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Johs Bergh

(b Trondheim, Norway, June 19, 1952). Norwegian singer, lyricist, and actor. She lived for a period in England before settling in Oslo in 1976. A member of the soul group Chipahua (1979–85), she also worked through much of the 1980s in successful local jazz-rock groups led by the guitarist Jon Eberson. She moved into more contempo-rary modern jazz singing around 1986, led her own quartet from 1990 to 1995 (comprising Nils Petter Molvær, Django Bates, and Jon Christensen), and in 1994 formed a duo with the keyboard player Jens Bugge Wesseltoft. From 1989 she has appeared as an actress and singer in many plays with music by jazz composers. For the Molde International Jazz Festival in 1993 she was commissioned to write a large work, which was entitled Pagan Pilgrimage; part of it was later recorded as Exile.

Article

Floyd Levin

(b New York, Feb 11, 1928). American trombonist, bandleader, and actor. In his early teens, while under contract to 20th-Century Fox, he began playing the trombone after hearing Kid Ory. He started his first band, the Tailgate Jazz Band, in Los Angeles in 1949 and promptly won Record Changer magazine’s International Jazz Band Contest; the first prize was a trip to New York and a recording date for the Record Changer. His initial commercial recordings (Conrad Janis’s Tailgate Jazz Band, 1950, Cir. [USA] 404) appeared a year later on the Circle (i) label, operated by his mother, Harriet Janis, and Rudi Blesh, and are among the early jazz issues on LP. He remained in New York and led bands at Central Plaza, Eddie Condon’s, Jimmy Ryan’s, Nick’s, the Metropole, and other such venues with such notable sidemen as Roy Eldridge, Coleman Hawkins, Wild Bill Davison, James P. Johnson, and Willie “the Lion” Smith. Janis took part in a few further recording sessions in the early 1950s. He has appeared as a musician in more than 30 network television dramas, in eight Carnegie Hall concerts, and in scores of Broadway plays and Hollywood films. His Beverly Hills Unlisted Jazz Band recorded in ...

Article

E. Ron Horton

[Herbert; Jeffrey, Herbert; Balentino, Umberto; the Bronze Buckaroo]

(b Detroit, MI, Sept 24, 1916). American jazz vocalist and actor. He began his professional singing career at 14 and then worked with such well-known jazz musicians as Erskine Tate, Earl Hines, and Blanche Calloway. In the late 1930s he made five films as America’s first black singing cowboy starting with Harlem on the Prairie (1937). He conceived the idea of making the movie himself in a conscious effort to create a character that could be a model for brown-skinned children. Jeffries, who identified his mother as Irish and his father as mixed-race Sicilian, was almost denied the role because his physical features were considered by some not to be African American enough, although he proudly identified himself as black in both professional and social terms. He successfully fought for the role, which earned him the nickname the Bronze Buckaroo, and his films appealed to a more widespread audience than expected. Jeffries worked with the Duke Ellington Orchestra from ...

Article

Roger T. Dean

(b Melbourne, Australia, Oct 12, 1936). Australian double bass player, composer, and performance artist. In his late adolescence and early twenties, when he was devoted to American jazz and its culture, he played with such hard-bop stalwarts as Stewie Speers and with Keith Hounslow. In the late 1950s and early 1960s he pursued parallel careers as an artist (particularly as a sculptor) and a jazz double bass player, working mainly in Melbourne. Having stopped making sculpture in 1969, he was active in the 1970s in free jazz, particularly with Brian Brown, exploring signal processing of the double bass, as well as extended acoustic techniques on the instrument. With his partner, Dur-é Dara, he formed Connections in 1975. Soon afterwards he ceased playing and focused instead on analogue electronics and his “art” ensemble False Start, which merged and saw no division among music, theatre, art, and performance. The ensemble produced a series of “events” until ...