Rulers of Jazz
12" Wooden Ruler made in U.S.A. of American-grown basswood.
A combination of African-American musical traditions, European harmonic language and West African rhythms, jazz is a uniquely and unambiguously American art form. And as a result, the people listed on this ruler are, for the most part, Americans.
But not entirely! Two Frenchmen, Stéphane Grappelli (1908-1997), and Django Reinhardt (1910-1953), both members of the Quintette du Hot Club de France, gave us a unique style that is sometimes called Gypsy Jazz. Oscar Peterson (1925-2007) was from Montréal in Canada and Antônio Carlos Jobim (1927-1994) was a Brazilian songwriter.
The dates listed are the artist’s birth and death years. We also list the instrument that the player was best known for. Having said that, many jazz performers were competent on more than one instrument, and many of them also wrote music. Duke Ellington (1899-1974), listed as a pianist, was one of jazz music’s greatest composers. Chet Baker (1929-1988) was known as a trumpet player, but he also sang wonderfully well. Count Basie (1904-1984) and Benny Goodman (1909-1986), beside being instrumentalists, were brilliant bandleaders.
Just because we have focused mostly on early jazz players doesn’t mean we don’t recognize that there are some terrific younger players and composers working today. Jazz lives!
The “head” image is of New Orleans’ favorite son Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong (1901-1971), a virtuoso trumpet and cornet player with a sophisticated improvisation technique and a gravelly voice. The illustration was influenced by the many photographs made of Armstrong by his friend Jack Bradley, which can be seen in the Louis Armstrong House Museum in Queens, New York.
If you like this ruler, you might also be interested in Rulers of Music, Rulers of the Blues, Great Women Rulers of Music, Rulers of Rock ‘n’ Roll or Rulers of Country Music.