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Daniele Buccio

(Henry )

(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 ...

Article

Allan Ulrich

(b Naples, Italy, Jan 4, 1881; d San Francisco, CA, Aug 30, 1953). Conductor and impresario of Italian birth. Son of a violinist, he graduated from the Naples Conservatory in 1898 and the following year secured a post as assistant conductor at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. After touring with Henry Savage’s opera company, he became associated with Oscar Hammerstein’s two companies (the Manhattan Opera, 1906–10, and the London Opera, 1910–12), and conducted the San Carlo Opera in San Francisco between 1918 and 1922. A year later he founded the San Francisco Opera, and as its first general director conducted the inaugural performance, La bohème, on 26 September at the Civic Auditorium. In the 30 years he held the position, the San Francisco Opera became one of America’s leading opera companies. Merola filled most of the principal roles with singers from the Metropolitan, and he worked almost entirely within the confines of the standard French, Italian, and German repertory. Nevertheless, he introduced San Francisco to Wagner’s ...

Article

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 ...

Article

Dan Sharp

[Santos ]

(b Niterói, Brazil, Feb 11, 1941). Brazilian pianist, bandleader, arranger, producer and composer, active in the United States. Formally trained in classical music, Mendes turned to jazz, participating in the bossa nova nightclub scene in Rio de Janeiro in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Mendes and his group, the Sexteto Bossa Rio, performed at the pivotal Bossa Nova festival at Carnegie Hall, which contributed significantly to the popularity of bossa nova beyond Brazil.

In 1962, Mendes and the Sexteto Bossa Rio rode the wave of US interest in the genre, recording Do the Bossa Nova with Herbie Mann and Cannonball’s Bossa Nova with Cannonball Adderley. He moved to the United States soon after, adapting bossa nova to the American and international pop, light jazz, and easy listening markets. Mendes arranged, produced, and performed covers of pop hits by the Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, and Joni Mitchell, as well as Brazilian songs by Antonio Carlos Jobim, Jorge Ben, and others. The signature sound of his group was light and upbeat with two female vocalists singing in unison and a bouncy samba-derived rhythm. His groups were named “Brasil” followed by the year they were launched: ’65, ’66, ’77, ’88, ’99, and ...

Article

Craig Jennex

(b Thunder Bay, ON, Nov 28, 1949). Canadian pianist, composer, musical director, actor, producer, and bandleader. He has been musical director for David Letterman’s late-night shows since 1982. Prior to working with Letterman, Shaffer was a featured performer on “Saturday Night Live.” He has served as musical director and producer for the Blues Brothers and cowrote the 1980s dance hit “It’s raining men.” He has served as musical director for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony since its inception in ...

Article

George J. Grella

(b Oct 13, 1966). American impresario, music director, and conductor. He attended Leonard Bernstein’s two-week conducting seminar for four consecutive summers (1986–9) and went on to study music at Yale University (BA 1994). He also taught piano, chorus, and social studies at St. Augustine School of the Arts, South Bronx, New York City (1987–9). From 1995 to 1997 he was the Managing Producer at the 92nd Street Y in New York City, where he created the “Today’s Composers” series as well as Dawn Upshaw’s “Voices of the Spirits.” He next served from 1997 to 2008 as Executive Director of Miller Theater, Columbia University, where he created the long-running, innovative “Composers Portraits,” each concert of which features the music of a single composer of the 20th/21st century. He was named General Manager of the Dallas Opera in 2008, serving briefly before replacing Gerard Mortiér as General Manager and Artistic Director of New York City Opera in ...

Article

Susan Fast

(Wister )

(b Clarksdale, MI, Nov 5, 1931; d San Marcos, CA, Dec 12, 2007). American songwriter, guitarist, pianist, bandleader, talent scout, and record producer. He began playing piano as a boy in Clarksdale, forming the Kings of Rhythm while still in school. His musical education consisted of listening to music and playing with blues musicians such as B.B. King. Turner is often credited with writing and recording the first rock and roll record (according to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame), “Rocket 88,” although the track was released under the name of Jackie Brenston (a member of Turner’s band who sang and played sax on the record). Recorded in 1951 at Sam Phillips’s Sun Studios in Memphis, this uptempo R&B song provided a template for the rock and roll emerging later in the decade. The modified 12-bar blues form, boogie woogie bass line, percussive piano, guitar distortion, and rowdy sax solo became standard features of songs by Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, and others....

Article

Andrew Hoppert

(b Chattanooga, TN, Nov 15, 1948; d Houston, TX, May 28, 2009). American band director. After playing saxophone as an undergraduate in the 1960s in the “Marching 100” band at Florida A&M, for which he also arranged tunes, Edwards received his master’s degree in music education from Michigan State University. He went to Prairie View A&M in Texas in 1978, taking over as band director in 1984. At the time, the band consisted of 25 members; under Edwards’s leadership, membership grew to more than 300. He renamed them the “Marching Storm,” and they became renowned among historically black colleges and universities, featuring a drum line known for athletic performances. “The Box,” as their drum line is known, incorporated inventive moves while performing—leaping acrobatically, carrying members upside-down, and throwing drums in the air. The band’s majorettes, the “Black Foxes,” are known for their precise choreography and high-kick routines. In ...

Article

Scott Warfield

(b Albany, CA, Nov 8, 1937). American conductor and music director. While studying music at San Francisco State University he took percussion lessons with Roland Kohloff and conducting lessons with Earl Bernard Murray; he has cited Leonard Bernstein’s televised appearances as an important influence. Gemignani moved to New York in 1967 as a percussionist and soon thereafter began working as a conductor. His breakthrough came when he replaced music director Hal Hastings, who died at the beginning of the run of Stephen Sondheim’s A Little Night Music (1973–4). Its success initiated a creative partnership with Sondheim and producer Hal Prince, and Gemignani subsequently conducted the original productions of Pacific Overtures (1976), Sweeney Todd (1979–80), and Merrily we Roll along (1981). After Sondheim split with Prince, Gemignani also conducted the first runs of Sondheim’s Sunday in the Park with George (...

Article

Carrie Allen Tipton

(b Henry, TN, Sept 18, 1938). American gospel music television and radio host, singer, choir director, and media executive. He began singing publicly in the Methodist church as a child, although his first exposure to gospel music came in sanctified churches. His involvement with gospel music deepened in Nashville when he served as keyboard player, singer, and director for church and civic choirs while studying at Tennessee State University. In 1978 Jones recorded the first of many albums with his small ensemble, the New Life Singers, whose aesthetic leaned more toward contemporary Christian music than black gospel. Around this time he began hosting children’s and gospel music shows on Nashville television stations. In 1980 Black Entertainment Television began broadcasting one of these programs, Bobby Jones Gospel. The popular program has featured performances by Jones’s ensembles, established gospel stars, and up-and-coming gospel artists. Firmly within the gospel entrepreneurial tradition, Jones’s other enterprises include music festivals, workshops, radio shows, the gospel opera ...