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Pekka Gronow

[Junnu]

(bKouvola, Finland, Dec 12, 1935). Finnishtenor and alto saxophonist and flutist. He learned to play guitar and tenor saxophone during his years of schooling and army service, and spent three years in Sweden without playing; after returning to Finland he took up baritone saxophone, then changed to the alto instrument. He studied flute at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki and later spent a period in Boston at the Berklee College of Music. In the 1950s he played in a sextet led by the trumpeter Heikki Rosendahl in Inkeroinen. He moved to Helsinki in 1961 and worked frequently as a studio musician, except during the late 1970s, when a three-year government grant gave him the freedom to pursue his own musical interests. At the same time he made a name as a lyrical free-jazz and jazz-rock soloist, recording with Eero Koivistoinen (1969–73), Edward Vesala (from ...

Article

[Alvin]

(bToronto, Jan 27, 1910; dCanada, Nov 1970). Americanreed player. He played alto saxophone and in 1942 recorded with Jack Teagarden. After moving to Hollywood he performed and recorded with the bandleaders Horace Heidt (1943–5, 1948–9) and Skinnay Ennis (1945–8), then toured Europe and Asia and recorded with Les Brown, first on clarinet and alto saxophone (...

Article

Thomas Owens

(bPittsburgh, March 23, 1932). Americantrumpeter and flugelhorn player. He studied music in Pittsburgh (1947–50), Evanston, Illinois (with Renold Schilke of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, 1951–3), and at Wayne State University, Detroit (mid-1950s), where he worked for seven nights a week in the band at the Flame Show Bar. From 1956 to 1957 he played at Klein’s Showbar with Yusef Lateef, Pepper Adams, Kenny Burrell, Louis Hayes, and Tommy Flanagan, after which he was a member of Barry Harris’s band at the Bluebird Inn. He performed with Wild Bill Davis (1961), then joined Count Basie while working in a club in Washington, DC; he toured and recorded with Basie from August 1961 to July 1969, and in 1965 appeared as a soloist with the group on Blues for Ilean on the show “Jazz from WGN-TV.” After moving to Los Angeles he worked in television, and recorded with Ray Brown and Milt Jackson (both ...

Article

Aušra Listavičiūtė

[Gintas ]

(b Vilnius, USSR [now Lithuania], March 28, 1959). Lithuanian pianist. He played accordion from the age of four, studied piano from 1966 to 1977, and took courses in composition and jazz history at the M. K. Čiurlionis Gymnasium of Arts. At that time he admired rock music, but a recording by Oscar Peterson led to his interest in jazz. From 1977 he studied classical piano and composition at the Lithuanian music academy. In 1978 he formed a trio, which continued with a few changes in membership until 1994, and in the 1980s he led Jazz Archiv, a fusion group. He ceased to perform in public in 1992, though the trio played together for two more years. Abarius is admired for his use of impressionistic harmonies, his pure strong sound, and his impeccable technique, as heard on his album Reminiscence Blues (1988, Mel. C60-27877-007). He also plays other keyboard instruments and composes....

Article

Gary W. Kennedy

(b Fall River, MA, May 31, 1947). American alto saxophonist. He attended the Berklee School of Music (1966–71), after which he moved to Hollywood and worked in various local bands. He later toured internationally as a member of Ray Charles’s orchestra (1973–5), in which he succeeded David “Fathead” Newman, and then settled in Providence, Rhode Island, where he led a fusion group, Channel One (1979–84). He was a regular member of Artie Shaw’s orchestra from 1985 to 1987, and continued to work with him intermittently until 1994; during this time he also co-led a quintet with the leader of Shaw’s band, Dick Johnson. Abate performed in California, Quebec, and Spain with Jerome Richardson, and appeared with Red Rodney at Town Hall, New York, in a tribute concert to Charlie Parker. In 1991 he made his first recording as a leader and by the late 1990s he was working mainly on the East Coast and in Europe. An effective bop soloist, he has often worked in groups incorporating two saxophones. He also plays tenor and soprano saxophone, and flute....

Article

Rainer E. Lotz

(Alexander)

(bMinneapolis, May 7, 1900; dMinneapolis, Sept 15, 1975). Americanbandleader and violinist. He began his career playing light and classical music as a member of J. Rosamond Johnson’s orchestra (1920–25). In 1925 he recorded as a soloist with Clara Smith (If you only knowed, Col. 14058D, and You better keep the home fires burning, Col. 14062D) and began to lead his own band. The following year he directed the Savoy Bearcats, and in 1927 he reorganized the group for a tour of Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay; he also took a band to England. Between 1928 and 1939 he toured extensively in Europe and visited India twice. After returning to the USA he organized a band in 1940 for Ethel Waters, toured with a small group, and then settled in Chicago, where he played regularly with a trio until 1964. Although he was not a jazz soloist, Abbey employed excellent sidemen, including Fletcher Allen, Emile Christian, Bill Coleman, Peter DuConge, and Crickett Smith. His jazz recordings as a leader remain unissued except for ...

Article

John Curry

(bNew York, Jan 30, 1927; dNew York, Oct 2, 1993). Double bass and ‘ūd player. His early influences included the music played and sung by his father, who was Sudanese, and the Middle Eastern and East European music he heard growing up in Brooklyn’s multiracial community. He began learning violin at the age of seven and later studied double bass, piano, and tuba and attended the High School of the Performing Arts in New York. At this time he played Greek, Syrian, and Gypsy music professionally at weddings and other occasions. After playing double bass with Art Blakey (1945–8), Don Byas (1946), Sam “the Man” Taylor (1954), and Randy Weston (1954–7) he worked with Thelonious Monk (1957–8), with whom he recorded in performance at the Five Spot in New York and appeared on television in the CBS series “The Seven Lively Arts,” as well as on “The Sound of Jazz” (both ...

Article

Gary W. Kennedy

[Bland, Leroy ]

(b New York, May 10, 1947). American trumpeter and leader. He began on trumpet at the age of 13, studying formally while in college. In the 1960s he took up Islam and adopted his Muslim name. After working briefly with the Master Brotherhood he toured with rhythm-and-blues bands. In 1972 he formed his group Abdullah, which often included Vincent Chancey, and worked as music director for the dancer Diane McIntyre (1973–83). Having been involved with Sam Rivers’s Studio Rivbea from 1972, he appeared at the studio’s opening with the group Melodic Art-tette, with Charles Brackeen, Ronnie Boykins, and Roger Blank. Most notably he performed and recorded with Sun Ra’s Arkestra from 1975 until 1978, and again regularly from c1988, continuing with the band after the leader’s death in 1992.

Abdullah worked as a sideman with Rivers’s big band (1977–8), Hamiet Bluiett, Arthur Blythe (...

Article

Kazunori Sugiyama

(b Kawasaki, Japan, May 3, 1949; d Sept 9, 1978). Japanese alto saxophonist. Self-taught, he played alto saxophone and reportedly had developed a distinctive style by the age of 20. He made his first recording in a duo with Masayuki Takayanagi in 1970, and during the 1970s he performed with Motoharu Yoshizawa, the avant-garde composer and violinist Takehisa Kosugi, Yosuke Yamashita, Derek Bailey, Milford Graves, and others; he also appeared frequently as an unaccompanied soloist, and made the majority of his recordings in this context. One of the legendary masters of Japanese free jazz of the 1970s, Abe also played bass clarinet, sopranino saxophone, harmonica, and other wind instruments.

Article

Gregory E. Smith

revised by Barry Kernfeld

[Michael Christian Joseph, Jr.]

(bNew York, July 2, 1942). American pianist, arranger, and composer. His father was a guitarist and bandleader. Abene performed and recorded at the Newport Jazz Festival in Marshall Brown’s International Youth Band (1958) and studied composition at the Manhattan School of Music (1959–61), though he is primarily self-taught. After working with Clark Terry, Jimmy Nottingham, and others at the Cork ’n Bib on Long Island (1960) he played piano with Don Ellis (1960–61), Maynard Ferguson (1961–5), for whom he also wrote arrangements, Buddy Rich, Harry Edison, and Georgie Auld (in Las Vegas, 1963). From the mid-1960s he performed regularly in New York at the Half Note (with the quintets led by Al Cohn and Zoot Sims and by Bill Berry and Richie Kamuca, 1965–7), Bradley’s (1972–5), Sweet Basil (1978), and Freddy’s (with the singer Barbara Rankin, ...