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Simon Adams

(Jefimowitsch)[Misha]

(b Kamianets-Podilskyi, Ukraine [then USSR], Nov 7, 1956; d Oslo, May 11, 2018). Moldavian pianist. Although he was born in Ukraine, he grew up in Bessarabia, in the eastern part of Moldavia, where he studied composition and piano while playing with local folk musicians. In 1980 he became a member of the Moldavian Jazz Ensemble, led by the saxophonist and violinist Semjon Shirman, and started to play jazz piano – listening for the first time to such pianists as Art Tatum and Keith Jarrett and transcribing, for the piano, solos by Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, and other saxophone and brass players. In 1983 he moved to Moscow, where he formed a duo with the french horn and flugelhorn player Arkady Shilkloper, with whom he began to synthesize elements of Moldavian folk music with improvised jazz; the duo played regularly at Moscow’s Blueberry Jazz Club. A member of the Moscow Art Trio, with Shilkloper and the singer and clarinetist Sergey Starostin, Alperin also performed with many Russian and foreign musicians; his first album as an unaccompanied soloist, ...

Article

Adriano Mazzoletti

(b Genoa, Italy, May 15, 1902; d Sanremo, Italy, 1994). Italian violinist, pianist, bandleader, arranger, and composer. In Genoa he studied violin and composition and played banjo for a brief period in an orchestra. He was the leader and an arranger for the group Blue Star (to 1931...

Article

Barry Kernfeld

[Benoit, Jean-Louis]

(b Philadelphia, May 18, 1926; d nr Paris, Feb 10, 1997). American organist and leader. His father was from Martinique. A child prodigy, he grew up in Baltimore, where he was taught by his grandmother; his grandfather was a Baptist minister, and Bennett directed their church choir from the age of 12. After military service (1943–6), during which time he played tuba and thereby developed his ability to invent bass lines, he began his jazz career in Baltimore (1947), leading a piano trio modeled after that of Nat “King” Cole. In 1949, under the influence of Wild Bill Davis, he began to play organ, an instrument he used professionally from 1951. By 1956 he was performing in a style much closer to that of Jimmy Smith rather than Davis, and from 1957 to 1959 he toured the Midwest and the East Coast with his own hard-bop organ trio. The following year he moved to Paris, where he performed at the Blue Note with Jimmy Gourley or René Thomas in Kenny Clarke’s trio, accompanying numerous distinguished guest soloists (until ...

Article

Paul Rinzler

revised by Barry Kernfeld

(b. Tipton, IN, 1 Dec 1921). American pianist. He studied piano and harmony from the age of 11 and undertook his first engagements, playing in local clubs, when he was 12. He was influenced first by Fats Waller and later by Bud Powell and Teddy Wilson. Having served in the military and spent the last six months of World War II as a prisoner of war in Leipzig, he held day jobs for a decade while playing at weekends and studying at Indiana University, from which he graduated in 1950. In the mid-1950s he was living in Indianapolis, where he had an opportunity to play with Wes Montgomery and his brothers, Benny Barth, and other leading local players. His musical career did not begin in earnest until the late 1950s, when he was a member of big bands led by Georgie Auld (in Los Angeles, c. 1956), Woody Herman (August ...

Article

Wim Van Eyle

(b. Amsterdam, 22 April 1936). Dutch pianist. He went in 1956 to Paris, where he led a quartet with the tenor saxophonist Barney Wilen from 1957 (when the group recorded) to 1958. After moving to the USA the following year he played with Charles Mingus (1959–60), Zoot Sims (1960), and Dinah Washington (1960) and worked in California with the Montgomery Brothers, Chet Baker, Bobby Hutcherson, Harold Land, and Charles McPherson (1961–8). He recorded with Mingus (1960), Washington, John Handy, and McPherson (in New York, 1971) and led a trio in New York from 1968; he was also the music director for Jane Fonda’s anti-Vietnam war revue. In 1972 he returned to the Netherlands, where he worked into the 1980s with small groups and as an unaccompanied soloist. He also performed in Spain and the south of France (...

Article

Barry Kernfeld

[RonBurton, William JamesJabulani]

(b Louisville, KY, Feb 10, 1934; d New York, Jan 25, 2013). American pianist. He learned piano from the age of 13 and first performed professionally in and around Louisville in the early 1950s. In 1953 he began playing with Roland Kirk, with whom he toured the Midwest for six years. His composition Jack the Ripper was recorded on Kirk’s album Introducing Roland Kirk (1960, Argo 669). After working as a freelance in New York (1960), Syracuse (1960–61), and Louisville, Burton toured with George Adams as an organist (1964–5), then played in Atlanta with Sirone. From 1967 to 1973 he was again a member of Kirk’s band; he appeared with the group at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1968 and made a number of recordings, including Bright Moments (1973, Atl. 2-907). He can be seen in Roland Kirk: Live in ’63 & ’67...

Article

Gary Kennedy

(b New Orleans, Sept 21, 1948: d Bronx, NY, July 2, 2018). American pianist. His year of birth had been published as 1949, but obituaries give 1948. He was blind from birth and began singing lessons at the age of five. A year later he enrolled at the Louisiana School for the Blind, where he learned classical piano, drums, and baritone saxophone and sang in the glee clubs and choirs. At high school he changed his classical lessons from piano to singing, as he found reading braille scores too time consuming and inhibiting, and began performing in local bands in the Baton Rouge area. Butler gained an undergraduate degree in singing at Southern University, where he also studied piano and had lessons with Alvin Batiste, and in 1971 he was awarded a grant to receive tuition from George Duke. He then attained a master’s degree in classical singing at Michigan State University and studied piano with Harold Mabern. After returning to New Orleans (...

Article

Ryan Bruce

[John Arthur, Jr.]

(b Worcester, MA, June 15, 1922; d Queens, NY, Feb 11, 1999). American jazz pianist, composer, educator, and bandleader. He was technically proficient at playing rags, stomps, boogie-woogie, swing, bebop, and free jazz, but his performance career never conformed to any specific style or era. He is perhaps best known for his work with the Charles Mingus group (1962–5, 1970), with whom he recorded albums such as Mingus, Mingus, Mingus, Mingus, Mingus (1963, Imp.). He studied classical music from the age of five or six until he was 20 and began playing jazz on the trumpet when he was 16. As a jazz pianist, his early influences included Fats Waller, Art Tatum, Earl Hines, and Count Basie. After working with various groups in the 1950s, including three years with Earl Bostic around 1950, Byard recorded frequently from 1957 to 1962 with leaders such as Herb Pomeroy, Maynard Ferguson, Don Ellis, and Eric Dolphy. At this time he also recorded his first albums as a leader, ...

Article

Eliot Gattegno

(b Philadelphia, PA, June 8, 1956). American classical and jazz pianist and composer. Born and raised in Philadelphia, Caine began playing piano at the age of seven. At age 12 he commenced studies with French jazz pianist Bernard Peiffer. He later studied composition with ...

Article

Stan Britt

revised by Barry Kernfeld

[Michael Anthony]

(b South Shields, England, Dec 7, 1937; d Sept 22, 2017). English organist, brother of Ian Carr. He first gained national recognition as a member of the Emcee Five (1960–62), a band based in Newcastle upon Tyne, in which he played piano and vibraphone. From 1963 to 1965 he worked in Africa, after which he played organ in the Nighttimers, a group led by the singer Herbie Goins. In 1966 he recorded two tracks as a pianist with Prince Lawsha. He performed frequently at Ronnie Scott’s, principally as an organist (1966–7), and spent a month there late in 1967 with Dave Green and Tony Crombie, accompanying Coleman Hawkins. After playing in a trio which included John McLaughlin (1967) and working with Don Byas in Portugal (1968) he formed the duo Pendulum with Crombie (1968) and worked with the Academic Quintet Plus Two in Portugal (...

Article

Barry Kernfeld

[Coppersmith, Barbara Carole]

(b Worcester, MA, Jan 25, 1925; d New York, Feb 12, 2017). American pianist. From around 1933 to 1940 she took classical piano lessons but also studied the music of Art Tatum, Nat “King” Cole, and others. She began working while in high school and continued to work while spending a year at the New England Conservatory, until the rigours of a dual life as student and professional performer forced her to abandon school. She made a USO tour with a female trio, then became the leader of a bop trio, based in New York, which recorded from 1949. It included Chuck Wayne (1947–8), Charlie Byrd (1948), and Joe Shulman (from 1949; her husband from 1954 until his death in 1957); Charlie Parker, Paul Desmond, and Stan Getz also sat in with the group (late 1940s), and later John Drew (1957) and Joe Benjamin were among its members. From ...

Article

Scott Yanow

revised by Barry Kernfeld

[Joseph Armand]

(b Miami, AZ, Aug 15, 1927; d Las Vegas, Dec 13, 2009). American pianist and leader. He grew up in Pittsburg, California, where he played professionally from the age of 15. After spending two periods at San Jose State College (during the interim, spring 1946 – April 1947, he performed with an army band) he formed his own trio to accompany the singer Treasure Ford; Ralph Peña was their bassist from 1947 to May 1949. They worked mainly on the West Coast and in Hawaii; his sidemen included Red Mitchell and Chico Hamilton. From 1951 into the 1960s Castro was in a relationship with the tobacco heiress Doris Duke. In 1953 she installed a recording studio in her Beverly Hills mansion, where Castro participated in and recorded hundreds of hours of jazz rehearsals and jam sessions from that year to 1960. These recordings involved leading jazz musicians who were based in, or came through, the Los Angeles area, including Stan Getz, Zoot Sims, Paul Chambers and Philly Joe Jones, Paul Bley, Dexter Gordon, and Billy Higgins....

Article

[Jean]

(b Akron, OH, Aug 14, 1927). American pianist and singer. Her birth date appears in Eagle and LeBlanc (2013); in her autobiography, Meet Me with Your Black Drawers On: My Life in Music (Austin, TX, 2006), Cheatham confirmed that she was born in the summer of 1927, after having previously withheld her year of birth from the public domain. As a child she accompanied her mother’s youth gospel choir and played for shows at the Cosmopolitan Club, Akron. After attending Akron University she toured with a group led by the saxophonist Jimmy Colvin, which was mostly based in Canada but was for a time the house band at the Flamingo Club in Columbus, Ohio. In the late 1950s in Buffalo she married Jimmy Cheatham, and in the early 1960s she moved with him to New York. From 1971 to 1977 the couple were both visiting professors at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, where they also hosted a weekly jam session at the Church Key. In ...

Article

Howard Rye

(Garfield)

(b Washington DC, Feb 7, 1916; d St Rémy, Haute-Saône, France, Nov 30, 1938). American pianist. Some sources spell his name Garnett, but French and contemporary authorities have Garnet. At the age of 12 he was playing with the band led by the drummer Tommy Myles in Washington. About 1934 he moved to New York and played at Pods’ and Jerry’s, where he accompanied Billie Holiday and was favorably noted by both John Hammond and Charlie Barnet. He worked for Barnet as an intermission pianist at the Park Central Hotel and later played with Barnet’s band at supper sessions, a very early case of an African-American musician working in public with a white band. He recorded with Alex Hill in October 1934. In July 1935 he traveled to France with Benny Carter to join Willie Lewis’s band, giving his age as 19, which is the only available clue to his birthdate. He soon embarked on a solo career in Paris. In ...

Article

(Francis, Jr.)

(b Trenton, NJ, Feb 17, 1938; d Scranton, PA, Nov 30, 2017). American pianist. From the age of three he was attempting to copy his father’s piano playing. He began formal lessons with his father, a music teacher and jazz musician, at the age of five, and continued in New York at the Mannes College of Music from the age of seven and later at the Dalcroze School of Music. He joined the musicians’ union at the age of 12 and made his first recordings as the leader of a trio with Wendell Marshall and Kenny Clarke while he was still in high school (1955–6). After graduating he began playing at the Deer Head Inn in Delaware Water Gap, Pennsylvania, and in 1956 he joined Charlie Ventura’s group, with which he recorded in 1957, though he left after two years to study Romance languages at Rutgers. He later became an editor, composer, and arranger for the Shawnee Press in Delaware Water Gap, where he continued also to play frequently at the Deer Head Inn with such musicians as Al Cohn, Keith Jarrett (who played drums for Coates), Zoot Sims, and (most often) Phil Woods. From ...

Article

Mark Gilbert

revised by Barry Kernfeld

(William Frank)

(b London, Dec 24, 1934; d London, Dec 15, 2017). English pianist. He took up piano at the age of four and was largely self-taught. He spent much of his career in electrical engineering and as a salesman, and played only semiprofessionally until 1978, when Bill Le Sage offered him a job in London. He then formed the CDM trio with Martin Drew and Ron Mathewson and was recommended by his bandmates for Ronnie Scott’s group, of which he was a member from 1979 to 1995. From 1980 to 1984 he also played in the jazz-funk band led by Jim Mullen and Dick Morrissey. He co-led a quartet with Art Themen from 1993. Following a concert in memory of Scott at Christmas 1996, in late 1997 Critchinson undertook an extensive UK tour in tribute to his former employer.

Critchinson continued to perform with the Ronnie Scott Legacy Band into the mid-2010s, first as co-leader with the saxophonist Pat Crumly and then as sole leader after Crumly’s death in ...

Article

Joachim E. Berendt and W. Knauer

revised by Barry Kernfeld

(b Stuttgart, Germany, Dec 30, 1935; d Stuttgart, Jan 10, 2020). German pianist, composer, and bandleader. He took piano lessons from the age of five. After beginning his professional career in 1957, he briefly studied trumpet and composition at the Musikhochschule in Stuttgart. In the early 1960s he was a member of Joki Freund’s sextet, and in 1963 he formed his own trio, with Eberhard Weber and Fred Braceful; their album Dream Talk (1964) was one of the first European recordings of free jazz. He also wrote music for television shows and commercials and arrangements for Erwin Lehn’s orchestra. In 1969 he became the leader of the Radio Jazz Group Stuttgart, for which he also wrote compositions, and the following year he formed the jazz-rock group Et Cetera. In the mid-1970s, with Hans Koller, Dauner led the Free Sound & Super Brass Big Band, and in ...

Article

Erik Wiedemann

[Fabric, Bent]

(b Frederiksburg, Denmark, Dec 7, 1924; d Denmark, July 28, 2020). Danish pianist, arranger, and bandleader. He led amateur bands from 1940 which made several recordings (notably The Jeep is Jumpin’, 1942, Odeon D523). In 1942–3 he worked professionally with the alto saxophonist Kaj Møller and from 1943 to 1946 made recordings (including Joy at Spring, 1944, Parl. DP230) with his own studio big bands. From 1950 he wrote film scores and worked in the film and recording industries. Under the pseudonym Bent Fabric, in 1962 he wrote and recorded the pop tune Alley Cat, which became a hit recording. In 2004 he had another hit recording, Jukebox (Universal 986-651-7), again issued under his pseudonym. In 2017 he accepted the HARPA Nordic Film Composers lifetime achievement award, after having composed for the most commercially successful Danish and Norwegian films among his more than 70 soundtracks.

E. Wiedemann: Jazz i Danmark i tyverne, trediverne og fyrrerne: en musikkulturel undersøgelse...

Article

Barry Kernfeld

(b Philadelphia, April 26, 1928; d probably New York, April 3, 1999). American pianist. He was blinded at childbirth. His principal association from 1953 to 1966 was with Lou Donaldson, though he also played with Eric Dixon (1953) and Bill English and Seldon Powell (both 1956–7), and made recordings with King Curtis (1958–61), Al Casey (1960), and his own trio (1960–63, including The Explosive Piano of Herman Foster, 1961, Epic 17016). Foster was a sensitive accompanist to singers; he performed and recorded with Gloria Lynne (1961–3) and recorded with Joan Shaw, Jean DuShon (both 1964), and Johnny Hartman (1972). He recorded with Donaldson again in 1981, and continued to work with the latter’s quartet in the early 1980s. He made his last album as a leader in 1984. After recovering from a stroke which he suffered in ...

Article

Mark Gilbert

(b Enfield, England, May 30, 1933; d Harefield, England, Nov 11, 2011). English pianist, organist, composer, and educator. He studied literature at London University and in the late 1950s led a trio and a quartet; from 1962 he combined these interests and took part in more than 250 events entitled Poetry and Jazz in Concert, in which leading poets read their works accompanied by jazz musicians, among them Joe Harriott and Shake Keane. Such combinations of jazz and literature became a recurrent preoccupation throughout his career. In 1965 he formed a sextet with Tony Coe, Harriott, Ian Carr, Coleridge Goode, and John Marshall; he also played with and composed works for the Don Rendell–Ian Carr Quintet (1965–9) and Neil Ardley’s New Jazz Orchestra (1965–7). During the 1960s and early 1970s Garrick made a series of popular recordings with his own groups, in configurations which ranged from trio to septet; the latter consisted of Norma Winstone, the flutist and tenor saxophonist Jimmy Philip, Art Themen, Henry Lowther, Trevor Tomkins, Dave Green, and the drummer Colin Barnes. He experimented with the use of harpsichord and celeste in jazz on ...