Jazz Musicians Looking Fly

Some of the coolest blokes to have ever lived, just doing their thing.
Publish date:

Jazz is often seen as inaccessible, inhabiting a different world from modern popular music, something you might need a textbook and a pork pie hat to understand. Fortunately that's total bollocks.

At its best, jazz speaks directly to the core emotions found in all of us, it's expression from one person to another via their instrument, completely democratic regardless of language or education. Admittedly, trying to find your ground in a tangled web of ageing critics and elitist fans tying themselves in knots arguing about the validity of somebody's playing can be daunting, but in my eye's that's just trainspotters business, and has fuck all to do with what the culture is really about.

On top of that, the young jazz musicians of the '50s are, in my opinion, the most stylish group of blokes that ever existed in popular culture. The likes of Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, and Dizzy Gillespie were the originators and remain the definition of cool. Not enough is said about how stylish they were, in fact: perhaps the monochrome photography makes it more difficult to appreciate the dress sense, but let's not forget that these were men in their twenties rocking double breasted suits, tortoiseshell glasses and pocket squares a good 70 years ago, and with levels of sprezzatura that could only be dreamt about by the stiff-backed pseudo-gents of today.

Featuring Elvin Jones, Max Roach, Dizzy Gillespie, Chet Baker, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Lee Morgan, Sonny Rollins, Vince Guaraldi and Thelonious Monk.

Follow Tom on Twitter @tomdisco