Famous Kansas City Jazz Musicians



As we have said in this website, Kansas City Jazz has provided the world with several important figures that have left an important mark in the landscape of American Jazz. Many famous Kansas City Jazz Musicians went on to be become legend on their own right and influenced generations of other artists with their talents. Here we would like to name a few of the many as a form of tribute to their contribution to Jazz.

Count Basie, he was an American jazz pianist, organist, bandleader, and composer. Basie led his jazz orchestra almost continuously for nearly 50 years. Many notable musicians came to prominence under his direction. Basie's theme songs were 'One O'Clock Jump' and 'April In Paris'.

Charlie Parker, famously called Bird or Yardbird, was an American jazz saxophonist and composer. Parker, with Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington, is widely considered to have been one of the most influential jazz musicians. Parker played a leading role in the development of bebop, a form of jazz characterized by fast tempos, virtuoso technique, and improvisation based on harmonic structure. Parker's innovative approaches to melody, rhythm, and harmony exercised enormous influence on his contemporaries. Several of Parker's songs have become standards, including 'Billie's Bounce', 'Anthropology', 'Ornithology', and 'Confirmation'.

Lester Young nicknamed 'Prez', was an American jazz tenor saxophonist and clarinetist. He also played trumpet, violin, and drums. Coming to prominence while a member of Count Basie's orchestra, Young was one of the most influential players on his instrument, playing with a cool tone and using sophisticated harmonies. He invented or popularized much of the hipster ethos which came to be associated with the music.

Claude Williams, he was an American jazz violinist and guitarist. He was discovered by Count Basie who would invite him to play on his band. Claude "Fiddler" Williams contributed to and influenced the rich and broad landscape of jazz in America and beyond, in 1936 as a guitar player and was recognized by Downbeat Magazine's readers' poll as "Guitarist of the Year."

Coleman Hawkins was an American jazz tenor saxophonist. Hawkins was one of the first prominent jazz musicians on his instrument. Miles Davis constantly cited Coleman Hawkins as one of his peronal favorite musicians.

Bobby Watson is an American post-bop jazz alto saxophonist, composer, producer, and educator. Watson now has 26 recordings as a leader. He appears on nearly 100 other recordings as either co-leader or in a supporting role. Watson has recorded more than 100 original compositions and his long-time publisher.

Bill McGlaughlin is an American composer, conductor, music educator, and Peabody Award-winning classical music radio host. He is the host and music director of the public radio programs Exploring Music and Saint Paul Sunday. He got debut as a conductor in Kansas City.

Chris Burnett is an American saxophone player, composer, veteran of US military jazz bands and band leader. Burnett has noteworthy college-level teaching experience as a former director of the jazz ensemble program at Missouri University of Science and Technology, formerly University of Missouri-Rolla, where he was employed as an Adjunct Lecturer in Music for more than 10 years. He is one of Kansas City Jazz Scene most important figures now a days.