“Least Wanted” jazz artists – a “Gladiator” Poll



The Jazz Gladiators Poll

You have had your say, which jazz musicians you can’t stand, can’t fathom, or who simply leave you cold. Musical taste is a personal thing – this could be controversial. Membership of The League of Jazz Rejects seem to be either those artists who have strayed too far – the trop avant garde, or those have strayed too far the other way, the Bland on the Run, following fads rather than ploughing the lonely furrow of a true artist suffering for his art. Nominations are now closed, too late to add more, it’s time to vote, show your true colours, show your nasty side.

There is a twist, of course, this is LJC.  You have two opportunities.

Thumbs-DownThe first poll No. 1, you can give the thumbs down to as many artists in the list as you wish. Check back frequently to see how your pet hates are fareing. Pile on the misery. Gloating permitted. Find out how many others share your dislikes.


Thumbs-UpIn Poll No. 2,the same list of artists is available and in this poll you can instead give the thumbs up those artists you wish to be spared, who have been wrongly accused, misunderstood, those you really like. Rescue your heroes from the “inessential” tag oblivion.


Ultimately responsibility for the decision who to include and not include is mine: it’s my party, I decide who gets invited. Your responsibility is voting. Be ruthless. You are wearing the Emperor’s laurels. The power is yours: who is condemned and who is saved.

First the Thumbs Down Poll:

Which of these artists have you reaching for your coat and the door?







Now the Thumbs Up Poll

Which  in your opinion are truly great artists/musicians that others have simply failed to appreciate?





Polldaddy service for WordPress now allows polls to remain open for a maximum of one week (previously indefinitely) , so get busy! Feel the Hate! Save your Heroes!

Comments are open, the floor remains yours, if you feel a need to explain yourself. I just light the blue touch-paper…



42 thoughts on ““Least Wanted” jazz artists – a “Gladiator” Poll

  1. While i understand why people don’t rate Herbie Mann too high i wonder if those people ever listened to some of his early works ? Albums like Flute Souffle & Flute Flight on Prestige (both with Bobby Jaspar) are fantastic imho & get a lot of play round here, also Nirvana on Atlantic (with Bill Evans, no less) is a fabulous album. The man did record a lot of easy listening stuff but also some fine music.

    Regarding Sun Ra, i can’t listen to most of his his countless experimental releases but many of his more ‘traditional’ albums are just brilliant & should appeal to any serious jazz listener.

    & finally i can agree that Alice Coltrane & Pharoah Sanders recorded too much of the same thing (which can be quite boring) but my jazz library wouldn’t be complete with some of their better releases (Ptah The El Daoud & Thembi for example).

    • I’d love to have this removed, since it should be no offense and I should leave it as well.
      I just don’t like thinking of something good and bad. It’s ideally just not my gusto and I am better off making peace with it. So sorry for the interruption. You have my okay for deleting these posts. Thanks!

    • genres are flexible. he plays in a jazz idiom, even if he does it poorly and disgustingly. does that make him jazz? dunno, but he sure is filed under jazz at wal-mart.

        • During this weekends get away with a rather large group of my golf buds, I made negative comments concerning Kenny G and Chris Botti’s non relevance to jazz over dinner and drinks, and was roundly scorned for my exclusive position on what musicians are worthy of the title “Jazz Musician”.

          My conclusion: Music, like sports cars, is personal. If a fellow wishes to listen to that trash Kenny G and Botti produce, let them. You can’t convince them there is something better. Which makes me happy for sites like this.

          Trying to educate the “uninitiated” on the relevence of jazz musicians who paid their dues is like trying to skate up hill on ice. I am not a patience man in this respect, and find it easier to let them remain in their smooth jazz world.

          This position does not address the Anthony Braxtons and Cecil Taylors of the world. That critique is a whole other thesis.

          • cal: opinions change plenty. electric miles used to be my favorite thing, but only because i hadn’t really given much of a listen to other things. i still love electric miles, but some of the earlier stuff just started to ‘click’ more.

            i feel like one is entitled to trash kenny g for clearly focusing his energy on appealing commercially to the lowest common denominator. whether you like cecil/braxton/etc, one cannot argue the fact that they play music true to their ideals with no regard for its commercial appeal. by virtue of this alone, i feel like one must respect cecil while not necessarily enjoying him. the same is not true of kenny.

            • Smooth jazz is a natural for radio because it is essentially an accompaniment to other activities, like driving, ironing, even golf, anything where music that demanded your attention would be an intrusion, or even a danger. Imagine playing golf to Eric Dolphy, driving to Cecil Taylor’s Unit Structures, ironing with Ornette’s Free Jazz double quartet.

              I guess it is the difference between background music and foreground music.

              Personally, I never do anything else while listening to music, and don’t use music portably as a background to travelling (though I am seriously reconsidering the latter as a means of blocking out other people’s inane chatter on their mobile phones.)

              • I am with you on all points LJC.

                Although I must confess, I once used an iPod to listen to jazz while jogging. This was many years ago, and I don’t anymore because I found myself paying more attention to the music than pacing my run.

                During that brief period one of my favorite albums to listen to while running was Miles’ “Jack Johnson.” You must admit, Jack Johnson has nice rhythmic pace and even a interlude where things slow down and then kick back in – like a long distance runner.

              • i have music playing almost 24/7 in my life. active, non-active… i listen in every way. and often it is very rewarding.

              • no, no, no! everything I’m doing, I listen to Jazz, from 9 am as I enter my office to late night as I go to sleep. I’m not accustomed to work without my music: I don’t like silence ’round me. this afternoon, after visiting him for the first time, a patient told me: I would like to stay here more, I really enjoyed the music on (Joe Pass).

                • I am with. Music in my bedroom, bathroom, living room, car and office. And Lacy, Mingus, Nelson/Dolphy, Taylor, Nichols when running. Has been my salvation in a marathon.

            • Greg – I agree concerning Cecil and Braxton – both are trying to find something different and they are both accomplished musicians. So we ought to give them their props for at least going beyond the standards.

              • yeah. i like cecil. i don’t really like braxton. but they both are pure artists, worth of respect, if you ask me.

                • I love Cecil, one of the most interesting and innovative jazz musicians. I find his 50’s and early 60 stuff actually very swinging. Incredible energy and drive. I find it hard to endure Braxton. But I also have difficulties with old and new Coltrane. The melancholy tone of his horn gets me down, and I hardly ever put on his music. To each their own. Sadly the poll was skewed towards the extremes of avant garde and easy listening. Surprised LJC left out The Art Ensemble of Chicago

                  • AEC? No one nominate them in the first round. The names in this poll were put forward by posters. If I were to run it again, I would have included a lot of other artists, like Jimmy Smith, for example. Still, the post has had massive viewer figures. Got to hit the spot.

                    • Jimmy Smith – good one! I have some of those records, how drab indeed. After having intoxicated myself enough it is now time for AEC’s The Spiritual. Lovely. The post indeed hit the spot, I felt I had come to Ellington and Cecil Taylor’s defense.

    • yes, Merrill: there’s a very rare record on Italian RCA called: Parole e musica (Words and music) in which the lyrics of a series of standards are told in Italian by an actor, and then sung by Helen in English.

  2. I’d probably put it this way: How many vocalists are not somehow jazz vocalists? Jazz singers such as Billie Holiday and Louis Armstrong invented modern jazz/pop singing so it is not surprising that people are now confused as to what is a ‘jazz singer’ might be. Is Stevie Wonder a jazz singer? To me he is.

    • This all depends on your definition of Jazz. For me no matter what the style the essential ingredient is improvisation, the solo. Vocalists are very limited in what they can do here, so by definition they are not Jazz.
      The closest to a Jazz singer or singers that I can think of are very few, Bobby McFerrin would qualify and perhaps Lambert, Hendrick and Ross.
      The whole Jazz singing thing is a sell out, it compromises the real stuff.
      If you look at the headline acts at this weekends Cheltenham Jazz Festival, you have Curtis Stigers, Curt Elling and Jammie Cullim. GET ME A BUCKET!

    • Hey Andy, if I may, I don’t think Stevie considers himself a jazz singer. Stevie has been around a long time, staring out as a soul and R&B singer and very accomplished musician with Barry Gordy. I believe he knows better to parade himself as a jazz musician with the likes of Sarah, Ella, Carmen, or Billie.

      Chaka Khan sung some jazz style tunes on her “Epipany” CD, but I don’t she would classify herself a jazz musician. . . .more a well rounded singer/musician.

      What are your thoughts on Shirley Horn and Diana Krell, or Norah Jones and Cassandra Wilson? I group them in this manner because of their similarities in my way of thinking.

  3. Great post as always – only yesterday I was reflecting to a friend on my recent foray into free-jazz (of the deeper kind than Dear old Ornette) and testing the recordings of Messrs Taylor, Shepp, Rivers and Ra – and then turning back to more normal fare for breath and sanity.

  4. If there is a god in Jazz, his name is Duke Ellington. I would have loved to see his ‘ 50s bigband live

  5. Ok, I will listen to my copy of Everybody Digs Bill Evans (Riverside Mono 291 Blue Label DG, NM) a few more times. Maybe I am missing something…

  6. honestly, the current poll result reflect pretty accurately my experiences with most other jazz fans. still, though, later coltrane to me is like listening to the mind of god. i don’t really get how people don’t like it, but it takes all kinds.

    also, i challenge those who upvoted brubeck to a street rumble. 🙂

  7. done but: while I’ve little interest in general vocalists, I DO love Lady Day. as I was uncertain what to do I didn’t vote, but Lady Day is number one for me.

    • For me vocalists is such a broad category. I love Billie, Ella, Louis and many others, but there’s plenty of others i can’t stand (including many modern “jazz” singers).

      • I also think it’s difficult to describe a jazz vocalist. Looked up this list of 100 greatest jazz vocalists and I wouldn’t files a large portion of them under jazz:


        Cab Calloway, Big Joe Turner, Ray Charles, Etta James and so on. I wouldn’t even file Frank, Mel, Nat, Dinah, Norah and many others under jazz. Which brings me to a question…what makes a jazz vocalist anyway?

        • I’d probably put it this way: How many vocalists are not somehow jazz vocalists? Jazz singers such as Billie Holiday and Louis Armstrong invented modern jazz/pop singing so it is not surprising that people are now confused as to what is a ‘jazz singer’ might be. Is Stevie Wonder a jazz singer? To me he is.

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