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  • Words by Mr G. Bruce Boyer

"I used to see all these great musicians," Rollins said. "There was Coleman Hawkins, and his Cadillac and those wonderful suits he wore. Just standing on the corner, I could see Duke Ellington, Andy Kirk, Don Redman, Benny Carter, Sid Catlett, Jimmy Crawford, Charlie Shavers, Al Hall, Denzil Best, and all these kinds of men. Those guys commanded respect in the way they carried themselves. You knew something was very true when you saw Coleman Hawkins or any of these people. They were not pretending."
Mr Stanley Crouch on Mr Sonny Rollins, The New Yorker, 9 May 2005, p66

The great classic jazz musicians were very conscious and reflective about the way they dressed, not only because it was an outward sign of success, but because they knew they were cultural heroes. They represented elegance, skill and creativity in their attitude and deportment as well as their technical virtuosity. Some of these musicians dressed so distinctively, they influenced fashions for generations of young men, creating a style legacy almost as important as their musical one. Click through the slides, above, to see eight men who set the tone of the era.