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One of the great alto saxophonists, Cannonball Adderley had an exuberant and happy sound (as opposed to many of the more serious stylists of his generation) that communicated immediately to listeners.
Louis Armstrong was the first important soloist to emerge in jazz, and he became the most influential musician in the music's history.
In the '60s, when John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman were defining the concept of a jazz avant-garde, few knowledgeable observers would have guessed that in another 30 years the music's mainstream would virtually bypass their innovations, in favor of the hard bop style that free jazz had apparently supplanted.
Count Basie was among the most important bandleaders of the swing era.
Duke Ellington was the most important composer in the history of jazz as well as being a bandleader who held his large group together continuously for almost 50 years.
Dizzy Gillespie's contributions to jazz were huge.
The most important jazz musicians are the ones who are successful in creating their own original world of music with its own rules, logic, and surprises.
Oscar Peterson is one of the greatest piano players of all time.
Though he never received any exaggerated title, Jimmy Smith certainly ruled the Hammond organ in the '50s and '60s.