Favorite Pianists

I've recently become obsessed with great piano music. Not necessarily classical, just great. Like the thread I started regarding acoustic guitar, this follows the same lines. Who is your favorite? It doesn't have to be based on the ability to play fast or on the technical ability side of it. It just needs to be moving. Needs to be able to pull you in and tell a story of your past. I guess the best term to describe this is simply beautiful music.

As of right now, Ludovico Einaudi is my absolute favorite. I've listened to quite a bit of this genre lately and George Winston, Peter Kater and Kevin Kern all get high marks from me. But none of them move me like Ludovico Einaudi.

If you have an absolute favorite, just one that hits you like no other, post it. If you have several, list them.

For classical Emil Gilels, he had an ability that has to be heard to be believed. Shostakovitch wrote 24 preludes and fugues, Gilels versions show the architecture and poetry, Richter's show the drama
For Jazz Bill Evans, also Vince Guaraldi, he(Guaraldi) played at my Senior Ball in high school which was the only reason I went.
Classical - Alfred Brendel, Alicia deLarrocha, of people still concertizing currently, Garrick Ohlsson.

Jazz - Oscar Peterson, Bill Evans.
Richter, Brendel, Ashkenazy, Lupu, Peterson, H. Silver, Evans, McPartland

and many more
Duke Ellington, followed by a long line of other great Jazz players who I'll leave to other 'Goners to name.

Toussaint is a nice get for (pop/rock and) blues as would be Professor Longhair, to whom all of the N'awlins piano guys own a debt. That Barrelhouse to Blues to Rock lineage really fascinates me and Prof is a (probably the) main man in that process. A lesser known player worth seeking out in this style is James Booker. Another obscure name from early on is Cow Cow Davenport. Jelly Roll Morton is also worth checking out and Fats Domino is fun at the back end of the process. Dr. John is.....well, there are so, so many more, I'm sure you'll love the search.

Good Luck.

Oscar Peterson; just brilliant, and he covered many styles and moods. The "Genius" word is used and often abused; but it is properly used in describing him.
I will add Horace Parlan to the list.
(Truly amazing, especially considering his handicap.)
My favorite jazz pianist today: Bill Charlap
My favorite 60's jazz pianist: Bill Evans
My favorite classical pianist: Murray Perahia (great solo works abound)

Have fun.
Horace Silver, Thelonius Monk, Hank Jones, Dave Brubeck, Bobby Timmons, Bill Evans; "Did I leave anybody out? The Jazz pianists are all mine".
When it comes to Classical piano, for me it's Ashkenazy, period. But another guy I've really enjoyed lately is John Bayless--if you've never heard his music, check it out.
Lynne Arriale plays beautiful, but not smooth, jazz in a trio. She really should be much better known. "Nuance" and "Long Road Home" are probably her LESS accessible albums.
Gods own Pianist; Art Tatum

I didn't realize God had his own pianist,amazing!!!!
Excellent recs so far. Thanks for the great response to this thread. Keep on adding to the list!
As one who grew up listening to Marian McPartland every Saturday night on my local NPR station, I have to say that she is a wonder and a blessing to America's jazz culture. She will always be the greatest in my book for this alone.
Jazz,Thelonius Monk without question and a tip of the hat to Horace Silver and Herbie Hancock.
Wow, amazing that that was the first mention of Herbie Hancock!

How about some props for Bud Powell, McCoy Tyner as well?
In addition to the great ones mentioned about, Eddie Higgins has some great recordings on the Venus Label. SACD and LP's available.

If you're into vinyl, the Bill Evans 45 lp box set is fantastic
There may be a couple of other favorite pianist lists in another thread or two... Obviously Monk changed things a lot and was great. There's probably not anyone as earth shaking currently active, (maybe because now there's less new ground available to shake)... a few more good ones you might find in a jazz section:

Vijay Iyer
Don Preston
Paul Plimley
Cecil Taylor
Myra Melford
Matthew Shipp
Simon Nabatov
Achim Kaufmann
Horace Tapscott
Michiel Borstlap
Sophia Domancich
Jean Michel Pilc
Francois Bourassa
Sylvie Courvoisier
Classical - Glenn Gould
Jazz - Bill Evans
Rock - ?...I'll have to think a bit more about that.
For the life of me, I don't understand why Fred Hersch is seldom, if ever, mentioned in the same light as the above artists. So I'm doing it; Ha!
Gene Harris, I second that emotion! What I'd give to possess his talent. I don't think there's ever been a player who projected more soul and feel good music than Funky Gene! RIP Mr. Harris...
First let me add Keith Jarett to the list, and second I would like to add Chick Corea. As other have stated, I can't believe we have gotten this far into the thread without mention of them.

I just picked up a DVD copy of Miles Electric which includes a live performance recorded the Isle of Wright festival 40 years ago to the day that features Miles and both Keith Jarrett and Chick Corea, as well as Jack DeJohnette (Jack is one of my personal favorite Jazz artist, typically a drummer but he has also played piano on some of his recordings). Sorry for digressing off topic...
Actually Keith Jarrett was mentioned with Bill Evans near the top. He's one of my favs so I looked for his name first. Not bad company those two pianists could keep, although I doubt Bill would put up with Keiths crap! :)
A few more jazz favorites:

Count Basie
Tommy Flanagan
Geri Allen
Benny Green
Ariel Pocock -- local high school talent
Bobby Timmons
Roberto Fonseca
Chano Dominguez
Bebo Valdes
Chucho Valdes
Aruan Ortiz
Arturo O'Farrill
The giants such as Richter, Gould, Monk, Jarrett et al. were mentioned, I believe, a few others that are worthy of (much) attention:
classical: Alice Sarah Ott (breathtaking Liszt), Andreas Staier (Schumann as it was meant to be), Markus Schirmer, Evgeni Koroliov and, yep I do think so, Katia & Marielle Labèque (very fine Satie performance)
jazz: Red Garland, Esbjörn Svensson (such a great loss...), Marc Copland, Jürgen Friedrich, Kris Defoort and I don't think I saw McCoy Tyner before...
rock, broadly speaking: Keith Emerson, Rick Wakeman, Mike Ratledge
Just look at the photo of Diana Krall at the top of the music section, that's a pianist. I wouldn't even care if she brought her piano.
Les Dawson;

Chico & Harpo Marx;

Hinge or Bracket

Victor Borge

Rowan Atkinson

......................but seriously folks,
a few of many and in addition to those already mentioned,

Tori Amos,
Ivo Pogorelich,
Jools Holland,
John Ogdon.
Gould, and a trio of ECM artists: K Jarrett, Bobo Stenson, and Marcin Wasilewski
For Jazz I really like so many artists it is hard to single out a top few but they would have to include

Earl Hines
Erroll Garner
Oscar Peterson
Dave Brubeck
Bill Evans
Bud Powell
Herbie Hancock

Technically the best of the lot has to be Art Tatum. I doubt there has been or ever will be anyone that matches his combination of virtuosity and improvisational skills, twinkle fingers! What a delight to hear him at his best.

And as for women of this genre check this out!

Vladimir Horowitz is my favorite musician.Byron Janis is excellent also for classical.Both play Rachmaninoff to my liking.I never cared for Van Cliburn playing Chopin.
Nicky Hopkins...check his playing on Jerry Garcia Band's "let it rock". amazing.
Ingrid Haebler. Although she is not the greatest pianists but she is definitely my favorite one.

Most pianists either demonstrate their super human skills (Horowitz & Brendel), philosophical readings (Schnabel & Kempff) or witty personal interpretations (Gould & Gulda). Some pianists even exercise overpoweringly showy tone in recordings and performances to prove their capabilities (contemporary Lang Lang and his prior generation counterpart, Richter).

Not Haebler! Limited recordings available to us indicate her subtle and sensible touch on keyboard. She leads you to the most inner core of music in such a neutral way that you just “glide” with the flow of music. No weight burden, nor compass direction. Free from any conscious activities of mankind. That’s the very point I admire her. Great music should come to you not the other way around. By this perspective, Haebler’s achievement is unsurpassable.

Only aged Serkin in Beethoven’s last 3 piano sonatas provides us a glimpse sense of such liberty.
I always thought Claudio Arrau stuck a fine balance between virtuosity and introspective/philosophical pianism. I agree with most of what Yu11375 said, although I've rather liked Brendel's playing myself. I quite like Andras Schiff's playing as well, another example of great balance IMO.
Richter's Schubert
Brendel's Beethoven
Schiff, Perhia, Gould for Bach- can't pick just one
Ohlssohn - Chopin

Also generally like Kissin (also some very good Schubert, but totally different than Richter), Fellner, Lewis.