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Article

Lise Waxer

[Colón Román jr, William Anthony; ‘El malo’]

(b South Bronx, New York, April 28, 1950). American bandleader, composer, arranger, trombonist, popular singer, producer and actor. Dubbed ‘El malo’ (the ‘bad boy’) of salsa, he began playing the trumpet in 1963 with the teenage band the Dandees. Switching to trombone, he made his professional début at 17 with the album El malo (Fania, 1967). Both as a bandleader and a member of the Fania All-Stars, he quickly moved to the fore of the burgeoning New York salsa scene, cementing the raw, trombone-heavy ‘New York sound’ inspired by earlier artists such as Eddie Palmieri and Mon Rivera. Between 1967 and 1973 he made a series of important recordings with vocalist Hector Lavoe, which included the albums Asalto Navideño I and II (Fania, 1972 and 1973) with cuatro virtuoso Yomo Toro, where traditional Puerto Rican Christmas aguinaldos were fused with salsa. During his second period (...

Article

Raoul F. Camus

(b Naples, Italy, June 21, 1871; d New York, Aug 15, 1952). American conductor, impresario, and composer of Italian origin. He studied music at the conservatory in Naples, and by the age of 17 was conductor of the city’s municipal band. He left this position after eight years to play trombone in another band during its American tour. Encouraged by the wealth of performing opportunities in the USA, he recruited 40 musicians during a trip to Italy in 1902, and then traveled with them to New York, where the band’s opening concert was well received. In the next few years he toured the USA and Canada. He appeared on the Chautauqua circuit from 1910 to 1916. While pursuing his band activities, he organized an opera company in 1918 that continued for five years. The Depression brought about a decline in professional bands, and in 1936 he became conductor of the New York City Symphonic Orchestra, formed under the auspices of the WPA. A year later he became bandmaster of the New York State Symphonic Band, also a WPA group. In ...

Article

George J. Ferencz

(b Hartford, CT, Aug 3, 1906; d Los Angeles, Sept 26, 1972). American conductor, composer, arranger and film producer. He attended Loyola College, later studying with Joseph Schillinger and Ernst Toch. Beginning in 1927, he conducted Broadway musicals by several of its leading songwriters, including Schwartz (Flying Colors, 1932), Romberg (May Wine, 1935), Arlen (Hooray for What?, 1937), Porter (Leave it to Me, 1938), Kern (Very Warm for May, 1939) and Berlin (Louisiana Purchase, 1940). He also appeared frequently as a network radio conductor during the 1930s. He joined Paramount in 1941 and worked on several dozen films, variously as composer, arranger, conductor or musical director, including Holiday Inn (1942), Lady in the Dark (1944) and Blue Skies (1946). He also served as producer for the lavish Paramount musicals White Christmas...

Article

Geoffrey Self

(Eastman)

(b Derby, Dec 12, 1879; d Windsor, Sept 10, 1932). English composer, orchestrator and director of music. He trained as a violinist, pianist and organist, was in charge of the music successively at the Prince of Wales, Savoy, Daly's and Drury Lane theatres, and, for the last 17 years of his life, at His Majesty's Theatre. He conducted the record-breaking run of Norton's Chu Chin Chow (which he also mainly orchestrated). He also orchestrated the Hiawatha and Minnehaha suites from Coleridge-Taylor's posthumous music (1919 and 1925 respectively), as he did Woodforde-Finden's Indian Love Lyrics, A Lover in Damascus and The Pagoda of Flowers. His choral selections from Wagner's Die Meistersinger and Parsifal were once popular with choirs.

Fletcher's own musical output was vast. To succeed Chu Chin Chow in 1921 he wrote Cairo; its intermezzo is still played. Among his partsongs, Ring Out, Wild Bells shows his mastery of late Edwardian vocal styles, to which he added some unusual modulations of his own. ...

Article

Leon Berger

(b London, May 11, 1874; d London, June 6, 1935). English performer, lyricist, librettist and producer, son of George Grossmith. He is sometimes called George Grossmith III to distinguish him from his father and grandfather, both also called George Grossmith. He made his début in Haste to the Wedding (1892), written by his father and W.S. Gilbert. Small parts followed until Morocco Bound (1893) which typecast him for life as an aristocratic ‘silly ass’. Starting with The Shop Girl (L. Monckton; 1894) he appeared regularly at the Gaiety Theatre, Daly’s and the Prince of Wales in nearly 20 musical comedies in as many years. As leading comedian, he often interpolated songs into shows, sometimes supplying his own lyrics, as with the American hit ‘Yip-I-Addy-I-Ay’ in Our Miss Gibbs (I. Caryll and Monckton; 1909). During World War I Tonight’s the Night opened in the USA and he made famous the Kern standard ‘They didn’t believe me’....

Article

(b New York, July 12, 1895; d Doylestown, PA, Aug 23, 1960). American lyricist, librettist, producer and publisher. Born into a notable theatrical family, his grandfather and namesake was the flamboyant opera impresario Oscar Hammerstein (1847–1919), who created and lost a handful of opera houses and companies around the turn of the century. Oscar studied law at Columbia where he became involved in the Varsity shows and, after graduation, continued to write songs. By ...

Article

Kate Daubney

(George )

(b New York, Feb 13, 1908; d Los Angeles, April 24, 1971). American musical director, conductor and arranger. He began his career as a pianist, playing and arranging for jazz artists, in particular for the Paul Whiteman Orchestra in the late 1920s. His arrangements of classic songs for Whiteman, such as Nobody's Sweetheart, are considered among the finest of their era, blending jazz instruments with those of the traditional orchestra. His later arrangement of Star Dust provided a hit in the early 1940s for clarinettist Artie Shaw. In 1940 he became musical director for Metro Goldwyn Mayer studios before moving to Twentieth Century-Fox in 1953. He was involved in arranging scores for a number of films and musicals including The Harvey Girls (1945) and The Pirate (1948); the arrangements reflect the complexity achieved in his work for Whiteman, although film music had only recently incorporated jazz into its idioms. He was nominated for Academy Awards for his work on several notable musicals, including ...

Article

Andrew Lamb

(b Cologne, 1855; d Eastergate, Sussex, Nov 26, 1937). German orchestrator, musical director and composer, active in England. Educated in Cologne and Meiningen, he came to London in 1880 as a cellist in the Saxe-Meiningen court orchestra, performing at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. Having settled in London, he worked as a theatre conductor and arranger, becoming the principal orchestrator for musical comedies of composers such as Lionel Monckton and Leslie Stuart, and also turning out the standard dance arrangements. Works for which he acted as musical director and orchestrator included Stuart’s Florodora (1899), The School Girl (1903) and Havana (1908) and Monckton’s The Quaker Girl (1910) and The Dancing Mistress (1912). His effective, if unadventurous, and inevitably somewhat Germanic style of orchestral sound came to typify the Edwardian musical comedy. He himself composed scores for two touring musicals, ...

Article

Daniele Buccio

(Henry )

(b Canton, OH, Aug 18, 1905; d West Redding, CT, July 31, 1978). American composer, violinist, bandleader, recording engineer, and producer. After graduating from Johns Hopkins University, he performed as a light classical violinist in the United States and Europe. During the 1930s he studied conducting with Maurice Frigara in Paris. After a near-fatal car accident in 1940, he organized his own dance band, the Light Brigade, which recorded for RCA and Columbia. After he disbanded it at the turn of the decade, Light devoted himself to management, working for several record companies before becoming president of Waldorf Music Hall Records in 1954. He founded his own label, Grand Award, in 1956 and had success with Dixieland and honky-tonk piano albums. In 1959, he founded Command Records on which he released Persuasive Percussion, the first in a successful series of high-fidelity albums that used stereo technology to great advantage. Over the next two decades, he continued to produce hit albums drawing on the latest technological savvy and packaged with covers usually designed by Josef Albers. Musicians who appeared on Light’s albums include the Free Design, Doc Severinsen, Dick Hyman, Bobby Byrne, and Bobby Hackett. In ...

Article

John Koegel

(b Hamburg, Jan 29, 1864; d New York, July 30, 1936). German composer, librettist, singer, actor and theatre manager, active in the United States. He began a career as a tenor with operetta companies in Germany and Austria. In 1890 Gustav Amberg brought him to New York to sing operetta roles, though he also sang in opera, most notably in the role of Turridu in Cavalleria rusticana (November 1891). In 1893 Philipp opened the Germania Theater (formerly Aberle’s Theatre), where he produced musical comedies modelled after Harrigan’s stage works, until 1902. He composed, wrote the librettos for, and appeared in such portrayals of German-American immigrant life on New York’s East Side as Der Corner Grocer aus der Avenue A (1893), Arme Maedchen (1893), Ein New Yorker Brauer (1894) and New York bei Nacht (1897). Ein New Yorker Brauer...

Article

Lise Waxer

(b New York City, Feb 28, 1938; d New York City, June 6, 1993). American vibraphone player, percussionist, composer, arranger, bandleader and producer. He trained at the Juilliard School of Music and launched his career in 1957, recording with Joe Loco. In 1960 he contributed to Johnny Pacheco’s first charanga album, El güiro de macorina and launched his own band in 1963, recording Introducing Louie Ramírez. Through the 1960s he performed with Joe Cuba and was a member of the Alegre All-Stars and, with the vocalist Pete Bonet, led the house band at New York City’s Corso Club in the late 1960s. Through the 70s and 80s he was a staff producer for Fania Records and its subsidiary labels Vaya, Inca, Cotique and Tico, and was also acting president of Alegre Records. As a producer, arranger and composer, he influenced the growing sophistication of New York salsa during this time, evident on his own tunes ...