What makes a great JAZZ PIANIST? Examples of outstanding artists and recordings

Ahmad Jamal - I could listen to him all day without ever getting bored. I have the “Saturday Morning…” album and like it very much. Do you know this one, too? He recorded it when he wasn’t an octogenarian yet…:grinning:

Not bad for a “youngster” in his seventies, right?


I’m thinking Picture perfect is a rarity, not on Tidal so will have to chase it up. I’m with you, I could listen to him all day, such a unique pianist.

Sorry, I should’ve checked if it’s available on Tidal. But if you can get hold of it somewhere else, I’m pretty sure you won’t be disappointed. BTW, do you know the Jacky Terrasson album that I started this thread with?

I was only aware of him through and album with Cassandra Wilson, I’m now playing more of his collection, Mirror is wonderful.

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European Piano Jazz has some pretty good contemporary music.
Giovanni MIrabessi has been one of my favorites.



So true. The European jazz scene has a lot to offer and shouldn’t be ignored or underestimated. I saw Mirabassi live at a jazz festival in Rome a few years ago. Great fun!!! The audience went crazy!!! Another Italian pianist I’m really fond of is Stefano Bollani. I especially like these two albums, although I could recommend many others:

What I really like about him is his great sense of humour, which often shines through in his improvisations.


Stefano Battaglia is my overall favorite.
Battaglia himself is astounding, but he also benefits from the Italian community. In particular he has done a lot of stuff with the percussionist Michele Rabbia:
But he also does more complex works, like here with various orchestrations. I especially admire Fevrar, and Teorema, as unusual as Pasolini’s film.
(I never include genres when I share because I find them worse than useless. But this album illustrates Battaglia’s broad reach, listed as “Avant-garde”, “Avant-garde jazz”, “Modern creative”, “Structured 8mprovisation” and many others.)

And just to note it isn’t all calm and introspective, some rowdy free jazz:


Omar Sosa can be fantastic - try the link below for a Tiny Desk gig he did with Paulo Fresu - absolutely spellbinding (and yes that’s his hair!)

His album Calma is the perfect Sunday morning listen; get a cup of tea in your hand, sit down and chill

Or one he did with Paulo called Alma, which I have a particularly strong emotional connection to (related to a tragic death of someone I new). It’s a lovely album full stop though, so do try it


I like groups that go beyond the classical piano, bass, drums setting.
Like this:

Marilyn Crispell is also fantastic (sometimes — I find some of her early free jazz work difficult to digest). But this is great, with the aforementioned Michele Rabbia on percussion and Vincent Courtois on cello.

And here in a duo with David Rothenberg on bass clarinet:

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Bill Charlap is outstanding.

I recall that when my son was in college, he took a music appreciation course, which focused on classical music. One day my son had a conversation with him, and told the professor that his father likes jazz. He told my son to tell his father to check out Bill Charlap, who he thought was the real deal.


Though not strictly jazz, he deserves an honorable mention


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Thanks for telling us about Sosa, he is terrific.
Also found this:

A few more, riffing on some earlier themes.

Battaglia’s latest, which I’ve listened to again and again


Danilo Pérez. Like Jason Moran and Gonzalo Rubalcaba, he’s even more impressive live than in the studio. I’ve heard the ensemble below at the Jazz Standard in NYC a couple of years ago, superb.


Aruán Ortiz is the lesser known of my three Cuban-born favorites (Rubalcaba, Ortiz, Virelles) but also very worthwhile. I can’t quite decide whether I prefer him on stage or in the studio, but in any case his latest album deserves a close listen, if you are willing to consider Afro-Cuban drumming on the piano:


Nobody has mentioned Keith Jarrett.
Some express disdain for his recent work (and behavior) but he broke new ground with his solo concerts and led to new ways of playing, and thinking. Beyond genres. Stunned me in 1971, and continued to stun me for decades. Live and recorded.
My favorite is Testament, like so many of his album a record of improvisational concerts.


Patricia Barber is a pianist, and composer, and singer, and band leader.
Fabulous at all of them.
What can I say? The first tine I heard her was in a demo in an audio store, and it made me buy Avantgarde horns.


I also think that “Testament” is one of KJ’s greatest albums. Admittedly, his behaviour during concerts can be quite annoying at times, but in my opinion his music more than compensates for this. I saw him live in 2009 (Berlin) and in 2015 (London). Both concerts were fantastic, but the one in London was truly mind-blowing.


Seem to be the case for « Saturday morning » as well :frowning:

You’re right “Saturday morning…” isn’t available on Tidal, either. But it’s available on Qobuz - if that’s of any help to you. Another Jamal recording that could be worth checking out is “Marseille” (it’s definitely available on Tidal!). :grinning:


Just listening to “Marseille” - excellent album.

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Well I guess this little lot is going to keep me occupied for a good evening or two :grinning:

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