best improvisers

December 14, 2007 at 06:52 PM · Who is the best improviser you have ever heard?

Replies (24)

December 14, 2007 at 06:53 PM · The masterpiece album "Kind of Blue" by Miles Davis is the best-selling jazz CD of all-time. It is one of the greatest albums ever made in any genre.

What is astonishing is that the album was created entirely by improvisation, with only vague modal conceptions as a guide. The music was written as they went along.

The legendary musicians that created this masterpiece on the fly were Miles Davis (trumpet), John Coltrane (tenor saxophone), Cannonball Adderly (alto saxophone), Bill Evans (piano), Jimmy Cobb (drums), Paul Chambers (bass), and Wynton Kelly (piano on one piece).

Check out "Kind of Blue," my nomination for best improvisation.

December 14, 2007 at 07:29 PM · If I have to pick the best improviser at this moment it is Eric Dolphy.

Check out these solos:

Tomorrow I will probably have a different answer.


December 14, 2007 at 08:34 PM · Maxim Vengerov studied jazz improvisation for Didier Lochwood a while ago. Check out Maxim and

I wouldn´t be surprised if many of todays classical violinist actually have more talent for improvisation then classical violin playing

December 14, 2007 at 09:51 PM · Florin Nicolescu is brilliant!

December 14, 2007 at 09:57 PM · Andreas;

Who is your improv. player and why?

December 15, 2007 at 08:10 AM · "Andreas;

Who is your improv. player and why?"

L.shankar peak higher the highest among violinplayers, the ones I heard at least.

Many of his recordings from the seventies are amazing.

Indian violinplaying was something entirely new when I heard Shankar for the first time that may be the reason that I loved it. It sounded so different to what I heard before.

December 15, 2007 at 08:22 AM · Todd-I got my chops wet chilling to Miles... What wonderful memories--unrelated, but thank you.

Now, there, is flow--and quietness. Speaking of improv. though, Herbie Hancock is God.

December 15, 2007 at 09:41 AM · I always liked Vince Guaraldi.

They're playing all the Christmas arrangements at the local grocery store now, and when "Christmas Time is Here" plays, I find myself standing in the health food aisle, just standing and feeling a bit melancholy without knowing exactly why, until my ears tell me it's because Vince Guaraldi is playing a solo.

December 15, 2007 at 12:01 PM · That's interesting. Shankar takes some space in my music collection. Talk about someone who get's absorbed in their music! Where did the humanbeing end and the music/instrument begin.

December 15, 2007 at 05:38 PM · There are so many areas of improvisation, from blues through jazz to free-form and avant-garde, not to mention French church organ music.

How can we compare or contrast Dolphy with Shankar, for example? I haven't heard Shankar play chord changes, but he has a terrific modal/linear vocabulary in his Indian tradition, while Dolphy can play changes, but often just does what he wants within his free jazz tradition.

Well, I might say the best improvising players are those who can explore the most areas of tonality and time, as well as using a variety of tones, and moving me emotionally.

Who does this for me most consistently? Any number of the great jazzers and free players. Too many to mention, but Michael Brecker has to hold a high position in this ranking, as do Eric Dolphy, Herbie Hancock, Sonny Rollins... ah to name them all is crazy as they all had their stories to tell.


December 15, 2007 at 06:30 PM · An improviser who sometimes is almost alone in his greatness among musicians alive today is Allan Holdsworth

He started to play violin and saxophone and he was a violin virtuoso in his teens. He found these instruments to limited, he wanted to interesting harmonies as well so he switched to guitar at the age of 17 and a while later he rewrote the book of electric guitar all by himself.

December 15, 2007 at 07:53 PM · Floyd Kramer (maybe Cramer), on piano, is just really good at making music his own, then adding just all kinds of perfectly fluid color and balanced depth. No crunching there--for sure.

December 15, 2007 at 07:52 PM · I nearly put Holdsworth in my list, but decided that although he is incredible at what he does, he just doesn't have the range for me.


December 15, 2007 at 08:30 PM · Holdsworth yes! I didn't know that he started out on violin, I learned something today. Avant Garde Cello is Zoe Keating. On her uTube interview with a TV news chanel she played a peice that she came up with on the spot at a gig. Her laptop, or something went down and so just came up with something. She played something then layered 15 other improved parts with her cello over the other then went into a melody. Yet Remembered All The Layers to repeat the Song! I hope you can find it, she is really good! i'm glad she left Rasputina.

December 16, 2007 at 12:08 AM · I want to hear what Mr. Steiner has to say about the all-famous Milstein tricks.

December 16, 2007 at 02:49 AM · Charlie Parker, anyone?

Joe Pass, Bill Evans (piano), Paco de Lucia, Django Reinhart, Stephane Grappelli, Gary Burton, Jethro Burns.

December 30, 2007 at 05:42 PM · Pianist Gabriela Montero from Venezuela (a protege of Martha Argerich).

December 30, 2007 at 06:10 PM · Mark Feldman....fantastic!!!

December 31, 2007 at 03:00 AM · I second the motion for Gabriela Montero. She's just amazing!

January 2, 2008 at 07:51 PM · I much prefer miles "58 sessions" to "kind of blue" the tunes are just superior like green dolphin, stella, love for sale - leaves me speachless everytime i hear it

Coltrane was always my favorite for single notes and Bill Evans was always for chord melody and voice leading, I have over 50 Coltrane cds, theyre all different and all fantastic even when playing the same tune he never does the same thing twice, I can also fully recommend the recordings Evans made just after leaving Miles.

January 2, 2008 at 08:54 PM · "Coltrane was always my favorite for single notes "

yup, me too! Though since 1987, Arthur Blythe has surpassed JC

hee hee hee hee hee!



January 2, 2008 at 09:19 PM · Edgar Meyer does some great improvisation . . . many of the tracks on his "Solo" album have improvised sections. His writing has a really nice flow . . . always logical, but never predictable.

January 3, 2008 at 08:00 AM · "yup, me too! Though since 1987, Arthur Blythe has surpassed JC "

Not sure about that, Michael Brecker surpassed Coltrane I think though.

January 3, 2008 at 08:27 PM · Errol Garner ,of course!!!

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