The first two that come to mind is Bill Evans and Keith Jarrett.
All of Bill's work is near perfect, my favorite of Keith Jarrett is from his days with A&M Horizon, teamed up with Alice Coltrane and Charlie Haden.
Maybe too obvious to include is Duke Ellington, but the recent releases by Classic Records of his "Piano in the Background," "Piano in the Foreground," and "Jazz Party" are absolutely superb on every level.
If you get enough piano and still hungry for keyboard, there's Jimmy Smith. He's been 40 years on the Hammond organ (1954) and rocks the keyboard like nobody else :^).
Al has great recommendations
the BIll Evans Village Vangaurd is now a 3 cd boxset
contemporary - Danilio Perez, Edward Simon, Micheal Pellera
much to enjoy there
Max Richter, this is very different, emotive music. Try "The Blue NOtebooks"
Herbie Hancock: "The Piano"
Thelonious Monk: "Monk Alone"
Some Scott Joplin fits well in every music collection. The performances by Joshua Rifkin
on Nonesuch are top drawer.
And if you're willing to consider vocal with piano, the recording After the Ball
with Joan Morris and William Bolcolm is infectious fun.
Lynne Arriale Trio. Check out their "Arise" cd.
Elton John is a very good piano player, I have that from my wife as she has been playing the piano since she was four, and could read music before words...
Some of his older work is quite good if you can get past Bernie Taupin's lyrics!
Billy Joel used to lament that fact that he could never find a good guitar player, and so relied heavily on his piano.
I'll have to give this some more thought, I can picture people like Norah Jones and Diana Krall at the piano, but musically I'm not sure...
The latest artist I've hear that fits your criteria is Taylor Eigsti (sp?). Quite a young man but very accomplished pianist. His sidemen, bass and drums, are also very good.
I agree with Bill Evans and Keith Jarrett rec's - they'd be at the top of my list (though Jarret's grunting sometimes gets on my nerves). I like Keith Jarrett - "Standards" (there's no grunting :-) ).
Others that I have and like are:
Chick Corea - note that he has some acoustic stuff and a lot of electric fusion stuff, so it depends on what you really want. For Acoustic check out Chick Corea/Gary Burton - "In Concert: Zurich Oct, 1979", and Chick Corea/Dave Holland/Barry Altschul - "A.R.C."
Don Shirley - "Solos" and "With 2 Basses" I like them though I don't know if this is his best stuff
David Chesky - "The Tangos and Dances" I really, really like it. Just one note - it's very mellow and I often fall asleep during it. In fact when I want a nap, this is one of the cd's I put on. (I know this is hardly an endorsement, but trust me it's worth having)
Also mellow - Tord Gustavsen Trio - "The Ground" and "Changing Places"
for something with vocals - how about Tori Amos? and Diana Krall?
Alan Hovhaness has a solo disc of shorter piano compositions called "Shalimar". I think it's sublime. It's not jazz or pop, so I suppose you might call it classical but it's not what most people think of as classical."Shalimar" at Amazon
not the usual suspects.....elton john 11-7-70 (a trio performance that still holds up incredibly and is a good reminder of what all the fuss was about).......the great jazz trio-live at the village(their first was still their best, and hank jones covers monk and more, with tony williams flailing like he's auditioning for deep purple or zepplin....a microphone placed in the bass drum will tax small monitor speakers beyond their limits, but the performances are magic.)........jeff beck group-beck-ola (nicky hopkins' took this reord in a jam band direction, and he plays like he's fighting beck for control...wow).....more nicky on quicksilver-shady grove (holy moly).........bill evans, and the rest are always manditory anyway.
You can break out your grandmother's Liberace records :-)
N'awlins has produced some great piano blues and rock over the years - Fats Domino, Professor Longhair and Dr. John are among the best known. If you see it, you might also want to check out James Booker's "Lost Paramount Tapes" which is a great record of this type.
Over in Alabama, Cow Cow Davenport also played some mighty boogie woogie on his piano.
Woah Bdgregory! Major groaning on "Standards". Great LP despite the moans. How about Bill Charlap (gotta plug the local favorite) and Ella Fitzgerald "Let No Man Write My Epitaph"
Tord Gustafsen Trio, Gonzala Rubacalba.
Don't laugh but....Barry Manilow.
OK, maybe you can laugh a little.
I could go on all day on this one-
Herbie Hancock-"Gershwin's world" and an older album with Milton Nascimento-"Miltons"
Any Brad Meldau--one of the exciting younger players
Keith Jarrett- "facing you " (his first solo Lp on ECM) and Lou Harrison's compositions with Keith on piano and small orchestra
If you guys are mentioning Elton than how about Leon Russell and even early Billy Joel
Liz Story on Windham Hill
Evans and Monk, certainly. Herbie Hancock's Maiden Voyage.
Modern jazz pianist Jessica Williams is terrific.
For rock, try Ben Folds. Piano-driven smart rock music.
Aretha Franklin "Queen in waiting", Ray Charles, Nina Simone & of course Monk & Elton John.
Reference Recordings Dick Hyman plays Fats Waller. Sonicallly like nothing I've ever heard.
Look for Nicky Hopkins and Bill Payne stuff.
Payne was a long time member of Little Feat but both did a ton of freelance work.
Check out anything by Diana Krall. Mostly known for her vocal abilities, her piano skills arent far behind. Chuck Leavell on any of Sea Level's albums. McCoy Tyner on any of his albums.-Mrmitch
First,and perhaps my personal favorite among the 'best',any and all Gene Harris Quartet recordings.Next any and all Oscar Peterson,Benny Green,Alan Broadbent,David Hazeltine,Junior Mance,and I second the Ahmad Jamal mention.
The two Chick Corea piano Improvisation albums, and his two piano album with herbie Hancock are v. nice.
I know you said non-classical, but check out Olivier Messiaen's "20 Regard de l'Enfant Jesus". This is spectacular, and sounds nothing like Mozart or Brahms, or even Stravinsky.
Billy Taylor, esp. "Ten Fingers, One Voice" -- all piano solo
Bill Evans, "Conversations with Myself" -- genius experiment with early multi-track recording
Ahmad Jamal, Round the world Tour
Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea -- a dance of great players
W.A.Mathieu (Windham Hill artist)
Thelonius Monk - Straight No Chaser. There is something about this recording that keeps me going back, over and over. Very different style than Bill Evans and a nice "counter point" to Bill's lyricism, I think.
Lyle Mays (keyboardist...not necessarily acoustic piano)