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Just For Fun: My "Top Three" Lists

As a teacher of many different styles of music, I am sometimes asked by students who my favorite musicians are. Obviously, this is a very difficult question to answer because there are so many categories to consider. So, I decided to create “top three” lists for various categories of music/musicians that I listen to on a regular basis, or have listened to extensively in the past. Because it is so difficult to narrow down certain categories to just three artists or groups, I had to expand my lists to include a few more in some cases. Hopefully, both current students and prospective students will find my opinions here to be both interesting and informative, as I believe you can find out a lot about a musician by learning what his/her musical influences are. Certainly, if you want to listen to some high-quality music, the artists in these lists are worth checking out!


Pianists: Keith Jarrett, Bill Evans, Fred Hersch, Thelonious Monk, Nitai Hershkovits

Trumpeters: Freddie Hubbard, Wynton Marsalis, Randy Brecker, Avishai Cohen

Drummers: Paul Motian, Ari Hoenig, Jorge Rossy

Bassists: Eddie Gomez, Christian McBride, Ray Brown

Guitarists: Bill Frisell, Pat Metheny, John Scofield

Tenor Saxophonists: Tim Warfield, Stan Getz, Ned Goold

Alto Saxophonists: Lee Konitz, Charlie Parker, Paul Desmond

Other Instrumentalists: Joey DeFrancesco (organ), Stefon Harris (vibraphone),

J.J. Johnson (trombone), Toots Thielmans (harmonica)

Male Vocalists: Frank Sinatra, J.D. Walter, Harry Connick Jr.

Female Vocalists: Blossom Dearie, Joanna Pascale, Ella Fitzgerald

Instrumental Groups: Paul Motian Trio, Keith Jarrett Trio, Bad Plus, Pilc-Moutin-Hoenig, Wynton Marsalis Quartet ('85-87)

Composers: Pat Metheny, Reid Anderson, Avishai Cohen (bassist)

Arrangers: Gene Puerling, Nelson Riddle, Harry Connick Jr.


Composers (Instrumental): John Adams, Aaron Copland, Gyorgy Ligeti

Composers (Choral): Eric Whitacre, John Rutter, Carlo Gesualdo

Composers (Piano/Keyboard): G.F. Handel, W.A. Mozart, Edvard Grieg, Domenico Scarlatti

Pianists (General): Sviatoslav Richter, Glenn Gould, Emil Gilels, Sergei Rachmaninoff

Pianists for Specific Composers: Andras Schiff (Mozart), John McCabe (Haydn),

Richard Goode (Beethoven), Stephen Kovacevich (Brahms), Alfred Brendel (Schumann, Schubert), Glenn Gould (Bach), Arthur Rubinstien (Chopin), Walter Geiseking (Debussy)

Trumpeters: Wynton Marsalis, Allison Bolsom, Sergei Nakariakov

Other Instrumentalists: Anthony Newman (harpsichord), Siegfried Palm (cello),

Christopher Bowers-Broadbent (organ)

Vocalists: Susan Hochmiller...nobody else comes close!

Ensembles: Oxford Camerata, Kronos Quartet, The Philip Glass Ensemble


Male Vocalists: Peter Gabriel, Ian Axel, Bryan Adams

Female Vocalists: Bonnie Raitt, Natalie Imbruglia, Ariana Grande

Pop Bands: Level 42, Duran Duran, Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark

Pop/Rock Bands: Radiohead, Genesis, Chicago

Rock Bands (guitar based): Huffamoose, Smashing Pumpkins, U2

Songwriters: Billy Corgan, Phil Collins, Genavieve Artadi

Singer-Songwriter Pianists: Bruce Hornsby, Vanessa Carlton, Hannah Georgas

Pop/Rock Instrumentalists: Tony Levin, Jim Keltner, Vito Bratta

CCM Songwriters: Steve & Vikki Cook, Bob Kauflin, Keith & Kristyn Getty

CCM Bands/Collectives: Sovereign Grace, Indelible Grace, Hillsong

CCM Solo Artists: Kari Jobe, Sarah Groves, Sandra McCracken


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