(b Përmet, Albania, May 2, 1929; d Përmet, Jan 26, 2014). Albanian folk music performer. A clarinettist and vocalist, nicknamed ‘Përmeti’s nightingale’, founder of the instrumental iso-polyphonic group (saze ensemble) in the Southern town of Përmet (1944–2004). At a young age, he showed a special ability to design and make instruments. He was taught to play the lute and the clarinet by the saze masters in the city of Korçë. Then his family returned to Përmet, where he joined the saze of Vangjel Leskoviku (1944). At Përmet, he organized his own saze and participated in the Folk Music Festival in Tirane (1952), where he was awarded the First Prize for the best folk clarinettist. His saze was composed of a clarinet, two lutes, two accordions, a frame drum, and a violin. The saze played instruments and sang at the same time. He is a composer of songs, clarinet ...
Vasil S. Tole
(b Tama, IA, May 13, 1933; d Ames, IA, Aug 16, 2006). Native American (Meskwaki) singer, drummer, and flute player. Kapayou was born on the Meskwaki Indian Settlement in Tama, Iowa, where his mother Lucille, a flute player, taught him sacred and secular repertoires of Meskwaki music. While serving in the Army and working in construction, Kapayou retained his commitment to these traditions. He received a National Heritage Fellowship from the NEA in ...
[Kuczynski, Julius Frank Anthony ]
(b Milwaukee, WI, Feb 18, 1914; d Louisville, KY, March 7, 2000). American country music accordionist, bandleader, songwriter, and vocalist. His musical career was inspired by his father, John, a Polish American who led a local polka band. At 15, he began learning accordion and, in 1930, met popular bandleader Wayne King who suggested the youth take the surname “King” in the interest of simplicity. His first band, the King’s Jesters, played both country music and polkas. In 1934, the group filled in for Gene Autry’s band when Autry, then a star of WLS’s National Barn Dance, toured Wisconsin. King joined Autry (who dubbed him “Pee Wee”) in Louisville until the singer left to launch his Hollywood film career. He briefly led a Louisville band known as the Log Cabin Boys, then in 1937 organized the Golden West Cowboys, who joined the Grand Ole Opry with a distinctive, progressive repertoire blending country, pop, polkas, waltzes, and western swing. From ...
Barry Jean Ancelet
(b Pointe Noire, nr Church Point, LA, Oct 28, 1928; d nr Eunice, LA, Oct 8, 1955). American accordionist, vocalist, and songwriter. He was one of the most influential musicians in Cajun music. Born into a musical family, which also included Angelas, Rodney, Vinesse, Eddie, Homer, and Felton Lejeune, Iry was nearly blind and thus hard to employ. Music allowed him to support his family, with whom he lived in his adopted hometown of Lacassine. He was a prolific songwriter, adapting many songs from the earlier repertoire of Amédé Ardoin. In his teens when World War II ended, he led the return of the diatonic accordion in Cajun music, which had dropped the instrument and the French language in favor of western swing and country music, and the English language, which attended the Americanization of the 1930s. In 1948, he went with Virgil Bozman’s Oklahoma Tornadoes to Houston to record “Love Bridge Waltz” and “Evangeline Special” for Opera Records, in French and in a style that harked back to the traditional sounds of earlier in the century. The record was surprisingly popular, especially among Cajuns who were increasingly concerned about drifting away from their cultural and linguistic heritage. He recorded all of his subsequent records with Eddie Shuler of Goldband Records of Lake Charles, Louisiana. He became a mainstay on the Cajun dance circuit, and though he recorded only a couple of dozen more sides before he died in an automobile accident, they are virtually all still being played by contemporary Cajun and Creole musicians. He was a poetic lyricist, a soulful vocalist, and a virtuoso accordionist, easily among the most imitated in Cajun music....
(b Frederiksted, St. Croix, Virgin Islands, Aug 17, 1934). Crucian guitarist, saxophonist, band leader, and singer. He was the son of Ivan McIntosh, a saxophonist active during the early 20th century, and Ethel McIntosh, a singer. He learned music from them as a youth and soon joined a “scratch band,” a local ensemble feature cane flute, gourd rasp, guitar, drum, and bass. By the age of 15, he had joined his father’s group as a guitarist, learning an older repertoire and touring widely throughout the island. During this same period, McIntosh learned traditional songs from his mother, who also encouraged him to study with local storytellers and folk performers. He also joined a carnival-oriented ensemble titled the Wild Indians. By 1955 he created his own “scratch band” called the Pond Bush Hot Shots. In the 1960s he was invited to become the lead alto sax player for the Joe Parris Hot Shots, the country’s leading quadrille group, with whom he recorded into the 1970s. Although he was an active musician during his life, McIntosh labored primarily for the Department of Public Works in St. Croix, as reflected in the name of his next band, Blinky and the Roadmasters (formed in ...
[Melvin James ]
(b Battle Creek, MI, Dec 17, 1910; d New York, NY, May 28, 1988). American arranger, composer, producer, bandleader, trumpeter, and singer. Growing up as an African American musician in Zanesville, Ohio, Oliver was self taught as a trumpeter and arranger. After playing in territory bands in and around Zanesville and Columbus, he became a member of Jimmie Lunceford’s orchestra in 1933. His charts for the Lunceford band were distinguished by contrasts, crescendos, and unexpected melodic variations, thereby setting new standards in big band swing and close-harmony singing. His use of two-beat rhythms also set his arrangements apart.
In 1939 Oliver was hired by the trombonist Tommy Dorsey and turned his band into one of the hardest swinging and most sophisticated ensembles of the early 1940s. In 1946 he started his own big band. During the late 1940s and 1950s he mainly did studio work, as a music director for the labels Decca, Bethlehem, and Jubilee. He continued to lead big bands and smaller ensembles, recycling his old Lunceford and Dorsey successes and performing new arrangements. Along with Duke Ellington and Fletcher Henderson, Oliver must be rated one of the top arrangers of the swing era and infused almost every chart with vigor and surprise....
[Oran Thaddeus ]
(b Dallas, TX, Jan 27, 1908; d New York, NY, Nov 5, 1954). American jazz trumpeter and singer. He worked as a professional musician in his home state of Texas during the 1920s and later maintained that he learned to play authentic blues by listening to the local performers there. He played with Walter Page’s Blue Devils (1928–30) then with Bennie Moten’s band (1931–3 and 1934). In 1936 he worked briefly with Count Basie’s band as a principal soloist, but left to become a solo artist at the behest of Louis Armstrong’s manager Joe Glaser, a move generally regarded as having crippled a potentially illustrious career. Page gained much publicity during a brief stay with Artie Shaw’s band (1941–2). He also made many fine recordings under his own name (1938–54), often leading bands with some of the finest swing musicians, including Earl Bostic, Don Byas, J.C. Higginbotham, and Ben Webster, among his sidemen. His purposeful, exciting trumpet playing and deeply felt blues singing were probably too rugged to gain widespread favor. Throughout his career he thrived on the atmosphere of impromptu jam sessions, in which his searing tone, dramatic phrasing, and improvised blues lyrics were a source of considerable inspiration to fellow musicians....
[Pestritto, Antonio ]
(b Middletown, CT, Oct 26, 1907; d Old Lyme, CT, Oct 31, 1969). American bandleader, singer, and saxophonist. He began playing as a sideman in the orchestras of John Cavallaro, Irving Aaronson, and Vincent Lopez, before joining Artie Shaw’s band (1936), in which he was a tenor saxophone soloist and singer; “Indian Love Call” (1938, B♭) offers a good example of his throaty, somewhat gruff vocal style. After Shaw dissolved the band Pastor formed his own in 1940, taking some of Shaw’s players with him. Many of the group’s arrangements were written by the guitarist Al Avola, although Budd Johnson, Walter Fuller, and Ralph Flanagan also made contributions. Pastor’s singing was greatly influenced, he acknowledged, by Louis Armstrong and was always an important part of his shows. In the late 1940s Pastor also performed with Betty and Rosemary Clooney. He broke up his big band in ...
[James Gilbert ]
(b Salem, OR, June 18, 1941; d Portland, OR, Feb 10, 1992). American tenor and soprano saxophonist, singer, bandleader, and composer. Of Native American (Creek and Kaw) heritage, he was raised in Oregon and Oklahoma. Early musical influences included tap dance, big band jazz, Southern Plains powwow music and dance, and peyote music. Pepper moved to New York in 1964 and joined the Free Spirits (1966), an early fusion jazz ensemble featuring Larry Coryell and Bob Moses. After forming the group Everything is Everything (1967) with former members of Free Spirits Chris Hills and Columbus Baker, Pepper recorded “Witchi Tai To,” a composition fusing a peyote song with jazz, rock, and country influences. Released on Everything is Everything featuring Chris Hills (Vanguard Apostolic, 1969), “Witchi Tai To” peaked at number 69 on the Billboard pop charts. By 2011 it had been covered by at least 90 artists ranging from Brewer & Shipley, Jan Garbarek, and Oregon to the Paul Winter Consort and Joy Harjo. Pepper released four albums as a leader: ...
[Elvira; Meeks, Elvira; Goldberg, Elvira; Avelino, Elvira]
(b Los Angeles, CA, Sept 20, 1928). American jazz alto and soprano saxophonist, singer, and bandleader. Her father Alton Redd was a jazz drummer from New Orleans. Redd started to sing in church at about age 5 and played alto saxophone at about 12, studying with her great-aunt Alma Hightower, a noted music educator in Los Angeles. In about 1948 she formed a band with her first husband, trumpeter Nathaniel Meeks, and began performing professionally as a saxophonist and singer. She had her first son when she was in her late 20s and her second son a few years later. Between 1957 and 1961 she performed less often and taught at public schools. During the 1960s she performed at the renowned club Ronnie Scott’s for ten weeks and toured with Earl Hines and Count Basie. Leonard Feather produced her two albums, Bird Call (1962) and Lady Soul...
(b Marion, TX, May 29, 1936). American accordionist, singer, and songwriter. Texas-Mexican musician Domingo “Mingo” Saldívar is from a musical family and learned traditional ballads and folk songs from his mother. By age 11 he played guitar and accordion. In the 1950s and 60s he played in Los Guadalupanos and Los Caminantes during which time he wrote his first hit song, “Andan diciendo” (“People are talking”). He spent some years in the military and in Alaska where he worked for relatives who owned a restaurant, often playing and singing for customers. In 1975 he formed Los Tremendos Cuatro Espadas (“the four tremendous swordsmen”) and settled in San Antonio, Texas. Saldívar, a fan of the blues and country music, is known for his bilingual interpretation of the Johnny Cash classic “Ring of Fire” (“Rueda de fuego”), which appeared on his popular 1992 Rounder Records recording I love my freedom, I love my Texas...
(b Pembroke, GA, Dec 24, 1908; d New York, NY, Jan 16, 1991). American jazz trumpeter, valve trombonist, and singer. Sent by his mother to the Jenkins Orphanage in Charleston South Carolina at age six, he learned to play trombone at ten and made fund-raising tours with one of the orphanage’s brass bands. Around 1925 he was given nine dollars and sent home to his mother, but went to his sister in Philadelphia and on to Atlantic City, where bandleader Charlie Johnson hired him and eventually brought him to New York’s Small’s Paradise. He replaced Bubber Miley on a 1927 Duke Ellington recording session, declined an invitation to stay in the orchestra, and accepted a job with James P. Johnson’s and Fats Waller’s Broadway show Keep Shufflin’. When the show disbanded in Chicago at the end of 1928, Smith remained and found ample work. An imaginative trumpeter with a fiery style, he was often likened to Louis Armstrong, which prompted producer Mayo Williams to have him form a quintet that could be the Brunswick label’s answer to Armstrong’s popular Hot Five recordings. The Rhythm Aces recorded 20 selections and sales were disappointing, but these performances would, with time, establish his importance to the evolution of jazz trumpet style. Roy Eldridge, who cited Smith as a vital influence, would later serve as an inspiration to Dizzy Gillespie....
John L. Clark Jr.
(b Chattanooga, TN, 2 June ?1900; d New York, NY, May 30, 1956). American singer, trumpeter, and dancer. Daughter of a mixed-race couple who were both entertainers and musicians, she learned several instruments before deciding to concentrate on trumpet. By the 1920s she was touring the T.O.B.A. circuit with various revues, and in 1926 she visited Shanghai. In 1935, her performance in Blackbirds of 1934 brought her to England, where she began making records that showed her chief instrumental and vocal influence to be Louis Armstrong. After a brief return in 1936 to the United States, where she performed with Earl Hines in Chicago and made films in Hollywood, Snow moved to Europe, where she made more films and recordings. She was incarcerated in a Nazi concentration camp in Denmark in 1940 and was badly injured before being exchanged in 1943. After a recuperation period she continued touring and recording until her death during a comeback appearance at the Palace Theatre. Snow stands out from other women performers of her time in that she was known as much as an instrumentalist as a singer. Her extensive touring probably cost her the name recognition that professional stability might have brought, but her recordings show her to have been a fine, swing-influenced trumpeter and vocalist....
Member of Strauss family
(b Vienna, March 24, 1910; d Vienna, April 6, 1969). Conductor; grandson of (4) Eduard (i) and nephew of (5) Johann (iii). He learnt the piano, horn and singing, privately and at the Vienna Music Academy. He was an accompanist at the Auer-Weissgerber private singing school in Vienna, then in 1939 enlisted for military service. From 1946 to 1956 he worked as a teacher and répétiteur in Alfred Jerger’s opera class at the Vienna Conservatory, where he met his future wife, the Polish-born soprano Elisabeth Pontes (b 1919). He made his public conducting début in Vienna in 1949, although, not being a violinist, he conducted with a baton. His good looks, self-effacing manner and the elegance he brought to his interpretations of music by the Strauss family and composers such as Mozart and Schubert won him great popularity. International tours took him to Manila, Seoul, Moscow, Cairo, Paris, London, Athens, Gothenburg and Warsaw. Of greatest significance were the six tours of Japan he made between 1956 and 1967 with the Tokyo SO, which helped spread the popularity of western classical and light-classical music in that country. In 1966 he became founder-conductor of the Vienna Johann Strauss Orchestra, with which he made a highly successful tour of Canada and the USA. His final public engagement was on ...
Barry Jean Ancelet
(b Crowley, LA, Oct 2, 1958). Cajun accordionist, vocalist, and songwriter. He is arguably the most influential Cajun musician of the current generation. He was one of the new generation of young musicians that emerged in the 1970s, just when many were predicting that Cajun music would die out. He honed his vocal and accordion skills by sitting in with bands at house dances and dance halls. He began recording as a backup musician for established musicians such as Camey Doucet and eventually formed his own group to perform and record his first album for Sonet Records. He continued to experiment with styles and instrumentation, leading to the development of what he called zydecajun: a fusion of Cajun music and zydeco, influenced by Southern rock and country as well as old masters within the tradition, especially Iry Lejeune, Aldus Roger, Belton Richard, and Lawrence Walker. He recorded a number of albums for J.D. Miller’s Master Trak studios in Crowley and eventually for Mercury and Polygram, featuring songs with English as well as French lyrics, such as “Mon ami,” “Soigne mes enfants,” “Take my hand,” and a locally popular cover of “Tupelo Honey.” He has taken his zydecajun music on tour throughout the United States and on a few State Department–sponsored USIA tours abroad. His modernization of Cajun music and zydeco has been especially popular among younger generations, influencing not only a new generation of young musicians but also a new generation of young fans. He has been featured in several documentaries, including Les Blank and Chris Strachwitz’s ...
Matthew Harp Allen
(b Madras [now Chennai], India, Aug 13, 1927; d Hartford, CT, Sept 10, 2002). flutist, vocalist, and ethnomusicologist of Indian birth. Born into a family of musicians and dancers, he received his musical training from his mother T. Jayammal and from flutist T.N. Swaminatha Pillai, an MA in economics from Annamalai University (1951), and a PhD in ethnomusicology from Wesleyan University (1975).
He first came to the United States as a Fulbright scholar at UCLA (1958–60), was reader and head of the department of Indian music at the University of Madras (1961–6), and returned to the United States, where he studied ethnomusicology at Wesleyan University (1967–1970), taught at the California Institute of the Arts (1970–5), and then worked in the faculty of Wesleyan University (1975–2002).
He was honored in India with the Kalaimamani Award by the government of Tamil Nadu (...
(b Boskovice, 19 Jan 1984).Czech composer and performer (voice, accordion, and tap dance). She studied the accordion (2004–10) and composition (2007–8) at the Brno Conservatory, and composition at the Janáček Academy of Music and Performing Arts (with martin smolka and Peter Graham). She also studied as an exchange student at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague, the California Institute of the Arts (with michael pisaro), the Universität der Künste Berlin (with Marc Sabat), and Columbia University (with george e. lewis).
While she often works with elements outside of music, there is almost always an intense engagement with direct listening, often arrived at through intense focus on very limited material. Sources for her work include Morse code, maps of garments which she turns into scores (Shirt for Harp, Oboe, and Accordion; Jacket for Ensemble), field recordings which she notates descriptively and then asks musicians to interpret the notation (...