Jazz Master of the Month

Each month, WEAA honors one legend of jazz. Learn more about the artist and his or her work.

Johnny Griffin was a Chicago-born alto and tenor saxophonist. His masterful technique and speed as a bebop saxophonist earned him the title “The Fastest Gun in The West” — but because of his relatively short stature he was more fondly called “The Gentle Giant.” 

On September 7, 1930, Sonny Rollins was born in New York City. Rollins' artistic neighborhood included such musical giants (to-be) as Jackie McLean, drummer Art Taylor and pianist Kenny Drew. 

Charles Mingus was a virtuoso bassist, and an accomplished pianist bandleader, and composer. Mingus favored complex rhythms, mixed harmonies and a combination of structured and free improvisation in his music, drawing heavily from black gospel music and the blues.

Kurt Elling
John Abbott / Flickr

Kurt Elling is a baritone singer with a four octave range. He sings vocalese, the art of performing words over improvised jazz solos.

Abbey Lincoln, born Anna Marie Wooldridge, is one of the most fearless and uncompromising singers of our era. Singing in a style of both bold projection and expressive restraint, critics often compare her to Billie Holiday. Lincoln’s career ranged from acting in Hollywood films, to outspoken civil rights advocacy in the 1960’s.

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