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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....

Article

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

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 ...

Article

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

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 ...

Article

M. Rusty Jones

[Al Laurence Dimeola ]

(b Jersey City, NJ, July 22, 1954). American jazz fusion guitarist and composer. He is known especially for his technical virtuosity and for combining Latin, world, and jazz styles. His guitar influences include Larry Coryell, Tal(madge Holt) Farlow, and Kenny Burrell. He was also inspired by the tangos of Ástor Piazzolla, with whom he developed a close friendship. He enrolled in the Berklee College of Music in Boston in 1971, where he remained until 1974 when he was invited to join the fusion group Return to Forever with Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke, and Lenny White. The group released three recordings with Di Meola, including the Grammy award-winning No Mystery (1975), before disbanding in 1976. The group reunited for a tour in 2008. Di Meola’s career as a leader began with the production of Land of the Midnight Sun (1976). Recordings on which he is recognized as leader now number over 20 albums. He has collaborated with luminaries such as Jaco Pastorius, Jan Hammer, and Chick Corea. One of his most successful collaborations was his trio with guitarists John McLaughlin and Paco de Lucia. Their ...

Article

Stephen Montague

revised by Kelly Hiser

(Arthur )

(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 ...