Underrated jazz greats

I listen to all sorts of music, but mostly jazz. There are many musicians who, for whatever reason, don't attract the attention that their great gifts possibly deserve. I would be interested to know who others think are hidden gems in the jazz world, who have contributed substantially to the genre.

I will begin with two musicians who I believe are outstanding, and deserving of the highest recognition.

1) Lew Tabackin - an outstanding tenor player, and a phenomenal jazz flutist in my view.

2) Sir Roland Hanna - tremendous command of the keyboard, and he thought around the perimeter of pieces to make them both musically and intellectually satisfying.

Very interested in others' thoughts.
Wow, I think that both are extremely highly regarded. Tabackin being very well known for his work with the Tonight Show Orchestra as well as the Akioshi/Tabackin big band. He also did a couple of direct to disk recordings that audiophiles hold in high regard.

If anyone, it is his brilliant wife, Toshiko Akioshi who is not that well appreciated. She is a stellar talent and, I think, was formerly married to Charlie Mariano before Lew. She is first a brilliant composer, and a talented multi-instrumentalist.
There is not enough time and not enough space to pay tribute to the legion of underrated Jazz artists.Not to mention underpaid.This list would be a very long one and never be complete.
Great as a noun,as in "importance or distinction in a field"
Herbie Nichols-Masterful composer and master of the obtuse and extraordinary in the modern Jazz era.Toiled in the shadow of Thelonious Monk,his rhythmic sense and harmonic adventures turned each tune into a dramatic Jazz opera.
Great as an adjective,as in " unusual.A considerable degree of power and intensity" Warne Marsh- a gift beyond explanation as a tenor saxophone improviser.A direct line from Lester Young to Charlie Parker to his quest to play beyond the lick,the cliche,to create fresh and stunning solos each and every time with a tone as personal as your child's whisper.He did this in the face of Coltrane and later in the onslaught of the avant Garde.He did it with a rare conviction and he proved the best music is always heard by the least amount of people.
Just two names you should know.
I am totally intrigued by these responses. Let me be provocative, and state that i believe that Paul Desmond never got the recognition he deserved. So often, i see this erroneous reference that Dave Brubeck wrote "Take Five". Paul was an extremely thoughtful player, quoted phrases intelligently, and played with a wit and lyricism that is almost unequalled. He wrote some excellent music as well. He seemed to be under the thumb of Brubeck, contractually and otherwise, until he emerged as his own talent and recorded with some very superb and sympathetic musicians such as Jim Hall, Don Thompson, Ed Bickert, etc.

Three off the top of my head..

Stuff Smith

Mary Lou Williams

Sun Ra
Illinois Jacquet.as good as the best and liitle known,relatively speaking.
Kenney Barron, Al Foster just to name a few!!

Great call on Toshiko Akioshi. What a great performer!

My brother went to high school with their daughter, and we used to go see the Akiyoshi-Tabackin Big Band at Dante's in North Hollywood whenever we had the chance.
My list is tooo big.

Mark Nauseef
Freddy Studer
Torsten De Winkle
Marcus Stockhousen
Johanes Enders
Wolfgang Hafner
Fish for Fish
Nils Peter Molvaer
Marcus Wasilewski
Vlatko Stefanowski
Terje Rypdal
Filipe Catherine
Charlie Mariano
Jasper Vant Hoff
Bo Stief
Allan Holdsworth
Pere Ubu
George Cartwright
Pierre Moerlen
David Sylvian
Mick Karn
Jon Hassel
Jah Wobble
Pop Mechanics
Oregon(Roscoe Mitchell)
Sun Ra
Edie Jobson
David Sylvian, I agree.
For me, I would say that, while fairly well known, Rashaan Roland Kirk was often dismissed in his time, primarily due to his politics and circus-like self promotion. His place in the history of jazz is not clear, but I truly believe that time will sort it out.

The last time that I saw him, at the Vanguard, was after the stroke, and only a couple of short months before his death. Since he had lost the use of essentially half his body, he had his strange instruments, strich and manzello, as well as the saxs and flutes, on floor stands, so that he could just walk from one to the other and finger with one hand. I never saw anyone who wanted to play that badly before or since. I never saw anyone so intent on communicating the full palette of their emotions so desperately. I have never heard emotion distilled into sound so completely. Rashaan will have his day.
Kirk was a great for sure.
Tina Brooks
Fortunately, almost all of those mentioned are well represented in my collection; including Tina Brooks. I have him on Mosaic Blue Note LP's.

I would like to add Ray Nance; he played violin, trumpet, and could sing. While he is best known for trumpet, I like his violin. On Chico Hamilton's "The Head Hunters", I know there's smoke coming off the violin strings, I can smell it coming through the speakers.
Second Ray Nance, try him on "Jaki Byard with Strings", where he even lays out and does a vocal. The guitar on this one is great as well from a very, very young George Benson.
Viridian - well said vis-a-vis Rashaan. There was an expression of true dedication to the medium.
Another treasure from my rarity collection:
Pekka Pohjola.
Bobby Timmons.
- I remember going to see The Eddie Gomez Trio play a Bill Evans tribute @ Cezanne in Houston in 2003. The other two in Gomez's trio were Stefan Karlsson on piano and Jimmy Cobb on drums. I brought a copy of Timmons' This Here is Bobby Timmons for Cobb to sign since he performed on the album (and his photograph was on the back). Cobb seemed surprised that I wasn't presenting him with the yet another copy of Kind of Blue like everyone else around me. And to go with that reaction the people waiting in line with their copies of Kind of Blue gave me odd looks at my copy of the Timmons album. It felt as though no one knew who in the heck the guy even was. What a pity.
Bobby Timmons was one of the all time greats. His work with Blakey and the Messengers is unforgettable, also with Cannonball and Nat Adderly. To me, he was the personification of "soul".

The post's on this thread indicate those who posted are true jazz aficionado's. During these times, I don't have money to waste; however, buying the best jazz is a necessity. Viridian recommended "Jaki Byard with Strings", which I have ordered. I think it would be helpful if everyone went through their collection and chose the best CD by the artist they highlighted, that's available.
Sonny Clark and Hampton Hawes are 2 pianists who could be better appreciated
Orpheus alas, for me records are like children, there can be no favorites. But a starting point for the Akioshi/Tabakin Big Band is probably "Long Yellow Road" on RCA.

Kirk is just too tough, too many styles, too much development, but why not start with one of the compilation albums on Atlantic, or to start at the beginning, before he was Rashaan, "Introducing Roland Kirk", originally issued on Argo and subsequently reissued on Chess?

And you have repaid the favor in kind, I am going to look for Chico Hamilton's "Head Hunters" this weekend.

Have a great 4th. I will be at the Portland Waterfront Blues Festival watching Buddy Guy and Lucinda Williams!
Les Paul.
Terje Rypdal

David Murray, Don Pullen, Henry Threadgill...
All of them IMHO.
Jazz as a hole is also underated IMHO.
Stan Getz..the greatest Sax player who ever lived..won five Grammy's..whenever the subject of who was the greatest sax player?..Stan always gets snubbed..never makes the top of the list..His album Jazz Samba is the second largest selling jazz album of all time..Kind of Blue is the first..in 1945 at the age of fifteen..he played at Carnegie Hall with Charlie Parker..he influenced everybody.." If only we could all play like Stan "..Miles Davis.
Mal Waldron
Lennie Tristano?
Paquito D'Rivera - Winner of bookcases full of awards, invited to the White House and is loved world-wide. That said, he absolutely isn't even thought of by most Jazz-lovers when considering 'best of' type status. IMO, he's simply one of the finest musicians of all time!!
Cedar Walton
I second the votes for Paul Desmond, Kenny Barron and Sonny Clark. Also on sax: Dave Liebman. On trumpet, I vote for Tom Harrell - an absolute master at blowing in-the-pocket, economical solos. Piano - Michel Petrucciani. Not necessarily known as a Jazz artist, but who essentially played a jazz kit and a jazz style and I feel doesn't get his rightful due is Charlie Watts on drums.
Most of those mentioned are great, but are also quite celebrated within their genre'. I'm not sure they're really "underrated".
Jack Dejohnette
Great and not (as) celebrated. Guitar - Steve Masakowski, Steve Khan, Phil Upchurch, Dave Stryker, Ernest Ranglin, Mark Elf. Bass - Harvie S. Harmonica - Hendrik Meurkens. Sax - Mark Turner, George Coleman. Trumpet - Claudio Roditi, Jon Faddis. Piano - Fred Hersch. And that just scratches the surface I'm sure.
First of all Stan Getz was hardly underrated.Obviously, If this list is any indication the late great Sonny Criss might be the most underrated. This Is Criss, Crisskraft,Saturday Morninig... Mr, Criss played alto sax.
I'm not a true blue jazz fan but if I had to pick someone who is underrated as a jazz great it would be Van Morrison.
My vote for best thread! How about Billy Bauer, wonderful guitarist and teacher. Or Jimmy Bruno a monster guitarist a very nice guy (and guitar teacher).
Ilinois Jacquet and Lennie Tristano
Ben Webster
Elmo Hope
" Les Paul " was underrated ?
I think the truth is, that Jazz is underrated in this culture.
10-18-12: Rok2id
I think the truth is, that Jazz is underrated in this culture.

My friend, Jazz came from this culture, if you are referrering to the USA.
Of course I am referring to the USA. And Jazz is not appreciated would be a more accurate way of putting it. And thanks for the history lesson. :)
Jazz IS underappreciated in the states. I just finished reading an interview with legendary Latin Jazz artist Jerry Gonzalez where he sez he's been living in Spain for the past 12 yrs due to being able to earn a better living there but more importantly, he feels his art is much better appreciated. This is a scenario, American Jazz artists living abroad, that's existed practically since the advent of Jazz. The U.S. has almost always had it's head up it's butt regarding Jazz. Sadly, in this day of American Idol I believe it's worse than ever before.
When I lived in Berlin in the 70's a lot of black artists lived there because the freedom from racism was exilirating.
thanks to all for posting - I never suggested that Tabackin, Roland Hanna and Paul Desmond were not recognized in their genre, only observe that they get less attention as unique voices in jazz than they maybe deserve.
I know many complain about the new Audiogon but I hope that people remain involved if only for threads like this which are invaluable for discovering new music. Thanks to all for posting. I will be purchasing several CDs or LPs based on this thread.
How about abdullah Ibrahim. If you can find it, Water from an Ancient Well. Great compositions ( Ibrahim is an Ellington disciplle), terrific band and outstanding recording.
'Water from an Ancient Well' is available on Amazon. Ibrahim was A.K.A. 'Dollar Brand'. Check under both names to see all his stuff.

Some people are not so much underrated, as they are not popular. And this can be for various reasons. Appearance, age, gender, race, style of play etc.... But the guardians, the enthusiasts, the keepers of the flame so to speak, they know!!