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Article

Harald Kisiedu

[Abrams, Richard Louis]

(b Chicago, IL, Sept 19, 1930; d New York, Oct 29, 2017). American pianist, composer, and administrator. After receiving private piano lessons, he studied at the Chicago Musical College and taught himself the system of composition devised by Joseph Schillinger. He began to work professionally in 1948 and performed regularly at the Cotton Club in Chicago during the 1950s, accompanying visiting musicians such as Dexter Gordon, Sonny Stitt, and Max Roach. After composing and arranging for the Walter “King” Fleming band in the mid-1950s, Abrams joined the hard bop ensemble MJT+3 and made his recording debut on the group’s album DADDY-O PRESENTS MJT+3 (1957, VJ 1013). Beginning in 1961 Abrams led the Experimental Band, a composer-centered rehearsal ensemble whose members included the double bass player Donald Rafael Garrett, Jack DeJohnette, Roscoe Mitchell, and the reed player Joseph Jarman. He subsequently co-founded the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians...

Article

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 ...

Article

Randolph Love

(b Edgard, LA, Dec 24, 1920; d New Orleans, June 23, 2019). American trumpeter, arranger, producer, songwriter, bandleader, and singer. He started his career as a trumpeter playing with established bands led by, among others, Papa Celestin, Joe Robichaux, and Claiborne Williams before joining Fats Pichon’s ensemble, considered one of the top groups in New Orleans, in 1939. During World War II he played in the 196th AGF (Army Ground Forces) Band, where he met Abraham Malone, who taught him how to write and arrange. After the war, he formed his own band in New Orleans, which made its début at the Dew Drop Inn and later performed at Sam Simoneaux’s club Graystone where many of the city’s top instrumental players, including the drummer Earl Palmer and the saxophonists Lee Allen and Red Tyler, were showcased.

Bartholomew is best known for his talents as an arranger and songwriter. In the 1950s and 60s he worked with many of the biggest stars of the day, including Smiley Lewis, Lloyd Price, Shirley and Lee, and Joe Turner. By the 1970s he had associations with some of rock and roll’s most established talents, including Paul McCartney, Elton John, and the Rolling Stones. His most productive association was with Fats Domino, whom he met through Lew Chudd, the owner of Imperial Records, where he worked as a house arranger, an A&R man, and an in-house bandleader. From ...

Article

John Bass

[Joseph Arnold]

(b Philadelphia, PA, July 29, 1945; d Woodbury, CT, July 22, 2008). American guitarist, composer, and producer. After graduating from high school, he moved to New York and played with a jazz trio in the club Chuck’s Compository. He also worked as a studio musician and jingle writer, which eventually led to collaborations with Gil Evans. Beck was among the first jazz guitarists to incorporate rock guitar techniques, including the use of a distorted tone, into his playing. He was also a key figure in the fusion movement of the 1970s, along with the Brecker Brothers and David Sanborn. In 1967 he participated in recording sessions with Miles Davis’s second quintet (alongside Ron Carter, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, and Tony Williams). Although the music from this session was not immediately released, it influenced Davis’s later fusion of jazz and rock on such albums as Bitches Brew. From the 1970s through the 2000s, Beck recorded and performed with many notable jazz musicians, including Woody Herman, Larry Coryell, Kai Winding, Don Grolnick, Sanborn, Atilla Zoeller, Red Mitchell, and John Abercrombie. He also invented and performed on an instrument he called the alto guitar. Beck remained an in-demand session guitarist throughout his life, performing on albums by popular musicians including James Brown and Paul Simon. He also founded and ran the company Code Works, which specialized in creating jingles and songs for television and radio commercials....

Article

Jeffrey Holmes

(Bryan)

(b Bakersfield, CA, Aug 18, 1953). American jazz pianist, composer, arranger, and producer. He studied piano and theory at El Camino College (1972), arranging and orchestration at Valley College (1973), and film scoring at UCLA (1981). His teachers included Abraham Fraser (piano), Donald Neligan, Heichiro Ohyama, Donald Ray, and Jan Robertson. In 1976 he became music director and conductor for the singer Lainie Kazan, followed by similar work for the singers Ann Margaret and Connie Stevens. From 1977 he has recorded his own smooth jazz albums; those from the 1980s, including This Side Up and Every Step of the Way (one of his many Grammy nominated recordings), helped to define the genre. He has been involved in a wide range of projects, including working for ten years as a composer for “Peanuts” TV specials, with the GRP All-Star Big Band, and with such musicians as Kenny Loggins, Patti Austin, Kenny Rankin, and Faith Hill. He is also a film score composer and conductor; in the latter role he has worked with the Asia America Symphony Orchestra, which gave the first performance of his piano concerto ...

Article

Ryan Bruce

(b Montreal, Canada, Nov 10, 1932; d Montreal, Jan 3, 2016). Canadian jazz pianist, composer, record producer, and bandleader. He was established by the age of 17, when Oscar Peterson recommended him as his replacement for the last year of an engagement at the Alberta Lounge in Montreal. After moving to New York to attend the Juilliard School (1950–54), he became part of the traditional and modern music scenes and recorded his first album as leader, with Charles Mingus and Art Blakey among his sidemen (Introducing Paul Bley, 1953, Debut). He also played with other notable musicians such as Ben Webster, Lester Young, Roy Eldridge, and Charlie Parker during the 1950s. In 1957 he moved to Los Angeles where he performed at the Hillcrest Club. His quintet, which included Charlie Haden, Billy Higgins, Don Cherry, and Ornette Coleman, became Coleman’s quartet when Bley left for New York in ...

Article

Stephanie Conn

(b Glen Ridge, NJ, Dec 11, 1963). American producer, composer, songwriter, drummer, guitarist, pianist, bass player, keyboard player, and vibraphonist. Born into a musical family he left high school early to play music. He performed in Boston in the late 1980s and then moved to Los Angeles, where he worked as a sideman, songwriter and producer with various musicians he knew from Boston including the singer-songwriter Aimee Mann. He became known as an indispensable studio session musician and producer.

Although Brion is a prolific songwriter, he is perhaps best known for his varied projects as a producer and composer, which have spanned pop, rock, jazz, hip hop, and bluegrass. Among the artists that he has produced are Fiona Apple, Beck, Dido, Brad Mehldau, of Montreal, Elliott Smith, Rufus Wainwright, and Kanye West. Brion often plays and co-writes for his productions. He has also written scores for films, including ...

Article

S. Timothy Maloney

(Walter )

(b Victoria, Canada, Nov 1, 1949). Canadian record producer, songwriter, arranger, and pianist. After playing keyboards with Chuck Berry and Ronnie Hawkins in his teens, he went to Los Angeles, where he became a studio musician recording in the mid-1970s with Michael Jackson, John Lennon, and other major artists. By the early 1980s, Foster had become a leading record producer, collaborating with musicians ranging from Bryan Adams, Mariah Carey, Chicago, and Alice Cooper to Barbra Streisand, Neil Diamond, and Andrea Bocelli. Three of his biggest commercial and critical successes were Natalie Cole’s recording of “Unforgettable,” Céline Dion’s “Because You Loved Me,” and Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You.” In 1997 he launched his own label, 143 Records, for which he produced highly acclaimed debut albums by Michael Bublé, The Corrs, and Josh Groban.

Foster has written songs for Bocelli, Dion, Streisand, Nicole Kidman, and fellow Canadians Gordon Lightfoot and Anne Murray, among others, and his film soundtrack credits include ...

Article

Dan Blim

(b Littleton, CO, June 24, 1934). American Composer, pianist, arranger, and record producer. The son of classical musicians, he took up piano at an early age and later earned a degree in classical piano performance from the University of Colorado. But he became increasingly drawn toward jazz. After college he took a job as accompanist to Andy Williams, and later assumed the duties of arranging and directing for The Andy Williams Show. In the 1960s he recorded with several jazz groups, and worked as an arranger for such artists as Peggy Lee and Sergio Mendes. His performance in Quincy Jones’s score for The Slender Thread brought him to Hollywood, and introduced him to director Sydney Pollack, with whom he would collaborate on nine films. He began composing for television and in 1967 moved to film, contributing music for The Graduate and penning his first score for the film ...

Article

Michael Fitzgerald

(b Prague, Czechoslovakia, April 17, 1948). American jazz keyboard player, composer, producer, drummer, and bandleader of Czech birth. His mother, Vlasta Pruchova, was a jazz singer in Prague and his father played bass and vibraphone. He attended the Academy of Musical Arts in Prague and formed the Junior Trio with the bass player Miroslav Vitous and the drummer Alan Vitous, which lasted from 1962 to 1966. After the invasion of Czechoslovakia by the USSR in 1968, he moved to the USA to accept a scholarship to study at the Berklee College of Music. However, he abandoned his studies after a year and a half to work with Sarah Vaughan.

As a member of John McLaughlin’s group the Mahavishnu Orchestra (1971–3), Hammer played electric and acoustic pianos and began using the Minimoog synthesizer (on the album Birds of Fire), quickly becoming a major influence on other keyboard players. Hammer is often cited as having developed a synthesizer style that mimics that of an electric guitar, but he instead credits the influence of Indian and Eastern European music. Several albums on which Hammer performed with Elvin Jones during the early 1970s helped to introduce the synthesizer to more mainstream jazz. ...

Article

Stuart Isacoff

[Robert ]

(b Marshall, MO, Dec 25, 1939). American pianist, keyboard player, arranger, composer, and record producer. After studying composition at the University of Michigan (MA 1962) he was discovered by Quincy Jones at the Notre Dame Collegiate Jazz Festival in 1963. That year he recorded his first solo album, Bold Conceptions, for Mercury Records. He began performing as a freelance musician with such artists as Jones, Morgana King, Roberta Flack, and Dionne Warwick, but credits the producer Creed Taylor for the launch of his career in 1973, when he became an arranger for Taylor’s label Creed Taylor Incorporated (CRI). The following year he joined CBS and worked with the singers Neil Diamond and Paul Simon. In 1977 he formed his own record company, Tappan Zee, and used it to promote the music of several musicians, including Richard Tee and Mongo Santamaria.

James became associated with the smooth-jazz sound, and his first big instrumental hit in that vein, “Angela,” was used as the theme song for the television series “Taxi,” for which James became resident composer. The first of his three albums with the guitarist Earl Klugh, ...

Article

Jonas Westover

[Quiñonez, Enrique Arsenio Lucca ]

(b Ponce, PR, April 10, 1946). Puerto Rican salsa pianist, instrumentalist, producer, and arranger. The son of a prominent Puerto Rican bandleader, he studied at Ponce’s Free School of Music. He also took lessons from pianist Ramon Fernandez and had begun his performing career by the age of 11. He subsequently worked with his father’s group, La Sonora Ponçena, and eventually inherited the band as his own. During the 1950s he played alongside such musical luminaries as Machito and Obdulio Morales Ríos and appeared regularly on television, especially on Ruth Fernández’s variety show. After graduating from the University of Puerto Rico, Lucca gained greater prominence through his affiliation with La Sonora Ponçena and his work with other artists. In 1976 he served as performer and producer of La Sonora Ponçena’s Conquista Musical (Fania). He also became the pianist for the Fania All-Stars. One of his notable achievements came with the album ...

Article

Jonas Westover

[Pincus, Barry Alan ]

(b Brooklyn, NY, June 17, 1943). American Singer, composer, pianist, and producer. Manilow’s professional career began while he was a student at the Juilliard School. His first major assignment came in 1964, when he composed the score to a musical adaptation of The Drunkard. He was also a successful composer of advertising jingles, winning two Clio awards in 1976. By the late 1960s Manilow became the music director and conductor for numerous television programs while simultaneously performing a nightclub act in New York. Finding success as a performer and songwriter, he collaborated at this time with Bette Midler and also produced her first two albums. In the early 1970s Manilow started his own record company, Bell Records, which released his first album, Barry Manilow (Bell, 1973). His first successful single, “Mandy,” from Barry Manilow II (Bell, 1974) was followed by “I Write the Songs” (1975...

Article

E. Ron Horton

(b Brooklyn, NY, June 14, 1959). American electric bass player, clarinetist, bass clarinetist, producer, and composer. He began his music career at the High School of Music and Art, a magnet school in the New York area, where he studied orchestral clarinet as his main instrument. He continued his study of clarinet at Queens College. At the same time he pursued an alternate education performing on electric bass guitar in New York with jazz and popular music ensembles. Miller’s career gained momentum in the late 1970s when he began to record with such artists as Chaka Khan, the Brecker Brothers, David Sanborn, Grover Washington Jr., and Elton John. The turning point in his early career was his work on Miles Davis’s comeback album, Man with a Horn. Miller collaborated extensively with Davis, notably on Davis’ Grammy Award-winning album Tutu, for which he wrote all but two of the songs and served as the producer. Through multi-tracking, he is heard simultaneously on synthesizer, drums, guitar, and soprano saxophone, as well as bass on most of the work. In ...

Article

Roben Jones

[Lincoln Wayne]

(b LaGrange, GA, June 12, 1936; d LaGrange, June 13, 2016). American guitarist, songwriter, producer, and entrepreneur. At age 14 he arrived in Memphis and soon worked with Johnny and Dorsey Burnette. His song “This Time” became a hit for Troy Shondell (1961, Liberty). He then worked for Stax Records, overseeing their first three hits. Ousted in 1962, he founded American Studios and assembled a house band, the Memphis Boys. With Dan Penn, he wrote “Dark End of the Street” for James Carr (1966, Goldwax) and “Do Right Woman” for Aretha Franklin (1967, Atl.). He produced works by Elvis Presley, the Gentrys, Dionne Warwick, B.J. Thomas, and many others. In 1972 he moved to Atlanta and then Nashville, where he became prominent in the Outlaw movement, producing Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson and cowriting “Lukenbach, Texas (Back to the Basics of Love)” (1977, RCA) with Bobby Emmons. In ...

Article

David F. Garcia

[Perico]

(b Santurce, Puerto Rico, Dec 26, 1949). Puerto Rican trumpet player, arranger, producer, and record company executive. Ortiz began his career as a trumpet player in San Juan playing for dance bands while also arranging for television shows. He moved to New York in 1972, where he was involved with the salsa scene as a producer, arranger, and studio musician. One of Ortiz’s earliest arrangements for Fania Records was the bolero “Sálvame,” recorded in 1973 on the album Así se compone un son by Ismael Miranda. Ortiz arranged for many other Fania artists throughout the 1970s, including Johnny Pacheco, Celia Cruz, and Héctor Lavoe. He was also a member of the Fania All-Stars, participating in the historic Fania All-Stars Live at Yankee Stadium (1973). In 1979 Latin NY magazine recognized Ortiz as the best arranger, best trumpet player, best orchestra leader, and musician of the year. He also arranged and recorded with many Puerto Rican salsa bands, including Tommy Olivencia’s. Ortiz continues to perform, record, arrange, and teach. Most recently, he established his own record company. Besides his virtuosity and much-admired tone on the trumpet, he is hugely respected for his abilities to arrange in a wide variety of styles from traditional Afro-Caribbean to experimental and jazz....

Article

Olivia Carter Mather

[Alvis Edgar ]

(b Sherman, TX, Aug 12, 1929; d Bakersfield, CA, March 25, 2006). American country musician and businessman. He is widely considered the central figure of the Bakersfield sound, and his dominance of the country charts in the 1960s challenged Nashville’s hegemony and bolstered the West Coast country scene in Bakersfield and Los Angeles. During the 1950s he worked as a guitarist and session player for several Bakersfield artists before signing with Capitol Records in 1957. In 1963 he began a streak of 14 consecutive number-one country hits with “Act Naturally,” which was later covered by the Beatles. Other hits included “Together Again” (1964), “I’ve got a tiger by the tail” (1965), and a cover of “Johnny B. Goode” (1969).

Owens’s songs eschewed themes of hard living and rambling for a portrayal of the male subject as a lonely victim of romance. With his backing band, the Buckaroos, he developed a bright, driving sound which he described as a freight train feel: heavy bass and drums accompanying two Fender Telecaster electric guitars played by Owens and the guitarist Don Rich. The twangy Telecaster sound and high, close harmony of Owens and Rich characterized many of his recordings. The Buckaroos both toured and recorded with Owens, a contrast to country norms. Owens thus established an alternative to the popular “countrypolitan” sound produced in Nashville (he also never joined the “Grand Ole Opry”); in doing so he inspired such country-rock musicians as Gram Parsons and the Flying Burrito Brothers. He also marketed himself as a hard-country artist free of pop influence; in ...

Article

Miles White

[Edward Theodore ]

(b New York, NY, Oct 8, 1967). American Composer, producer, and pianist. He was largely responsible for creating the popular dance music known as New Jack Swing and is among the most prolific of the young influential African American songwriter-producers who helped define black popular music in the post-disco era. A precocious multi-instrumentalist, Riley played organ in the Baptist church and piano in Harlem nightclubs. He landed his first recording contract while still in high school, releasing an album as a member of Kids at Work in 1984. The next year he produced two singles for Doug E. Fresh and The Get Fresh Crew, “The Show” and “La Di Da Di,” which became hip-hop classics. After finishing high school, Riley also took courses in composition at Columbia University and in electronic music at the Manhattan School of Music.

Riley’s collaborations with R&B singer Keith Sweat on “I want her” (...

Article

Mike Alleyne

(b New York, NY, Sept 19, 1952). American producer, composer, and guitarist. At the helm of the band Chic , Rodgers and his bass-playing production partner Bernard Edwards (1952–96) epitomized the very best of the disco era while transcending the genre with one of popular music’s most dynamic and cohesive rhythm sections. Individually with highly distinctive guitar licks, Rodgers also successfully transitioned into the 1980s, producing platinum pop records for David Bowie, Madonna, Duran Duran, and many other major acts. This effectively made him one of that decade’s most highly regarded and commercially bankable industry figures.

Rodgers and Edwards met in 1970, becoming members of the Big Apple Band that backed R&B vocal group New York City in 1973, and eventually formed Chic in 1977, releasing an eponymous debut album that year on Atlantic Records that included the Top Ten hit and gold record “Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah).” The follow-up album ...

Article

Jonas Westover

[Bridges, Claude Russell]

(b Lawton, OK, April 2, 1942; d Nashville, Nov 10, 2016). American singer, songwriter, keyboard player, and producer. He is well respected for his solo work—a mix of rock, folk, and country music—but his work as a session musician also brought significant recognition. He began playing piano at the age of four and was playing in clubs in Tulsa as a high school student. His band, the Starlighters, managed to score a spot as the opening act for Jerry Lee Lewis in 1959. Russell moved to Los Angeles the same year and quickly established himself as a session musician, notably with the Wrecking Crew the group of musicians Phil Spector used to accompany his artists. With the Wrecking Crew, the accompanied artists such as the Byrds, Herb Alpert, and Gary Lewis and the Playboys. The keyboard player on hundreds of recordings, he opened his own recording studio in ...