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Article

Mark Tucker

[Stephen Valentine Patrick William]

(b New York, NY, Dec 16, 1921; d Encino, CA, Oct 30, 2000). American composer, radio and television personality, pianist, singer, and comedian. The son of Belle Montrose and Billy Allen, both of whom worked in vaudeville, he moved from place to place as a child, attending many schools for short periods of time. He played piano from an early age, although his musical training was mainly informal. He began a professional career in Los Angeles as a disc jockey on radio during the 1940s, then turned to television in the 1950s; he established himself as a comedian, and often played the piano during his shows, improvising jazz and singing his own songs. Among the musicians who appeared with him regularly was the vibraphonist Terry Gibbs. Allen’s most popular television program was “The Tonight Show,” which he began broadcasting locally in New York in 1953, subsequently leading it to nationwide success the following year. Allen performed the title role in the film ...

Article

Dan Sharp

(b Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Feb 9, 1978). American Brazilian composer, arranger, pianist, and vocalist. Clarice Assad is a member of one of Brazil’s most acclaimed musical families. Daughter of guitarist and composer Sergio Assad, and niece of Odair and Badi Assad, she began performing with her family when she was seven years old. Assad skillfully traverses the worlds of jazz and classical music in her performances and compositions. As a composer and arranger, she has written commissioned works and arrangements for violin, symphony orchestra, string quartets, and guitar quartets. She has also written original compositions for the ballet Step to Grace by Lou Fancher and the play The Anatomy Lesson by Carlus Mathus. Some of her notable compositions include Pole to Pole, O Curupira, Bluezilian, and Ratchenitsa. As a pianist, she performs her own compositions and also arranges popular Brazilian songs and jazz standards. As a vocalist, Assad sings in Portuguese, French, Italian, and English, and is known for her precise intonation, even when performing improvised scatting....

Article

Javier F. León

(Esther)

(b Chorrillos, Lima, Peru, May 24, 1944). Peruvian singer, composer, and music researcher. Although brought up in a family with close connections to criollo and Afro-Peruvian musical traditions, from early in her career Baca was attracted to vanguardist poetry. Since then she has explored various ways of setting poems to music, drawing from Afro-Peruvian traditions and also from nueva canción, jazz, and world music. She and her husband, Ricardo Pereira, are also known for their efforts in researching and promoting Afro-Peruvian musical traditions. Until recently, the experimental character of her music was not favored by Peruvian audiences so she mainly pursued a performing career abroad. In 1995 her inclusion in the David Byrne compilation The Soul of Black Peru launched Baca into the international spotlight. While outside of Peru her sound has become synonymous with that of Afro-Peruvian music, it is only since Baca won a Latin Grammy in ...

Article

Michael J. Budds

(b Kansas City, MO, May 12, 1928). American composer and pianist. He learnt the cello, drums and piano from an early age and developed a particular interest in jazz. He played as a night club pianist, and then served in the army, touring as a pianist (1950–52). He went on to study music at the Mannes College of Music, New York, the New School of Social Research, McGill University, Montreal and gained a scholarship to the Music Academy of the West, Santa Barbara, California. His composition teachers included Milhaud, Martinů and Cowell. Bacharach became an accompanist for Vic Damone, subsequently working with such performers as Polly Bergen, Steve Lawrence, the Ames Brothers and Paula Stewart, to whom he was married from 1953 to 1958. From 1958 to 1961 he toured internationally with Marlene Dietrich. Bacharach began writing arrangements and composing songs in the mid-1950s, working at the Brill Building and collaborating with the lyricist Hal David (...

Article

Chadwick Jenkins

(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, ...

Article

Randolph Love

(b Edgard, LA, Dec 24, 1920). 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 debut 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

Patrick O’Connor

[Silly, François]

(b Toulon, Oct 24, 1927; d Toulon, December 18, 2001). French composer and singer. He studied at the Nice and Toulon conservatories and during World War II was active in the Résistance (Maquis) in Savoie. He began composing songs in 1948, which were taken up by popular singers including Marie Bizet and Edith Piaf, who sang his Je t’ai dans la peau. The poet Louis Amade encouraged him and became one of Bécaud’s regular lyricists, with Pierre Delanoë and Maurice Vidalin. Bécaud performed at the re-opening of the Olympia music hall in Paris (1954) to immediate success, becoming known as ‘Monsieur 100,000 Volts’. His songs were performed around the world in translations: Et maintenant, for example, was recorded by Frank Sinatra as What now, my love?. He attempted large-scale works, such as the cantata L’enfant à l’étoile (1961) with words by Amade. His opera ...

Article

Bruce Johnson

(Emerson )

(b Melbourne, Australia, Jan 4, 1919; d Melbourne, Australia, June 17, 2008). Australian trumpeter, washboard player, composer, singer, and bandleader, brother of Graeme Bell. He first worked as a drummer, then in 1938 began to play cornet. Having worked in Melbourne with his brother at Leonard’s Café, he briefly led the band at Heidelberg Town Hall (1943), where he recorded with a visiting Max Kaminsky, before Graeme Bell returned from Queensland to take over the group’s leadership. He remained in Graeme’s dixieland groups during their European tours (1947–8, 1950–52), after which he worked with Max Collie (1953) and in the house band at the Melbourne Jazz Club (from 1958). Bell was active as a freelance musician and led his own band, the Pagan Pipers (a name he had used first in 1949), which with various personnel (notably Len Barnard and Ade Monsbourgh) performed and recorded for many years; among its recordings were a number of Bell’s own compositions. His playing may be heard to advantage on ...

Article

Ryan Dohoney

(b San Francisco, CA, Sept 30, 1968). American composer, vocalist, and improviser; daughter of composer Herbert Bielawa and organist/scholar Sandra Soderlund. As a child she composed, sang, and played violin. She was a member of the San Francisco Girls Chorus and wrote some of her earliest compositions for the group. Bielawa studied literature at Yale, graduating in 1990, and soon moved to New York City. In 1992 she began singing and touring with the Philip Glass Ensemble and later sang with John Zorn. In 1997 she co-founded the MATA Festival, a concert series that presents the music of younger composers.

Bielawa’s compositional output is extensive and includes orchestra works, music for voice and ensemble, and music for dance. Her musical language is rhapsodic, harmonically adventurous, and grounded in a propulsive energy. Her orchestrations are characterized by a warmly expressive range of timbres. Bielawa’s musical oeuvre has been shaped by her close relationships with particular performers and their unique abilities. Her ...

Article

Giles Easterbrook

(Caroline )

(b Nottingham, June 21, 1952). English composer and mezzo-soprano. She attended the RAM from 1970 to 1973, where she studied composition with Alan Bush and Fenby, and singing with Eric Vietheer. She continued her composition studies with Hans Keller (1975–8) and in 1971 won the Principal's Prize for Composition. She was elected an ARAM in 1997.

From the mid-1970s Bingham followed careers both as a singer and as a composer, winning the BBC Young Composer Award in 1977. She sang with the BBC Singers on a full-time basis (1983–96), before resigning in order to concentrate on composition. Several early scores have been lost; those that survive show a quixotic imagination, a fondness for pungent harmonies, prickly rhythms and pithy statement, and an ear for unusual instrumental combinations. Later, after exposure to large-scale polyphonic scores during her time with the BBC Singers, she moved away from overt experiment to a more homogenous, direct style, developing an individual approach to structure based on organically related, through-composed mosaics extended over long time-scales. This is seen in two pivotal works, ...

Article

Leonidas Economou

(b Athens, Greece, Dec 11, 1922; d Athens, April 7, 2005). Greek singer and composer. He began his career as a laïko composer and bouzouki soloist and sang only occasionally. He made his first great hit as a singer in 1956, with a song by Manos Hadjidakis, but he became widely known in the early 1960s when Mikis Theodorakis chose him as the main interpreter of some of his most important works. His career peaked between 1960 and 1974. He became the most important male voice of the entechno laïko song, performing a great number of songs of all the composers of this genre. He also recorded new influential versions of classic rebetika and many laïko and elafrolaïko hits (often his own compositions). His timid acceptance of the Junta regime blemished his image and, due also to the deterioration of his voice, his career declined and he made only a few recordings after ...

Article

Pavla Jonssonová

(b 22 July 1958, Bruntál in Czechoslovakia). Czech vocalist, violinist, composer, and actress..Bittová grew up in a musical family and with sisters Ida and Regina often accompanied her father, the composer and multi-instrumentalist Koloman Bitto. She gave up playing violin at the age of fourteen and so her mother, a choir singer and teacher, enrolled her to study acting at Brno Conservatory. In 1978, Bittová became a member of the avant garde theatre Husa na provázku (Goose on a String), starring as Eržika in the popular musical Balada pro banditu (Ballad for a Bandit). She also began her film acting career at this time. She quit her theatre career in 1982 to fulfill her father’s wishes and restarted her study of the violin under Rudolf Šťastný of the Moravian String Quartet. Enabled by her theatrical professionalism, improvisational skills, command of pitch, and purity of tone, Bittová developed a unique performance style consisting of combining the voice and the violin. This avant garde interplay of violin and extended vocalization techniques (ranging from primordial and nature-inspired clicking, screeching and ululating to folkloristic tunes) shocked her audiences. In ...

Article

Eliot Gattegno

(b Wichita Falls, TX, April 13, 1962). American composer and singer. She studied theater and French at Wellesley College (BM 1984), music at the Berklee College of Music (BM 1986), and composition at the Manhattan School of Music (MM 1990). Her teachers have included Hilda Harris, drew Minter , Myron McPherson, and Nancy Armstrong.

Botti has had a remarkable career as a performer and composer. Relationships with composers including Sofia Gubaidulina, Matthias Pintscher, and Toshio Hosokawa have played a crucial role in her development. Composer Tan Dun has created several significant works for her, including Red Forecast for soprano and orchestra and the role of Water in his opera Marco Polo. She has appeared as a soloist performing her own compositions with the New York PO, Cleveland Orchestra, BBC Scottish SO, and Los Angeles PO, among others.

Botti’s sheerly beautiful scores often persuade the listener with soft elegies, ethereal interludes, and vigorous, lumbering dances; as is evident in her work Translucence (...

Article

David Font-Navarrete

(b Gaston, NC, Aug 28, 1936; d Baltimore, May 16, 2012). American bandleader, singer, guitarist, and composer. He was a musical icon of the Washington, DC metropolitan area. He was widely known as “The Godfather of Go-go” and renowned for his live performances, which emphasized continuous, percussion-driven grooves and audience participation, all staples of the Go-go genre he developed in the 1970s. Brown’s early years were marked by poverty and crime, and he first developed his guitar playing while incarcerated at the Lorton Penitentiary. With his band the Soul Searchers, Brown developed a distinctive sound that is grounded in funk and soul, but also heavily influenced by jazz and Latin genres. His hit songs include “Bustin’ Loose,” “We Need Some Money,” and “Go-Go Swing.” In 1992, Brown recorded The Other Side with vocalist Eva Cassidy, a critically-acclaimed album of jazz and blues material. He received a NARAS Governors Award and an NEA Lifetime Heritage Fellowship Award, and continued to record and perform regularly until his death in ...

Article

Sumanth Gopinath

(b Philadelphia, PA, March 2, 1943). American political activist and singer/songwriter. Despite severe poverty, Brown studied piano at an early age and began writing songs at 16. After a semester at Temple University, she left for Los Angeles, hoping to become a professional songwriter. She had an affair with a married white novelist, screenwriter, and songwriter, Jay Richard Kennedy, who encouraged her to embrace leftist politics and her black identity. She began performing with the support of Stanley Crouch, Horace Tapscott, and the Underground Musicians Association (UGMA), shortly before becoming closely involved with the Black Panther Party (BPP). Under Tapscott’s musical direction Brown recorded Seize the Time (1969, Vault Records), an extraordinary album that provided the name for Bobby Seale’s famous memoir of the BPP’s early years and became an underground classic. Its songs include musical manifestos, portraits of individuals she had known through her political activities, and a memorial for murdered BPP members Bunchy Carter and John Huggins (“Assassination”). Brown’s declamatory, theatrical singing style is highlighted in “The End of Silence,” which featured poignantly in William Klein’s film ...

Article

David Brackett

(b Barnwell, SC, May 3, 1928; d Atlanta, Dec 25, 2006). American soul and funk singer, composer, arranger and bandleader. Born into extreme poverty in the rural South, he began his career as a professional musician in the early 1950s with the gospel-based group, the Flames. By 1956 the group had recorded the rhythm and blues hit Please, Please, Please (Federal, 1956) and changed their name to James Brown and the Famous Flames. This early recording established what was to become a stylistic trademark: insistent repetition of a single phrase (in this case, the song's title) resulting in a kind of ecstatic trance. This approach and Brown's characteristic raspy vocal timbre and impassioned melismas display his debt to the black American gospel tradition. His stage shows, dancing and inspired call-and-response interactions with the audience also convey the fervour of a sanctified preacher.

The first decade of Brown's recording career saw him alternating energetic dance numbers such as ...

Article

Mark Gilbert

[John Symon Asher ]

(b Bishopbriggs, Scotland, May 14, 1943; d Suffolk, October 25, 2014). Scottish bass player, singer, and composer. Having studied for three months at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow he moved to London, where he played with Alexis Korner’s Blues Incorporated (late 1962 – early 1963) and then formed a group with Graham Bond, John McLaughlin, and the drummer Ginger Baker; this became known as the Graham Bond Organisation after McLaughlin left and Dick Heckstall-Smith joined. Bruce arrived in London as a jazz purist and had at first played double bass, but after using an electric bass guitar for a recording session with Ernest Ranglin in 1964 he transferred to that instrument and studied the mobile, melodic style of the Motown house bass player James Jamerson. The following year Bruce left Bond’s band because Baker felt that his bass playing was too busy and joined John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers. He is best known as the bass guitarist, singer, and principal composer with the highly successful blues and rock group Cream (...

Article

Gerard Béhague

(Francisco)

(b Rio de Janeiro, June 19, 1944). Brazilian composer and singer-songwriter. The son of a prominent historian and intellectual, he began studying architecture at the University of São Paulo in 1963 but decided soon after to pursue a career in popular music. Although he was a great admirer of the bossa nova musician João Gilberto, his first hits, Pedro Pedreiro and Sonho de um Carnaval (both recorded in 1965), as well as Olê Olá, revealed innovative talents. The first piece is an early expression of his concern for and subsequent criticism of some of Brazil's urban social problems. The well-known poet-diplomat Vinicius de Morais, a family friend and fundamental figure of the bossa nova movement, exerted a strong influence on Buarque's music and poetry. Indeed the ‘master of the language’, as Jobim characterized him, went on to produce some of the most sophisticated popular songs of his generation, both poetically and musically. In ...

Article

Richard Witts

(b Garnant, South Glamorgan, March 9, 1942). Welsh composer, singer-songwriter, producer and arranger. His father was a coal miner and his mother a primary school teacher, who taught her son the piano. As a working-class boy growing up under the postwar conditions of ‘one nation’ Britain, he gained access to a grammar school education and the provision of free musical instrument tuition, in his case the viola. As a teenager he became a viola player in the National Youth Orchestra of Wales but at the same time he explored the rebellious subculture of the ‘teddy boy’, a teenage lifestyle increasingly associated with American rock and roll.

Between October 1960 and July 1963 Cale undertook a teacher-training course at Goldsmiths College, London, where he developed an interest in avant-garde music and made contact with Cardew, a liberal arts tutor there. In July 1963 they together organized ‘A Little Festival of New Music’ at the college, which comprised works by Cage and Fluxus artists such as George Brecht and Nam June Paik, and included the British première of La Monte Young’s controversially repetitive X for Henry Flynt. Two of Cale’s own early Fluxus-style compositions were published in the ...

Article

Jonas Westover

(Angela)

(b Huntington, NY, March 27, 1970). American singer, composer, producer, and actress. She is one of the top-selling artists of all time, a star in R&B and pop who sold, according to some estimates, more than 200 million albums during the 1990s and 2000s. She learned to sing as a child from her mother, an opera singer and vocal coach. While in high school she sang backing vocals for other artists and developed her own compositional style. She moved to New York in the mid-1980s and became a backing singer for Brenda K. Starr. The record company executive Tommy Mottola sought out Carey after hearing her voice on a demo tape. He immediately offered her a recording contract, resulting in her first album, Mariah Carey (1990); the two eventually married. Carey wrote or co-wrote a significant portion of the music on her first album and insisted on maintaining a degree of control over its production. Both of these elements have become her standard practice, and she is one of the few major pop artists to compose much of her own material. ...