Celebrating the wonders of Jazz music.
April 30th marks the celebration of Jazz music worldwide. Originating from the African-American communities of New Orleans, Jazz was a development from blues and ragtime, establishing its own identity in the late 19th century.
Considered by many as America's classical music, it is recognised as a major form of musical expression and is a widely favoured genre of listening. Depicting love, protesting racism, and the culture of the time, Jazz music as a whole carries some of the most meaningful and thought-provoking messages in music.
Musicians such as Buddy Rich and Herbie Hancock created huge Jazz sounds, but in this feature we will focus on the singers who popularised Jazz with big bands and even bigger voices.
To celebrate the uplifting, soulful sound of Jazz, here's a look at seven singers who changed the face of Jazz music. We've also included a playlist of some classic jazz tracks, so you can relax, perhaps play the saxophone or even do the Charleston this evening, should you feel obliged to appreciate the great sound of New Orleans.
Louis Armstrong - one of the most influential figures in jazz. A trumpeter, composer, and vocalist whose talents even reached into acting.
With one of the most unique voices in not just Jazz, but all music, Louis Armstrong had to be the first artist on this list. The spine-tingling sound of Louis' music will without a doubt stand the test of time for many, many years to come.
Songs to listen to: What a Wonderful World, Dream a Little Dream (with Ella Fitzgerald), La Vie en Rose.
The first musician I ever properly listened to and explored the music of - admittedly because I heard Muse's cover of Feeling Good and was led to the full works of Nina Simone. I was only probably only 9 or 10 years old.
Songs to listen to: Feeling Good, I Put a Spell on You, Sinnerman, My Baby Just Cares For Me, Baltimore, Strange Fruit. Just download all her music.
One of the most recognizable names in Jazz - and not just because it's so cool. A trumpeter, bandleader, composer and singer, he is a talented musician in more ways than one. Born John Birks Gillespie in South Carolina 1917, Dizzy introduced his own original sound to the Jazz scene.
Songs to listen to: On the Sunny Side of the Street, All The Things You Are, Con Alma.
Nat King Cole
Nat King Cole was an American jazz pianist and vocalist, born in 1919. He recorded over 100 songs, many of which became pop hits - taking jazz elements and implementing them into popular culture. Not only was he a hugely successful musician, but his creative talents led him to film, television and Broadway.
As a youngster, Nat would sneak out to the house to sit outside clubs and listen to other musicians such as Louis Armstrong and Earl Hines. That's a passion for jazz right there.
Songs to listen to: L.O.V.E, Smile, Unforgettable.
Strange Fruit and describes the chilling protest of the racism of the time - particularly the lynching of African Americans - really left a mark on me that I've carried and considered for years.
Originally written as a poem by Abel Meeropol, who was Billie's teacher, the song has gone on to be re-released by other artists such as Nina Simone, UB40 and Jeff Buckley.
I personally find this to be one of the most important pieces of music of the 20th century, and one which really opened my eyes as a teenager to the unimaginably difficult realities that African-Americans faced during this particular time.
Songs to listen to: Strange Fruit, I'll Be Seeing You, Easy Living
Born in North Carolina in 1926 was one of the musicians that took jazz and pioneered the free jazz sound. John Coltrane was a musician through and through, with his talents including playing the clarinet, alto sax and alto horn.
In 1945, he enlisted in the navy, and his first recordings were made whilst he was a sailor.
Songs to listen to: Naima, In a Sentimental Mood, Blue Train.
Miles Davis was born in 1926 in Illinois, and was a jazz trumpeter, bandleader, composer and undoubtedly one of the most influential figures in the history of jazz and in 20th century music as a whole.
He studied at the Juilliard School in NYC, but dropped out to make a professional debut. He played the saxophone in Charlie Parker's bebop quintet, later going on to record sessions which developed cool jazz, quite rightly named Birth of the Cool.
Active for a total of 42 years, Miles Davis is an acclaimed figure on the jazz scene, one whose music will stand the test of time.
Songs to listen to: So What, Flamenco Sketches, Blue in Green.
Ben E King
Everyone knows who Ben E King is. He took elements of Jazz, Doo-Wop and R&B and turned it into a sound that oozed soul.
Born in North Carolina in 1938, Benjamin moved to Harlem, New York aged 9. It was here where he began singing in church choirs and in the Four B's - a doo-wop group that occasionally performed at the Apollo.
Songs to listen to: Stand By Me, Supernatural Thing Pt 1, Spanish Harlem.
And here is your mix of original jazz tracks and the sounds that developed from the genre.