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Top five favourite living jazz pianists


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It is tough. For me, it is hard to separate the pianist from the composer, since the ones topping my list generally wrote most of their own materials. Or were on albums I particularly liked, so great sidemen are also contributing to their score. As someone else wrote, I am looking at the entire career more than their current playing.

Nonetheless top five living pianists:

Andrew Hill

McCoy Tyner

Herbie Hancock

Horace Silver

Jason Moran

Next group would contain Mabern, Ibrahim, Brubeck, Kenny Barron, Uri Caine and Vijay Iyer.

I've been lucky enough to see almost everyone on this list at least once, except for Horace, Vijay Iyer and Ibrahim.

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For me and in no particular order:

Esbjorn Svensson.

Tord Gustavsen.

Keith Jarrett.

Brad Mehldau.

Alexi Tuomarila.

It would be hard to choose between this group.


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Now seriously.

John Hicks - I listened to his playing a lot lately and he became one of my favorites pushing other guys out of the top 5. I saw him in a concert few days ago (with David Murray) and was really impressed with his elegance.

Cyrus Chestnut - love his playing.

Marcus Roberts - a bit overlooked IMHO. Nobody (almost) ever mentions him on this board while I think his album "The Joy of Joplin" is pure genious.

Gonzalo Rubalcaba - great player and becomes better each year.

Mulgrew Miller - same as above.

I need to start exploring guys like Jason Moran and Mathew Sheep.

This list may change and change frequently.

Also dig Enrico Pieranunzi though I think he is heavily influenced by Bill Evans.

Few months ago I'd probably put Brad Mehldau in the top 5 but somehow I got cold to his playing. Probably just had enough and need a break.

Guys like Corea and Hancock are great pianists but I think of them more as creators in general terms that contributed largely to music in the last 40 years.

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Marcus Roberts - a bit overlooked IMHO. Nobody (almost) ever mentions him on this board while I think his album "The Joy of Joplin" is pure genious.

I think he's great - I have all of his CDs and wonder what he will ne up to next. He was on my list. Very original way of treating the jazz history as seen through the keyboard, although quite different from e.g. Jason Moran, whom I appreciate very much and listen to, but who doesn't move me as much.

Edited by mikeweil
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My *personal* favorites (some past their prime) whose *live performances* I've attended would probably be:

Oscar Peterson

Dave Brubeck

Anthony Wonsey

Jessica Williams

Cyrus Chestnut

Wonsey is a real treat, if you get a chance to attend one of his performances.

Honorable mentions: Hank Jones, Cedar Walton

Of those on my live performance *wish list*, I'd love to see Horace Silver & Chucho Valdes.

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OK, I'll redo my list too, since it's changed a bit from a year ago.

Here's my new top-5 list (in no particular order)...

Mulgrew Miller

Herbie Hancock

Jason Moran

McCoy Tyner

Well, that's four anyway.

If I can ever think of anyone else (to bring my total up to five), I'll have to update this post. ;)

Edited by Rooster_Ties
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