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Eric Thacker

(b Prague, 1934). Czech double bass player. He first studied violin and trombone (1945–52), then double bass and theory (1957). In the early to mid-1960s he recorded many albums in Prague with Zdenek Bartak’s big band, Karel Vlach (1962–3), Karel Velebný’s quartet and quintet (1962–5), Jan Konopasek (1963), and the pianist Milan Dvořák (1964); in 1965 he toured and recorded with the Reduta Quintet. In West Germany and France he played with Leo Wright and Booker Ervin. He moved in 1966 to the USA, where he worked as a producer, arranger, conductor, and performer; he played with Elvin Jones, Tony Scott, Howard McGhee, and Attila Zoller, and recorded with Sonny Stitt (1966), Chico Hamilton (c1967, c1974), and Ervin (1968). As a member of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers (...

Article

Paul Rinzler

revised by Barry Kernfeld

[William, Jr. ]

(b Philadelphia, March 27, 1927; d Middletown, CT, Sept 21, 1989). American tenor and soprano saxophonist, composer, and teacher, brother of Kenny Barron. He first studied piano with his mother from the age of nine, but four years later changed to soprano saxophone and then to the tenor instrument. At the age of 17 he toured with the Carolina Cotton Pickers, after which he served as a musician in the army (1943–6), where his fellow bandsmen included Randy Weston and Ernie Henry. He then played tenor saxophone in Philadelphia with Red Garland, Jimmy Heath, and Philly Joe Jones; Dexter Gordon influenced his early style. In 1958 he moved to New York. There he performed and in 1959 recorded with Cecil Taylor, recorded with Jones in 1959–60, and co-led the group the Barron Brothers; he also formed a group with Ted Curson which in 1964 toured Europe, where it frequently broadcast on radio and television and recorded in Paris. He appeared with Taylor’s free-jazz group at the Newport Jazz Festival in ...

Article

Paul Rinzler

revised by Barry Kernfeld

[Kenneth ]

(b Philadelphia, June 9, 1943). American pianist, composer, leader, and teacher, brother of Bill Barron. He learned piano from the age of 12 and with the help of his brother secured an engagement when he was 15 with a rhythm-and-blues orchestra led by Mel Melvin; while in high school he also played double bass and tuba. Having worked with Philly Joe Jones (1959) and Jimmy Heath, and in Detroit with Yusef Lateef (1960), in 1961 he moved to New York and began appearing regularly at the Five Spot with James Moody, on whose recommendation he was engaged by Dizzy Gillespie; from 1962 to 1966 he toured Europe and North America with Gillespie. Barron then played briefly with Stanley Turrentine and was a member of several groups led by Freddie Hubbard (1967–9); by 1970 his compositions had been recorded by Gillespie, Hubbard, and Moody. He was again with Lateef from ...

Article

Leonard Bernardo

(Andrejevich )

(b Novosibirsk, Russian SFSR [now Russia], March 16, 1947). Russian drummer, writer, broadcaster, and educator. He began playing jazz in 1962, and after graduating from the state medical institute in Novosibirsk in 1971 he pursued a dual career as a jazz musician and an obstetrician. In 1975 he established Tvorcheskoye Dhazovoye Ob’yedinenie (Creative Jazz Unity), the first association of musicians and jazz promoters east of the Urals. He performed with Vladimir Tolkachev in the Musical Improvising Trio (1975–9), with Igor Dmitriev in various groups (including, from 1977, Zolotoye Gody Dhaza (Golden Jazz Years), with Vytautas Labutis in the quartet SibLitMash (Siberian-Lithuanian Jazz Machine, 1980s), and with Vagif Sadykhov in another quartet (1998), while also working as a freelance with Vladimir Chekasin, Anatoly Vapirov, Igor Butman, Joe Locke, Paul Bollenback, and former members of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, among others. In 1990 he began to broadcast on radio, and in ...

Article

Barry Kernfeld

(b Heidelberg, Germany, March 30, 1935). German vibraphonist and teacher. He studied classical piano from the age of ten. As the house pianist for jam sessions at the Club 54 in Heidelberg, he learned to play bop in the company of such visiting American servicemen as Leo Wright, Cedar Walton, Lex Humphries, and Don Ellis; he also took up vibraphone and became interested in free jazz. Following studies in musicology and philosophy in Heidelberg and Berlin (PhD 1963) he joined Don Cherry’s free-jazz quintet, then based in Paris (1965); during this period he appeared in Appunti per un film sul jazz (Notes for a Film on Jazz) (1965). When Cherry’s group recorded in New York in September 1966 Berger remained in the USA, performing in schools for Young Audiences, Inc., with Horacee Arnold’s group (1967–71), periodically touring with his own bands, of which Carlos Ward, Dave Holland, and Ed Blackwell were members, and playing alongside Ward in a group led by David Izenzon. In autumn ...

Article

Tony Gould

(b Sydney, Feb 8, 1947). Australian singer. She first studied piano. From 1968 to 1971 she sang with a cooperative group, the Affair, touring Australia and England, after which she joined the Daly–Wilson Big Band and worked as a studio musician and in cabaret. In 1973–4 she toured North America, where she appeared on television and performed with her ensemble Compared to What. Following her return to Australia she presented her own radio program, “Kerrie Biddell and Friends,” for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. During the 1970s she recorded three albums as a leader. In 1982 she formed a duo with the pianist Julian Lee and joined the faculty of the New South Wales Conservatorium in Sydney to teach jazz. She remained active through the 1990s. Biddell possesses a powerful voice with an uncommonly wide range and is a gifted improviser; she may be heard to particular advantage on the track ...

Article

Walter Ojakäär

(Mikhaylovich )

(b Moscow, June 9, 1944). Russian pianist, teacher, and composer. From 1962 to 1966 he led a trio at the Vserossiyskoye Gastrol’no-kontsertnoye Ob’yedinenie (All-Russian society for guest performances). He played with Aleksey Kozlov in the big band VIO-66 (the Vocal Instrumental Orchestra, directed by the composer Yuri Saulsky) and also in a quartet drawn from the band which recorded at a festival in Moscow in 1967. Thereafter he worked in a duo with German Luk’yanov (1969–70) and led various groups ranging in size from quartet to sextet (1969–91); these groups made several recordings, among them Pered zakhodom solntsa (1985, Mel. C60 21873003) and Live at the Village Gate (1988, Mobile Fidelity 861). Bril performed at festivals and concerts in Europe, Indonesia, Cuba, and the USA. From 1991 he led the group New Generation, which included his twin sons, the saxophonists Dmitry and Alexander (...

Article

J. Kent Williams

revised by Barry Kernfeld

[Mjumbe ]

(b Detroit, Sept 3, 1938; d Detroit, Nov 15, 2005). American drummer, percussionist, and jazz educator. His mother sang in church. Brooks cites Elvin Jones as his first important influence. He first worked with Yusef Lateef, then joined Horace Silver’s quintet, of which he was a member from 1959 to 1964; during the same period he recorded with his fellow sidemen Junior Cook (1960) and Blue Mitchell (1961, 1963), as well as with Sonny Red (1960), Buddy Tate and Stanley Turrentine (both 1961), and Shirley Scott (1961–3). Later he performed with Wes Montgomery, Lateef (1967–70), Pharoah Sanders, James Moody (1970–72), Sonny Stitt (recording in 1972–3), Jackie McLean, Dexter Gordon, Randy Weston, Milt Jackson, Charles Mingus (mid-1972–1973, beginning with a tour of Europe), and Abdullah Ibrahim (including recordings, 1973, 1976, 1977), and recorded with Chet Baker (...

Article

Gary W. Kennedy

(Ray )

(b Hernando, MS, March 28, 1954). American pianist and composer. He grew up in Memphis in a musical family and played drums, baritone horn, and trumpet, on which he won several awards in his youth, before taking up piano. At Memphis State University (1972–5) he focused on piano and was encouraged to explore jazz by his classmate James Williams. He then worked locally before replacing Williams in Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers (1981). While with Blakey he toured internationally and appeared in the video Jazz at the Smithsonian:Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers (1982). In 1982 rheumatoid arthritis forced Brown to leave the group. From 1983 to 1985 he was a member of the faculty at the Berklee College of Music, and in 1988 he began teaching jazz history and leading student ensembles at the University of Tennessee. Although his activities have been limited by arthritis, he has occasionally worked with Freddie Hubbard, Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis, and the ...

Article

Steven Strunk

revised by Barry Kernfeld

(Richard )

(b Framingham, MA, Dec 21, 1920; d New York, Dec 13, 1983). American teacher, bandleader, and trombonist. He taught himself to play various instruments at an early age. After gaining a BS degree in music from New York University (1949) he directed high-school bands in the New York area (1949–57) while pursuing graduate studies at Columbia University (MA music, 1953). His dance band from Farmingdale, the Dalers, played at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1957 to unprecedented acclaim, winning Brown international fame and an appointment to the Newport Festival board. He then toured Europe with George Wein to select members for the International Youth Band, which performed at the Brussels World’s Fair and at Newport in 1958. In New York he organized the Newport Youth Band, which played at Newport and other festivals (1959–60). Many members of Brown’s groups, such as Dusko Goykovic, Albert Mangelsdorff, George Gruntz, Gábor Szabó, Gil Cuppini, Eddie Gomez, Jimmy Owens, Mike Abene, and Ronnie Cuber, became well-known jazz artists. After the dissolution of the Newport Festival Corporation (...