(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 Canton, OH, Aug 18, 1905; d West Redding, CT, July 31, 1978). American composer, violinist, bandleader, recording engineer, and producer. After graduating from Johns Hopkins University, he performed as a light classical violinist in the United States and Europe. During the 1930s he studied conducting with Maurice Frigara in Paris. After a near-fatal car accident in 1940, he organized his own dance band, the Light Brigade, which recorded for RCA and Columbia. After he disbanded it at the turn of the decade, Light devoted himself to management, working for several record companies before becoming president of Waldorf Music Hall Records in 1954. He founded his own label, Grand Award, in 1956 and had success with Dixieland and honky-tonk piano albums. In 1959, he founded Command Records on which he released Persuasive Percussion, the first in a successful series of high-fidelity albums that used stereo technology to great advantage. Over the next two decades, he continued to produce hit albums drawing on the latest technological savvy and packaged with covers usually designed by Josef Albers. Musicians who appeared on Light’s albums include the Free Design, Doc Severinsen, Dick Hyman, Bobby Byrne, and Bobby Hackett. In ...
John A. Emerson
(b Pueblo, CO, July 22, 1889; d Carmel Valley, nr Jamesburg, CA, Nov 9, 1959). American cellist, composer, and conductor. His father was the nationally known educator Preston Willis Search and his wife the pianist and composer Opal Piontkowski Heron, whom he married on 27 February 1923. In 1901 Search began studying cello in Jena, Germany, and subsequently he was a pupil of Joseph Adamowski at the New England Conservatory (c1903–4) and of Lino Mattioli and George Rogovoy at the Cincinnati College Conservatory (c1904–7). From 1907 to 1911 he attended the Leipzig Conservatory, where he studied cello with Julius Klengel, composition with Gustav Schreck, Richard Hofmann, and Max Reger, and conducting with Arthur Nikisch. After returning from Germany he made three recital tours of the United States and was first cellist of the American SO in Chicago (1915–16). After serving as conductor of the Mare Island Naval Training Station orchestra and band (...
Megan E. Hill
(b Louisiana, MO, Nov 27, 1904; d Chicago, IL, April 25, 1962). American violinist. He began studying the violin as a child and later graduated from Chicago’s College of Music. It is said that with his technical skill and strong background in classical violin South likely would have pursued a career in classical music had such an opportunity been available to African American players at the time. Instead he turned to vaudeville and jazz.
He recorded with and directed Jimmy Wade’s Moulin Rouge Orchestra in the early to mid-1920s. He joined Erskine Tate’s orchestra as first violinist and also led the Alabamians, a group named after Club Alabam in Chicago where they held a long residency. In 1928 South traveled with the band to Europe, where he studied at the Paris Conservatoire and in Budapest. He later used gypsy melodies in his jazz improvisations. After his return to Chicago in ...
Terence J. O’Grady
revised by Bryan Proksch
(b Los Angeles, CA, March 31, 1935). American trumpeter, composer, bandleader, and record company executive. He studied trumpet as a child and left college to play in the army for a two-year period. After three years of producing records on his own, he launched A&M Records with Jerry Moss in 1962. A&M’s first issue was also Alpert’s first recording as a trumpeter and bandleader, The Lonely Bull (A&M, 1962). The title track included sounds from the bullring in Tijuana, Mexico, so Alpert dubbed his band the Tijuana Brass. His music exploited a distinctive combination of Mexican mariachi-style brass with jazz rhythms, which was dubbed Ameriachi. A string of hits including “Mexican Shuffle” (A&M, 1964) and “Tijuana Taxi” (A&M, 1965) followed. In 1966 Alpert had five recordings simultaneously listed on the Billboard Top 20. His cover of “This guy’s in love with you” reached no.1 in ...
(b Kenedy, TX, Feb 13, 1924; d San Antonio, TX, Dec 15, 2000). American accordionist and songwriter. A Texas-Mexican musician, Longoria is known equally for his innovations to the conjunto accordion sound as he is for his playing and singing. His interest in instrument-making led to important sonic and stylistic changes in the accordion sound. He tuned reed pairs an octave apart to produce a deeper, sonido ronco (hoarse sound) that added volume and enriched the accordion voice. He removed the standard set of bass stops, replacing it with a larger one, and added a fourth row to the traditional three-row model; this allowed for more notes and enhanced the melody. Longoria’s modifications expanded the instrument’s possibilities years before manufacturers addressed them. Today, most Texas-Mexican accordionists have new accordions retuned and altered to create the distinct Texas-Mexican “sound.” In the 1930s and 40s, while other popular accordionists such as Narciso Martínez where known for instrumental dance pieces, Longoria’s songs featured his voice, including the more sophisticated ...
[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 ...
[Koch, Lydia Anne ]
(b Rochester, NY, June 2, 1959). American singer, songwriter, guitarist, composer, poet, and performance artist. Lydia Lunch arrived in New York City as a teenage runaway in 1976, after a childhood of chaos, abuse, and extreme neglect. Motivated by the Velvet Underground, the New York Dolls, Patti Smith, and the incendiary writing of Lester Bangs in Creem magazine, Lunch formed Teenage Jesus and the Jerks in 1977. The group (which briefly included James Chance) released only a handful of singles and EPs before breaking up in 1979, but Lunch had established herself as an uncompromising purveyor of a brutal, confronting, violently sexual, and bleak artistic vision. She is considered to be a founder of No Wave, an abrasive, untutored form of noise-based punk music that was often politically charged and musically experimental. No wave often involved conventional instruments (guitar, bass, electronic keyboards) used as extreme noise-making devices to create discomforting, visceral sounds—Lunch regularly used electric guitar with a slide in this manner to piercing, abrasive effect. Lunch released her first solo album, ...
(b Sans Souci, Trinidad, Nov 5, 1927). American steel pan musician. Called the “father of the modern steel drum,” Mannette began playing music as a child, and by age 11 he was already performing with the New Town Calvary Tamboo Bamboo. When the colonial British government banned traditional instruments, locals began experimenting with alternatives. Mannette was among those to introduce new percussion instruments made of trash can lids and other found objects, and he and several friends started the Oval Boys, which eventually took the name the Woodbruck Invaders. As a talented machinist, Mannette took oil drums and their lids to produce musical instruments, and he spent decades honing these skills to develop sophisticated creations. By 1951 the Trinidadian government realized the importance of Mannette’s work, and formed an 11-person pan-band called the Trinidad All-Steel Percussion Orchestra that was organized by Lt. Joseph Griffith. Mannette continued to work with the Invaders, however, and in ...
(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....