Unique Jazz Instruments

Unique Jazz Instruments

In the history of jazz, the typical jazz instrument was the cornet. However, after more than 100 years of the evolution of the cornet, other instruments have become commonly used in jazz music. Some of these regular tools include saxophone, piano, bass, drums, clarinet, and others. However, a few of these instruments produce unique sounds; the focus of this article is of this type.

1. Rufus Harley

Re-creation of the Gods (Transparency, 1972)

Sonny Rollins and Rufus Harley performing in Copenhagen. American jazz tenor saxophonist.

The bagpipe has several varieties in various geographical areas and contains a reservoir of air as well as enclosed reeds. The Scottish version is the most popular type in today’s world, and the most successful piper in jazz used the bagpipe. Rufus Hailey was a tenor saxophonist that used this instrument after falling in love with it when it was played at the funeral procession of former president J.F. Kennedy. Of all the albums he did with the bagpipe, Recreation of the Gods was the most evenly amazing record. It was captured on the Transparency label in 1972.

2. Lyle Ritz

How About Uke? (Verve Records, 1957)

The uke or ukulele is another instrument in this category. It has a 4-string lute and its origin can be traced to Hawaii and Portugal. One of the few people that loved this jazz instrument was Lyle Ritz, who began his career as a bassist and tubaist. Ritz picked up a tenor uke in the mid-1950s and his best work is How about Uke, which was his debut, released in 1957 on Verve Records.

3. Dorothy Ashby

Afro-Harping (Verve Records, 1968)

As regards the number as well as the size of strings, the harp remains the best antithesis to the uke. The famous instrument plays a part in the history of eastern and western traditional music. However, it was made popular by Dorothy Ashby, who recorded several albums with it in the 50s and 60s. Her masterpiece was Afro-Harping, also released on Verve Records in 1968.

4. Jean TootsThielemans

Man Bites Harmonica (Riverside, 1958)

Jean TootsThielemans

The harmonica or mouth harp is another unique jazz instrument. The prominent Belgian musician, Jean Toots Thielemans, is one of the lovers of this small instrument. He was initially a guitar player who was also skilled in whistling. While he made many superlative recordings on the free reed mouth harp, the one that contains the most distinct sound is Man Bites Harmonica, released in 1958 on Riverside.

5. Richard Galliano

French Touch (Dreyfus, 1998)

The accordion is another free reed instrument that is primarily related to the Argentinian tango and European folk music. Buster Moten, who is related to Bennie Moten, a pianist, played jazz and blues on this instrument from the early 20s to the mid-30s. However, the accordion became more common in jazz when Richard Galliano, a Frenchman, used his innovative powers to extend the instrument’s boundaries, a development that made it a real improvisational tool as well as an authentic jazz instrument. His whole volume of works is nearly perfect, and one of his best records in French Touch released in 1998.