Suggested pianists?
December 16, 2006 8:53 PM   Subscribe

Anyone have recommendations for some great jazz pianists that I could look into?

I've always liked Matthew Shipp's stuff, but never really knew where to go from there. Suggestions?
posted by j-urb to Media & Arts (36 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Brad Mehldau. "Largo" is one of the best jazz albums of recent decades - utterly inventive.
posted by jbickers at 9:17 PM on December 16, 2006

Art Tatum
posted by hortense at 9:20 PM on December 16, 2006

Alan Broadbent
Dave Brubeck
George Gershwin
Vince Guaraldi
Herbie Hancock
Mark Levine
Dave McKenna
Brad Mehldau
Thelonious Monk
Matt Savage
Sergio Salvatore

That should get you started....
posted by fvox13 at 9:21 PM on December 16, 2006

Bill Evans's Waltz for Debbie and Sunday at the Village Vanguard are two CDs recorded from the same live gigs and they're near-perfect bits of cocktail jazz. Also: McCoy Tyner is a perfect gateway drug.
posted by beaucoupkevin at 9:21 PM on December 16, 2006

Oh yeah... forgot Bill Evans. Thanks for jogging my memory beaucoupkevin!
posted by fvox13 at 9:23 PM on December 16, 2006

On preview, what hortense said, no question.

Art Tatum has been dead a long time. But he's still the guy, by whom all other great jazz pianists are judged or compared. You listen to Art Tatum for a couple of years, and you really understand music much, much better.

And, of course, Oscar Peterson.
posted by paulsc at 9:24 PM on December 16, 2006

Ahmad Jamal
posted by hortense at 9:26 PM on December 16, 2006

Keith Harrett? I hope I'm right about the last name, not sure. Tres inspiring work.
posted by saffron at 9:37 PM on December 16, 2006

Erroll Garner
and Fats Waller. (A Handful of Keys and Smashing Thirds are pretty amazing piano pieces.)
posted by maryh at 9:47 PM on December 16, 2006

I think you mean Keith Jarrett, saffron, and he is a fascinating, if very odd duck.
posted by paulsc at 9:52 PM on December 16, 2006

I love D.D. Jackson. He's a wild man on piano, and may take some getting used to, but he's very, very good.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 9:58 PM on December 16, 2006

Les McCann
Sonny Clark (his disc with Grant Green is fantastic)
posted by gnutron at 10:03 PM on December 16, 2006

I was a big fan of the late Kenny Kirkland, who played with Sting on his eary solo albums.

Lyle Mays, frequent collaborator with Pat Metheny.

And of course, Monk.
posted by browse at 10:39 PM on December 16, 2006

Laszlo Gardony
Horace Silver
Arturo Sandoval is a Cuban born jazz trumpeter, who put out a record called "My Passion for the Piano" a few years back, which is pretty eye opening.
George Shearing hasn't been mentioned yet, and so let's be sure he is.
Lyle Mays is a long time colloborator of Pat Metheny, and deserves attention.
Chick Corea, of course.
Count Basie was a pianist, before and after he was anything else, and Bill Evans cited his style as a big influence.
John Lewis, of the seminal Modern Jazz Quartet
Ramsey Lewis, in with The In Crowd for a long time.
Dr. Billy Taylor, who knows everything about everybody, and has used his knowledge to do more than 250 profiles of other jazz muscians for the CBS Sunday Morning show.
Marian McPartland has done the long running "Piano Jazz" show for NPR, since 1978.

Old skool (78's mostly, some transcription to LP's and digital media, but hard to find. Really worth it, though):
Jelly Roll Morton
Meade Lux Lewis
posted by paulsc at 10:39 PM on December 16, 2006

Add these please:
Thelonious Monk
Red Garland
Seattle's Dave Peck
Roberto Fonseca, Cuban pianist
Abdullah Ibrihim
posted by lois1950 at 10:43 PM on December 16, 2006

Oops, 2nd on Monk and spelling apologies to Abdullah Ibrahim..
posted by lois1950 at 10:45 PM on December 16, 2006

The incomparable Bud Powell
posted by The_Auditor at 10:50 PM on December 16, 2006

On preview, I agree entirely about Bud Powell
Bobby Timmons

And to keep you busy for days, which recommends, as I do
Bob James
Steve Kuhn, and
Michael Cochrane, among many other fine pianists.
posted by paulsc at 10:59 PM on December 16, 2006

Wikipedia's list of jazz pianists, reminded me to mention:
Tommy Flanagan
Dave Grusin
Ellis Marsalis, Jr.
Diane Schurr (mostly thought of as a vocalist, but an accomplished and innovative pianist, too!)
Willie "The Lion" Smith

Some other personal favorites, if I may be permitted:

I've listened to Beegie Adair for over 30 years, and if you like standards, nobody does 'em with more class and freshness.
Butch Thompson, of Prarie Home Companion fame
Don Thompson, for his work with Paul Desmond
posted by paulsc at 11:19 PM on December 16, 2006

Can't believe the incredible James P. Johnson hasn't been mentioned yet.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:24 AM on December 17, 2006

Gonzalo Rubalcaba - don't see him above. Cuban born, very good, but paid to see and hear him play once and he canceled the show because he didn't care for the piano the well-known venue provided.
posted by objdoc at 5:08 AM on December 17, 2006

Hard to believe no one has mentioned Teddy Wilson.
posted by trip and a half at 5:23 AM on December 17, 2006

Jan Johansson did absolutely beautiful and serene jazz versions of Scandinavian folk songs dripping with melancholy. Check it out.
posted by AwkwardPause at 6:18 AM on December 17, 2006

I see nobody's paying attention to the one helpful detail the poster added, "I've always liked Matthew Shipp" (without which this would be a completely lame question—"What are your favorite jazz pianists?" is no better than "What are your favorite movies?"). If you like Shipp, you're very likely to enjoy Cecil Taylor and the amazing Marilyn Crispell.
posted by languagehat at 6:31 AM on December 17, 2006 [1 favorite]

Abdullah Ibrahim also performed as Dollar Brand for two decades and a couple dozen albums. He's put out some lovely, swinging, African-infused music under both names.
posted by ardgedee at 7:54 AM on December 17, 2006

Lots of good answers here, though many would never have occured to me with the Shipp filter. You might like Paul Plimey and Myra Melford.

If you're open to listening to anything that you can for free, you might want to check out Steve Koven's music. He offers 1 track from each album and his out of print live record is there to download in its entirety. One of my fave tracks is 023, from his most recent record. He puts on a wonderful live show. His interpretation of Besame Mucho is also quite lovely, but not very Shippian.

Lastly, if you're missing some Shipp records (or anything on Thirsty Ear, the label he currates), they can be had quite cheap from emusic.
posted by dobbs at 8:05 AM on December 17, 2006

No one has mentioned Duke Ellington? Pick up a copy of Money Jungle if you'd like to hear Duke jamming in a more modern vein.
And I second languagehat's recommendation of Cecil Taylor.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:27 AM on December 17, 2006

Lots of great mentions here, but I'll highlight one of the truly overlooked and underrated greats: Phineas Newborn, Jr.. Here he is ripping through Oleo. He was a monster.
posted by padjet1 at 8:38 AM on December 17, 2006

Frank Kimbrough. Particularly, his work with the Herbie Nichols Project. Herbie Nichols was also a pianist, though his compositions far outweigh his ability with the piano.
posted by Captaintripps at 8:38 AM on December 17, 2006

You could go way back and get yourself some Fats Waller.
posted by anathema at 9:58 AM on December 17, 2006

Jaki Byard, Vijay Iyer
posted by box at 10:24 AM on December 17, 2006

Dave McKenna
Teddy Wilson
Marian McPartland
Dave Brubeck
Earl Hines
Hank Jones
Jimmy Yancey
Thelonious Monk
posted by LeisureGuy at 11:01 AM on December 17, 2006

Carsten Dahl
posted by KimG at 12:00 PM on December 17, 2006

Eldar /plug
posted by softlord at 5:12 PM on December 17, 2006

Since you like Shipp, the recommendation of Cecil Taylor is a good one. I'd also recommend Muhal Richard Abrams (often overlooked, founder of AACM), Alexander Schlippenbach (in his more "out" playing), maybe Denman Maroney (maybe more free improv than free jazz, but chops galore).

To get a little more "in," but still very creative, try Andrew Hill ("Point of Departure" is awesome).
posted by Joseph Gurl at 6:47 PM on December 17, 2006

I've got to second, beaucoupkevin, I was going to suggest both Bill Evans and McCoy Tyner! That on top of the fantastic selections mentioned elsewhere!

Dave Brubeck
Herbie Hancock
Vince Guaraldi
Art Tatum
Fats Waller...
posted by Pollomacho at 1:23 AM on December 18, 2006

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