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Article

Bruce Johnson

revised by Roger T. Dean

(Emerson) [Gay]

(b Melbourne, Australia, Sept 7, 1914; d Sydney, June 13, 2012). Australian bandleader, composer, and pianist, brother of Roger Bell. He began classical piano studies at the age of 11, and was introduced to jazz by his brother. In 1941 he held a pioneering jazz residency at Leonard’s Café in Melbourne and played for the Contemporary Art Society, indicating his radical interests. After working briefly in Queensland (1943) he returned to Melbourne, where he took over the group led by his brother at Heidelberg Town Hall and performed regularly for the Hot Jazz Society of the communist Eureka Youth League. In 1946 he started the Uptown Club in their premises and helped to inaugurate the Australian Jazz Convention. Having established his reputation in Australia with recordings in the dixieland style made in 1947, he toured Europe with his band (1947–8) under the Eureka’s sponsorship. In England his “jazz for dancing” policy was influential in promoting the acceptance of jazz as a major form of youth entertainment. In ...

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

Yves Gagnon and Andrew Homzy

[Francis, François]

(b Namur, Belgium, Nov 6, 1929; d Geneva, Aug 12, 2005). Belgian composer, arranger, pianist, and band-leader. Following conservatory training he wrote arrangements for Bobby Jaspar, Bernard Peiffer, Henri Renaud, and Fats Sadi. Later he worked in Paris as a pianist and arranger for Aimé Barelli (1954), toured Europe with Chet Baker (1955), lived in the USA (1957–8), and wrote arrangements for Kurt Edelhagen’s big band in Frankfurt, Germany (1958). From 1959 he was associated with Kenny Clarke, with whom he formed the Clarke–Boland Big Band. Boland wrote all the ensemble’s scores, among them masterful arrangements of American popular songs (All Smiles, 1968) and his own compositions Sabbath Message, Sax No End, and Griff’s Groove. His larger works include the suites All Blues, Fellini 712, Off Limits (which sketches the development of jazz during the 1960s), and the challenging ...

Article

Val Wilmer

[Cecil Valentine ]

(b Kingston, Jamaica, March 28, 1926; d Romford, Oct 10, 2009). Jamaican trumpeter, flugelhorn player, conductor, arranger, bandleader, journalist, and broadcaster. Self-taught on clarinet, he changed to trumpet to play with the big bands of the drummer Redver Cooke and the saxophonist Eric Deans, then formed the Beboppers with Ernest Ranglin and Dizzy Reece. He performed annually with the Jamaica All-Stars, and in 1950 he formed a septet which included Joe Harriott. From 1954 he promoted concerts and festivals, organizing the annual Big Band, which featured the island’s leading talents, notably Wilton “Bogey” Gaynair, Don Drummond, and the pianist (later politician) Seymour “Foggy” Mullings. Ranglin, Roland Alphonso, and the trombonist Emanuel “Rico” Rodriguez joined this ensemble to accompany such visiting artists as Sarah Vaughan, Donald Byrd, and Jimmy Owens. Bradshaw, who played in a raw, direct style influenced by Dizzy Gillespie, was a tireless promoter of Jamaican music. For 25 years he served as president of the Jamaican Federation of Musicians, and he arranged the island’s national anthem. Although he recorded extensively and toured throughout the Americas playing reggae, jazz was his preferred mode of expression. Among the guests who appeared with his poll-winning small group are Roy Haynes, Reece, Coleridge Goode, and Byard Lancaster. In the 1990s he travelled to England annually, playing in Birmingham with Andy Hamilton’s band....

Article

Jeffrey Holmes

[Randal Edward ]

(b Philadelphia, PA, Nov 27, 1945). American trumpeter, flugelhorn player, composer, arranger, and bandleader, brother of Michael Brecker. After graduating from Indiana University in 1966, he moved to New York, where he played with Clark Terry, Duke Pearson, and the Thad Jones–Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra. A versatile musician, he worked with Blood, Sweat and Tears, performing on their debut album, played hard bop and soul jazz with the Horace Silver Quintet and Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, and helped form the fusion group Dreams, which included his brother Michael, Billy Cobham, and John Abercrombie. During the 1970s he worked with Silver, Larry Coryell, Stevie Wonder, the Plastic Ono Super Band, and Cobham. He and Michael also performed and recorded (six albums) as the Brecker Brothers, garnering much critical acclaim. He continued to lead his own group into the 1980s and also recorded and toured with virtuoso performers Jaco Pastorious and Stanley Clarke. A reunion of the Brecker Brothers in ...

Article

Wim van Eyle

revised by Barry Kernfeld

(b Amsterdam, Nov 4, 1944; d July 23, 2010, Amsterdam). Dutch saxophonist, clarinetist, and composer. His first music lessons were on clarinet, and later he took up bass clarinet and saxophone; he is self-taught as a jazz musician. In 1966 he was a founder of the ICP, a nonprofit organization that sponsors performances and recordings of music by members of the Dutch avant garde. He played with the Globe Unity Orchestra under Alex Schlippenbach (1965–8), and with Gunter Hampel (1966–73), Peter Brötzmann, Misha Mengelberg, Han Bennink (1967–70), various groups associated with the ICP (1968–73), Don Cherry’s New Eternal Rhythm Orchestra at the Free Jazz Meeting in Baden-Baden (1969 and again in 1970), and his own quartet (1969–73) and recorded with Schlippenbach (1966), Brötzmann (1968, 1970), and Hampel (1969–70), and in a duo with Bennink (...

Article

Bruce Johnson

revised by Roger T. Dean

[John Joseph, John Jazza]

(b Adelaide, Australia, Jan 5, 1926; d Sarasota, FL, October 28, 2010). Australian vibraphonist, drummer, arranger, composer, and bandleader. He was playing xylophone by the age of six and later studied piano and drums; he became interested in jazz while serving in an RAAF entertainment unit (1944–6). After the war he led groups in Adelaide and played in coffee lounges and at concerts in Melbourne (1947–8). Among his sidemen at this period was Errol Buddle; Brokensha’s playing is well represented by the recording Buddle’s Bebop Boogie (1948, Jazzart 3–4). Extensive touring established his reputation in Australia, and he worked in Sydney (1949–50), Brisbane (1950), where his group disbanded, and Adelaide (1951). With Bryce Rohde he traveled in 1953 to Canada, where he became a founding member of the Australian Jazz Quartet (December 1954, with Rohde, Buddle, and the reed player Dick Healey). Later expanded to a quintet and occasionally to a sextet, the group was extremely successful in the USA; among its albums were ...

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

Steve Larson

revised by Barry Kernfeld

[Raphael Homer ]

(b Philadelphia, Dec 24, 1931; d Queens, Jun 2, 2011). American pianist and composer, brother of Tommy Bryant. His mother and sister played piano, which he took up at the age of seven, studying classical music. He learned double bass while in junior high school and began playing jazz piano when he was 14, when he joined the musicians’ union. In 1949 he performed and recorded with Tiny Grimes. As house pianist at the Blue Note, Philadelphia (from 1953), he accompanied Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Lester Young, Sonny Rollins, and others. He recorded with Toots Thielemans (c spring 1955) and then began a period as an occasional house pianist for Prestige; he recorded sessions with Miles Davis and Milt Jackson, and Sonny Rollins (both 1955), Art Taylor (1957), Tiny Grimes and Coleman Hawkins (both 1958–9), Hal Singer, Arnett Cobb, Benny Golson, Lem Winchester, and Oliver Nelson (all ...

Article

Eliot Gattegno

(b Philadelphia, PA, June 8, 1956). American classical and jazz pianist and composer. Born and raised in Philadelphia, Caine began playing piano at the age of seven. At age 12 he commenced studies with French jazz pianist Bernard Peiffer. He later studied composition with ...

Article

Stan Britt

revised by Barry Kernfeld

(b Dumfries, Scotland, April 21, 1933; d London, Feb 25, 2009). English trumpeter, flugelhorn player, bandleader, composer, writer, and teacher, brother of Mike Carr. His mother played ukulele and banjo. Carr grew up in northeast England, where he took piano lessons from the age of 12 and taught himself trumpet from 1950. After studying at King’s College, Newcastle upon Tyne (1952–60, degree, English literature, diploma, education) he served in the army (1956–8), then played with his brother in a band, the Emcee Five (1960 – August 1962). He briefly joined Don Rendell in November 1962 and, after recovering from illness, formed a long-lived quintet with Rendell from 1963 to July 1969; during this period he also worked with Joe Harriott (recording in 1969), Don Byas, and John McLaughlin. In September 1969 he formed his own band, Nucleus, which rapidly became recognized internationally for its experiments with jazz-rock. As a result of its performance at the Montreux International Jazz Festival in ...

Article

Max Harrison

revised by Barry Kernfeld

[Cohen, Theodore Charles ]

(b Chicopee Falls, MA, April 13, 1928; d Riverhead, NY, April 16, 2012). Vibraphonist, composer, and arranger . He studied percussion at the Juilliard School in 1946, but taught himself to play vibraphone; later, in the mid-1950s, he studied composition with Hall Overton. He was very briefly with Benny Goodman during the clarinetist’s flirtation with the bop style (November 1948) and then joined the big band of Chubby Jackson (February 1949), with whom he made his first recordings. He was a member of Buddy DeFranco’s sextet in 1949 and in the following year toured with Artie Shaw’s big band and was co-leader of a quintet with Jackie Paris. In 1951–2 he worked variously with Anita O’Day, Oscar Pettiford, DeFranco’s big band, Roy Eldridge, and Slim Gaillard, and then began leading experimental jazz groups of his own, members of which included Ed Shaughnessy (from 1952), Overton and Art Farmer (both from ...

Article

Mark Miller

(b Coleman, Canada, July 3, 1930; d Toronto, October 22, 2003). Canadian composer, arranger, and trombonist . He studied with Gordon Delamont in Toronto (1951–4) and with George Russell and Hall Overton in New York (1961–2). In turn, he taught composition and arrangement at Humber College in Toronto from 1974 to 1994. With Delamont and fellow composer Norman Symonds, Collier was a leading figure both as a player and a composer in the third-stream movement in Canada during the late 1950s. His major compositions, in a variety of styles, include The City, Hear Me Talkin’ to Ya, Aurora Borealis, and Humber Suite; Aurora Borealis is included on Duke Ellington: North of the Border (1967, Decca 75069), recorded by Ellington with a studio orchestra led by Collier. Collier later collaborated with Ellington on the ballet The River (1970) and the symphonic work Celebration...

Article

Barry Kernfeld

(b Attleboro, MA, Nov 6, 1916; d Escondido, CA, October 12, 2002). American trombonist and arranger . He took music lessons from his father, played in Boston and on a tour of the Midwest with Dan Murphy’s Musical Skippers, and then joined the bandleader Hank Biagini in Boston. From April 1937 he toured, recorded with, and wrote arrangements for Bunny Berigan’s big band, in which he played solos, and in 1938 he took over the lead trombone chair as well. When an argument ended his tenure in early June 1939 he worked in New York with Bob Crosby (June 1939 – December 1940), with whom he made a number of recordings. Conniff played with Berigan’s seven-piece group in New York (late August – early September 1940), performed and recorded with Artie Shaw (December 1940–1941), led an octet (1941), and recorded again with Shaw (...

Article

Bruce Johnson

revised by Roger T. Dean

[David Frederick ]

(b Freeling, nr Gawler, Australia, Oct 25, 1914; d Adelaide, South Australia, March 24, 2003). Australian composer, bandleader, pianist, arranger, and trombonist. He was first exposed to jazz through recordings, notably those of Duke Ellington. In 1945 he took over the leadership of the Southern Jazz Group, a dixieland band in Adelaide, and in 1946 appeared with it at the first Australian Jazz Convention; the band recorded several times between then and 1950, and Dallwitz remained its leader for its intermittent performances from 1951 to 1961. He then withdrew from jazz, but continued to play (on cello and bassoon) and compose in symphonic, chamber, and light-music contexts. His return to jazz performance and composition was marked by a recording in 1972. From that time he led several concert bands, including the Hot Six, a big band, and a ragtime ensemble – the last reflecting a change in his interests; these different groups provided opportunities for the presentation of his prolific compositional output, which often focused on Australian history. His finest album, ...

Article

David Flanagan

(b Seattle, Feb 11, 1914; d Riverside, CA, June 21, 2002). American songwriter, arranger, pianist, and singer. His parents were vaudeville artists, and he learned piano from an early age. He played piano in Horace Heidt’s dance band in 1933, but for much of the 1930s worked in Hollywood as a nightclub singer and pianist and as a vocal coach for band singers. In the early 1940s he was composer and arranger for Tommy Dorsey and wrote a number of hit songs for the band which were performed by Frank Sinatra. During World War II he played briefly in Glenn Miller’s orchestra. Thereafter he worked principally as a nightclub entertainer, and issued some recordings under his own name, including Matt Dennis Plays and Sings (c1957, Kapp 1024). Dennis also arranged music for radio programs (1946–8), appeared in films and on television, and composed the song ...

Article

M. Rusty Jones

[Al Laurence Dimeola ]

(b Jersey City, NJ, July 22, 1954). American jazz fusion guitarist and composer. He is known especially for his technical virtuosity and for combining Latin, world, and jazz styles. His guitar influences include Larry Coryell, Tal(madge Holt) Farlow, and Kenny Burrell. He was also inspired by the tangos of Ástor Piazzolla, with whom he developed a close friendship. He enrolled in the Berklee College of Music in Boston in 1971, where he remained until 1974 when he was invited to join the fusion group Return to Forever with Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke, and Lenny White. The group released three recordings with Di Meola, including the Grammy award-winning No Mystery (1975), before disbanding in 1976. The group reunited for a tour in 2008. Di Meola’s career as a leader began with the production of Land of the Midnight Sun (1976). Recordings on which he is recognized as leader now number over 20 albums. He has collaborated with luminaries such as Jaco Pastorius, Jan Hammer, and Chick Corea. One of his most successful collaborations was his trio with guitarists John McLaughlin and Paco de Lucia. Their ...

Article

David Flanagan

revised by Barry Kernfeld

[William J. ]

(b Newark, NJ, April 3, 1917; d Bridgeport, CT, June 4, 2008). American arranger, composer, and pianist. On the recommendation of Tommy Dorsey, who had bought his arrangement of The Lonesome Road, he was engaged in 1938 by Glenn Miller, and provided many of the orchestra’s best-known arrangements as well as the music for the films Sun Valley Serenade (1941) and Orchestra Wives (1942). He then worked for Horace Heidt (1942–3) and Les Elgart (1946), but also wrote intermittently for Dorsey – notably for the film The Fabulous Dorseys (1947) – and provided him with a number of arrangements during the period 1950–52. From 1952 to 1957 Finegan was leader of a band with Eddie Sauter. Their group was never a commercial success, and its arrangements left little scope for improvisation, but it was noteworthy for its experimental approach to instrumentation: the six-man rhythm section made use of a variety of percussion, and the wind section included such instruments as piccolo, bass clarinet, and English horn. In the course of the group’s final tour in ...

Article

Steven Strunk

revised by Barry Kernfeld

(b Durand, MI, Oct 22, 1928; d Burbank, CA, Jan 26, 2012). American arranger, composer, and pianist. While living in Grand Rapids, Michigan, from the age of 11, he gained a basic proficiency on many instruments, including baritone horn, saxophones, bass clarinet, and cello; these experiences later informed his skills as an arranger. As a teenager he also played jazz professionally with local bands. He studied at Michigan State University (BM 1951, MM 1955), where he developed an interest in Latin-American music. He wrote arrangements for the band at the United States Military Academy (1952–3), then became accompanist and arranger for the vocal group the Hi-Lo’s. Fischer won critical acclaim for his big-band arrangements for Dizzy Gillespie’ album A Portrait of Duke Ellington (1960) and during the 1960s recorded a number of his works with his own studio band. From 1962 he began to establish himself as a performer, with a series of albums made as an unaccompanied solo pianist and others for small groups playing bop and Latin jazz; that same year, with Cal Tjader, he made some of the first recordings in the USA of bossa nova and appeared on television in the “Bud Shank–Clare Fischer Bossa-Nova Show.” Although he achieved his reputation initially as an arranger, and performed for many years as an organist and synthesizer player, he was perhaps best known in jazz circles as a pianist; among his notable recordings is a duo album made with Gary Foster (...

Article

Thomas Owens

[Robert Chase ]

(b Los Angeles, May 20, 1932; d Los Angeles, May 15, 2008). American pianist, arranger, composer, and bandleader. His mother played music for films in Philadelphia. He began learning piano at the age of three and gave a recital when he was seven. From 1953 to 1955, while studying arranging at Los Angeles City College, he wrote his first big-band arrangements and formed a rehearsal band to play them. In 1955 he was a member of the band led by the guitarist Alvino Rey at Lake Tahoe, and in 1956 he briefly joined Les Brown’s orchestra. During this time he contributed some arrangements to Brown’s repertory, and he was soon writing for others as well: Harry James, Louie Bellson, and Jimmy Witherspoon (all 1959), Si Zentner (1959–70), Frank Capp (1960), Dave Pell (1962), the popular Brazilian pianist Sergio Mendes (1965...