[Trimmed follow-up to r.m.b.]
Even when I list Basie-Young as one person
and Ellington-Strayhorn as another person and
Holiday-Wilson as another person, I * still * can't
get the list shorter than twenty-seven.
The list would have to include non-musicians,
by the way, if it is to mean anything: John
Hammond for one.
I think you need one list for the creators and
another list for the popularizers and promoters.
Neither would have survived without the other.
There wouldn't have been a Benny Goodman
from Chicago without a Johnny Dodds from New
Orleans, but without Goodman, Lionel Hampton,
Teddy Wilson, Charlie Christian, and perhaps even
Roy Eldrige might never have become the big names
that they so richly deserved to become. So, who
gets on the list -- Dodds or Goodman?
Charlie Parker or Jay McShann, who recognized an
amazing talent and gave the kid a break?
How about Teo Macero, who produced the
"Kind of Blue" sessions at great financial risk?
How about the man who signed Monk to Columbia
records (anybody remember his name?) If you think
it was "a sure thing" financially, you're dreaming.
It's a mug's game. "Ten" is far too small a number
to contain a world of infinite wonder. Who are
the ten most important people in * any * history?
Because nobody is born into a vacuum, and nobody
could have become who they were (except maybe the
Son of God, if you believe in such things) could have
achieved greatness without being able to stand on the
shoulders of giants, you can argue forever over it.