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John Curry

(bNew York, Jan 30, 1927; dNew York, Oct 2, 1993). Double bass and ‘ūd player. His early influences included the music played and sung by his father, who was Sudanese, and the Middle Eastern and East European music he heard growing up in Brooklyn’s multiracial community. He began learning violin at the age of seven and later studied double bass, piano, and tuba and attended the High School of the Performing Arts in New York. At this time he played Greek, Syrian, and Gypsy music professionally at weddings and other occasions. After playing double bass with Art Blakey (1945–8), Don Byas (1946), Sam “the Man” Taylor (1954), and Randy Weston (1954–7) he worked with Thelonious Monk (1957–8), with whom he recorded in performance at the Five Spot in New York and appeared on television in the CBS series “The Seven Lively Arts,” as well as on “The Sound of Jazz” (both ...

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Val Wilmer

(Stanley )

(b Cape Town, June 26, 1947). South African drummer, percussionist, singer, and leader. Known first for his singing, he developed as a drummer by accompanying other singers in Cape Town and playing with the quartet led by the pianist Cecil May. In 1962 he joined the Coon Carnival stage show. He then spent seven years in Swaziland, where he played bop with the pianists Roy Peterson and Howard Belling and accompanied Sarah Vaughan and Nancy Wilson. In 1975 he traveled to England and worked in variety and dance bands before joining Dudu Pukwana’s group Zila. In 1981 he founded the trio District Six with Mervyn Afrika and the guitarist Russell Herman, both of whom grew up in the District Six area of Cape Town; with Abrahams as its leader, the trio expanded to a sextet (including Jim Dvorak from 1983 to 1993 and Claude Deppa at some point thereafter) and became an important focus for musicians who played both jazz and African rhythms. Abrahams also worked with Ronnie Scott, John Taylor, Johnny Dyani, and the Brotherhood of Breath. In ...

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Abume  

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Val Wilmer

[Emanuel Nii-Moi ]

(b Jamestown, Accra, Gold Coast [now Ghana], June 7, 1931; d London, Sept 15, 1993). Ghanaian conga and bongo player. He was educated at the Royal School in Accra and began playing drums as a child. Following a brief spell in the army he traveled to Britain in 1947, settled in Yorkshire, undertook factory work, and purchased his first pair of bongos. He then moved to London and entered the entertainment business as a fire-eater, dancer, and drummer. Thereafter he became a firm fixture in modern-jazz groups, playing with Ronnie Scott, Phil Seamen, Sammy Walker, and the trombonist Ken Wray, and following other African percussionists into Kenny Graham’s Afro-Cubists. In 1955 he joined Cab Kaye. Having changed permanently from bongos to conga drums, he played with Shake Keane and Tubby Hayes. For more than six years his propulsive beat was a key element in the success of the singer and organist Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames. Acquaye worked with the Nightimers, led by the American soul singer Herbie Goines, and the jazz-tinged rock bands of Graham Bond and Ginger Baker, as well as with the Animals and the Rolling Stones. The first African to have a visible presence in postwar British popular music, he rejoined Fame intermittently but devoted his time increasingly to community teaching. The percussion workshops Adzido and Dade Krama enabled him to return to the pure drumming and chants of his youth....

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Val Wilmer

(Peter )

(b Cape Town, Oct 18, 1950). South African pianist, composer, and arranger. He grew up in the District Six area of Cape Town with the guitarist Russell Herman, studied music at the University of Cape Town, and played in various groups with Herman, including Oswietie, with which they toured South Africa and Angola. After joining Sipho Gumede in the funk-jazz group Spirits Rejoice he traveled along Africa’s west coast as far as Gabon, then in 1979 he settled in London. There he worked with Julian Bahula’s Jazz Africa and with Dudu Pukwana, and in 1981 he founded the trio (later, sextet) District Six with Herman and Brian Abrahams, the latter serving as the group’s leader. In 1984 Afrika performed in the USA as a member of Hugh Masekela’s group, and in 1986 he recorded with Pukwana. He led his own quartets and quintets and accompanied the singer Carmel, and during the same period he collaborated with Masekela, Courtney Pine, and the reed player David Jean-Baptiste and performed frequently as an unaccompanied soloist. In ...

Article

Wolfgang Bender

A style of African popular music. The term was coined in 1967 by Fela Kuti, who was known as ‘the king of Afrobeat’. Fela played Highlife music while studying music at Trinity College of Music, London (1958–63). Upon his return to Nigeria he referred to the style as ‘highlife jazz’. Geraldo Pino from Sierra Leone visited Lagos around 1966, playing a style referred to as Afro-soul. Pino's success encouraged Fela to develop an individual style.

Fela toured the USA in 1969 and was exposed to that country's Black Power movement. He also heard free jazz and rhythm and blues. His awareness of the political power of music is reflected in his subsequent development of Afrobeat, a fusion of jazz, soul and African musics with lyrics in Pidgin and Yoruba. He consciously highlighted the Africanness of his own music, claiming that he played African music since jazz was originally an African form of music....

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(bIsmâ’ ilîya, Egypt, June 8, 1931). Frenchsinger and pianist. He studied music in Paris and played piano with Don Byas (1955) and Stephane Grappelli (1957). He was a singer with the Blue Stars (1955–6), toured and recorded with the Double Six (1959–65), and took part in a session with Jon Hendricks and others (1965). Aldebert was married to the singer Monique Dozo (b Monaco, 5 May 1931; later known as Monique Aldebert-Guérin), who had sung with Bernard Peiffer (1947) and performed in Paris clubs with Byas, Django Reinhardt, Bobby Jasper, the Double Six (with which she recorded in 1959 and 1964), and Bill Coleman (1966). After moving to the USA (1967) the couple settled first in Las Vegas, where they appeared in revues, and then in Los Angeles (...

Article

Jacques Aboucaya

(b Oran, Algeria, Oct 25, 1961). French pianist and composer. After taking lessons in classical piano he went to the USA to study at the Berklee College of Music (1981–3) and then at the Manhattan School of Music (MM composition). He appeared in the BMI Jazz Composition Workshop under the direction of Bob Brookmeyer (1984) and wrote for Mel Lewis’s orchestra. Based in New York from 1985, he worked in clubs with such musicians as Joshua Redman, Bobby Watson, Ernie Watts, and Sonny Fortune and toured Brazil with Gerry Mulligan’s quartet. In 1987 he formed a quartet with the saxophonist Tim Ries for a tour of Europe, and then in 1990 recorded his first album as a leader, with Gary Peacock and Bill Stewart as his sidemen. He composed for a Belgian chamber orchestra and for the Orchestre National de Jazz in Paris. Amsallem has continued to play with Ries, and in the course of working in both the USA and Europe he recorded with the saxophonist in a trio with Leon Parker (...

Article

Kenneth S. Habib

Having come to Amrīkā (or Amērikā) from every Arabic-speaking society, Arab Americans have sought liberty and opportunity like their newfound compatriots hailing from elsewhere in the world. With roots stretching from Morocco to Iraq and from Syria to Yemen, they have brought a rich musical heritage that involves wide-ranging musical practices and that includes some of the oldest continuously performed art music in the world. They also have played formative roles in the development of American popular music and in the multilateral exchange of music culture between Arab and American societies.

Arabs have immigrated to the United States from widespread geographical and socio-political environments. Motivations to leave home for a land halfway around the world have included fleeing political persecution, seeking greater economic prosperity, and following loved ones who preceded them. Immigrants typically have sent money “back home” in support of immediate and extended families while any hope of eventually returning themselves has often given way to an acceptance or an embrace of the United States as their new and permanent home....

Article

Atuamba  

K.A. Gourlay

revised by F.J. de Hen

[tuambi]

Bullroarer of the Kuma of the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. It consists of a slightly concave ellipsoidal piece of wood measuring 30 × 10 cm along the axes. The instrument is whirled by a cord attached to one end and the sound produced is said to resemble the growling of a leopard. The bullroarer has associations with spirit voices and secret ceremonies such as circumcision, and has restrictions against women and non-initiates seeing it, as is customary for other bullroarers of the Congo. The varied names collected by de Hen suggest an onomatopoeic derivation, for example, the Adoi, Amanga, Andebogo and Andowi kundrukundru, Aimed kunzukunzu, Bagbwa and Mamvu egburuburu and arumvurumvu, and Bangba and Mayogo mbirimbiri. This pattern is not always followed, as with the Mbole inano, Nyali upa and Zande gilingwa.

F.J. de Hen: Beitrag zur Kenntnis der Musikinstrumente aus Belgisch Kongo und Ruanda-Urundi (Tervuren, 1960), 171ff...

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Charles de Ledesma

(b Johannesburg, March 13, 1938). South African percussionist. He was a popular drummer in Philip Tabane’s band Malombo, one of the foremost groups playing kwela (a style of urban popular music in South Africa). In 1973 he moved to London and formed the group Jabula, which played an amalgam of African music and rock; in 1977 this joined forces with a band led by Dudu Pukwana to form Jabula/Spear, which recorded the album Thunder in our Hearts (1977, Car. 2009). Later Bahula worked to promote African music in London, though he also played occasionally with the group Jazz Afrika and with a new group under the name Jabula. In the late 1980s he worked with Dick Heckstall-Smith in the band Electric Dream.

R. Cotterrell, ed.: Jazz Now: the Jazz Centre Society Guide (London, 1976) C. de Ledesma: “Afro Jazz: Evolution and Revolution,” The Wire, no.12 (1985), 26, esp. 38...

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Bailol  

Jeremy Montagu

Mouth bow of the Fula and Tukulor peoples of Senegal and the Gambia. The left hand presses the string with a small stick to alter the pitch of the fundamental, while the right hand taps the string with a second stick. Overtones are selected by altering the shape of the mouth....

Article

Baka  

Mouth bow of the Gbande people of Liberia. The player taps the string with a stick in his right hand while regulating the vibrating length with a stick in his left. The string passes between his lips; by altering the shape of the oral cavity he can produce different overtones. ...

Article

Ferdinand J. de Hen

Lamellaphone of the Mabadi and Bandia peoples of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It has five to 12 wooden tongues and a trough-shaped bark resonator. Similar instruments are the Mangbele marombe, Mbuja ekwongolia, and Zande modeku.

F.J. de Hen: Beitrag zur Kenntnis der Musikinstrumente aus Belgisch Kongo und Ruanda-Urundi...

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Bandiri  

Set of two or more single-headed frame drums, with or without circular metal jingles, and a kettledrum used by members of the k’adiriyya Islamic sect of northern Nigeria. It accompanies the zikiri (creed formula by which a person acknowledges that he is a Muslim). The frame drum is held in the left hand and beaten with the fingers of the right....

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Ferdinand J. de Hen

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Bangali  

Ferdinand J. de Hen

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Bangia  

Lyre of the Berta people of southeastern Sudan. It has a wooden bowl resonator, a soundtable of hide into which two soundholes are cut, and a small wooden bridge. The five strings, formerly made of gut, are nowadays made of steel. Each string is fastened to a strip of cloth wound around the yoke and can be tuned by twisting the cloth. The ...