(b Port Chester, NY, Dec 16, 1944; d Cortlandt Manor, NY, Aug 22, 2017). American jazz guitarist, composer, and bandleader. He grew up in Greenwich, CT, and began playing guitar at the age of 14. He was primarily self taught until he studied at the Berklee College of Music (1962–6) and with Jack Petersen. Abercrombie joined Johnny Hammond’s touring band after the blues organist had spotted him performing with other Berklee students at Paul’s Mall in Boston. After studying briefly at the University of North Texas, in 1969 he moved to New York where he performed and recorded in Billy Cobham’s jazz-rock band Dreams (1970), joined Chico Hamilton’s group, and recorded with Gato Barbieri (1971), Barry Miles (1972), and Gil Evans (1974). Abercrombie attracted wider attention performing with Cobham’s fusion band Spectrum from 1974. He also toured with Jack DeJohnette and recorded his debut album, ...
(b Turin, Sept 26, 1941). Italian violinist and conductor. He studied the violin with Luigi d’Ambrosio at the Naples Conservatory, took the diploma in 1956 and a postgraduate course with Yvonne Astruc at the Accademia Musicale Chigiana, Siena. He won the international competitions at Vercelli (1955) and Geneva (1956), and in 1958 both the RAI Spring Trophy and the Premio Paganini international violin competition at Genoa. He toured throughout Europe and North and South America and soon became one of the best-known and most admired Italian violinists of his generation. An instinctive player with an easy, agile and brilliant technique, he is an all-round musician with a repertory ranging from Vivaldi and Bach to contemporary composers, many of whom have written works for him, including Franco Donatoni (Argot for solo violin, 1979) and Xenakis (Dikhtas, 1980). He is considered a fine interpreter of Paganini (whose 24 capriccios and six concertos he has recorded). Accardo has developed an interest in chamber music and is one of the organizers of the ensemble music week held at Naples each year; in ...
(b Moscow, Sept 8, 1947). Russian pianist, conductor, writer and poet. A student of Yakov Zak and Emil Gilels at the Moscow Conservatory (1965–73), he won the 1968 Leipzig Bach Competition, four years later taking the gold medal at the Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels. After seeking political asylum in Belgium in 1974, he settled in France in 1980, but since 1989 he has returned regularly to his native country for concerts and recordings. Intent on philosophical truths more than absolutes of pianistic finish, placing emotions of the mind and spirit above ‘outward prettiness’, Afanassiev is a provocatively inspirational artist, indebted on his own admission to many of the great individualists of the past: Gilels, Gould, Horowitz, Michelangeli, Rachmaninoff and Sofronitsky all receive tribute in his ‘Homages & Ecstasies’ album (1996). Partial to mono/duographic programming, with a repertory extending from Froberger to Crumb, his extensive discography includes Bach (Book 1 of ...
(b Riga, May 24, 1947). Armenian violinist and conductor. He began to study the violin in Riga and continued his studies at the Central Music School in Yerevan (1963–6), the Yerevan Conservatory (1966–8) and the Moscow Conservatory (1968–74), where his teachers were Y.I. Yankelevich and Leonid Kogan. From ...
(b Kentville, NS, Aug 28, 1939). Canadian flautist, conductor and composer. He studied with Nicholas Fiore (in Toronto) and Marcel Moyse; later with Rampal and Gazzelloni. He was principal flautist of the Vancouver SO (1958–9) and of the Toronto SO (1965–70). In 1971 he was a prizewinner of the Concours International de Flûte de Paris. In 1964 he formed the Lyric Arts Trio with his wife, the pianist Marion Ross, and the soprano Mary Morrison. He is musical director of New Music Concerts (Toronto) and Music Today (Shaw Festival, Ontario), as well as a soloist whose engagements take him to Europe, North America, Japan and Iceland. In 1977 he was one of 12 instrumentalists invited by Boulez to give a solo recital at IRCAM in Paris. Some 50 works have been wrtten for him by composers including Carter, Crumb, R. Murray Schafer and Takemitsu. Technically adept, he has a pure, intense tone and a finished sense of phrasing. In ...
J. Bradford Robinson
(b Dairen, China, Dec 12, 1929). Japanese jazz composer, pianist and bandleader. She studied classical music and turned to jazz only in 1947 after moving to Japan. There she was discovered by Oscar Peterson, who urged her to take up a career in the USA. After studying at Berklee College of Music (1956–9) she became a highly regarded bop pianist, especially in groups with the alto saxophonist Charlie Mariano (who was at that time her husband). She worked in Japan (1961), joined Charles Mingus in the USA (1962–3), then returned to Japan until 1965. In 1973 she founded a large rehearsal band in Los Angeles with the tenor saxophonist and flautist Lew Tabackin, whom she had married in 1969. Its first album, Kogun (1974, RCA), was commercially successful in Japan, and the group attracted increasing popularity and critical acclaim until, by ...
( b Rome, Jan 25, 1960). Italian harpsichordist, organist and conductor . Largely self-taught, he conducted his first major concert, of Cavalli's Calisto, in Rome in 1985, with a group of singers that were to form the nucleus of a permanent ensemble, Concerto Italiano. The ensemble's first recording, of Monteverdi's fourth book of madrigals, was widely acclaimed for its passion and colour, winning a Gramophone award in 1994; subsequent recordings have included madrigals by Monteverdi, Marenzio and Frescobaldi, and vocal works by Lassus. In 1995 Alessandrini founded the complementary Concerto Italiano instrumental ensemble, with whom he has performed and recorded concertos by Bach and Vivaldi, and made an imaginative recording of Bach's Art of Fugue. His other recordings include Bach's sonatas for violin and harpsichord, vocal works by Vivaldi, Alessandro Scarlatti and Pergolesi, and Handel's Roman oratorio Il trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno. With Concerto Italiano he has appeared at major concert halls and festivals throughout Europe. In ...
(b Morgan, TX, June 13, 1927). American conductor, composer, arranger, and trumpeter. Allen began trumpet lessons at age seven with his father, a 50-year Texas school band director, and later studied with Jimmy Burke of the Goldman Band and Lloyd Geisler of the National SO. During 45 years of military service, he conducted US Army bands, including the 101st Airborne Division Band. His career culminated with his appointment as Leader and Commander of The United States Army Band (Pershing’s Own) in Washington, DC, 1976–90. He led and supervised the band, chorus, orchestra, Army Blues, and Herald Trumpets in more than 5,000 performances annually at the White House, Pentagon, US Capitol, and Arlington National Cemetery, throughout the US, and in Canada, the US Virgin Islands, Japan, and Australia. He composed Salute to Veterans, the official march of the Veterans Administration, and The Major of St. Lo, the official march of the 29th Infantry Division. He is a past president of the American Bandmasters Association....
(b Louisville, KY, May 25, 1924). American alto saxophonist and bandleader. He began clarinet lessons when he was ten and later took up alto saxophone. After joining the US Army at 18 years of age, Allen performed in military bands and, while stationed in Paris, formed a trio with Art Simmons and Don Byas. Allen remained in Europe following his discharge, touring with James Moody and studying clarinet at the Paris Conservatory with Ulysse Delécluse. He returned to the United States in 1951 and led dance bands and worked as a composer in Chicago. After hearing a demo recording of Sun Ra’s Arkestra in a record store, Allen sought out the bandleader during a rehearsal and began an apprenticeship. He subsequently rehearsed with the Arkestra for more than a year before joining officially in 1958. His association with the ensemble has lasted more than 50 years.
Allen worked closely with Sun Ra for much of his professional career, composing for the bandleader and performing both in concert and on more than 200 albums; he even shared a house with him. Alongside John Gilmore Allen anchored the reed section, adding flute, clarinet, oboe, and in later years wind synthesizer. He invented the morrow, a woodwind instrument combining a saxophone mouthpiece with an open-holed wooden body, and learned to play and build the kora, a West African multi-string instrument. Allen rarely worked outside the Arkestra, although he made a notable recording with Paul Bley (...
Terence J. O’Grady
revised by Bryan Proksch
(b Los Angeles, CA, March 31, 1935). American trumpeter, composer, bandleader, and record company executive. He studied trumpet as a child and left college to play in the army for a two-year period. After three years of producing records on his own, he launched A&M Records with Jerry Moss in 1962. A&M’s first issue was also Alpert’s first recording as a trumpeter and bandleader, The Lonely Bull (A&M, 1962). The title track included sounds from the bullring in Tijuana, Mexico, so Alpert dubbed his band the Tijuana Brass. His music exploited a distinctive combination of Mexican mariachi-style brass with jazz rhythms, which was dubbed Ameriachi. A string of hits including “Mexican Shuffle” (A&M, 1964) and “Tijuana Taxi” (A&M, 1965) followed. In 1966 Alpert had five recordings simultaneously listed on the Billboard Top 20. His cover of “This guy’s in love with you” reached no.1 in ...
Barbara A. Petersen
revised by Don C. Gillespie
(b Philadelphia, Nov 17, 1930). American composer, horn player and conductor. As a youth he played the piano, trumpet and horn, developing a strong interest in jazz as well as classical music. After a year at Oberlin Conservatory (1948), where he studied the horn, he attended George Washington University (BA in history, 1952). He was engaged as a horn player with the National SO, Washington, DC (1951–2), and then played with the Seventh Army SO in Europe; during his three years there he also toured as a soloist, performed with chamber ensembles, and in Paris took part in jazz sessions. He returned to the USA in 1955 and enrolled in the Manhattan School, where he studied with Mitropoulos, Giannini and Schuller; he was also a member of the Manhattan Woodwind Quintet. He was awarded honorary degrees from Moravian College, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania (1979...
(b Budapest, April 12, 1919; d Kingston, ON, February 24, 2012). Canadian composer, conductor and pianist of Hungarian birth. He studied with Kodály at the Budapest Academy (1937–41). As a young man he spent a period with other Jewish youths in a forced-labour contingent of the Hungarian Army; his later war experiences – escape, then concealment by friends during the winter of 1944–5 – are described in the memoirs of the novelist Theresa de Kerpely (Teresa Kay). After a season as assistant conductor at the Budapest Opera (1945–6), he went to Paris for further studies in piano (Soulima Stravinsky), conducting (Fourestier) and composition (Boulanger), remaining there for three years. He moved to Canada in 1949 (taking Canadian nationality in 1955), and for three years held a Lady Davis Fellowship and an appointment as assistant professor at McGill University. There he founded the electronic music studio and served for six years as chair of the department of theoretical music. He held grants for electronic music research from the Canada Council (...
(b Gor′kiy [now Nizhniy Novgorod], July 6, 1937). Russian pianist and conductor, naturalized Icelandic. He was born into a musical Jewish family and entered the Moscow Central School of Music in 1945; his teacher there for the next ten years was Anaida Sumbatyan. His first major recital, devoted entirely to Chopin, was in the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory in April 1955, and later that year he gained second prize at the fifth Warsaw International Chopin Competition. In 1956, now a pupil of Lev Oborin at the Moscow Conservatory, he was awarded first prize at the Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels. While still a student he made his first tour outside the USSR the following year, to East and West Germany. After graduating, it was inescapable that he should be groomed for the second International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow in 1962 (the American Van Cliburn having won the first), and he duly restored national honour by carrying off a shared first prize (with John Ogdon). His London début followed in ...
(b Amsterdam, Oct 8, 1947). Dutch harpsichordist, clavichordist, organist and conductor. After a classical education, he studied the harpsichord with Gustav Leonhardt and the organ with Albert de Klerk at the Amsterdam Conservatory, graduating in 1971. Since his début in Haarlem in 1968, van Asperen has performed as recitalist and occasionally as conductor in Europe, the USA and Australia. His repertory ranges from the keyboard music of the late 16th century to that of the late 18th, with special emphasis on the works of the English virginalists, Frescobaldi, the French clavecinistes, Soler, and J.S. and C.P.E. Bach. From 1968 to 1984 he performed with the ensemble Quadro Hotteterre, with whom he made several recordings. In addition to the principal harpsichord works of J.S. Bach and the organ concertos of Handel, van Asperen has also recorded the complete printed keyboard works of C.P.E. Bach and the complete sonatas of Soler....
(b Akkerman, now Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi, Ukraine, May 6, 1921; d Thessalonikē, Dec 10, 2010). Greek composer, pianist, and conductor, of Greek-Romanian parentage. He entered the Bucharest University to study chemistry (1939) and continued his initial piano studies with Miron Şoarec at the Bucharest music academy and privately with the famous Dinu Lipatti. During WWII (1941–3) he served as member of the Royal Hellenic Air Force in the Libya front. In 1944 he won the first prize in the Eistedfodd Festival in Cairo, both in piano performance and composition. He conducted his first major symphonic work, Œdipe-roi, at the Cairo Opera in 1945. In 1947–8 he studied piano and composition at the Schola Cantorum, Paris, graduating with honours. He toured extensively all over the world either as recitalist or as accompanist for renowned soloists like Jacques Thibaud, Christian Ferras, and Henryk Szeryng. With French violinist Colette Frantz he founded and ran a music school and a chamber orchestra at Martinique (...
(b Monterrey, Nuevo León, Mexico, Dec 8, 1945). Mexican accordionist, singer, and bandleader. Born in Monterrey and raised in Reynosa, Tamaulipas, Ramón Ayala has been the foremost figure in norteño music along the Gulf Coast and Texas border region since the 1970s. He first became famous in the 1960s as the accordionist and coleader of Los Relámpagos del Norte, with the singer-songwriter Cornelio Reyna; then formed his own band, Los Bravos del Norte, in 1971. In Mexico, Ayala is regarded as part of a great generation of border bandleaders, along with Carlos y José and Los Cadetes de Linares. North of the border, though, he has far outstripped his peers, and only California’s Los Tigres del Norte rival his ongoing popularity. Unlike the Tigres, who have consistently pushed norteño in new directions, Ayala is a traditionalist, and his success is due as much to his image as a hard-working, old-fashioned bearer of the classic tradition as to his intricate accordion passages and his keen eye for good material, from gunfighter corridos to romantically mournful ...
Jeannie Gayle Pool
(b Guelph, ON, 23 June 1968). Canadian film and television composer, orchestrator, conductor, pianist, and producer. Barber began composing at the age of ten and was an award winner in Canada’s SOCAN National Competition for Young Composers. She studied music at the University of Western Ontario (BM 1985) and composition at the University of Toronto (MA 1988), where she worked with the composers Gustav Ciamaga and Lothar Klein. She has composed music for various CBC radio dramas, made her film début with her score for Patricia Rozema’s award-winning film When Night is Falling (1995), and has written scores for Miramax, New Line, Focus Features, Nickelodeon, Warner Brothers, and Home Box Office.
Barber has also composed music for the more than 20 theatre productions of Canadian plays, including Unidentified Human Remains and The True Nature of Love (Brad Fraser), Love and Anger (George F. Walker), ...
(b Lisle, IL, Nov 8, 1955). American singer, pianist, composer, and bandleader. Her father played with the Glenn Miller band and her mother was a professional blues singer. After studying psychology and classical piano at the University of Iowa, Barber returned to Chicago and began playing five nights a week at the Gold Star Sardine Bar, where she attracted varying critical attention for her husky voice and the inclusion of pop songs, including “Black Magic Woman” and “A Taste of Honey,” in her repertoire. She recorded her first album, Split (Floyd), in 1989 and her second album, A Distortion of Love (Antilles) in 1991. She subsequently moved to the independent label Premonition, which was bought by Blue Note in 1998. In 2003 Barber became the first songwriter to be awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship. Under its aegis she composed a song cycle based on Ovid’s Metamorphoses. She is the subject of a documentary, ...
(b Buenos Aires, Nov 15, 1942). Israeli pianist and conductor. He was first taught by his parents and made his début as a pianist in Buenos Aires when he was seven. In 1951 the family moved to Europe where he played at the Salzburg Mozarteum, and thence to Israel. Back in Salzburg in 1954, he met Edwin Fischer and Furtwängler, both major influences on his future career. Studies at the Accademia di S Cecilia in Rome and with Boulanger completed his education.
Barenboim made his British début as a soloist in 1955 and his American début two years later, and first conducted, in Israel, in 1962. From 1964 he worked for some years with the English Chamber Orchestra as conductor and pianist, recording with them symphonies by Mozart and Haydn, and a series of Mozart piano concertos. Meanwhile he began an international career as a conductor. He directed the South Bank Summer Festival in London (...
(b Brooklyn, NY, April 29, 1929; d Hackensack, NJ, Feb 17, 2006). American conga player, bandleader, and producer of Puerto Rican descent. He began playing percussion informally during time in Germany as part of the US occupation army (1946–9). Returning to New York City in 1949, he participated in the lively jam-session scene in Harlem, playing bongos in sessions with Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie. In 1957, he replaced Mongo Santamaría in Tito Puente’s band. By 1960, he became the house percussionist for various jazz labels (Blue Note, Prestige, Riverside), recording his first album as leader for Riverside in 1961. The Charanga La Moderna was his first full-fledged Latin dance band, beginning in 1962. In 1963, his song El Watusi became the first Latin tune to enter the Billboard Top 20. By 1990, his salsa career stagnant, he formed a small, jazz-influenced sextet, New World Spirit, recording a number of Grammy-nominated albums....