\\ The Jazz Musicians behind the World’s Biggest Pop Stars

Behind almost every successful pop star is an equally talented jazz musician. So who are they, and why should you get to know them?

Adele \\ Pianist Neil Cowley

The man on the keys behind Adele leads his own quintessentially British band, Neil Cowley Trio. To quote what Cowley’s manager once told him, “I’m the most listened-to pianist on the planet — but no one’s aware of who I am”. Fans of Radiohead should take note; Watch them play track Sparkling amongst a game of cricket. 

The 1975 \\ Trumpeter Roy Hargrove

The 1975’s If I Believe You features a flugelhorn solo from Grammy Award winning Roy Hargrove. Now focusing on his successful quintet and big band, he once lead forward-thinking soul-jazz group The RH Factor.

Dr Dre \\ Trumpeter Dontae Winslow

Those who like Dre and reading personnel listings on Wikipedia may recognise the name Dontae Winslow from last year’s Compton album. As the trumpet player on various tracks, he also played on J Dilla’s seminal album Donuts. His latest solo album Enter The Dynasty saw Sax-God Kamasi Washington as a sidesman. A SIDESMAN.

David Bowie \\ Saxophonist Donny McCaslin

In the finest and most graceful exist pop music has ever seen, David Bowie gifted us with his final album, jazz-tinged Blackstar. The album’s flutist, saxophonist and woodwinds player is Donny McCaslin, whose own project is a future-synth take on traditional jazz; not a million miles away from how you might describe Blackstar, in fact.

Kendrick Lamar \\ Bassist Thundercat

It’s public knowledge that To Pimp A Butterfly draws on the creamiest of the jazz crop, but so does Kendrick Lamar’s follow up. Those who also appear again on Untitled Unmastered include bassist Thundercat, who’s part of the nu-jazz wave of talent coming from LA. Them Changes was one of THE tunes of 2015.

Find out which non-jazz musicians have been inspired by the genre in our Under The Influence special editions of Jazz Standard.

JS | Tina Edwards

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