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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

Howard Rye

[Chabania, Jacinto ]

(b Gary, IN, Jan 23, 1908; dc 1961). American saxophonist, clarinetist, arranger, and singer. He studied violin, then alto saxophone and clarinet. After playing briefly with Charlie Turner’s Arcadians he took ship for Europe with Sam Wooding (1928), with whom he recorded in Barcelona and Paris (1929). He then moved to New York, played with Chick Webb, toured with Zack Whyte’s Chocolate Beau Brummels, performed and recorded with Don Redman (late 1933 – late spring 1934) and Willie Lewis (in Europe, to c spring 1935), and worked with Claude Hopkins, both in New York and on tour (mid-1936). In October 1936 he joined Fletcher Henderson’s group, with which he made several recordings in 1937, but around February 1938 he left the group to become Cab Calloway’s music director. In April 1942 he recorded with Count Basie, and later that year, having left Calloway’s employ, he played briefly with Basie (June) and with Earl Hines (September) before rejoining Henderson (October–November). In ...

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

Johnny Simmen

revised by Howard Rye

(b Zanesville, OH, Dec 26, 1915; d New York, Nov 7, 1956). American pianist, singer, and composer. Her place of birth is usually recorded as Xenia, Ohio, but her passport file gives Zanesville. She was heard by Fats Waller while she was working as a radio musician in Cincinnati in 1932, and went on to work with him; in 1939 she sang on his recording I can’t give you anything but love (Bb 10573). She also gave solo performances. In May 1936 she went to Britain with Blackbirds of 1936, but soon left the cast. From November 1936 she worked and recorded in Europe, principally in London and Paris, where she was resident at Le Boeuf sur le Toit from July to December 1937. In February and March 1938 she was resident in London at the Havana Club and then into April at the Shim Sham. She was at the Scala in Berlin when war was declared. After her return to the USA Carlisle worked in New York nightclubs and recorded ...

Article

Digby Fairweather

revised by Simon Adams

(Bernard )

(b London, Nov 25, 1934). English arranger, composer, and soprano and tenor saxophonist . He studied composition at the Royal Academy of Music, London (1953–6), and first appeared with his own band at Ronnie Scott’s in 1967. From the late 1960s he wrote compositions and arrangements for many musicians and groups, among them Humphrey Lyttelton, Chris Barber, Bing Crosby, and the orchestras of radio stations in Germany, Denmark (the Radioens Big Band), and England. In 1971 he formed a big band to play the music of Duke Ellington; its most celebrated reconstruction was recorded on the album Duke Ellington’s Black, Brown & Beige (1972, Argo 159). The band broke up in 1973, and from 1978 into the mid-1980s Cohen and Keith Nichols led the Midnite Follies Orchestra, which toured, broadcast, and made recordings (including Hotter than Hades, 1978, EMI 1001). In 1985 Cohen wrote arrangements for the 31-piece band led by the drummer Charlie Watts, and the following year he formed his own quintet, in which he plays soprano saxophone. He wrote arrangements for a big band which accompanied Cab Calloway on BBC television in ...

Article

Bruce Johnson

[Francis James ]

(b Emmaville, Australia, Sept 10, 1904; d Sydney, 6 or April 7, 1979). Australian bandleader, trombonist, trumpeter, arranger, and singer. From 1922 he worked in Sydney and Melbourne in the bands, among others, of Bill James (1923), Frank Ellis (1924), Walter Beban (1925), Carol Laughner (1926–7), and Linn Smith (1927–8). In England he worked with Jack Hylton, Fred Elizalde, Al Collins, and Al Starita (all 1928–9). Following his return to Australia he played as a sideman and as a leader in Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne, and during a residency at the Sydney Trocadero (1936–9) he established a reputation as a pre-eminent swing bandleader. He led an army band (1943–5), then played again at the Sydney Trocadero (1946–51, 1954–70), after which he gradually withdrew from musical activities. The finest dance-band and swing musicians in Australia passed through the ranks of Coughlan’s band....

Article

Val Wilmer

[Laka D; Koc, Dorota Mary]

(b Oxford, England, Jan 8, 1953). English singer, pianist, composer, and music director. From a background in rock and soul bands, notably Soulyard, from 1982 to 1988 she was a member of the Guest Stars, in which she played piano and sang; she also wrote much of the group’s material. In 1982 she co-founded the Lydia D’Ustebyn Swing Orchestra, was an organizer of Early Evening Jazz, the first women’s jazz festival held in London (at the Drill Hall), and sang in the a cappella group the Hipscats (comprising five singers, including Jan Ponsford, Jim Dvorak, and Ruthie Smith, and later the pianist Alastair Gavin). An intermittent affiliation with Carol Grimes involved work in her band and in a duo. She sang and played piano with Annie Whitehead, with whom she recorded the album Mix Up (1985, Paladin 6), then led her own band, which included Claude Deppa. In the 1990s she played with Mervyn Afrika, Kate Westbrook, the percussionist Josefina Cupido, and the saxophonists Louise Elliot and Diane McLaughlin, composed and directed music for stage shows, and taught. Laka Daisical is a propulsive pianist and exciting performer heavily influenced by African-American gospel music, as exemplified by ...

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

Frank Driggs

[William ]

(b New Haven, CT, Aug 12, 1912; d Springfield, MA, April 14, 1978). American trumpeter, singer, and arranger. He played in the big bands of Earle Howard (1932–3) and Percy Nelson (1933–4), then worked with Sidney Bechet, Jelly Roll Morton (mid-1930s), and the pianist Jimmie Gunn (1935). From 1935 to 1937 he was a soloist with Don Albert’s band, and in 1936 recorded eight titles with the group, including his own arrangements of True Blue Lou (Voc. 3401), On the Sunny Side of the Street (Voc. 3423), and Liza (Voc. 3491). During the late 1930s and the 1940s Douglas played as a freelance in New York, Philadelphia, and Chicago, then from 1944 to 1945 worked with Earl Hines, recording again as a soloist on Scoops Carry’s Merry (1945), first issued on The Father Jumps (1939–45, Bb AXM2-5508). His career was brought to an end by his dependence on alcohol. Douglas patterned his style after that of Henry “Red” Allen and, although his playing was less angular than Allen’s, it had the same fire and expressiveness. (...

Article

André Clergeat

[Robert ]

(b Cleveland, Oct 21, 1935). American pianist, composer, and singer. He grew up in a family of musicians and learned piano and organ from a young age; later he studied harmony and composition at the Cleveland Institute and took up vibraphone. Having begun his career in dance bands, he appeared in Dick Shelton’s quintet (1954) and then formed his own group, the Metronomes, with his cousin Bob Cunningham. Around 1967 a friend from Cleveland, Albert Ayler, persuaded him to move to New York, where he formed a short-lived trio with Wilbur Ware and Leroy Williams. In 1968 he became piano accompanist and music director for the singer Brook Benton, recorded with Booker Ervin, and joined a free-jazz workshop run by Bill Dixon. He recorded with Ayler in August 1969, during the saxophonist’s rhythm-and-blues period; he also played with Frank Foster and Roland Kirk before emigrating in autumn ...

Article

Val Wilmer

(Ann )

(b London, April 7, 1944). English singer, composer, and percussionist. She started singing on the streets of London in the 1960s, then formed the Race, singing blues with English, Jamaican, and Nigerian musicians. She performed with Lol Coxhill, Roy Babbington, and others in the group Delivery, led by the pianist Steve Miller (1970–72), then went to the USA (1974), where she recorded albums in Nashville and Memphis with leading soul session musicians. After returning to England she continued to sing blues, soul, and jazz with her own bands. She became associated with free improvisers in groups such as Maggie Nicols’s Contradictions and worked in the 1970s with a new wave of women jazz players, including Laka Daisical, the Guest Stars, and Annie Whitehead. While leading the ensembles Carol and the Crocodiles and Eyes Wide Open, she worked with the saxophonist Angèle Veltmeijer, Steve Lodder, the guitarist Maciek Hrybowicz, the double bass player Mario Castronari, and others, and wrote jazz-oriented material. Grimes formed musical partnerships with the singer Ian Shaw and the pianist Janette Mason, worked with Alan Barnes and the guitarist Tony Rémy, and collaborated with Indian singers and the Sudanese electric bass guitarist Sami El Salahi. For theater she wrote and produced the autobiographical ...

Article

James M. Doran

(b North Little Rock, AR, April 19, 1906; d North Little Rock, Feb 1, 1937). Arranger, pianist, and singer. He studied piano with his mother. After working with Alphonso Trent he organized his own group (1924) and played in studios in Hollywood while working in local bands, among them Mutt Carey’s Jeffersonians. In Chicago he arranged Beau Koo Jack for Louis Armstrong’s recording with his Savoy Ballroom Five (1928); he also performed with and wrote arrangements for Jimmy Wade (1928), played with Jimmie Noone (1928–9), and worked as an arranger for Earl Hines and Paul Howard (both 1929). He then joined the bandleader Sammy Stewart (1929), with whom he traveled to New York (1930). In the early 1930s Hill became known as one of the best arrangers in Harlem, and he worked with Benny Carter, Claude Hopkins, and Andy Kirk (all ...

Article

Géza Gábor Simon

(b Budapest, 1967). Hungarian pianist, violinist, singer, arranger, and composer. He began to learn violin when he was six and took piano lessons from the age of eight; following his graduation as a violinist from the Franz Liszt Academy in Budapest he taught classical violin in the Kodály Musical High School in Kecskemét. A ragtime and traditional jazz player, Ittzés has arranged and recorded rags and early jazz tunes which were popular in Hungary in the first three decades of the 20th century. He has regularly toured Europe and the USA as the leader of the Bohém Ragtime Jazz Band (which he founded in 1985) and as an unaccompanied ragtime soloist. He is chairman of the Kecskemét Jazz Foundation (founded in 1991), and from 1992 he has directed Eastern Europe’s biggest traditional-jazz event, the annual International “Bohém” Ragtime and Jazz Festival. He published Four Rags (Kecskemét, ...

Article

Reg Cooper and Barry Kernfeld

(Joseph )

(b Chicago, Oct 10, 1921; d Montclair, NJ, August 2, 2002). American singer, pianist, and arranger, brother of Irene Kral. While working with a quartet in Chicago he met the singer Jackie (Jacqueline Ruth) Cain (b Milwaukee, 22 May 1928; d Montclair, N.J., 15 September 2014), with whom he formed a duo, Jackie and Roy. They joined Charlie Ventura in 1948; Kral, who was also Ventura’s pianist, contributed many excellent arrangements to the band, including Flamingo and Pennies from Heaven. After leaving Ventura the couple married in June 1949, formed a bop sextet, then in 1950 moved to Chicago, where they appeared in their own television show. Their musical collaboration was interrupted by the birth of two daughters (Anita O’Day temporarily took Cain’s place in the first instance) during the 1950s, but nonetheless they returned to Ventura for eight months in 1953 and worked as a duo in New York, Las Vegas (...

Article

André Clergeat

(b Brussels, March 22, 1965). Belgian singer, composer, and multi-instrumentalist. His father is a musician who worked as a producer for Belgian radio. From 1972 he studied piano, flute, and various other instruments, including drums (with Kenny Clarke); later he served as an accompanist to many musicians, notably Harry Edison, Johnny Griffin, Slide Hampton, and Horace Parlan, before comitting himself exclusively to singing. Having collaborated with James Baldwin, he set some of Baldwin’s poetry to music and recorded these songs on his album A Lover’s Question (1986–7). In 1988 he went to the USA to participate in a tribute to Baldwin. From 1992 Linx has worked in a duo and as a co-leader with Diederik Wissels, in which settings he has performed his own gentle poetic texts in his lightly veiled and phantom-like voice. A composer and arranger for film, theater, and dance, he also teaches at the Conservatoire Royal de Bruxelles....

Article

Erik Wiedemann

(b Copenhagen, Oct 10, 1906; d Copenhagen, Dec 16, 1969). Danish pianist, singer, band-leader, composer, and arranger. He played in the group We Three with Otto Lington and Anker Skjoldborg (1927–8), toured Germany and Sweden (1928–31), and worked with the dance-band leader Kai Julian (1932) and Erik Tuxen (1932–6). From 1936 to 1951 he was active as a leader (his bands were especially prominent during World War II), and recorded prolifically as a soloist (for example, A Wee Bit of Swing, 1941, Odeon D515), as a singer and as leader of a small group modeled after those of Fats Waller (Take it Easy, 1941, Odeon D504), and with big bands (Jungle Party, 1942, Odeon D792); many of his recordings were of his own compositions. Mathisen worked as a lounge pianist from 1951 to 1953, but then became inactive owing to failing health....

Article

Barry Kernfeld

[Mosely, Lawrence Leo ]

(b Little Rock, AR, Dec 29, 1905; d New York, July 21, 1981). American trombonist, slide saxophonist, singer, leader, and composer. He learned to play trombone in high-school bands. From 1926 to 1933 he was a principal soloist with Alphonso Trent’s orchestra, in which he also sang. During this period his preference for playing short, rapid phrases in the trombone’s high register led to his developing a slide saxophone (see Saxophone, §6, (viii)); this instrument had a saxophone mouthpiece and a small slide for altering pitch, and its sound resembled that of a soprano saxophone. Mosley was a founding member of the Jeter–Pillars Orchestra (1934). After playing with Claude Hopkins (1934–5, with whom he appeared in the short film By Request, 1935) and in the Luis Russell Orchestra, which was accompanying Louis Armstrong (1936–7), he worked briefly with Fletcher Henderson (mid-...

Article

[Serious ]

(b Germantown, PA, Oct 2, 1906; d July 10, 1992). American double bass player, singer, and arranger. His middle name has appeared as Ernest in reference sources, and his birthday as 7 October, but he gave 2 October and both printed and signed his name as Wilson Ernestine Myers in his application for social security; perhaps he was embarrassed by his middle name and thus gave it as Ernest when writers enquired. His nickname, Serious, was derived from his interest in classical music. He first played drums and then (from 1925) guitar and banjo, notably with King Oliver in 1931. After changing to double bass he performed with various bands, among them the led by Sidney Bechet and Tommy Ladnier (September 1932 – early 1933), Lucky Millinder’s orchestra (with which he performed in France in summer 1933), Willie Bryant’s orchestra, and the Spirits of Rhythm (...

Article

Lara Pellegrinelli

(b Salisbury, MA, April 28, 1965). American soprano and tenor saxophonist and composer. He took up alto saxophone at the age of nine and played the tenor instrument while at high school in Hampton, Virginia, and in a neighborhood funk band. Later he attended the Berklee College of Music (1983–7), where he studied with Billy Pierce, George Garzone, and Andy McGhee and earned a degree in jazz composition and arranging; among his classmates were Danilo Pérez, Javon Jackson, Mark Whitfield, Delfeayo Marsalis, and Antonio Hart. Shortly after touring Europe with Donald Byrd (summer 1987) he moved to New York. As a member of Terence Blanchard’s group from around 1991 to 1993, Newsome toured North America, Europe, Japan, and South America; during the same period he made his first recording as a leader, Sam I Am (1990), a straightforward bop album. In 1995 he took up soprano saxophone, and he soon began to play this instrument exclusively. He then formed the trio Motivik Development, which fused elements of jazz and world music; Yosuke Inoue and Matt Wilson were early members of the group. Over time Motivik Development took a new name, Global Unity; it changed membership and expanded (to at least a quintet) and commonly involved ...

Article

Megan E. Hill

(b Osaka, Japan, 1957). Jazz and blues pianist, singer, and composer of Japanese birth. She took piano lessons briefly as a child and was exposed to the blues while growing up in Osaka in the 1960s and 1970s. As a high school student, she formed the Yoko Blues Band with classmates. The band earned some success, winning first prize and a recording contract in a television-sponsored contest. In 1984 she moved to the United States to pursue a jazz and blues career in Chicago. Initially a singer, she studied piano with boogie, blues, and jazz pianist Erwin Helfer. In the early 1990s Noge established the Jazz Me Blues Band, which has played regularly in Chicago since its formation. In addition to Noge on piano and vocals, the ensemble has included Noge’s husband, Clark Dean, on soprano saxophone, saxophonist Jimmy Ellis, trombonist Bill McFarland, and bassist Tatsu Aoki. In addition to playing more conventional jazz and blues, Noge has made a name for herself through the unique compositions she has written for the group, which meld Japanese folk music styles with Chicago blues. Active in the broader Asian American community, she cofounded the Chicago Asian American Jazz Festival in ...