I see alot of websites and blogs that claim that the key to becoming a successful jazz musician is to load up on licks. Now while this may be useful to create mood in some contexts, it's not possible that licks alone can make a jazz musician. If this were so, jazz would be easy, and everyone would be great, given that they were on the same page for technical proficiency.
However there are some great pianists who sound undeniably "licky" to me. One of them is Oscar Peterson. I'm sure that he improvised many beautiful melodies, but (please correct me if I'm wrong) a substantial part of his playing seems to be running up and down the scales, and playing bluesy licks.
In contrast, Bill Evans seems like the pianist who barely uses "standard" licks. And if he uses licks, he has so many that he only rarely uses one more than a couple of times. In my opinion Bill Evans' playing is melodically "fresh" i.e he really puts new ideas on the keys every time he plays.
Now don't get me wrong, I love Peterson's playing, but I have this aching thought that his glory lies solely in his technical proficiency. I would love an answer that could prove this wrong, with examples, maybe explaining Peterson's style and why his playing sounds "licky".
In a similar vein, how useful are licks in becoming an individual and innovator in jazz piano? Are licks irrelevant if one's goal is to sound unique, and put his/her ideas on the piano?