Best musician in the world?

A question posed in another thread, in my view, although musicianship is hardly a sport to be measured as such, the most universally prodigious musician is probably Shawn Lane. He is definitely the world's most phenomenal/inimitable electric guitarist. And he is a world-class pianist and saxaphonist as well.
Sorry but I must disagree, "Weird" Al Yankovich is a far superior musician in almost every aspect. WEIRD AL RULES!
Der beste Musiker aller Zeiten war doch der Dirigent Rudolf Moralt, besser als ich sogar. Auch Oswald Kabasta war aeusserst kompetent und ausserordentlich musikalisch, ja? Bitte schoen, meine Herren, was soll das? Jeder hat doch seinen eigenen Geschmack! Ich, z.B. bevorziehe Lonnie Donegan, und nicht Lasse Dahlquist. Gute Nacht, Diskussion hiermit beendet. Schluss, aus, finito!
The drummer from rush NIEL PEART. Yeah there are some drummers who can get more technicaly complicated but no one can put together a song like he can. A lot of times I just listen to his drumming and not the song. The more I do the more I'm amazed. Dave weckle and mike portnoy are great too but just not as musical if you ask me. Pearts drumming is more a part of the song and flows better than any other drummer.
Hans, how good to hear from you. I didn't know that the ISP's had managed to install in Valhalla.
Does this include dead people? I vote for miles davis & Jimi Hendrix - they both bring a tear to my eye with their genius....For someone still alive, then it's Yo-Yo Ma without doubt....OTOH, I can't really say that there's a singular best in the world. Who's this Shawn Lane?
Without a doubt, Frank Zappa. Others that come to mind (but obviously aren't in the same league as Zappa)have to include Stevie Ray Vaughn, Mark Knopfler, and David Bowie (at last count Bowie can play 57 instruments, he has been blessed with incredible vocal range, although his material can be a little weak)
Not sure who the best of all time is. However, Jeff Beck is in a league of his own when it comes to the electric guitar.
Maybe you should have said "favorite" not best. These posts do not seem to be objective. If we are talking about someone alive, perhaps Quincy Jones should be on top of that list. He is the most accomplished musician I can think of, with significant contributions in every field, performance, composition, arranging, conducting, producing, publishing,executive administration and mentoring younger musicians.
I agree with Bmpnyc in theory anyhow. Quincy has done all of those things. However, Frank Zappa has also accomplished these things. I do not believe he was the most talented guitar player, but he was a brilliant conductor, producer, mentor (some very famous musicians got their start with the Mothers, eg. Steve Vai and Adrian Bellew), and arguably the greatest contempory composer of the 20th century. Is musicianship the ability to perform the music or conceptualize it? I think that Kacz's comments regarding how Neil Peart makes him feel when he listens to the music are very relevant (BTW - don't underestimate Peart's technical talent). As an example, Steve Vai is undeniably a better technician than Jerry Garcia, but I would rather listen to Jerry's guitar solo in Unbroken Chain (Mars Hotel) than hear Vai deedle-deedle-deedle away at a thousand passionless notes per second. I tend more towards the artists vision than execution or ability to play several instruments. In that light, Woodman's choices of Miles Davis and Jimi Hendrix, moreso, are very compelling. By creating Modal Jazz, Miles Davis did more for the evolution of Jazz than anyone had in a long time. Miles was also a great musician. Hendrix did more for the evolution of contemporary electric guitar than Chuck Berry. Additionally, Hendrix was an exceptional guitar player. But in that light, there are many others whose efforts have created new and interesting evolutions in music. How do you determine which one is more relevant than the other?
The Best...? he is, probably somewhere, cleaning the floors and emptying waste baskets...! The list above, is rather sad one...just as the world is. TURNING THE FOOLS INTO RICH HEROES!! The last, of the best ones, probably died 150 years ago!
I don't know about best, but my favorite has to be Buddy Guy. I saw him in a live performance, and besides his high NRG guitar pyrotechnics, he has a smile and stage presence that could light up Montana. BGs version of "Mustang Sally" is the most incredible I've ever heard. Eric Clapton once referred to him as "the greatest blues guitarist in the world"-- I agree. Craig.
The best whisky in the world is NOT Lagavulin, it is PORT ELLEN, distillery closed in 1983 and now demolished.
Right on Garfish ! I caught Buddy Guy playing at his birthday party this year. I've NEVER seen a live performer like him. Buddy wins as the greatest blues player I've ever seen. We ate dinner and waited for FIVE hours at the pole position table at Legends to see him. Worth it ! Jimi Hendrix was his protege and it shows ! Some favorite musicians: Nadja Salerno, Metallica, Julian Bream, Neil Young. Gotta cover the bases !
Have to agree w/ observation we're talking "favorite" vs. "best". All of the following, of course, simply IMHO. Guitar players? I cast votes for Allan Holdsworth, Eric Johnson (I opened for him several years ago in CA...amazing player), Satriani, Christopher Parkening, Paco de Lucia...whoops, went acoustic. Wes Montgomery, Pat Metheny have much larger vocabularys than some of those mentioned above, as does Robert Fripp. Jeff Berlin gets my vote for best bass player, heads and shoulders. Distant second, perhaps, Abe Laboriel, Tony Levin maybe. Other instruments...Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie. Duke Ellington for extraordinary creativity in orchestration. Miles Davis for attitude. But I am better acquainted w/ keyboard players, as I am a studio keyboard player. Jordan Rudess, Oscar Peterson, Bill Evans, Keith Emerson, Patrick Moraz, Vladimir Ashkenazy...and of course, the inimitable Art Tatum all win 'best of set'. But none of the above hold a candle to J.S. Bach, who has left a greater indelible stamp on western music than any other human being, ever.
The best ? How about the greatest ? Well, I can think of two or three---and they're all dead. The one that comes to mind most immediately is Jasha Heifetz, an absolute wizard with his instrument (the violin, of course).
Timwat, have you ever heard Victor Wooten, bass player from Bela Fleck? Also, I gotta agree with you on the Pat Metheny front, he's pretty amazing. But when making a laundry list of guitarists lets not forget John McGlaughlin and Stanley Jordan.
Your question is kind of vague. I'm assuming that you mean "multi-instrument" musician. That answer is easy. It's Roy Wood. Put him in front of an instrument and he'll play it. It will be pleasing both to the listener and those that are technically skilled in that area. Too many different instruments and styles of music to list. Sean
Jklotch - Never heard Victor Wooten, but will check him out w/ Fleck and Flecktones. Metheny's first great gift seems to be melodic improvisation, but recent discs display great compositional skill as well. I haven't heard Stanley Jordan for 10 years now, but remember his two hand hammer-on technique was unique in the jazz world (although Van Halen spawned a decade of wannabes in Metal). I've only heard later McGlaughlin, which struck me a lot like Al DiMeola...undeniable speed and technical skill, but what's he trying to say? Is there a couple McGlaughlin / Mahavishnu Orch recordings you'd recommend, where he's "saying" something? On an entirely different note, I'd recommend Diana Krall (especially latest) to any audiophile listener. Wonderful voice, good pianist and stellar, immaculate production aesthetic.
Timwat, check out Birds of Fire or Inner Mounting Flame by the Mahavishnu orchestra. Some great music. Not necessarily rooted in the 1000 notes per second highly technical sound McGlaughlin's known for. Speedy, but some really moving and emotional passages. Bela Fleck has a great older solo album (you have to like that kind of jazz) call Songs from an Accoustic Planet which features many contemporary artists including Chick Corea among others. You can hear Wooten's influence on every Bela/Flecktones album. I prefer their newer albums - something about the melodies are more appealing. Wooten also has a solo album which I have not heard. I saw Fleck/Flecktones in concert and was amazed at Wooten's solo rendition of Amazing Grace on the bass. Goosebumps. If you like the old McGlaughlin sound, Larry Coryells is another great sounding guitarist. I saw him live in NYC at the Blue Note. It blew my mind. You're right about Dianna Krall. Outstanding voice. Every recording sounds like she's performing in your living room. There is a program on every Friday night called Sessions at 54th street (hosted by John Hiatt) where she played a 1 hour set - outstanding. My only gripe is that they make her out to be a sexy jazz diva and she has that weird looking squiggy eye expression. What I'd like to see is a collaberation, like a dueling piano type thing, with her and Harry Connick Jr.
anne sophie mutter-she can make a classical listener out of anybody. definitely hendrix-
I would have to agree with all of those who mentioned Victor Wooten. Yes, your best chance to hear him is probably with Bela Fleck, but if you get an opportunity and you like his music you must hear his solo project live. I saw this act at a very small venue in Indpls, IN last Fall and was blown away. Not only is he amazing, but so are his brothers who acompany him ( His older brother taught him if that tells you anything). They are all very technical and such a tight act that the music just takes over and hours later leaves you wondering just what happened. The only other time I experienced that was at a Grateful Dead concert(no chemical aids, if you were wondering). I agree with all those who judge musicians by the way they make you feel. I have little to no musical ability, but I feel it deeply when it is conveyed with passion. By the way, if you are at this sight you are probably an audiophile, but don't think for a second that you can judge an artist's ability souly by listening to recorded music. If you want to know how good Victor is for instance, go see him live you won't be sorry.
For musical ability, knowledge and experience, try Gunther Schuller or Pierre Boulez. This isn't to say that these guys haven't written a whole lot of unlistenable junk in their lives, but due to the school I attented, I had the opportunity to work with them in person (as well as a few other notables, such as Lukas Foss and John Corigliano), and these two stand out as the most amazing musical phenomenon I have ever seen. But if you insist on pop music, I suggest Tiffany.
In the early 19th Century Paganni was considered the greatest musical virtuso performer of his time. He thus inspired Franz List who legend has it holed himself and practiced for hours on end to raise the level of virtuosity on the piano to new heights comparable to or above the level of Paganni on the violin. In addition to being acknowledged as probably the greatest pianist of his time he was also quite the showman who had women swooning and throwing their undergarments on stage. The TRUE precursor to the 20th Century performers we know. In addition he is certainly among the greatest composers of the Romantic era. Not too shabby. The greatest are ultimately the most original in their field, the ones who inspire others to new heights. There is no answer. Who would argue with the following - Prokoviev, Rachmaninov, Gershwin, Sinatra, Vaughn, Fitzgerald, Parker, Ellington, Davis, Frank Zappa, Jimi Hendrix, John McLaughlin, Al DiMeola, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Lennon, McCartney, Brian Wilson, Muddy Waters and many more. There is so much to musicianship than can't be measured by the question "Who is best"? Who is technically the best? Who is artistically the best? Who is the most expressive? Who is the most original? Who is the most inspiring?
I know from the no responses on dead shows this won't go over well on this site, but I really enjoy listening to Jerry Garcia. Doesn't not blow you out of the water with speed or power but has wonderful solos. Listen to his "sitting in Limbo". Nice vocals and great guitar. Since nobody at this site seems to have heard it, listen to Barton Hall 77. Great 3 hours of tunes.
Right, good question Gino. But, I'll offer my opinion. Miles Davis. To me, he's like Tiger Woods. Everyone else(and there are a LOT of great ones) is just playing for second place. Just spend a weekend with KIND OF BLUE. At first, maybe not that impressive. But after that weekend, for many of us, it may spend the rest of your life at the top of your pile(next to your turntable, CD player, etc.).
I can't disagree with any of the suggestions. However, I cannot resist the temptation to cast one more vote for Victor Wooten. Yea, his solo album can shade a bit towards the corny form time to time, but he hasn't been voted the best bass player alive for the past five-or-so years in a row for nothing (by Bass Player magazine? I forget). Actually had the pleasure of running into him at the New Orleans Jazz fest this year and there's no denying it, he's the man.
Trelja, Davis (in his many iterations) is always at the top of our jazz stack; add Burrell, Webster, Coltrane, Montgomery, etc., etc., and we're just looking at jazz. So much music, so little time. Good listening!
Gino, You certainly know what you're talking about! Love your philosophy. Here's another good one, Sonny Rollins. Blue Note recordings are great. Or a real sleeper... The soundtrack to the movie Aflie. This piece is absolute gold. Happy listening
Neil Peart from Rush. The greatest drummer on the planet. Unless you know the song inside out, trying to predict his next move will leave you dumbfounded. Only an electronic drum machine can keep up with his rhythm, speed and stamina. Pay close attention to "YYZ" or "Red Barchetta" among many others.
It's interesting that almost all of the recommendations above are for pop artists, most of whom aren't talented enough to serve tea to the truly best musicians. Here's my list for what it's worth, by instrument, with living artists in CAPITALS and dead artists in small case. Violin: ITZHAK PERLMAN / Jascha Heifetz Cello: YO-YO MA / Pablo Casals Guitar (classical): CHRISTOPHER PARKENING / Andres Segovia Guitar (jazz): BILL FRISELL (altho' Jim Hall is a very close 2nd) / Django Reinhardt Piano (classical): NO NOMINATION / Artur Rubenstein Piano (jazz): MCCOY TYNER / Art Tatum Drums: MAX ROACH / Art Blakey Percussionist: TRILOK GURTU (Paulino DaCosta is a very close 2nd) / no nomination Jazz saxophone: SONNY ROLLINS / John Coltrane (Coleman Hawkins and Lester Young would be close 2nd's) Jazz trumpet: WYNTON MARSALIS / Louis Armstrong & Miles Davis (tie) Jazz Bass: CHARLIE HAYDEN / Charles Mingus. I'd really enjoy other people's choices in the categories I've outlined.
To your categories, the only amendment I would offer would be in the category of drumming, Tony Williams, recently deceased, is on a par with Coltrane, Heifetz and others. As a matter of fact, Jascha Heifetz' grandson, Danny, is a great drummer in his own right. I recommend to anyone interested, to listen to the guitarist I started this string off with, Shawn Lane. Many of the living guitarists mentioned in this list know of him, if not rever his playing. I actually spoke with Eric Johnson about Lane, and he willingly tabbed him as the greatest living electric guitarist. He went as far as to question whether or not Lane had sold his soul in the same fashion others had once claimed Paganini did. Holdsworth said no one on earth including himself could match the playing he had heard from Lane. I have tapes of him playing with Black Oak Arkansas at the age of 17 in 1978 that is so ridiculous as to be truly mind-boggling. He does a rendition of Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto in D maj on an electric guitar that is as fast and precise- while still emotionally valid- as any work I have heard from Perlman or others. He was 17. His story is more fascinating than I could do justice to in such an (already-too-long)post.
Maxibob: No argument that Tony Williams was one of the great modern jazz drummers. Guitar and drums are maybe the two toughest categories in which to pick "the best". One could make choices based primarily on technical capability, but the emotional component, the ability to connect with the listener, is such a significant element.
might not be the best, but, medwyn goodall plays all the instruments on his alblums and records and mixes and puts it altogether in his studio in his house. I just recently found out about this guy. hell he's got about 26 cd's. i bought 4. and i'm having a hard time finding anymore in stock.have a listen. i think you'll enjoy.
Thanks Case, I will check him out. That was the real point of the original question, not so much the musician who is greatest at playing one instrument, because then it is a matter of the listener's taste in music and instruments. When someone is truly prodigious at two or more instruments, that is what freaks me out. Especially when the instruments are as divergent as forms of expression in a physical/technical sense, such as drums versus violin, etc.
I think I will pick a drummer for no other reason than he simply amazed me that he could keep up with the guitar of Jimi Hendrix so my vote would go to Mitch Mitchill of the Jimi Hendrix Experience
...otherwise, Fripp, Buckethead or Satriani, just for their well-rounded-ness (in terms of styles).
Hey Dustych, I didn't want to bring up Buckethead because it(Bucket) is my best friend, I am the singer of two bands with it (Deli Creeps and Hook and Pull Gang) and I didn't want to scare anyone... Buckethead is definitely in his own class on guitar, and he is a phenomenal bass player as well. Someone wrote about Stanley Jordan in an earlier string, about his two-handed playing on guitar, and I wondered if they had ever seen or heard Bucket- his two-handed playing is impossible to comprehend. I could go on about him, but if you haven't heard him play, you couldn't possibly understand his stature...

There are a lot of incredible musicians, so many that picking the best would seem a fool's errand. Of the many so far mentioned, I do see two missing names: first, Les Paul (and Mary Ford). Not only did he essentially invent the modern electric guitar, together they mastered the playing of of it and invented a lot of the recording techniques in common use today. Second, is classical guitarist Paul Galbraith. His accomplishments simply beggar the mind. The common belief was that Bachs Sonatas and Partitas for Unaccompanied Violin were simply unplayable on the guitar. Undeterred, he developed and built a unique 8-string guitar with a secondary sound chamber that sits under the guitarist's chair, connected by a steel rod to the main guitar (a guitar subwoofer?) Next, he taught himself to play his invention. Then he transcribed the Bach pieces for that instrument, and learned to play them at a master level. Finally, he recorded the results and released the album to some shocked listeners. For his efforts he was awarded a Grammy in 1995 for Best SInstrumentalist Solo Performance.  Every time I feel the need for a dose of humility I play this album and reflect on the genius, skill, and sheer talent required for each of his steps along the way. Conception, creation, interpretation and execution, each at a master level. 


Talk about resurrecting an old thread!  23 years! That must be a record!

While Galbraith is/was excellent, I would currently vote for Jordi Savall: performing and conducting music from all over the world composed over a period of thousands of years at such a high level.

Boxcar Willie!  But on a more serious note, how many different instruments are there?  To pick one musician that is the “Best” ever. That’s a task that’s well beyond my listening experience.  Now if you to say who is your FAVORITE musician,that’s a different story.  I listen to a large variety of music,and I’m even having a hard time picking one favorite.  @drbond ,I agree, 23 years must be some sort of record!