These 10 Living Legends of Jazz Prove Nobody Can Out-Dress the OGs
a day ago
Coat $2,490 Ermenegildo Zegna Couture, sweater $345 Sandro, sunglasses Krewe, fez from Nigeria
Herbie Hancock, Pharoah Sanders, Roy Ayers, and more jazz giants show you how to dress for winter.
Using nothing more than simple instruments and an audacious will to improvise, these ten giants of jazz have taken us places no man has gone before. And they’re still here, still playing—and always dressed to kill. What a time to be alive.
Pharoah Sanders (above)
A freethinking astral traveler and spiritual gangster, he’s the official saxophonist of your soul’s awakening. His deﬁnitive song may be “The Creator Has a Master Plan,” a 32-minute vision quest that journeys from moments of pastoral beauty to demon-purging squall—just like life itself.
“I got tired of wearing suits and ties,” he says. “I decided I would look another kind of way.”
Life on a string:
A graduate of the Miles Davis Sideman University, Carter still tours and gigs around the world, leading his bands on the same upright bass he’s been using since 1960. “It’s on all these records,” he says. “I maintain it. It’s like having a Bentley.”
That herringbone suit:
It was designed by his wife, the former model Quintell Williams-Carter.
“I wouldn’t go to work without a suit. It sets the whole tone for me.”—Ron Carter
Between 1989 and 2015, Lloyd recorded his beautiful and painterly playing for art-music label ECM. But he’ll always be best known as one of the ﬁrst jazz artists to sell a million copies, with the 1967 live set Forest Flower.
Modeling side hustle:
“Yohji Yamamoto has made a lot of clothes for me and invited me to model in Paris and in Tokyo. We share an aesthetic sensibility.”
“I think style is an innate thing. Some people have it—or not.”—Charles Lloyd
The sax he played in his mid-1960s prime was as elegant and cutting as a samurai sword. The work included a torrent of solo material (Shorter recorded at least six albums between 1964 and ’65) and a coveted position in Miles Davis’s block-rocking “second great quintet” (with his buddy Herbie on piano).
“Miles used to say, ‘I can tell whether somebody can play or not by what they wear and how they move in it.’”
He was a key ﬁgure in jazz’s midcentury heyday, then went platinum with the 1973 fusion record Head Hunters, then embraced hip-hop on the smash 1983 single “Rockit,” and then won the Album of the Year Grammy in 2008 for a set of Joni Mitchell covers (with his buddy Wayne on sax).
“I don’t go shopping that often,” he says. “When I go out, I will get a lot of stuff ’cause I know I’m not gonna do this again for another year and a half. So I will just get everything that I could conceivably want. Spend that fortune!”
A little bit of everything:
Nominated for a staggering 64 Grammys, Corea has embraced the possibilities of both acoustic and electric piano, dabbled in children’s and Latin and classical music, and even recorded a Christmas song with John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John.
“About ﬁve years ago I went on a plant-based diet, and I took off a hundred pounds. You can probably ﬁnd pictures on the Internet of me when I was 250—I’m now down to 140. I came down from a 44 waist to a 33 waist. None of my clothes ﬁt me anymore; I had to get rid of them all. It felt so good.”
Credit Ayers with putting the vibes in vibraphone. Mashing together jazz, funk, and disco boogie, he’s the master of 1970s-bachelor-pad grooviness that holds its edge.
Ayers still believes his slinky hit “Everybody Loves the Sunshine” is the best thing he’s ever done—and Dr. Dre apparently agrees. The song made the soundtrack to last year’s Straight Outta Compton biopic.
“I’m just a traveling musician enjoying the good road.”—Roy Ayers
A heartbreaking balladeer who deﬁnes sophistication on the piano, he also spent years as a sideman to the adventurous John Coltrane, playing on My FavoriteThings and Trane’s transcendent masterpiece, A Love Supreme.
Taylor approaches the piano the way Jackson Pollock approached a canvas: with a wild sense of improvisational abandon that borders on violence.
Music (and fashion) as art:
Never mind that he’s pushing 90. When Taylor performed this year at the Whitney Museum, he wore a chocolate beanie, ivory shoes, and a satin jacket printed with swirls of regal purple and gold.
Everyone you’ve ever heard of. For starters: Sonny Rollins, Stan Getz, Thelonious Monk, Eric Dolphy, and Sarah Vaughan.
One of one:
“I was having my clothes made at a young age,” says Haynes, who also drummed with saxophone godhead Charlie Parker back in the 1940s. “Even before I had a good gig, I was having stuff made. Some people would come to my gig to see what I was wearing—to see what the little M.F. was wearing.”