Om Benny Goodman
OK, Benny Goodman looked like a nerdy accountant. So what? Listen to his music...he always swung like Jayne Mansfield in capri pants. Goodman's cutting-edge clarinet chops were so strong that they propelled him to stardom in 1935 and officially launched the swing scene in popular culture. An all around tough cookie (and reputed to be difficult to work with), Goodman nevertheless hired interracial groups, working with the finest musicians (Lionel Hampton, Gene Krupa, Teddy Wilson, Charlie Christian), and blazed a trail for big bands and small jazz outfits through his various incarnations. In the late '40s, he incorporated Bop into his sound and continued to grow, working with such modernists as Herbie Hancock. Swing revivalists take note: Goodman makes Brian Setzer sound like Guy Lombardo.