OK, here goes:

Name a few influential jazz composers who wrote a ton of music, led bands and have left a large historical documentation of their work, who are often overlooked by the teach-ocracy.

Here are the qualifications:

Ability to communicate to the musicians before the fact, either verbally or on the score.

Ability to command the attention of the players and get a great performance.

Technique in this communication, ie ability to follow through fully and develop “compositions” that express one or many ideas.

Facility in honing this technique over time, creating a unique sound and style, and giving us something to enjoy and talk about after the fact.

Ability to write transparently, so the composer’s intent flows through the entire process and is received by the listener, even 90 years later via media (wax, vinyl, digi media) or by new performance from score or transcription.

My short list: Sun Ra, Gerry Mulligan, Ornette Coleman, Dave Brubeck and the early work of Duke Ellington. Discuss.


About Scott Healy

LA composer and performer.
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