Jazz Flutists

GJ wrote “I would like to know the names of some jazz flutists. Does anyone have any recommended listening?”

I think one of my favorite ones is Jim Walker. Others would be Hubert Laws, and Herbie Mann.

45 thoughts on “Jazz Flutists”

  1. The best are Herbie Mann, Frank Wess, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, James Moody, Jim Newsom, Hubert Laws, Ali Ryerson, Sam Most and Eric Dolphy. Among the smooth jazz crowd, Tim Weisberg, Alexander Zonjic and Nestor Torres are pretty good. Also, saxman David “Fathead” Newman usually had a couple of good flute pieces per album, and Joe Farrell played some hellacious flute with Chick Corea’s Return to Forever. James Galway has a nice jazz album called Tango Del Fuego. And classical/jazz flutist Robert Dick does some amazing stuff on his recordings.

    1. Great list and I agree every bit but do not forget one of the all time best but obscure except in the Latin Jazz markets, Artie Webb of Bongo Logic and Shades of Jade fame. Still playing too.

      and lest we forget Dave Valentin who is a monster too

  2. I like most of these musicans too. Other flutists I like: Jane Bunnett, Kent Jordan, Steve Kujala (with Chick Corea), Magic Malik (a.k.a. Malik Mezzadri, an incredible young french flutist), James Newton, Jorge Pardo (who plays with Paco de Lucia), Mathieu Schneider (with the swiss band Inside Out), Lew Tabackin, Dave Valentin and Orlando “Maraca” Valle. And of course Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull in rock. If someone is interrested, I’ve made a website dedicated to all jazz and improvising flutists: http://www.jazzflute.ch.

  3. On American flutists (multi-instrumentalists), I wouldn’t leave away Bud Shank, who did some great stuff on flute, too. And, from my point of view there are missing some European players, like Christof Zgraja from Poland, Philip Bent from England (there is a nice album on GPR-records), a flutist from Holland Marc Alban Lotz and Jorge Pardo from Spain (he is playing also in the Paco de Lucia-Band, but did some great solo-CDs, too). And: last but not least, I would recommend Indian flutist Raghunath Seth improvising on Indian bamboo flute. To me that’s still jazz as well as all the African flutists, who are playing the style Roland Kirk in Jazz and later on Ian Anderson from Jethro Tull in Rockmusic got popular with, since hundreds of years! I am talking about the “dirty” singing along while playing…And: as Don Cherry has been mentioned already, Abudullah Ibrahim Dollar Brand’s (jazz-pianist) flute playing is also exiting (“Good news from Africa” and “Ancient Africa” released on Enja-Records).

    Dieter Weberpals Nürnberg/Germany weberpals@bibiafrica.de http://www.bibiafrica.de

  4. You did not mention the best: Michael Heupel, German player living in Bonn. He is amazing …. unfortunately not well known … never cared about carreer, recordings, etc. And I guess there are much more players who deserve attention. To complete your list (different levels/styles …) Eric Dixon (C.Basie), James Newton, Jiri Stivin, Peter Guidi, Dave Valentin (Conj. Libre), the Italian flutist who recorded with Chet Baker, Mark Weinstein, Jeroen Pek, Jeremy Steig, Chris Weinheimer, Craig Handy, Gary Thomas, Ned Mc Gowan, Ronald Snijders, Chris Hinze, Thijs van Leer, Connie Grossman and myself Mark Alban Lotz.

  5. Of course I like the strictly flute players like Herbie Mann and Jeremy Steig, but, being a multi-instrumentalist myself, I also have a love for the guys who primarliy play Tenor Sax but also double on flute. My personal favorites are Charles Lloyd and Yusef Lateef, in my ears they play the flute just as well, if not better than the Tenor, and it always brings a welcome change in tonality, texture, and approach to their music. A few years ago I saw Tenor saxman Karl Denson really rip it up on the flute, it was cool, but not quite as soulful as his Tenor. Lately I’ve also been really into the bamboo/wooden flute playing of Trumpeter Don Cherry and The Brazillian Guitarist/Pianist Egberto Gismonti, proof that all musical instruments have common threads and that once you really learn to be a MUSICIAN, you can express yourself on just about anything you have at your disposal (with a little practice of course!).

  6. Kent Jordan “Essence” – CBS/Sony (for me actually the best jazz flute player) Nicola Stilo (the italian flutist who played with Chet Baker): “Errata corrige” – Splasc(H) Records “Duets” with Toninho Horta – BMG, you could find him on some Chet’s italian recordings. Bill Evans with Jeremy Steig “What’s new” – Verve; Makoto Ozone “Now you know” (with an incredible Steve Kujala); Chick Corea “Friends” and “Light as a feather”, with Joe Farrell on flute; you could also try: James Moody (maybe some old recording with Dizzy Gillespie), Bud Shank, Sam Most. If you like cuban music you can listen to: Orlando “Maraca” Valle: he played with the band Irakere and with Tata Guines in “Pasaporte”; José Luis Cortés, leader of the band NG La Banda.

  7. Must not forget Lew Tabakin with Toshiko Akioshi’s big band. Trained at the Paris Conservatory I believe…if you have not checked him out…oh boy!

  8. The jazz flutist that i would highly reccommend is Ali Ryerson.I hear plenty of players running changes.but she is always looking for a melodic line .

    1. I absolutely love Ali Ryerson. She’s not only a great flutist but also a wonderful person! (I got to meet her a couple of years ago, and she’s just fab)

  9. I like too much the unkown “Domingos Mariotti” brasilian flute player from the band “Recordando o vale das maçãs”. “Ian Anderson” from Jethro Tull ‘n Jeremy Steig completes the rock list.
    Others?
    Chris hinze, Dave Valentin, Nicholas Gunn, Hubert Laws ‘n Herbie Mann, the best, for sure.

  10. Canadian Flautist Jeremy Steig does some great Jazz.
    one of the sigularly most underrated flutists in the world is Art Webb of Bongologic and Shades of Jade. He is now full time doing latin jazz with Johnny Polonco’s Salsa band
    Dave Valentin and Orlando “Maraca” Valle are mentioned above and are some of the best in Latin vein

  11. check out the great jazz flutist John Ragusa’s new cd DESEO
    on I-Tunes. he is a New York player who has an impressive resume,
    and this, his debut cd, is very cool.

  12. have anyone heard a flutist named leslie burns or burrs, i just heard hin play In a Sentimenttal mood it was so good it was frightning.

  13. If you have never listened to a finnish flautist Juhani Aaltonen, you must have missed a lot. He is just GREAT!

  14. I am trying to find some information on a jazz flautist I remember from the late ’60′s and early ’70′s … Yousuf La Fete (spelling of the name is most likely wrong) I particularly remember his recording of ‘When a Man loves A Woman’

    I have a granddaughter who is interested in both the jazz flute and cello.

  15. Looking for the name of the flautist who played with Maynard Ferguson in the mid to late 70′s. I heard him in concert in a Milwaukee suburb do like a twenty minute solo that seemed impossible to do. It was fantastic.

    1. The flutist for Maynard at that time was Bobby Militello. There is a comment in a review of the album “Primal Scream”. It mentions a flute cadenza that alway got a standing ovation in live performance. Wish I could time travel and hear it!

  16. Sam Most now has 2 albums on iTunes. The first, “Any, Time, Any Season”, recorded in 87, features Sam with pianist Frank Collett. Strings were added after the fact. Beautiful, sounds. The second “Simply Flute” features Sam with guitar and bass, no drums, and boy, does it swing!! You can check Sam out at http://www.sammost.com, which will also lead to his MySpace page. I was lucky enough to see him last June and it is one of the highlights of my life. Still swings hard at 77! Got to hang on his breaks and had dinner with him. Like his music, Sam is a beautiful person. Do yourself a favor…check him out!!

  17. If you want one of the best, you would have include Australia’s Don Burrows. An extraordinary career devoted to Jazz Flute and Jazz education. Plenty of recordings from the 60′s to today.

  18. listen to hubert laws’ piccolo solo on Mongo Santamaria’s song Afro Blue on Mongo Santamaria at the Village Gate. also Yusef Lateef’s playing on I’ll Remember April from album Into Something. Dave Valentin is great but not when he’s doing his vocalizations; they ruin his gorgeous sound. and don’t forget Jose Fajaro and Richard Egues, two Cuban greats. don’t ever forget them!!! herbie mann never was very good, rampal couldn’t improvise. Hubert Laws is the baddest.

  19. I would add Holly Hofmann and Lori Bell to the list of great flute players. They seem to still be active. They both have several CDs. For smooth jazz Najee, more well known for sax playing, is just outstanding at the flute player. He may be as good as anyone!

  20. Herbie Mann, Huascar Barradas, Nestor Torres, Sam Most, Harold McNair, Tim Weisberg, Roger Glenn, Domingos Mariotti, Bobbi Humphrey, Althea Renné, Jeremy Steig, Altamiro Carrilho, Carrasqueira pai e filho, Bjorn Json Lindh, Hubert Laws, Chris Hinze, Copinha, Eric Dolph, This Van Leer, Frank Wess, Nicholas Gunn, Lloyd McNeil, Lea Freire, Joe Farrel, Ian Anderson, Nicola Stilo, Dave Valentin, Hermeto Pascoal e Carlos Poyares.

  21. Bill McBirnie is a jazz and Latin flute specialist located in Toronto. He has been chosen Flutist of the Year by the Jazz Report Awards, nominated as Instrumentalist of the Year at the National Jazz Awards and declared a winner of both the USA National Flute Association’s Jazz Flute Masterclass and Jazz Flute Big Band Competitions. He has also produced several Extreme Flute projects to date including his most recent, “Mercy”, featuring Robi Botos (piano), Pat Collins (bass) and John Sumner (drums). All are available from Indie Pool, CDBaby and iTunes. If you wish to contact Bill, you can reach him directly at extremeflute@look.ca

  22. I am somewhat surprised that no one has mentioned
    Toots Thielemans. You must listen. Still going strong in his late 80′s

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