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Howard Rye

[Charles; the Man with the Moves]

(b Birmingham, AL, Sept 30, 1913; d Las Vegas, NV, April 19, 2003). American dancer. His parents moved to Buffalo when he was four, and he later began his professional career in the area as a singing waiter. In 1933 he met the dancer Bill (William) Porter, and the two men formed an act, the Rhythm Pals; in 1935 they went to New York, after which they toured widely until 1939, incorporating a residency at Sebastian’s New Cotton Club in Los Angeles in 1938. In 1939 Atkins returned to New York and began dancing with and choreographing for the Cotton Club Boys, appearing with them in the show The Hot Mikado. Soon afterwards he produced a show in Atlantic City, New Jersey, in which he met the singer Dotty (Dorothy) Saulter, with whom he formed a professional and personal partnership, touring with Cab Calloway. In September 1943 Atkins joined the army. On his return to civilian life he formed another partnership, Coles & Atkins, with Honi Coles (for details ...

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Howard Rye

(b New Orleans, July 31, 1949). American singer and dancer. He majored in theater studies at Xavier University and then studied drama in Europe. On his return to New Orleans he founded the New Experience Theatre and became involved in jazz by conceiving the show One Mo’ Time, which sought to re-create an evening at the city’s Lyric Theater in 1927. The show received its première at the Toulouse Theater, where it eventually ran for six and a half years. In 1979 a One Mo’ Time company opened in New York at the Village Gate Downstairs, where the show ran for 1300 performances. A road company was formed in 1980, and troupes later toured to Britain and Australia. Bagneris himself sang and danced with each of these companies at various times. With choreography by Pepsi Bethel and music by Orange Kellin and the pianist Lars Edegran, the show featured the New Orleans Blue Serenaders, which included Walter Payton on tuba, the drummers John Robichaux and Herlin Riley, and a starring trumpeter, a role played at various times by Jabbo Smith, Bill Dillard, and Franc Williams. Among featured singers were Lillian Boutté, Sandra Reaves Phillips, and Sylvia “Kuumba” Williams. The Village Gate cast with Smith and Williams is heard on the original cast album ...

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Barry Kernfeld

(b ?New York, 1923). American dancer. As a child he was influenced by Bill Robinson. By 1931 he was working in private houses in New York with Luckey Roberts and his Society Entertainers. Later he sang with Lucky Millinder’s band, was the featured dancer with Erskine Hawkins, and performed with Baby Laurence, who was another influence on his dancing. Around 1943 Briggs spent three weeks dancing for Earl Hines, whose sidemen Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker helped him to adapt his style to bop. He also developed his own version of the paddle and roll dancing technique, to which he added elements of pantomime. Briggs left Hines to work with Count Basie, then sang and danced for Charlie Barnet, with whom he recorded in 1947–9 and 1958. In 1950 he was filmed with Nat “King” Cole’s “trio” (actually a quartet at the time) and Benny Carter’s orchestra in the short ...

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Howard Rye

[Charles (Lester); Honey]

(b Philadelphia, April 2, 1911; d New York, Nov 12, 1992). American dancer. His full name appears in his application for social security. He began his career as one of the Three Millers, who appeared at the Lafayette Theatre, New York, in 1931, but this act was not financially successful and Coles went back to Philadelphia. He was again in New York in 1932; during the 1930s he worked with the Lucky Seven Trio, and in 1938–9 he was in a song and dance act with Bert Howell. He met his future partner Cholly Atkins while working with Cab Calloway in 1940; however, from 1943 he was in the army, and so their act was not formed until 1946. Coles and Atkins performed with the bands of Lionel Hampton, Calloway, Count Basie, Billy Eckstine, and Louis Armstrong, and in 1948 they visited England. From 1949 to 1951 they were featured in the show ...

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Barry Kernfeld

(b Smithville, VA, July 18, 1900; d Nov 1967). American clarinetist, singer, and dancer. In his social security application he gave his place of birth as Smithville (not Smithfield, as it has been published elsewhere). At the age of ten he learned clarinet from his father. When his family moved to Philadelphia he formed a band with his brother Jimmy, who played clarinet and saxophone. During the 1920s and 1930s he enjoyed much success with his own variety act; he appeared at the Sunset Café in Chicago and, around 1928, in the show Blackbirds. His best-known recordings are those he made in 1929 and 1930 as the leader of a group which included Jelly Roll Morton. These and his earlier recordings (1927–8), some of which involved Eddie Lang, display a repetitive but striking improvisatory style on clarinet, characterized by conventional blues formulas (sometimes played with a timbre that resembles that of Bubber Miley’s muted trumpet), extended passages of deliberately paced slap-tonguing, and an extraordinary cackling sound. His playing may be heard in all its variety on ...

Article

Rainer E. Lotz

(Winston )

(b Philadelphia, May 14, 1889; d New York, May 19, 1939). American dancer, choreographer, and impresario. He went to Ireland in 1903 as a member of a juvenile “piccaninny” group, then toured Europe with Belle Davis (1903–8); his dancing during this period may be seen in the film Die schöne Davis mit ihren drei Negern (1906). Thereafter he worked as an eccentric solo act, and from 1910 into the 1930s was featured as a step dancer in revues in London, Paris, and Berlin; he also toured South America in 1923. In 1925 he starred in La revue nègre, with music provided by Claude Hopkins’s Charleston Jazz Band. He then organized his own revue, Black People (1926), which toured Europe and North Africa with members of Sam Wooding’s band. He organized further revues in Berlin (1926) and New York (1927...

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Howard Rye

[Leslie ]

(b Waycross, GA, Feb 12, 1913; d New York, June 30, 1997). American tap-dancer. His birthdate appears in his application for social security; the place of his birth and details of his death are in the New York Times obituary. Gaines started dancing in 1932 as a member of the Three Dukes (comprising Gaines, James Hudson, and Arthur Russell), with whom he may be seen in the short film Mills Blue Rhythm Band (1933) performing I would do anything for you and The Peanut Vendor. They also worked with Duke Ellington. In 1934 the Three Dukes toured Britain and Europe with Cab Calloway. They returned to Britain in 1936 for a variety tour and remained in Europe until 1939, during which time they held an extended residency at the Casino de Paris. Gaines took part in many USO tours from 1951 to 1971, when he retired. In ...

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Howard Rye

[Royce Edward ]

(b Baltimore, April 6, 1928). American tap-dancer. He grew up in Detroit, where in an amateur show he won a prize of a job at the Flame Club, which he held for 13 weeks. In the 1950s he worked with Lionel Hampton and Cab Calloway’s Cotton Club Show (1957), among others, and also undertook tours nationwide and with the USO; a later USO tour brought him to Europe in 1962. In 1963 Gaines traveled to London to perform at the Pigalle nightclub; he then settled in Britain and resided for many years in Rotherham, Yorkshire. Initially he worked alternately in Britain and in Germany. In Britain he was active both as a swing dancer with Alex Welsh and Humphrey Lyttelton and also in bop or free improvisation contexts with Ronnie Scott, Stan Tracey, Derek Bailey, John Stevens, and many others. In 1995, with Bailey, he made the video ...

Article

Howard Rye

[Samuel Christopher ]

(b Fitzgerald, GA, Nov 6, 1918; d Oakland, CA, March 6, 1997). American tap-dancer. His given name and birthdate are found in the California death index. He began his dancing career on the sidewalks of Atlanta and before the age of nine had formed the act Chuck & Chuckles with James Walker. After they moved to New York in 1931, Green became a protégé of John Bubbles. Chuck & Chuckles toured widely, working in theaters with several leading big bands, including that of Chick Webb, and dancing at clubs through the 1940s. They broke up in the late 1940s, and Green continued with a solo act. In the 1960s he appeared at the Newport Jazz Festival and at the Village Vanguard accompanied by Jo Jones (1964). From 1969 he was a moving force in the Hoofers Club. He performed at the Riverside Studios in London in ...

Article

Barry Kernfeld

[Edgar ]

(b Pittsburgh, Aug 3, 1918; d Detroit, May 9, 1979). American singer, lyricist, and dancer. For many years he worked principally as a tap-dancer while also learning to play tuba, guitar, and drums. In the 1940s, with his dancing partner Irv Taylor, he created what came to be called (misleadingly) jazz vocalese (see Vocalese) by setting lyrics to improvisations on Panassié Stomp and Taxi War Dance by Lester Young with Count Basie’s orchestra and Body and Soul by Coleman Hawkins; a decade later this type of piece became an important element in the success of Lambert, Hendricks, and Ross. From 1952, following King Pleasure’s popular recording of Jefferson’s Moody’s Mood for Love (based on a saxophone solo by James Moody), Jefferson was able to record his own gritty-voiced vocalese; among the four titles from his first session were a different Body and Soul (based on an uncelebrated recording of the piece by Moody) and ...