Names like Coltrane, Basie, Ellington and Davis sound in the ears of young jazz musicians and they’re inspired.
The same can be said however, when those same names sound in the ears of stylish young men.
Big musicians of the day have always been style icons, and they didn’t get any bigger than in the age of jazz.
With their free and easy style, the jazz greats set the pace for future musical stars to come. Cop their classic styles with our advice.
Miles (Miles Davis)
It’s hard to ignore Miles Davis, one of the most enduring names in the world of jazz. Early on, his style in both dress and music was more traditional. His looks were classic, and aged well over the years.
He could be spotted in plain suits, with crisp cotton shirts underneath, that would come undone as the night wore on.
Stick with this classic era look, for a classic homage to the king of blues. To emulate that worn out look, try drip drying your button-down shirts. It’ll produce a wrinkled, boho looking collar.
The Count (Count Basie)
Frank Sinatra once commented that he wanted his shows to be classy affairs. Ones that required that his audience dress for dinner, just as he did. Count Basie agreed with this attitude, and the two collaborated for three albums.
Eveningwear should be sharp, and classic.
Bow ties, shirts with studs, and classic tuxes are key. Balance this staid look with a certain easy carefree attitude.
Basie was renowned for being able to make a big band carry the sound and atmosphere of a small band. Make yourself able to carry yourself in a tux the same way you would in jeans and t-shirt.
The Duke (Duke Ellington)
The young Edward Kennedy Ellington was raised around women. His mother wanted his son to have great manners and ‘live elegantly’. She did a great job. He was known for his easy grace, fine manners and careful appearance.
Though much can be said for the man’s long, extensive life, and musical career, we feel the best thing to take from jazz’s Duke, is the need to carry yourself with the bearing and manners of a real gentleman.
The Monk (Thelonious Monk)
Thelonious Monk’s name and style looms large over young pianists, with an eclectic style, fast fingers, and incorrigible attitude. Monk lived the best that we ask for from our jazzmen.
A self-taught genius, Monk was renowned for his inventiveness on the keys and in his own personal style. He’d dance, he’d shout, he’d whoop, and he did it all with his own distinct look.
It wasn’t unusual to see the man in full beard, with a Chinese mandarin’s hat and sunglasses, pounding away on the keys. Don’t be afraid to blaze your own path.
The heart of jazz is freedom of personal expression within certain confines. Understand how the structure of the song works, and you can be free to play with it.
- Miles Davis was the son of a dentist and blues pianist, and Juliard drop out. His clothes were basic, with fitted collared shirts and khakis common. His energy and vitality during play added energy to them.
- Count Basie was a true big band leader, and his style reflected that. A simple, classic black tie look was combined with a casual, easy attitude. A look made for an uptown gala, with an attitude made for a wild downtown party.
- Duke Ellington was a class act. Though he was a musician through and through, his keen manners, fine bearing, and easy conduct made him many friends. You’d be hard pressed to find a better example.
- Thelonious Monk was an individual without peer. Kanye before Kanye, the Monk added flourish to his suits with his wild accents, and accessories. Don’t be afraid to take risks, and don’t be afraid to laugh about it if they fail.
These are just a few of the biggest names, and their styles. Got any suggestions on a follow-up piece? Got any fine anecdotes worth sharing? Use the comments box below!