I'll be happy to throw some random thoughts on Miles and Coltrane out there. They were/are relatively hugely popular. I was thinking about why and one obvious conclusion is that they had great Bands. Following on from that, they had Bands that stuck together with the same personnel for a number of years. People like that and it makes the music some how more identifiable or something i'm too lazy to think right now. Garrison/Tyner/Jones. Shorter/Hancock/Carter/Williams. Impulse. Columbia. They were very Band-like. There's something that builds up when this happens, both musically and 'aura' wise. Momentum?
Obviously this is just one aspect.