Your favorite (not "The Best", but your favorite) musical instrument player or vocalist

It’s nearly impossible for me to pick a favorite. But this might be interesting.
Name your favorite on any instrument, including vocalist and give at least one example.
I’ll start: Jazz guitarist: Joe Pass

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Alto Sax: Paul Desmond

Either Lonnie Johnson or T Bone Walker. Or, any of a couple hundred others …

I’d have to choose Eva Cassidy as the vocalist and Louis Armstrong as my instrumentalist.


I can name so many. . . but I’ll name someone who is both one of my favorite instrumentalists and favorite vocalist, “Jack” (Weldon Leo) Teagarden.


And another favorite instrumentalist, vocalist (and composer) Thomas “Fats” Waller.


Finally. . . probably a better painter than a singer, but the ne plus ultra of jazz composition and band-leading and one heckuva piano player: the Duke.


Male and female vocalists nonpareil in my opinion:
Frank Sinatra
Ella Fitzgerald

Favorite duo: Ella and Louis


I continue to struggle with the notion of favorite as there is so much good music, musicians and performances out there. As well, there certainly is a quite a bit that I have yet to hear.

Revisiting D.A. Pennebaker’s film short Daybreak Express on the Criterion Channel last night reinforced my delight in hearing Duke Ellington’s music. So yes Duke Ellington is Beyond Category in my book!

For those unfamiliar with the film here it is, BTW it is a film short:

Daybreak Express

I should add I am drawn to sunrises, sunsets, urban landscapes, trains, and jazz.

“Favorite” seems pretty straight forward and fluid to me–favorites can change with broadening experience and even personal circumstance and/or growth.

“Beyond category” may be harder to defend but I wouldn’t argue this case.

Yes fluid it is, but 10 or more come to mind simultaneously. With Duke Ellington, not so much. That’s about all I have to say on the subject of favorites.

Exactly. Folks seem to lose the essential difference between “my favorite” and “the best”.
My favorites change all the time. I just finished listening to several Joe Morello drum examples. He’s my favorite. But then I listened to Art Blakey and Vinnie Colaiuta and Pretty Purdie and…

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My favorite happens to be what I am listening to at the moment, as it conveys my preference.



Astor Piazzolla and his bandoneón. I once bought an Anconetani whose factory was just a few blocks away my house, to no avail though -I’d never be able to master it :slight_smile:


Great answer. I love answers that send me to Google. I’ll be listening to El Gran Astor today. Thanks!

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Singer / lyricist : Chris Cornell

Player (bass) : Geddy Lee

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My most favorite acapella song version by any artist.
Rebekah Del Rio on Llorando, Mulholland Drive, David Lynch [Roy Orbison’s “Crying”]


This is a tough one, I’ll list three. First the favorite instrument player and vocal. My first thought was Richard Thompson (a fantastic guitarist) and his album Rumor and Sigh. He is in peak form being his snarky self.

But then when it comes to guitar I can’t forget this one by Michael Hedges (no vocals). The harp guitar sounds wonderful in his hands.

Side note on this one, while looking for the album cover I noticed the date he died, December 2, 1997. Almost 26 years ago (!) and I still clearly recall where I was when I heard heard the news on NPR during All Things Considered.

One last vocal favorite, Beth Orton and her album Central Reservation. She does a wonderful job of conveying the emotion of the songs to me.



I chose an unfamiliar photograph of her.

She and her singing represents jazz for me in its imperfection, generosity and tragic, not so unusual for the era.

An another unfamiliar photograph of the other favorite singer of mine of a different era.