Ahead of a stellar London show next week...

The piano has been at the centre of musical composition for so long that young artists often dismiss the instrument.

At heart, though, it remains a beast of real complexity, with both its musical and emotional range leaving many areas still to be explored.

London's Joe Armon-Jones has made the keys his home, accepting influences from the classical world, all shades of jazz, and club culture.

A phenomenal musician, he's a vital member of Ezra Collective as well as a noted collaborator - go check out the 'Idiom' EP - as well as a composer and band leader in his own right.

Debut album 'Starting Today' was released on Brownswood earlier in the year, one of the defining records in a historic year for UK jazz.

Set to play a key London show next week as part of a much wider European tour, Joe Armon-Jones sat down with Clash to discuss some heroes of the keys...

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Ahmad Jamal

This is the top donny in my opinion. Been killing it since the 40s; stayed relevant and kept forwarding his own playing, as well as the genre itself. Also when you watch him play live, after every song finishes you can hear him say 'yeahhh' on mic just as the last note finishes. After every single song, no exception.

And even just watching him spurring his band mates on and laying out to watch them play was very inspiring for me growing up.

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Herbie Hancock

He's in everybody's Top 5 piano players list but that's for a good reason. Herbie's music can be played on dancefloors, intimate listening settings, even covered to death by other bands and still retains its original soul.

And in terms of his career he's effectively Snoop Dogg, stayed relevant for nearly 60 years and survived each genre of music he's stepped into by being an innovator not a trend follower. Would be jokes if Herbie'ss next phase was as Herb Lion or something...

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Kaidi Tatham

Shouts to Henry Wu for putting me onto this guys music, even just as a producer Kaidi is pushing boundaries and has his own sound. But then the keys playing just pushes it over the edge.

Big influence especially when I play with Maxwell Owin on the more dance-oriented side of life. Go listen to his new project 'It's A World Before You' it will change things for you.

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Patrice Rushen

Patrice is the OG of jazz / funk / soul keyboard playing. Check out the album 'Prelusion', mad styles with a wicked band featuring Joe Henderson among others. Until I heard that album I'd only heard 'Forget Me Nots', so it blew my mind!

Mad solos, still funk but more open than the more popular records. That record had a big influence on the way I approached making 'Starting Today', the open attitude to track lengths and letting the music play out the length it should be.

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Oscar Peterson

Oscar is my first ever real influence as a pianist. I think my Dad used to play me the his music just to scare me into practising to be honest. When you clock the dexterity he has it's something else. And the guy had a stroke halfway through his life, lost the ability to play and then relearned back to his original standard!

Big role model for life as well as playing; there's an amazing story about an Ella Fitzgerald gig Oscar was playing on, where some audience members were shouting abuse at Ella from the crowd. Oscar stopped the gig, went into the audience, tuffed up the guy and threw him out. Role model.

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Joe Armon-Jones will play a full European tour later this year - full ticket details/dates HERE. Catch him at London's XOYO on Wednesday (August 15th).

Photo Credit: Adama Jalloh

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