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John Curry

(bNew York, Jan 30, 1927; dNew York, Oct 2, 1993). Double bass and ‘ūd player. His early influences included the music played and sung by his father, who was Sudanese, and the Middle Eastern and East European music he heard growing up in Brooklyn’s multiracial community. He began learning violin at the age of seven and later studied double bass, piano, and tuba and attended the High School of the Performing Arts in New York. At this time he played Greek, Syrian, and Gypsy music professionally at weddings and other occasions. After playing double bass with Art Blakey (...

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Val Wilmer

(b Cape Town, June 26, 1947). South African drummer, percussionist, singer, and leader. Known first for his singing, he developed as a drummer by accompanying other singers in Cape Town and playing with the quartet led by the pianist Cecil May. In 1962...

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Val Wilmer

(b Jamestown, Accra, Gold Coast [now Ghana], June 7, 1931; d London, Sept 15, 1993). Ghanaian conga and bongo player. He was educated at the Royal School in Accra and began playing drums as a child. Following a brief spell in the army he traveled to Britain in ...

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Val Wilmer

(b Cape Town, Oct 18, 1950). South African pianist, composer, and arranger. He grew up in the District Six area of Cape Town with the guitarist Russell Herman, studied music at the University of Cape Town, and played in various groups with Herman, including Oswietie, with which they toured South Africa and Angola. After joining Sipho Gumede in the funk-jazz group Spirits Rejoice he traveled along Africa’s west coast as far as Gabon, then in ...

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(bIsmâ’ ilîya, Egypt, June 8, 1931). Frenchsinger and pianist. He studied music in Paris and played piano with Don Byas (1955) and Stephane Grappelli (1957). He was a singer with the Blue Stars (1955–6), toured and recorded with the Double Six (...

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Jacques Aboucaya

(b Oran, Algeria, Oct 25, 1961). French pianist and composer. After taking lessons in classical piano he went to the USA to study at the Berklee College of Music (1981–3) and then at the Manhattan School of Music (MM composition). He appeared in the BMI Jazz Composition Workshop under the direction of Bob Brookmeyer (...

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Charles de Ledesma

(b Johannesburg, March 13, 1938). South African percussionist. He was a popular drummer in Philip Tabane’s band Malombo, one of the foremost groups playing kwela (a style of urban popular music in South Africa). In 1973 he moved to London and formed the group Jabula, which played an amalgam of African music and rock; in ...

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Gary W. Kennedy

(b Cape Town, South Africa, Oct 17, 1936). South African singer. The name Sathima, which means “person with a kind heart,” was given to her by Johnny Dyani and was originally spelled Satima. She sang standards and show tunes in local groups as a teenager and was performing professionally by the late 1950s. From ...

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Kevin Whitehead

(b Durban, South Africa, June 29, 1948). South African tenor and alto saxophonist and bandleader. He played guitar from the age of 12, took up clarinet when he was 17, and changed to tenor saxophone a year later. Playing either the tenor or the alto instrument he worked in pop and blues bands in Cape Town and Durban and in jazz groups with the drummer Dick Xhosa and Pat Matshikiza, among others. He left South Africa in ...

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South African group formed by Chris McGregor in 1963.

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Robert Pernet

(b Tongeren, Belgium, July 17, 1908; d Brussels, April 11, 1974). Belgian tenor saxophonist and violinist. He began his career in the mid-1920s playing in an orchestra led by his brother Jeff Candrix in the Netherlands, Germany, France, Morocco, and Italy. While working in Belgian nightclubs he met Gus Deloof and the trombonist Jules Testaert. In ...

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André Clergeat

(b Philippeville, Algeria, Jan 6, 1951). French double bass player and leader. His parents were of Italian origin. He took up violin at around the age of six, before the family moved to Strasbourg, and he studied violin and double bass until 1973...

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(b Cluj-Napoca, Romania, June 26, 1940). Romanian pianist . He studied piano at the National Conservatory in Bucharest. At the age of 18 he formed a quintet, with which he toured Austria and Switzerland, and in 1969 he traveled to South Africa as the leader of a trio with Charly Antolini and J.A. Rettenbacher. In the 1970s he worked as a studio musician for radio stations in Germany and toured successfully in Japan. Cicero’s recordings as an unaccompanied soloist and a leader include rather innocuous albums of his improvisations on themes by classical composers (...

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(b Cape Town, Feb 2, 1944; d Cape Town, March 11, 1998). South African tenor saxophonist. Self-taught, he played penny whistle as a child and changed to alto saxophone at the age of 18. He first performed with the trio of Abdullah Ibrahim (then known as Dollar Brand) at a variety concert in ...

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Robert Pernet

(b Liège, Belgium, Feb 7, 1907; d Wavre, Belgium, Feb 10, 1987). Belgian pianist . After working in cinemas and music halls he performed in Switzerland (1928) and France (1929). In 1930 he toured Algeria and worked in Paris, and from ...

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Val Wilmer

Family of musicians. Three brothers, all guitarists, were born in Cardiff to an African father from the Cape Verde Islands and a Welsh mother of English and African-American origin.

(b Cardiff, July 31, 1912; d Stanstead Abbots, Herts, July 17, 2005). British guitarist...

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Val Wilmer and Gary W. Kennedy

(b Cape Town, May 10, 1958). South African trumpeter and leader. His grandfather led a brass band and choir, and his father was a trombonist. In the mid-1970s Deppa moved with his family to England, where he was taught and inspired by Harry Beckett, Kathy Stobart, and others. He joined the Grand Union Orchestra (early 1980s) and the ...

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. Six-stringed “hunter’s guitar” from Mali; it incorporates a rattle and a soundboard made from a gourd. Don Cherry regularly played the instrument in the trio Codona with Collin Walcott and Nana Vasconcelos.

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Charles de Ledesma and Barry Kernfeld

(b East London, South Africa, Nov 30, 1945; d Berlin, Oct 24, 1986). South African double bass player and singer. He grew up in a musical family and studied piano and sang before taking up double bass, which he first played with Mongezi Feza and the percussionist Dick Nkosa. After working with the pianist Tete Mbambisa he joined Chris McGregor’s group the Blue Notes, with which he performed in France at the Festival Mondial du Jazz Antibes--Juan-les-Pins (...

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Lara Pellegrinelli

(b Omaha, NE, Sept 1, 1956). Bass player of Nigerian descent. He learned classical violin for two years and began playing double bass and electric bass guitar while at high school in Portland, Oregon; he continued his education at Mount Hood Community College, where he studied privately with faculty members. After graduation he performed in Portland for three years and spent a brief period in Los Angeles. Essiet then moved to Europe and toured there with Don Moye’s quartet in ...