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The Fearless 50

* He liberated jazz
Ornette Coleman, 72
Composer, Musician

Ornette Coleman Bewilderment and hostility greeted the self-taught alto sax player in the 1950s. Coleman's frenetic, soulful improvisations defied all conventions. "I don't know what it is," Dizzy Gillespie sniffed. "But it's not jazz." Others called his music—grounded in a system Coleman dubbed "harmolodics"—an atonal racket. But many of his compositions, such as the magisterial 1972 symphony Skies of America, are now being recognized as masterpieces.

Novelty act: "With Ornette Coleman, jazz established its permanent avant-garde—a 'new' that would always remain new," writes Francis Davis in The Atlantic Monthly.

* They combat sprawl with a new traditionalism
Andres Duany, 53
Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, 52
Principals, Duany Plater-Zyberk & Co., Miami, Florida

These Miami-based architects started out as modernists. But they quickly grew disillusioned with bold, sterile high rises and unwalkable, isolating suburbs. The two began planning towns on a human scale: for example, shops near homes to encourage foot traffic. Their first town, Seaside, Florida, was a stunning success. Since then, Duany and Plater-Zyberk have helped plan more than 200 communities. For each, they study local architecture so they can maintain a sense of place.

Sidetracked: The couple, who were married in 1976, have been too busy to start a family. "I missed the 'mommy track,' " says Plater-Zyberk. "I suppose you could say that our towns are our babies."

Take a virtual tour of the town of Seaside, Fla., that emerged from the architecture of Andres Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk.

* He's still a-changin' with the times
Bob Dylan, 61

To dwell on his simple three-chord sound and that foghorn of a voice would be missing the point. Because it's not just about the music, it's about the vision. And the continuous process of reinvention. Dylan was the iconic protest singer, but he morphed into a rocker, a country boy, a movie actor, a religious mystic (in turns Christian and Jewish), and most recently, a sage, singing about maturity, loss, mortality—things rock 'n' roll was never built to explore.

"It's not dark yet/But it's getting there," he sings on his critically acclaimed album Time Out Of Mind. Describing Dylan is "like trying to talk about the pyramids," U2's Bono once said.

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