Monday, August 08, 2005

The Fifty Greatest Jazz Pianists

Normally, I try to keep things positive here at Blog-O-Jazz, but sometime exceptions have to be made. Last week, I was browsing through the bookstore and saw a new book entitled “The Fifty Greatest Jazz Piano Players of All Time: Ranking, Analysis and Photos.” It’s by Gene Rizzo and published by Hal Leonard Publishing.

From the Hal Leonard website: “Spanning players from eighty years of history, this bold book steps forward and claims who are the greatest. Compiled from an extensive survey conducted with the best jazz minds in the education, publishing and entertainment worlds, noted jazz journalist Gene Rizzo summarized the chosen and presents a concise bio on the essence of these jazz giants.”

“Choices were made on the basis of chops, originality, creativity, and degree of influence. This book will either confirm some readers' opinions or open debate with others, but ultimately the book provides an impressive summary of the greatest jazz piano players of all time.”

If they had called the book “Gene Rizzo’s Favorite Piano Player’s of All Time” I wouldn’t have been perturbed. To purport to rank the ‘greatest’, in order, is an exercise in futility. But I’ve never seen a list this far off the mark:

1. Oscar Peterson
2. Bill Evans
3. Bud Powell
4. Art Tatum
5. Monty Alexander
6. Benny Green
7. Andre Previn
8. Tommy Flanagan
9. George Shearing
10. Red Garland
11. McCoy Tyner
12. Gene Harris
13. Kenny Drew
14. Hampton Hawes
15. Thelonious Monk
16. Ahmad Jamal
17. Billy Taylor
18. Horace Silver
19. Hank Jones
20. Chick Corea
21. Tete Montoliu
22. Phineas Newborn, Jr.
23. Teddy Wilson
24. Nat “King” Cole
25. Erroll Garner
26. Cedar Walton
27. Count Basie
28. Dave Brubeck
29. Cyrus Chestnut
30. Lennie Tristano
31. Fats Waller
32. Dick Hyman
33. Wynton Kelly
34. Dave McKenna
35. John Bunch
36. Kenny Barron
37. Bobby Timmons
38. Duke Ellington
39. Earl Hines
40. Jimmy Rowles
41. Ray Bryant
42. Herbie Hancock
43. Jelly Roll Morton
44. Al Haig
45. Derek Smith
46. Ralph Sharon
47. Mary Lou Williams
48. Willie “The Lion” Smith
49. Sir Roland Hanna
50. Keith Jarrett

Normally, there is room for debate in any list like this, but this one is flat-out WRONG! Imagine, Cecil Taylor isn’t even included! Cyrus Chestnut over Herbie Hancock ?! Andre Previn at NUMBER 7 ?!! Has he even recorded any jazz in the last 40 years????

Duke Ellington is #38 and John Bunch is 35 ??!! How does John Bunch even make the list? How does Earl Hines not make the Top Ten? Ralph Sharon BUT NO JAMES P. JOHNSON??? Where’s Herbie Nichols??? You get my point…………

Save yourself $20 that this book costs and spend it on an Art Tatum CD. I imagine that their book of the Top Fifty Reed Players of All Time would include Mezz Mezzrow and Kenny G in the Top Ten!!

1 comment:

Ebert said...

How about Brad Mehldau?