At 100: These Performers Left An Indelible Mark On Jazz


The musical similarities among all the folks below might be in short supply, but each of these performers irrevocably changed jazz. Whether it was through Art Blakey’s (he was actually born in 1919, but that’s pretty close) tutelage and encouragement of the best jazz composers ever to record or Dave Brubeck’s chart success, the music is better—and dramatically different—than it would have been otherwise.

Below, DownBeat salutes six iconic artists who were born 100 years ago. DB

Art Blakey, the Mightiest Mentor

The Sound and Myth of Charlie Parker at 100

Dave Brubeck’s Legacy Enters a New Era

Clark Terry Fostered Generations of Performers

Shelly Manne Cultivated a Unique Brand from Behind the Kit

Yusef Lateef, The ‘Evolutionist’

  • Casey_B_2011-115-Edit.jpg

    Benjamin possessed a fluid, round sound on the alto saxophone, and he was often most recognizable by the layers of electronic effects that he put onto the instrument.

  • David_Sanborn_by_C_Andrew_Hovan.jpg

    Sanborn’s highly stylized playing and searing signature sound — frequently ornamented with thrill-inducing split-tones and bluesy bent notes — influenced generations of jazz and blues saxophonists.

  • Albert_Tootie_Heath_2014_copy.jpg

    ​Albert “Tootie” Heath (1935–2024) followed in the tradition of drummer Kenny Clarke, his idol.

  • 1_Henry_Threadgills_Zooid_by_Cora_Wagoner.jpg

    Henry Threadgill performs with Zooid at Big Ears in Knoxville, Tennessee.

  • Ambrose_Akinmusire-908Z-5301_copy.jpg

    “I’m also at a point in my life where I don’t feel like I have anything to prove, like at all,” Akinmusire says about his art.

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