No. 2

Louis Armstrong

The game flows from him period. America's other great musical genius but where Ellington's strength came out in how he used his orchestra, Armstrong's was compacted like some cosmic force inside his incandescent personality. He took the earliest strands of jazz and wove them into a conception so potent that it merely reshaped all popular music, jazz and otherwise, that followed. Every modern musician of quality, vocalists perhaps even more than instrumentalists, can find Pops in his or her family tree.