4 of the Oldest Living Jazz Musicians

Jazz is timeless. It’s been around since the late 19th century, and it still has enduring power today. So many of the greats from the golden era of jazz have since left us, but there are still many powerhouse jazz musicians out there, and some of them still perform despite getting on in years. Let’s look at four of the oldest jazz musicians who are still alive today!

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1. Marshall Allen

No one did it quite like Marshall Allen. This excentric saxophonist and student of the legendary James Moody is often associated with the famed jazz composer Sun Ra. He’s known for his eclectic free jazz and avante-garde jazz works. As of 2024, Allen is 100 years old.

2. Terry Gibbs

Terry Gibbs is a vibraphonist and jazz band leader who has recorded with so many legends in the jazz scene, from Tommy Dorsey to Benny Goodman to Buddy Rich. As of 2024, he is 99 years old. His autobiography, Good Vibes: A Life In Jazz, is essential reading for any jazz fan.

3. Roy Haynes

Roy “Snap Crackle” Haynes is known for his “looseness” as a jazz drummer. But we can’t pigeonhole this talented musician into one genre. He’s played it all, from swing to jazz fusion to bebop and beyond. Haynes has even played with the likes of Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk. As of 2024, Haynes is 99 years old.

4. Lou Donaldson

This American saxophonist was heavily inspired by Charlie Parker, but he managed to create a sound that was all his own. Lou Donaldson released almost 50 records during his time as a jazz musician, and he started all the way back in 1954. As of 2024, Donaldson is 97 years old.

Photo by Arturo Holmes

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