A New(ish) Generation of Jazzers Moves Music Forward

Here is a list of young(er) musicians making serious waves in the jazz world.

Many of them are already established stars with busy performing and teaching careers, but there is some youth here.

The level of creativity, technical command and overall musicianship of these artists is proof indeed that the music is in more than capable hands.


Jacob Collier

Multi Instrumentalist

Jacob Collier

Around 2010, self-produced videos of this quirky looking teenager singing multiple parts and playing every instrument appeared on several social media sites.

A cover of Stevie Wonder’s Don’t You Worry ‘Bout A Thing was the beginning of a flood of multi-tracked, heavily produced arrangements that Jacob began putting out.

He’s an astonishing talent, playing drums, bass and keyboards, while pushing the boundaries of computer-based, looping-style productions and technology.

Listen to some recommended tracks here and here.


Robert Glasper

Piano

Robert Glasper

Mr Glasper is a pianist, arranger, producer and songwriter.

His afro-hip-hop-jazz trio stylings have attracted new listeners to the music.

He played keyboards on Kendrick Lamarr’s How to Pimp A Butterfly and his ongoing Black Radio series has featured Jill Scott, Lupe Fiasco and Erykah Badu.

Part of a re-energized west-coast scene, Robert Glasper continues to tour and push the boundaries of jazz music.

Listen to some recommended tracks here and here.


Melissa Aldana

Tenor Sax

Melissa Aldana

Born in Santiago, Chile, to musical parents, Aldana was exposed to the language of jazz before she could speak Spanish.

She went to the Berklee School of Music and released her first album, Free Fall in 2010.

In 2013, she won the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone Competition.

She also won a Grammy for Best Improvised Jazz Solo in 2019 from her album Visions (Motéma) .

She’s currently busy touring the world and being a mom.

Listen to some recommended tracks here and here.


Julian Lage

Guitar

Julian Lage

I first heard Julian play I’ll Be Seeing You in a YouTube video featuring Scott Colley on bass, and Kenny Wollesen on drums.

I’d never heard a Fender Telecaster sound this way.

Born in Dec 1987, he was a child prodigy who would go on to perform at the 2000 Grammy awards at the age of 12.

He’s currently a Blue Note artist and is on the faculty at the New England Conservatory Of Music.

Listen to some recommended tracks here and here.


Joey Alexander

Piano

Joey Alexander

Born in Bali, Indonesia in 2003, Joey is another childhood prodigy.

His command of the jazz language, and the technical demands of the piano is beyond many seasoned professionals.

A Youtube clip of him playing Coltrane’s Giant Steps in a practice room went viral and for good reason.

He too is busy touring and spreading the jazz message to those willing whose ears are open.

Listen to some recommended tracks here and here.


Gretchen Parlato

Vocals

Gretchen Parlato

Like all the artists here, Gretchen Parlato has a unique and personal approach to her craft.

Her live recording of Herbie Hancock’s “Butterfly” is a study in subtlety, control and tempo.

She’s performed with Herbie, Wayne Shorter, Esperanza Spalding and Lionel Loueke.

Awards include The Thelonius Monk Jazz Vocals Competition winner in 2004, and ” Best Vocal Album, NPR Music Jazz Critics Poll (2011), The Lost and Found”

Listen to some recommended tracks here and here.


Kamasi Washington

Tenor Saxophone

Kamasi Washington

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Washington went on to study ethnomusicology at UCLA where he began performing with jazz veterans such as Kenny Burrell and Billy Higgins.

He played saxophone on Kendrick Lamarr’s breakthrough How To Pimp A Butterfly.

He’s performed with Robert Glasper , Thundercat, Herbie Hancock, Lauryn Hill, Snoop Dog and Wayne Shorter.

Listen to some recommended tracks here and here.


Esperanza Spalding

Basses and voices

Esperanza Spalding

Born in 1984, Ms Spalding is a bassist, singer, songwriter and band leader.

Spalding has said that, for her, discovering the bass was like “waking up one day and realizing you’re in love with a co-worker.

She’s won five Grammy awards and continues to push boundaries of what the bass and the voice can do.

When not touring the world’s stages and festivals, she teaches at The Berklee College Of Musician

Listen to some recommended tracks here and here.


Emmet Cohen

Piano

Emmet Cohen

Emmet Cohen came to many peoples attention through his social media concert feed, “Live From Emmets place” that started during the pandemic.

Live From Emmets Place brings mostly new-generation jazz performers to sit in with his trio.

It’s all recorded and broadcast with great production values both video and audiowise.

A gifted pianist and composer, he was a recipient of the 2019 American Pianists Award and the Cole Porter Fellow of the American Pianists Association award.

His live concerts on social media which started during the pandemic lockdowns, introduced a whole new generation of players to new audiences and vice-versa.

Listen to some recommended tracks here and here.


Seamus Blake

Tenor Saxophone

Seamus Blake

Like most of the others listed here, Seamus Blake is an established international star.

He won the Thelonious Monk International Saxophone Competition in 2002 and has since led both his own groups and appeared as a sideman with among others, The Mingus Big Band, Dave Kikoski, ad , Erci Reed.

Listen to some recommended tracks here and here.


A word about the title: even though the artists mentioned are all international stars, there is a broad, somewhat arbitrary line between new generation and old-school jazz artists. In the latter category I put Miles Davis, Coltrane, Bird.

Stay tuned for an upcoming New Generation Jazzers companion piece. There’s a ton of talent out there!

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