Thursday, May 10, 2007

The TWO greatest of each

So, I was thinking about that age old Jazz question... Bird or Trane?

How can you decide? They're so different, but yet one lead inexorably to the other (linked by Miles Davis in this case for example). They're both so great... I don't think there is one greatest there.

And then I realized, looking around the world of Jazz, you see this over and over again. For each instrument or style, theres TWO "greatest" not just one. Two musicians so great they must both be recognized.

Think about it...

Saxophone: Charlie Parker and John Coltrane (honorable mentions to Sonny Rollins, Sonny Stitt, Dexter Gordon, Stan Getz, Lester Young, Louie Jordan, and Wayne Shorter)

Trumpet: Louis Armstrong and Miles Davis (with apologies to Dizzy- he's clearly number 3, and Harry James, Chet Baker, Roy Eldridge - and if you count Dixieland, Al Hirt and Monk Hazel)

Cornet: Bix Beiderbecke and King Oliver - (Honorable mention to Buddy Bolden who never recorded, you can only hear him by listening to other great players immitate him; but Satch said he can't touch Bolden, so you gotta take that for somethin')

Piano: Art Tatum and Thelonious Monk (honorable mentions to Oscar Peterson, Bud Powell, Fatha Hines, Hoagie Carmichael, Vince Guaraldi, Dave Brubeck, The Duke, and the Count)

Drums: Buddy Rich and Elvin Jones (honorable mentions to Gene Krupa, Ginger Baker, Jack DeJohnette, and Art Blakey)

Bass: Charlie Mingus and Victor Wooten (honorable mentions to Jaco Pastorius and Stanley Clarke)

Clarinet: Bennie Goodman and PeeWee Russell (honorable mention to Artie Shaw)

Guitar: Django Reinhardt and Wes Montgomery

Now, this isn't to say there aren't other true greats; hell I listed some of them... but in each case, I think the two listed for each instrument are clearly the best.

What distinguished them as BOTH being the best though, is that they don't really invite comparison to eahc other, in form, in style, in composition... They each stand alone in their greatness. I could no more compare Satch and Miles than I could Satch and 'Trane.

Now, your turn...