We’ve previously had an article about the roots of jazz coming from the Christian Church, but this time we’re going to get into the “root of the root,” namely Judaism. Not only did these chosen people give the world  Montheism, the Ten Commandments and Jesus Christ (“Salvation is of the Jews!”), you could make an excellent argument that the swing era was basically started by Jewish music. Although I’m Greek of origin, I grew up in a Jewish neigborhood, grew up listening to Jewish music, and  I’ve even played in a klezmer band (so did Charlie Parker for some extra shekels!). Let me tell ya, most of the songs from  the Eastern European Shtetls highly influenced the drive and rhythm of songs from the Depression Era. Most famous is Ziggy Elman’s solo on “And The Angels Sing,” but guys like Goodman and Shaw almost singlehandedly made the music that they imbided as kids become part of the American Lexicon.

So, I’ve put together a list of some of the more famous Jewish musicians. Some are still active on the scene. All are worth delving into. I’ve arranged them according to style:


1)      Benny Goodman

2)      Artie Shaw

3)      Dick Hyman

4)      Ziggy Elman

5)      Harry James

6)      Buddy Rich


1)      Terri Gibbs

2)      Red Rodney

3)      Art Hodes

4)      Lou Levy

5)      Stan Getz

6)      Al Cohn

7)      Lee Konitz

8)      Abe/Sam Most


1)      Warne Marsh

2)      Steve Kuhn

3)      Denny Zeitlin

4)      Eddie Daniels

5)      Herbie Mann

6)      Victor Feldman

7)      Lalo Schifrin


1)      Dave Liebman

2)      Randy/Michael Brecker

3)      Steve Grossman

4)      Lew Tabackin

5)      Steve Lacy

6)      John Zorn


1)      Mel Torme’

2)      Jerome Kern

3)      George/Ira Gershwin

4)      Irving Berlin

This is obviously not exhaustive, but it’s still a great place to start. Collect all twelve tribes!!!



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