(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 ...
[Carlone, Francis Nunzio ]
(b Providence, RI, March 25, 1903; d Mesa, AZ, March 7, 2001). American pianist, composer, arranger, and bandleader. At the age of seven he appeared as a piano soloist and in 1918 he led his first band. His graceful and relaxed piano improvisations established him with the public and earned him the nickname “the Golden Touch.” In 1933 he joined the band of Mal Hallett, which he left to join the Horace Heidt band in 1939. He formed his own big band in 1944 but abandoned it in the 1950s in favor of a smaller group. At the end of the decade Carle retired, but in 1972 he appeared briefly for a three-month tour with Freddy Martin in the show Big Band Cavalcade.
As a composer Carle has several hits to his credit, including “Sunrise Serenade,” “Carle Boogie,” “Lover’s Lullaby,” “Sunrise in Napoli,” and “Dreamy Lullaby” (co-written with Benny Benjamin and George Weiss). Carle’s arrangements were published in the collections ...
(b Philippines, June 20, 1967). Keyboardist and guitarist of Filipino birth. He immigrated to the United States and grew up in California. He studied piano from early childhood and became proficient on several instruments, including keyboards, guitar, bass, and drums. In 1988, he joined the industrial band Mortal Wish, which changed their name to Mortal in 1992 when they were signed. Before the band broke up in 1996, Fontamillas released seven albums with them. He then formed the industrial rock band Fold Zandura with friend Jyro Xhan. After their breakup in 1999, he joined the alternative rock band Switchfoot as a keyboard player. By 2000, Fontamillas began to tour with Switchfoot shortly before the release of their third CD Learning to Breathe, which received a Grammy nomination for Best Rock or Rap Gospel Album. In 2002, he reunited with Mortal and released the album Nu-En-Jin featuring Switchfoot’s Jon Foreman as guest vocalist. Fontamillas became an official member of Switchfoot in ...
(b United States). American new Age pianist and producer. He played jazz trumpet and guitar during the 1960s in New York, and has credited John Coltrane as an early influence. He became interested in sonic healing and Eastern religions, both of which became fundamental to the transformation of his musical style. After undergoing a spiritual awakening in 1969 in the Santa Cruz mountains, Halpern developed what he called “anti-frantic alternative” music, releasing his first album, Spectrum Suite, in 1975. It became one of the foundational, and most influential, albums of New Age music. To create what was labeled music for “meditation and inner peace,” Halpern performed slowly unfolding, almost arrhythmic melodies on keyboards and synthesizers. Often using choral backdrops for his minimalist, meandering, and warm sonic environments, he weaves together spiritual growth and musical freedom with the goal of bringing self-actualization and wellness to the listener. He has released over 70 recordings featuring instrumental music as well as guided meditation. These include recordings targeted for specific purposes, such as ...
[Kahn, Lawrence Ira]
(b Brooklyn, NY, March 20, 1939; d Bronx, NY, Aug 20, 2021). American salsa pianist, bandleader, and producer. He developed an interest in both jazz and Latin music as a teenager, while he attended the New York High School of Music and Art in Harlem. A multi-instrumentalist most widely recognized for his talent as a pianist, he was known for combining traditional Cuban sounds with innovative arrangements. He debuted as bandleader in 1965 with Heavy Smoking, the second album released by the newly formed Fania Records. Affectionately nicknamed “El judío maravilloso” (the marvelous Jew) by fellow musicians, he became a member and producer of the original Fania All-Stars, an ensemble band that achieved international acclaim for its live concerts. In 1973 Harlow brought Latin music to Carnegie Hall with the opera Hommy (inspired by the Who’s rock opera Tommy), and in 1974 he released Salsa...
(b Detroit, MI, Dec 15, 1929; d North Bergen, NJ, Dec 8, 2021). American jazz pianist, composer, and pedagogue. He first encountered music through the church where his mother worked as a pianist and he first performed. After starting piano lessons at the age of four, he taught himself the boogie-woogie style of Albert Ammons before hearing bebop at a performance by Charlie Parker at Club El Sino in 1947. Having played some of his first professional engagements with Frank Rosolino, Harris became the house pianist at the Blue Bird Inn in Detroit, where he accompanied Lester Young, Sonny Stitt, Miles Davis, and Parker, among others. After travelling to New York in 1956 to record with Thad Jones and Hank Mobley, Harris remained in Detroit until 1960, when he moved to New York to join Cannonball Adderley’s group. Harris made his first recording as a leader in 1958...
J. R. Taylor
(b Duquesne, PA, 28 Dec 1903; d Oakland, CA, 22 April 1983). American jazz pianist and bandleader.
He was one of the most influential pianists of the pre-World War II period, and his Chicago-based Grand Terrace Orchestra one of the most popular black bands that worked outside of New York.
Hines grew up in a lower middle-class home in Duquesne, Pennsylvania (now a suburb of Pittsburgh). Trained primarily in the Western classical tradition by local teachers, in his teens he made his way to Pittsburgh’s black Hill District, where he was exposed to popular music and early jazz and crossed paths with such piano luminaries as Luckey Roberts, James P. Johnson, Willie “the Lion” Smith, and Eubie Blake. In 1921 the classical and popular vocalist Lois Deppe hired Hines as his accompanist, and the two worked together steadily for the next three years, both as a duo and in Deppe’s Serenaders, a nine-piece ensemble with which Hines made his first recordings in ...
revised by Brad Linde
[Jones, Frederick Russell ]
(b Pittsburgh, PA, July 2, 1930). American jazz pianist and composer. He studied with the singer mary cardwell Dawson and the pianist james Miller in Pittsburgh where he began playing professionally at the age of 11. After attending Westinghouse High School, he left in the late 1940s to join the George Hudson Orchestra. In 1951 he formed his first trio, the Three Strings, and after an extended engagement at the Blue Note club in Chicago, he appeared at the Embers in New York, where he attracted the critical support of John Hammond. He changed his name on his conversion to Islam in the early 1950s. In 1958, with the bass player Israel Crosby and the drummer Vernel Fournier, Jamal recorded his most popular and influential album, Ahmad Jamal at the Pershing, which included influential versions of “But not for me” and “Poinciana.” Miles Davis admired the album’s lean style, use of space, and simple embellishments, all of which characterized Davis’s own bands and recordings in the 1950s. Jamal’s trio disbanded in ...
(b Oakland, CA, Sept 19, 1952). American guitarist, synthesizer player, and producer. He studied economics at Harvard University (BA 1976) and began performing in improvisational contexts in 1974. In 1979 he became involved in experimental rock and has since performed extensively in the United States and abroad. He has worked with, among others, Derek Bailey, David Lindley, Fred Frith, Herbie Hancock, Jerry Garcia, Bill Laswell, Eugene Chadbourne, Michael Stipe, Diamanda Galás, John Zorn, Richard Thompson, and John Oswald; he has also played with the Rova Saxophone Quartet and many free-music groups in the San Francisco Bay area, where he has been based. In both solo and ensemble performance he characteristically aims for some type of fusion of rock, jazz, non-Western, and avant-garde classical styles and focuses on “language elements of attack, articulation, pitch bend trajectory, and velocity.” His use of elastic rhythms, non-tempered scales, and widely varied timbres shows the influence of Southeast Asian and Indian musics and the blues. His extended solo improvisations (such as “The Shadow Line” on the album ...
(b Trikala, Greece, April 7, 1922; d Athens, Greece, April 8, 1990). Greek composer and lyricist. He was of middle-class origin and finished high school in 1941. He became fascinated with rebetiko and the music of the refugees from Asia Minor, and he was also influenced by religious Byzantine and folk music. From 1941 until 1947 he worked as a bouzouki player in taverns and nightclubs in Trikala and especially Thessaloniki. He was lauded for his first recorded compositions, made in 1947 and including the emblematic laïko song Nychtose choris fengari (‘The Night Fell with No Moon’), which were invested with various social and political meanings as a result of the civil war. In the following years he cooperated with several important laïko creators, and had dozens of hits in the late rebetiko style with singers like Haskil, Tsaousakis, and Bellou, and in grieving or Indian style with singers like Kazantzidis, Gavalas, Angelopoulos, Menidiatis, and Lydia. From ...
(b Sofia, 8 Dec 1934; d Sofia, 12 July 2008). Bulgarian conductor, composer, pianist, and arranger, of Armenian origins, remembered for his prominent role as a musician and public figure in the development of popular music in Bulgaria. He graduated from the Technical University in Sofia (1957) and studied in the Faculty of Theory at the Bulgarian State Conservatory. In 1953 he joined the band Jazz of the Young. By the end of the 1950s he played the piano also at the Satiric Theatre Orchestra and founded Studio 5, a band famous for its supportive role in promoting young singers. Following a similar purpose, later on he initiated Trombata na Vili (‘The Horn of Vili’), a radio contest for discovering new talented pop singers. Since 1960 Kazassian’s music activities have been closely associated with the newly created Big Band of the Bulgarian National Radio where he took successively the positions of pianist (...
(b Jamaica, Dec 2, 1931; d Toronto, ON, April 12, 1971). American jazz pianist. His family moved to the United States when he was four years old and settled in Brooklyn. As a youth he played professionally in rhythm-and-blues bands. By fusing earthy blues elements with those of the bop style as exemplified by Bud Powell, he developed a highly accessible and personal approach to jazz piano playing which influenced many subsequent performers. After working with the saxophonist Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis and the singer Dinah Washington, Kelly gained attention as a soloist while performing with Lester Young and Dizzy Gillespie. He continued to work for Washington and Gillespie in the mid-1950s and also played with Benny Carter and Charles Mingus. Although he frequently led his own trio from 1957 until his death, he was best known as a member of Miles Davis’s sextets and quintets from 1959. A consistent and sometimes brilliant improviser, he had exceptional skill as an accompanist, although this often overshadowed his rhythmically infectious solo style. His influence can be heard in the early work of Victor Feldman, Herbie Hancock, McCoy Tyner, and other pianists who emerged the 1960s....
[Stephen Lewis ]
(b New York, NY, March 24, 1938). American jazz pianist and composer. A pianist with a distinctive voice, he started classical piano lessons at five and at 17 began studies with Madame Chaloff in Boston, where he led a trio and accompanied such visiting greats as Coleman Hawkins, Chet Baker, and Vic Dickenson. After graduating from Harvard University in 1959, he returned to New York where he worked with Kenny Dorham, John Coltrane (in the saxophonist’s first quartet), Stan Getz (alongside the bass player Scott LaFaro, who influenced his playing significantly), and Charles Lloyd. He then worked in Art Farmer’s quartet with Steve Swallow and Pete La Roca, appearing on the trumpeter’s album Sing Me Softly of the Blues (1965, Atlantic). The rhythm section also recorded together on La Roca’s album Basra (1965, BN, with the saxophonist Joe Henderson) and on Kuhn’s first trio date as a leader, ...
Anne Beetem Acker
[Korg Lambda ES50]
Analogue string synthesizer manufactured in 1979 by Keio of Tokyo as part of the Korg range. The Lambda has a 48-note keyboard with full polyphony, three voltage control oscillators, chorus and vibrato effects, and one voltage control filter. An unusual feature is the incorporation of two envelope generators for each note. The preset orchestral sounds have limited editing capability. The presets form two groups, each with an independent output: a percussion set (pianos, clavis, and harmonics), and an ensemble set (brass, strings, chorus, and organ). The unit has a joystick that facilitates simultaneous control of pitch bends and chorus phase speed. The string sounds are particularly prized, and modern synthesizer makers include Lambda string sound samples in their libraries. The Lambda was used for live performance and recordings by many rock musicians of the late 1970s and early 1980s including Rick Wakeman, Keith Emerson, and Les Rockets....
(b Chicago, IL, May 27, 1935). American pianist and composer. His earliest exposure to jazz was as a child listening with his father to recordings of Duke Ellington, Art Tatum, and Meade “Lux” Lewis. At 15 he joined a jazz band that included fellow church musicians, the bass player Eldee Young and the drummer Redd Holt. He went on to study music at Chicago Musical College and De Paul University. In 1956 he reunited with Young and Redd to form the Ramsey Lewis Trio; their first album was entitled Ramsey Lewis and the Gentleman of Swing. The band reached its apex with The In Crowd (1965, Argo), an album which sold a million copies and earned the trio a Grammy Award for best jazz recording by a small group in 1965; Lewis has since been awarded two other Grammy Awards. Throughout his career, his work has showcased an eclectic fusion of gospel, jazz and Western European elements. He later began composing large-scale works, including the music for the ballet ...
[Quiñonez, Enrique Arsenio Lucca ]
(b Ponce, PR, April 10, 1946). Puerto Rican salsa pianist, instrumentalist, producer, and arranger. The son of a prominent Puerto Rican bandleader, he studied at Ponce’s Free School of Music. He also took lessons from pianist Ramon Fernandez and had begun his performing career by the age of 11. He subsequently worked with his father’s group, La Sonora Ponçena, and eventually inherited the band as his own. During the 1950s he played alongside such musical luminaries as Machito and Obdulio Morales Ríos and appeared regularly on television, especially on Ruth Fernández’s variety show. After graduating from the University of Puerto Rico, Lucca gained greater prominence through his affiliation with La Sonora Ponçena and his work with other artists. In 1976 he served as performer and producer of La Sonora Ponçena’s Conquista Musical (Fania). He also became the pianist for the Fania All-Stars. One of his notable achievements came with the album ...
(b Mérida, Mexico, Dec 7, 1935). Mexican singer, songwriter, pianist, and arranger. Manzanero began his professional career as a piano accompanist in Mérida in 1951. After relocating to Mexico City in 1957 he worked as accompanist for renowned singers such as Pedro Vargas, Lucho Gatica, and Angélica María. His first major success as a composer came in 1958 when Gatica recorded Manzanero’s bolero “Voy a apagar la luz.” In the following decade he became a highly sought after bolero composer. Artists such as Olga Guillot, Roberto Ledesma, and Los Panchos recorded his songs. In 1967 Manzanero released his first solo album, A mi amor … con mi amor, in which he sings his own songs with an orchestral arrangement.
His use of melodic chromaticism, extended harmonic language, and slower tempi is representative of the jazz-influenced bolero moderno style, first popularized by composers Vicente Garrido and Álvaro Carrillo. In his own late 1960s recordings Manzanero made a conscious attempt at modernizing bolero further by incorporating features of contemporary rock and roll, such as teen-oriented lyrics, and usage of electric musical instruments and drum kit. His contributions played a key role in the development of balada, the genre that eventually replaced bolero as the quintessential Latin American romantic popular music....
[James Harrell ]
(b Philadelphia, PA, April 3, 1936; d Vorhees, NJ, May 24, 2008). American organist. He studied at the Combs College of Music in Philadelphia and the Juilliard School. One of the many electric organists to rise to prominence in the 1960s, he took lessons from jimmy Smith , Milt Buckner, and Groove Holmes. He started performing in the Philadelphia area, with Charles Earland, Don Gardner, and Carmen McRae. His first recording, a cover of Ray Charles’s “I got a woman” (Atl., 1962), became a hit on the pop charts. He then started a career as a leader and as a sideman, with Little Junior Parker and Holmes, recording for Sue, Solid State, Blue Note, and Groove Merchant. In the 1970s he played with the drummer and bandleader Buddy Rich. He later benefited, like other organists, from a revival of interest in soul jazz combos featuring organ, saxophone, and guitar (and sometimes other instruments). In his last years he recorded for Milestone and Telarc, sometimes experimenting with electric keyboards, synthesizers and piano. He also led the Dream Team, a group that featured the saxophonist David “Fathead” Newman and the drummer Bernard Purdie....
[David J. ]
(b Woonsocket, RI, May 30, 1930; d State College, PA, Oct 18, 2008). American jazz pianist. He took piano lessons as a child, but learned to play jazz chiefly from listening to the radio and recordings. At the age of 12 he began to play with pickup groups at weddings and other events, and at 15 joined the musicians’ union. By 1947 he was performing in and around Boston with a group led by the saxophonist Boots Mussulli. He joined Charlie Ventura’s band (1949), then played with Woody Herman (1950–51) before serving two years in the US Army. He worked again in Ventura’s band for 18 months from 1953, but thereafter worked mostly with smaller groups, playing with Gene Krupa, Stan Getz, Zoot Sims, Al Cohn, and Bobby Hackett, among others. In 1967 he moved from New York to South Yarmouth on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and from around ...
(b Louisville, KY, Aug 9, 1926). American jazz singer, pianist, organist, and bandleader. She learned to play piano by ear and as a child performed at her father’s church. She studied pipe organ and music theory at Fisk University. By the late 1940s she was performing in Chicago nightclubs as a soloist and as the leader of an all-female group. Her most notable group of the period was the Syncoettes, which included Lula Roberts (formerly of the International Sweethearts of Rhythm) on saxophone. Their first recording, “My Whole Life Through,” was produced and arranged by Eddie Durham and appeared on Premium Records in 1950. McLawler disbanded the Syncoettes in 1952 and began performing solo once again. Wild Bill Davison encouraged her to play Hammond B-3 organ and she soon formed a trio in Brooklyn, New York. There she met her future husband, the violinist Richard Ott, with whom she formed a trio consisting of organ, violin, and drums. This unusual ensemble became very popular, with regular performances at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem. It recorded the successful album ...