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Ian Mikyska

Czech string quartet, founded 1999. Its line-up has remained constant since its foundation: David Pokorný and Vladimír Klánský on violins, Vladimír Kroupa on viola, and Vít Petrášek on cello. Although classical repertoire remains central to their professional lives, the Epoque Quartet is remarkable for the breadth and professionalism of its ‘crossover’ work. The quartet has performed with the leading artists of Czech popular music, arranged world music from various traditions (most recently with the clarinettist Irvin Venyš for their CD Irvin_Epoque), and given the premières of over 80 pieces, the style of which ranges from rock- and jazz-influenced music to contemporary art music, mostly by Czech composers including Jan Kučera, Petr Wajsar, Jan Dušek, Gabriela Vermelho, and others.

Their open-mindedness and long-standing interest in various musical fields allows them to perform stylistically in a way classically-trained ensembles often find problematic, particularly in terms of rhythm, feeling, and energy when performing jazz- and rock-influenced repertoire....

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Epic  

Christopher Doll

Record company. It was established by CBS in 1953 as a subsidiary of Columbia Records. Although from the start its issues included jazz and pop, Epic for many years was known primarily for its recordings of George Szell conducting the Cleveland Orchestra (including those made with a young Leon Fleisher as piano soloist). In the latter part of the 1950s, as rock and roll began to overtake the industry, the company struggled to find itself artistically and commercially, accumulating an odd assortment of American, Australian, and European performers representing a wide array of classical, jazz, and popular styles.

The label’s fortunes began to change in 1964 with its participation in the British Invasion. Epic distributed the American releases of the Dave Clark Five and the Yardbirds and later those of the Hollies and Donovan. The true turning point for the company was the signing in 1967 of Sly and the Family Stone, whose critical and financial success helped redefine the label as a youth-oriented powerhouse. The company expanded through the 1970s, achieving unimaginable heights in the 1980s with Michael Jackson’s mature solo work (...

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Charles Garrett

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Charles Garrett

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John Chilton

Jazz ensemble formed in Springfield, Ohio, from the Synco Jazz Band, a group organized by the drummer William McKinney (b Cynthiana, KY, 17 Sept 1895; d Cynthiana, KY, 14 Oct 1969) shortly after World War I. In 1923 McKinney decided to conduct the band himself and consequently engaged the drummer Cuba Austin as its percussionist. At the behest of their agent the band became known as McKinney’s Cotton Pickers. With their musical versatility and inspired showmanship they blended comedy routines and light music with jazz numbers arranged by their trumpeter, John Nesbitt. From 1927, when the multi-instrumentalist don Redman became its music director and principal arranger, the band developed its own distinctive style, which highlighted the precision of the saxophones and brass and emphasized the buoyancy of the rhythm section.

The band’s first recordings, in July 1928, helped establish the group nationally and brought widespread praise for the brilliance of Redman’s arrangements and the solo improvisations of Prince Robinson on reed instruments. The Cotton Pickers’ golden era took place during their long residence at the Graystone Ballroom in Detroit (beginning in ...

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Michael Baumgartner

[MMW]

Jazz fusion trio formed in New York in 1991 by the keyboard player (Anthony) John Medeski (b Louisville, KY, 28 June 1965), the drummer Billy Martin (b New York, NY, 30 Oct 1963), and the bass player Chris(topher Barry) Wood (b Pasadena, CA, 25 Nov 1969). Martin’s teacher, the drummer Bob Moses, who had previously performed with Medeski and Wood, brought the three musicians together. MMW began its career at the Village Gate as an acoustic jazz trio. While Wood continued to play acoustic bass primarily, Medeski began performing on several vintage electronic instruments—including a Hammond B-3 organ, Fender Rhodes, Mellotron, clavinet, and analog synthesizers—which gave the trio with its distinctive sound. MMW frequently crossed the boundary between jazz and rock music, appearing with Phish and on the alternative rock circuit. The trio also performed at conventional jazz festivals such as Newport, Monterey, Montreal, Montreux, and the North Sea Jazz Festival. Their prolific recording activity began with five albums for the independent labels Gramavision and Indirecto Records (...

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Oregon  

Steve Larson

Jazz chamber ensemble. Its original members were Paul McCandless (oboe, english horn, bass clarinet), Glen Moore (double bass, violin, piano, flute), Ralph Towner (acoustic guitar, piano, french horn, trumpet, flugelhorn), and Collin Walcott (tablā, sitar, clarinet, percussion). They all played in the Paul Winter Consort before forming their own group in 1970; the percussionist Trilok Gurtu joined the group after Walcott’s death in 1984 and the drummer Mark Walker replaced Gurtu in 1993. Oregon’s style combines an eclectic mix of classical music, modern jazz, and non-Western musics and prefigured developments in what was subsequently marketed as world music; the timbre and sensitivity of their chamber style offered a sonic precedent for new age music. Their sensitive interaction in performance has allowed them to improvise collectively without assuming rigidly defined roles. Their recordings include pieces based upon complex harmonies, such as “Yellow Bell,” and others based on a drone or free improvisation. While the soaring oboe in “Icarus” is typical, the fact that the musicians play 60 to 80 different instruments has given the group a wide palette of sounds. The group was still performing and touring in the early 2010s and has continued to push and blur musical boundaries, as evidenced by their acclaimed collaboration in ...

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Mark Berresford

(Coleman )

(b Brunswick, MO, Feb 7, 1882; d New York, NY, March 9, 1961). American clarinetist, bandleader, composer, and music publisher. His first professional engagement (c1897–8) was with a “pickaninny” band led by Nathaniel Clark Smith. In 1902 he was assistant leader of P.G. Lowery’s band with Forepaugh and Sells Circus and later that year joined Mahara’s Minstrels band under the leadership of W.C. Handy. In 1903 he formed his own band in Minneapolis, where he made the first recordings by an African American band. Sweatman moved to Chicago in 1908, where he led trios at the Grand and Monogram theaters. In 1911 he made his first vaudeville appearance, and in late 1916 made the first records recognizable as jazz performances. In 1918 Sweatman’s band was signed to an exclusive recording contract with Columbia, their records rivalling those by the Original Dixieland Jazz Band. He continued to work through the 1920s and early 1930s in vaudeville, and in ...

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