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Jazz Singers Male of All Time

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Jazz Singers Male
14 Jun, 2024

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Jazz songs have made a prominent mark in the music industry. Originating in the United States, jazz became popular in the early 1900s. Male jazz singers, in particular, have left an indelible mark on the genre.

From the smooth baritone of Nat King Cole to the vocal prowess of Jon Hendricks, we’ve curated a list of jazz singers who have significantly influenced the world of jazz.

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List of Jazz Singers Male of All Time

1: Frank Sinatra

Frank Sinatra
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Date of birth: December 12, 1915, Hoboken, New Jersey

Date of death: May 14, 1998, Los Angeles, California

Best works:

  • The Voice of Frank Sinatra
  • The Wee Small Hours,
  • Songs for Swingin’ Lovers!

Frank Sinatra, born Francis Albert Sinatra, was an American jazz singer and motion picture actor. He is often regarded as the greatest American singer of 20th-century music. Inspired by Bing Crosby’s recordings, he chose singing as a career.

In addition to his music career, Sinatra enjoyed immense success as a film actor, winning an Academy Award. He is considered one of the best-selling music artists in the world, with an estimated 150 million record sales globally.

With an approximate net worth of $200 million, Sinatra built a successful career among the jazz singers male through music, acting, and business ventures.

2: Louis Armstrong

Louis Armstrong
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Date of birth: August 4, 1901, New Orleans, Louisiana

Date of death: July 6, 1971, New York

Best works:

  • What a Wonderful World
  • La Vie en Rose
  • Lazy River
  • Hello, Dolly

Louis Armstrong, also known by his nicknames “Satchmo,” “Satch,” and “Pops,” was one of the most famous jazz singers male. His career spanned five decades and encompassed several eras in jazz history. Under the mentorship of Joe “King” Oliver, Armstrong became a prominent and musically influential band soloist and recording artist.

During his career, Armstrong garnered numerous awards, including the Grammy Award for Best Male Vocal Performance (1965), the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award (1972), and an induction into the National R&B Hall of Fame (2017).

3: Nat King Cole

Nat King Cole
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Date of birth: March 17, 1919, Montgomery, Alabama

Date of death: February 15, 1965, California, United States

Best works:

  • Unforgettable
  • Smile
  • L.O.V.E
  • Nature Boy

Nat King Cole, born Nathaniel Adams Coles, was an American singer, jazz pianist, and actor. During his career, which spanned almost three decades, he recorded over 100 songs that became hits on the pop charts.

King Cole first gained fame as a jazz pianist while leading the Nat King Cole Trio. After the disbandment of the band, he transitioned into a successful solo singer. Despite achieving mainstream success, King Cole faced racial discrimination during his career.

Nat King Cole was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and received a Special Achievement Golden Globe Award.

In addition to his illustrious music career, Cole hosted the NBC variety series The Nat King Cole Show from 1956 to 1957, making history as the first nationally televised show hosted by an African American.

4: Kurt Elling

Kurt Elling
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Date of birth: November 2, 1967, Chicago, Illinois

Best works:

  • Dedicated to You
  • Secrets Are the Best Stories
  • Endless Lawns

Kurt Elling, a jazz singer and songwriter, was raised in Rockford. His father sparked his interest in music at a Lutheran church. During his young age, he sang in choirs and played various musical instruments.

Elling began performing around Chicago, scat singing and improvising his lyrics. There, he met pianist Laurence Hobgood, recorded a demo in the early 1990s, and subsequently signed with Blue Note Records (an American jazz record label).

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Elling embraces listeners with his warm, rich baritone and navigates the full span of his four-octave range as a virtuoso improviser and a compelling storyteller. The New York Times has proclaimed Elling “the standout male vocalist of our time.”

5: Mel Tormé

Mel Tormé
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Date of birth: September 13, 1925, Chicago, Illinois

Date of death: June 5, 1999, Los Angeles, California

Best works:

  • Lament to Love
  • The Christmas Song
  • Swingin’ on the Moon

Mel Tormé, also known as “The Velvet Fog,” was born Melvin Howard Tormé. He was an American singer, songwriter, composer, arranger, pianist, drummer, actor, and author—one of the 20th century’s most versatile, respected, and influential male jazz singers.

Tormé began his music career as a child prodigy. Just before he turned 17, he started touring with Chico Marx’s band. In 1943, he debuted in the movie and musical “Higher and Higher.” He also marked his career with two Grammy Awards.

With a career that included more than 60 albums, Tormé’s life left a lasting impact on the jazz industry.

6: Chet Baker

Chet Baker
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Date of birth: December 23, 1929, Yale, Oklahoma

Date of death: May 13, 1988, Amsterdam

Best works:

  • Let’s Get Lost
  • My Funny Valentine
  • Chet
  • Almost Blue

Chesney Henry Baker, aka Chet Baker, was an iconic jazz trumpeter and vocalist. His undeniable talent and creativity marked his career, but it was also plagued by addiction.

Belonging to a musical family, Chet Baker started by singing in the church choir. His singing career took off when he released “Chet Baker Sings” in 1954. His mellow voice and dreamy quality helped broaden his appeal to the wider public.

Between 1966 and 1974, Chet Baker mostly played flugelhorn and recorded what must be considered slick mood music. Despite his struggles with addiction, he managed to stage a comeback in the 70s. However, his untimely death in 1988 cut short his potential.

7: Ray Charles

Ray Charles
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Date of birth: September 23, 1930, Albany, Georgia

Date of death: June 10, 2004, Beverly Hills, California

Best works:

  • Georgia on My Mind
  • Swingin’ Along
  • Ballad in Blue

Ray Charles Robinson was an iconic pianist, singer, composer, and bandleader. He was often referred to as “The Genius” and is regarded as one of the most influential jazz singers male in history.

Tragically, Charles lost his sight at the age of seven, possibly due to glaucoma. Despite this challenge, he pioneered the soul music genre during the 1950s by blending blues, jazz, and R&B in his recordings for Atlantic Records.

Charles achieved numerous successes, with multiple singles and albums reaching the Top 40, Top 100, and Top 200 on various Billboard charts. He was also among the first black musicians to be granted full artistic control by a mainstream record company.

8: Gregory Porter

Gregory Porter
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Date of birth: November 4, 1971, Sacramento, California

Best works:

  • Take Me to the Alley
  • Liquid Spirit
  • Christmas Wish

Gregory Porter is an acclaimed American singer, songwriter, and actor. His deep-rooted love for jazz and soul music led him to pursue a music career. He quickly gained recognition as one of the most powerful jazz singers male of his generation.

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His career began singing in small jazz clubs in San Diego. By working odd jobs during the day and performing at clubs at night, Porter got a break in 2013 when he signed with Blue Note Records.

His album “Liquid Spirit” enjoyed commercial success rarely achieved by jazz albums, reaching the top 10 on the UK album charts. Porter’s international acclaim and collaborations with legendary artists further solidified his musical legacy.

9: Cab Calloway

Cab Calloway
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Date of birth: December 25, 1907, Rochester, New York

Date of death: November 18, 1994, Hockessin, Delaware

Best works:

  • Minnie the Moocher
  • Kickin’ the Gong Around
  • Reefer Man

Cabell Calloway III was an American bandleader and all-around entertainer among talented jazz singers male. He was regarded as “the most unusually and broadly gifted male singer of the ’30s” by jazz scholar Gunther Schuller.

From law school to directing bands at nightclubs in New York City, Cab Calloway rose to fame primarily on the strength of his appeal. Throughout his career, he collaborated with legendary jazz musicians, including pianist Bennie Payne, saxophonist Chu Berry, trombonist-vibraphonist Tyree Glenn, drummer Cozy Cole, and trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie. Calloway’s life and career left a significant impact on the world of jazz and popular music.

10: Jon Hendricks

Jon Hendricks
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Date of birth: September 16, 1921, Newark, Ohio

Date of death: November 22, 2017, New York City

Best works:

  • Times of Love
  • Tell Me the Truth
  • Cloudburst

Jon Hendricks, born John Carl Hendricks, was a jazz singer and lyricist. He is considered one of the originators of vocalese and one of the best practitioners of scat singing.

Hendricks received his early musical training from piano prodigy Art Tatum. Later, he formed the legendary vocal trio— Hendricks, Dave Lambert, and Annie Ross. While touring Europe and Africa, he appeared frequently on British television and in films such as Jazz is Our Religion and Hommage to Cole Porter. In his later years, Hendricks settled in London.

FAQs

Who is the best male jazz singer?

Frank Sinatra is considered one of the best male jazz singers, known for his smooth voice and remarkable phrasing.

Who was the old male jazz singer?

Louis Armstrong, born in 1901, was the oldest male jazz singer.

Which singer is the king of jazz?

The title “King of Jazz” is often associated with Paul Whiteman. His profound influence on the jazz genre earned him this cultural appellation.

Who is the godfather of jazz?

Louis Armstrong is the godfather of jazz. He was a trumpeter and vocalist who profoundly influenced jazz’s development.

Who were the famous jazz musician brothers?

Often considered the “first family of jazz,” the Marsalis family, particularly brothers Wynton and Branford, significantly influenced jazz in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

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