇹. Benny Goodman was known as the "King of Swing."
“Who could have guessed that a clarinet player could be the king of anything? Benny Goodman enjoyed a remarkable career as an ambassador of music — the benevolent "King of Swing" — and he introduced jazz to millions of people who loved to dance. Goodman popularized the music of a talented writer and arranger, Fletcher Henderson, and he integrated his band while the rest of America was still yoked to segregation. Frankly, the music deserved the best, and Goodman's units delivered with hairsplitting precision. In "I'm a Ding Dong Daddy (from Dumas)," Goodman's quartet with pianist Teddy Wilson, drummer Gene Krupa and the irrepressible jazz vibraphone master Lionel Hampton (also turning 100 in 2009) makes an inspiring sound.” (bold not in original)
- It is reported by Gene Anderson in "The Genesis of King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band," American Music, Vol. 12, No. 3 (Autumn, 1994), 283–303 (21 pages), published by University of Illinois Press, at footnote 69. that Warren "Baby" Dodds (1898–1959) reports the following white musicians came to see King Oliver's Creole Orchestra in 1921–1922. “Footnote 69. White musicians named by Baby Dodds include Benny Goodman, Frank Teschemacher, Dave Tough, Bud Freeman, Ben Pollack, along with Paul Whiteman's entire orchestra (Warren "Baby" Dodds, Baby Dodds Story, 37–38).”
Louis Prima (1910–1978)
Charlie Mariano (1923–2009)
Bill Evans (1929–1980)
- Evans's second album featured written-out endorsements from Miles Davis, George Shearing, Ahmad Jamal, and Cannonball Adderley titled "Everybody Digs Bill Evans."
- 🔘 Listen to samples at AllMusic.com.
- 1969 was a pivotal year for Japanese free jazz, with musicians such as drummer Masahiko Togashi, guitarist Masayuki Takayanagi, pianists Yosuke Yamashita and Masahiko Satoh, saxophonist Kaoru Abe, bassist Motoharu Yoshizawa, and trumpeter Itaru Oki playing a major role. Other Japanese jazz artists who acquired international reputations include Sadao Watanabe (the former soloist of Akiyoshi's Cozy Quartet), Ryo Kawasaki, Teruo Nakamura (musician), Toru "Tiger" Okoshi and Makoto Ozone.
Enrico Rava (b. 1933)
- Known as the ‘Grandmaster of Italian jazz’ because he first was in Gato Barbieri's Italian quintet in the mid-1960s, next with Steve Lacy's band around 1965–66, moved to New York in 1967 and over the 1970s and 1980s played with:
- JazzTimes reviewer Christopher Porter calls him "Italy’s greatest jazz musician."
Charlie Haden (1937–2014)
Chick Corea (1941–2021)
- an American jazz composer, keyboardist, bandleader, and occasional percussionist of southern Italian descent, his father having been born to an immigrant from Albi comune, in the Province of Catanzaro in the Calabria region.
Terumasa Hino (b. 1942)
Keith Jarrett (b. 1945)
- American jazz and classical music pianist and composer of Scots‐Irish and Hungarian descent. Wikipedia: Keith Jarrett reports that he was “born in Allentown, Pennsylvania, United States, to a mother of Slovenian descent. Jarrett's grandmother was born in Segovci, near Apače in Slovenia, (at the time, this was in the Austria of the Austro-Hungarian Empire). Her own parents probably descended from the Slavic population of Prekmurje, a few miles away in a Hungarian part of the Empire almost totally populated by Slovenes. Jarrett's father was of mostly German descent.”
Jan Garbarek (b. 1947)
Chris Botti (b. 1962)
Jazz pianist Hiromi Uehara (b. 1979)
- received worldwide recognition with her debut album "Another Mind" (2003), the critics admired the album in North America and in Japan, where it went gold by shipping over 100,000 units. The album received the Recording Industry Association of Japan’s (RIAJ) Jazz Album of the Year Award. In 2009, Hiromi performed duets with pianist Chick Corea on "Duet," a two-disc live recording of their duo concert in Tokyo. She also appeared on bassist Stanley Clarke’s "Jazz in the Garden" featuring a former Chick Corea bandmate, drummer Lenny White.
“In the book, “Jazz in Black and White: Race, Culture, and Identity in the Jazz Community,” author Charles D. Gerard posed the question, “Is jazz a universal idiom or a black art form?” He also writes that white musicians have been a part of jazz since 1910, but “a series of African-American artists have forged the history of jazz — and the developments have been a result of black people’s search for a meaningful identity as Americans and members of the African diaspora.”
“[Jazz] is the one place that doesn’t promote exclusion. “[In jazz] the African spirit is of inclusiveness and unity,” said Keenyn.”
Wikipedia: Jazz Accordionists lists nineteen musicians from around the world born from 1904 to 1964, including one woman. None of the jazz accordionists are African-American.
- Bruce Buschel, "Angry Young Man with a Horn," Gentleman's Quarterly, February 1987.
- Josh Jackson, "Jazz Centennials: Legends At 100," April 23, 2009, WBGO radio.
- Brittany Talissa King, "The Color of Jazz: A White Musician’s Place in A Black World: A young musician in New York grapples with his success within a black genre," September 8, 2020.