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Claire Levy

(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....

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Ian Mikyska

(b Kyjov, 15 June 1981). Czech clarinetist. Studied at the Brno Conservatory with Břetislav Winkler and at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague (AMU) with Jiří Hlaváč and Vlastimil Mareš, where he completed his PhD dissertation on the topic of the clarinet concerto repertoire in the 20th century. He also spent an important year with Michel Arrignon at the Paris Conservatoire.

He performs classical repertoire with the pianists Martin Kasík, Ivo Kahánek, and Daniel Wiesner and contemporary music with the Ostravská banda and the Berg Orchestra. Though most active as a performer of classical and contemporary music, he is also involved in several multi-genre projects, such as Irvin_Epoque with the Epoque Quartet, which mixes folk, jazz, and composed music, or JA-RA-LAJ, a solo CD inspired by Romani music from Eastern Europe and the Balkans.

He has performed at festivals including Mitte Europa, the Pablo Casals Festival in Prades, Mozart, der Europäer Mannheim, Prague Spring, Dvořák’s Prague, and others, and with conductors, including Radovan Vlatkovič, Zakhar Bron, Peter Czaba, Igor Ardašev, and ...

Article

W. Anthony Sheppard

[Takeshi ]

(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 ...

Article

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 ...

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Megan E. Hill

(b Osaka, Japan, 1957). Jazz and blues pianist, singer, and composer of Japanese birth. She took piano lessons briefly as a child and was exposed to the blues while growing up in Osaka in the 1960s and 1970s. As a high school student, she formed the Yoko Blues Band with classmates. The band earned some success, winning first prize and a recording contract in a television-sponsored contest. In 1984 she moved to the United States to pursue a jazz and blues career in Chicago. Initially a singer, she studied piano with boogie, blues, and jazz pianist Erwin Helfer. In the early 1990s Noge established the Jazz Me Blues Band, which has played regularly in Chicago since its formation. In addition to Noge on piano and vocals, the ensemble has included Noge’s husband, Clark Dean, on soprano saxophone, saxophonist Jimmy Ellis, trombonist Bill McFarland, and bassist Tatsu Aoki. In addition to playing more conventional jazz and blues, Noge has made a name for herself through the unique compositions she has written for the group, which meld Japanese folk music styles with Chicago blues. Active in the broader Asian American community, she cofounded the Chicago Asian American Jazz Festival in ...

Article

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 ...

Article

Richard H. Perry

(Lewis )

(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 ...

Article

W. Anthony Sheppard

(b Ft. Scott, KS, Nov 13, 1890; d Hollywood, CA, May 10, 1957). American composer, songwriter, jazz arranger, and pianist. Lapham attended Washington University and Juilliard. Initially, he was active as a silent film organist and conductor, a musical director for Broadway revues, and an arranger for such figures as Irving Berlin and Paul Whiteman. He also served as an arranger for several Hollywood studios and published a book on scoring for dance orchestras. He appears to have been the first pianist to perform George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue on the radio.

Lapham’s career trajectory changed dramatically in 1933 when he was commissioned by the Japanese Chamber of Commerce of Southern California to compose the opera Sakura, a work that was produced at the Hollywood Bowl. Lapham called for traditional Japanese instruments in the score and incorporated Japanese folk songs. He then traveled to China and on to Japan where he was hired to record jazz albums for the Columbia Record Company. During his years in Japan, Lapham composed numerous works influenced by Japanese traditional music, including the ...

Article

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 ...

Article

Eliot Gattegno

(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 ...