Let's do a short comparison of stop-time choruses (rhythm section just plays accents) between Jabbo and Louis Armstrong. Here's Armstrong's famous Potato Head Blues (1927):
Now, here's Jabbo on Boston Scuffle (1929):
The technique in both cases is superb. Yes, Armstrong's tone is slightly more, call it more charismatic. However, I submit that here, as in many of his recordings, Jabbo actually shows a wider arsenal of trumpet techniques than Armstrong-and I am a BIG fan of Louis.
In the late 20's-early 30's, Jabbo was in great demand as a player. He kept his word to his mother when he said he wouldn't play for anything less than $100 a week and declined an offer to join Ellington for $65 a week. Yet, Jabbo's recordings didn't sell nearly as well as Armstrong's (which meant he recorded much less). This has me flummoxed. Why didn't his recordings go over with the great unwashed?
Did Armstrong have a great vocal advantage? Here's Armstrong:
Now Jabbo (and dig his out-chorus):
So, Jabbo's voice is very similar to Armstrong's. Certainly there's not much separating them; at least to my ears.
May it please the court, here's a final piece of evidence, "Jazz Battle:"
So, is it just extra-musical factors that account for the disparity in the careers of these two masters?
Armstrong deserves all the adulation he gets, but it doesn't add up to me that the Armstrong mythology has sucked up all the available historical space. Of the trumpet players from that era, Bix still has a high profile because he represented a different direction in trumpet playing, but there were so many others (of the "hot" persuasion)-pre-eminently Jabbo-who played at the highest level.
In any given era, are there not enough rooms in the jazz mansion to accomodate more than one genius? Have jazz people feebly capitulated to that rusty saw the "great man theory"?
Could this tendency eventually lead to a situation where listeners encounter disembodied tracks, knowing only the name of the lead performer (probably a singer), with no information about the other musicians on the date? Nah, that could never happen.