(b Plovdiv, 19 Dec 1937). Bulgarian composer, pianist, conductor, arranger, and bandleader. He was internationally acknowledged for his innovative ideas, cross-cultural experiments, and contribution to the concept of fusion and free improvisation. Classically trained at the Bulgarian State Conservatory (1955–60) under Pancho Vladigerov (composition) and Andrey Stoyanov (piano), he is the author of numerous compositions in styles and genres including jazz, pop, symphony, chamber, film, and theatrical music. He conducted the Radio and Television Big Band in Sofia (1962–6) and led his own avant-garde quartet, Jazz Focus’65 (1965–8), which won the Critic’s Prize at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1967. In 1970 he left Bulgaria for political reasons and moved to the USA where he joined the Don Ellis Orchestra (1971–8), and later collaborated with the classical/jazz quartet Free Flight. He also played with outstanding jazz musicians including Art Pepper, Billy Cobham, and Dave Holland, among many others....
W. Anthony Sheppard
(b Sacramento, CA, Nov 11, 1922; d San Dimas, CA, April 17, 2002). American Jazz and film music arranger, composer, and band leader. Shindo grew up in the Little Tokyo district of Los Angeles where he heard traditional Japanese music. In his teens, he became interested in jazz but planned to pursue a career in electrical engineering. As a second generation (Nisei) Japanese American, Shindo was interned at the Manzanar Relocation Center in March 1942. He pursued musical studies in the camp and completed correspondence courses in orchestration. Shindo left Manzanar in November 1944 when he enlisted as a translator in the Military Intelligence Service. Discharged from the Army in 1947, he formed his own big band in Los Angeles.
Shindo continued musical studies at multiple institutions in Los Angeles, studying composition at the University of Southern California with miklós Rózsa and eventually completing a Masters in Asian Studies in ...
Ruth E. Rosenberg
(b Laredo, TX, Oct 30, 1951). American conguero, Latin jazz bandleader, and singer. While growing up in a Mexican American family in Los Angeles, he was exposed to Afro Cuban music as well as jazz, especially bebop and hard bop. He first performed as a conguero with the vibraphonist Cal Tjader prior to beginning his career as a bandleader. Since then Sánchez has recorded more than 20 albums for the Concord Records label and become a leading figure in Latin jazz. In 2000 he received a Grammy Award for Best Latin Jazz Performance for the album Latin Soul. Sánchez’s music builds upon the Latin jazz pioneered by such artists as Machito, Tito Puente, and Dizzy Gillespie. Like much salsa music, it draws upon the traditional Cuban son montuno form, often incorporating other Afro Cuban genres such as rumba, bolero, mambo, danzón, and guaguancó. Although his albums reflect some of the standard repertoire of Latin jazz and bebop, he has been innovative in integrating soul, R&B, and funk into his recordings. His album ...
Richard H. Perry
(b Montgomery, AL, Aug 7, 1941). American jazz tuba player, baritone saxophonist, and bandleader. Largely self-taught, he first learned baritone saxophone, then tuba. In 1963 he moved to New York, where he quickly established himself as a leading jazz tuba player and performed with Charles Mingus, Archie Shepp, and, notably, Gil Evans. He played with Evans’s orchestra from 1966 until the leader’s death in 1988. He also worked with Charlie Haden, Jack DeJohnette, Chet Baker, and McCoy Tyner and spent several years with the Norddeutscher Rundfunk orchestra. From 1975 to 1980 he was a member of the house band for “Saturday Night Live,” serving as bandleader from 1979 to 1980.
Although Johnson has been recognized for his work on baritone saxophone, he is best known for his tuba playing and for his work with tuba ensembles. In 1968 he formed the first jazz tuba ensemble, Substructure. Although this group never recorded, Johnson subsequently formed Gravity, an ensemble with six tubas, in the 1970s; it released ...
Ryan D.W. Bruce
[Randolph Edward ]
(b Brooklyn, NY, April 6, 1926). American jazz pianist, bandleader, composer, and club owner. Weston did not identify with his classical music lessons as a youth, choosing instead to explore a percussive piano style under the influence of Duke Ellington. Other early influences include Count Basie, Nat “King” Cole, Art Tatum, and Coleman Hawkins. Weston’s playing was transformed after attending a concert by Hawkins and Thelonious Monk in 1945: Monk became Weston’s mentor from 1947–9, and inspired his heavy attack and improvisatory rhythmic displacements. He was hired by Marshall Stearns in 1949 to provide demonstrations of different jazz styles for university lectures given throughout the United States; their work lasted eight summers and fostered Weston’s interest in African music.
Beginning with his debut in 1954, his early recordings acquired critical recognition and included band members such as Art Blakey, Cecil Payne, Ahmed Abdul-Malik, and Coleman Hawkins. Some of his compositions of the time, especially “Little Niles” and “Hi-Fly,” gained popularity and have been recorded by many others. Weston also worked with arranger ...
revised by Kelly Hiser
(b Kankakee, IL, March 22, 1942; d San Rafael, CA, Sept 25, 1996). American composer, trombonist, conductor, and double bassist. He attended the University of Illinois, where he studied trombone with Robert Gray and composition with Kenneth Gaburo, herbert Brün , and salvatore Martirano (BM in performance 1965). He studied jazz improvisation with lee Konitz and electronic music with richard b. Hervig at the University of Iowa (1970–71). He was a member of the Harry Partch Ensemble (1961–2) and the Illinois Contemporary Chamber Players (1963–6) and was an associate artist at the University of Iowa Center for New Music and New Performing Arts (1969–74). From 1974 to 1984 English lived in Europe, where he performed widely as a soloist and with jazz and new music ensembles, at festivals, and on radio. He collaborated with his wife Candace Natvig, a singer and violinist; in ...
[Randal Edward ]
(b Philadelphia, PA, Nov 27, 1945). American trumpeter, flugelhorn player, composer, arranger, and bandleader, brother of Michael Brecker. After graduating from Indiana University in 1966, he moved to New York, where he played with Clark Terry, Duke Pearson, and the Thad Jones–Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra. A versatile musician, he worked with Blood, Sweat and Tears, performing on their debut album, played hard bop and soul jazz with the Horace Silver Quintet and Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, and helped form the fusion group Dreams, which included his brother Michael, Billy Cobham, and John Abercrombie. During the 1970s he worked with Silver, Larry Coryell, Stevie Wonder, the Plastic Ono Super Band, and Cobham. He and Michael also performed and recorded (six albums) as the Brecker Brothers, garnering much critical acclaim. He continued to lead his own group into the 1980s and also recorded and toured with virtuoso performers Jaco Pastorious and Stanley Clarke. A reunion of the Brecker Brothers in ...
Mark C. Gridley
revised by Charles Garrett
(b Chicago, IL, March 11, 1932; d New York, NY, Feb 24, 2007). American jazz violinist, composer, and bandleader. He was influenced by the violinists Jascha Heifetz, Eddie South, and Bruce Hayden, as well as the saxophonists Charlie Parker, Ornette Coleman, and John Coltrane. From 1965 to 1969 he played in Chicago with the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians and the Creative Construction Company, becoming the leading violinist in the free jazz style. He then helped to organize the Revolutionary Ensemble (1971) and led his own trio (1977–9) and quintet (1982–3). In addition to collaborating with such musicians as Cecil Taylor, Joseph Jarman, and Myra Melford, he also contributed to the new music scene by serving on the board of directors of the Composer’s Forum. In his later career, he turned to creating theatrical productions, including the operas Mother of Three Sons...
(b Chicago, IL, Sept 2, 1931; d New York, NY, March 27, 1993). American tenor saxophonist and bandleader. He was one of several notable jazz musicians to come out of DuSable High School on Chicago’s South Side, where his contemporaries included the tenor saxophonists Johnny Griffin and John Gilmore and the bass player Richard Davis. During his early years in Chicago he played with Max Roach and Sonny Stitt and a variety of rhythm-and-blues bands. In 1957 he moved to New York and recorded his first album, Blowing in from Chicago (BN) with the hard-bop pioneers Horace Silver on piano and Art Blakey on drums. In the years that followed Jordan performed and recorded prolifically, appearing with groups led by Silver and J.J. Johnson, as a sideman on recordings by Lee Morgan, among others, and co-leading a group with Kenny Dorham. In 1964 he toured Europe with the Charles Mingus Sextet playing alongside Eric Dolphy....
J. Bradford Robinson
(b Baltimore, MD, Dec 31, 1908; d Hollywood, CA, June 14, 1952). American jazz double bass player and bandleader. Originally a trombonist, he played tuba and double bass with Fletcher Henderson (1930–34, 1935–6) and Chick Webb (1934–5), attracting attention with his strong pulse and walking bass lines. In 1937 he established his own small group at the Onyx Club, New York, with the trumpeter Frankie Newton and the alto saxophonist Pete Brown. The following year the band’s personnel stabilized into a sextet: Charlie Shavers (trumpet), Russell Procope (alto saxophone), Buster Bailey (clarinet), Billy Kyle (piano), O’Neill Spencer (drums), and Kirby, with the frequent addition of the singer Maxine Sullivan (Kirby’s wife). From 1938 to 1942 this group was perhaps the leading small jazz ensemble in the swing style and gained a nationwide from its many recordings and network radio broadcasts. The group concentrated on a chamber jazz style with intricate arrangements (many of them by Shavers), a subdued dynamic level, light swing, and extremely precise ensemble playing. In this way they presaged many cool jazz groups of the late 1940s and early 1950s, particularly those of Lennie Tristano. From ...