Earl “Fatha” Hines (December 28, 1903 to April 22, 1983) is not as well remembered as Louis Armstrong or Duke Ellington. But jazz critics put him on their level as a figure in jazz history. Last.fm said that he is known as “the first modern jazz pianist.” The site’s bio suggests an interesting history:
In 1928 (on his 25th birthday) Hines began leading his own big band. For over 10 years his was “The Band” in Al Capone’s Grand Terrace Cafe — Hines was Capone’s “Mr Piano Man”.
All About Jazz has a more extensive biography. Here’s how it starts:
A brilliant keyboard virtuoso, Earl “Fatha” Hines was one of the first great piano soloists in jazz, and one of the very few musicians who could hold his own with Louis Armstrong. His so-called ‘trumpet’ style used doubled octaves in the right hand to produce a clear melodic line that stood out over the sound of a whole band, but he also had a magnificent technical command of the entire range of the keyboard.
A third bio, at Red Hot Jazz, links Armstrong and Hines at what many consider the birth of modern jazz: