(b Port Chester, NY, Dec 16, 1944; d Cortlandt Manor, NY, Aug 22, 2017). American jazz guitarist, composer, and bandleader. He grew up in Greenwich, CT, and began playing guitar at the age of 14. He was primarily self taught until he studied at the Berklee College of Music (1962–6) and with Jack Petersen. Abercrombie joined Johnny Hammond’s touring band after the blues organist had spotted him performing with other Berklee students at Paul’s Mall in Boston. After studying briefly at the University of North Texas, in 1969 he moved to New York where he performed and recorded in Billy Cobham’s jazz-rock band Dreams (1970), joined Chico Hamilton’s group, and recorded with Gato Barbieri (1971), Barry Miles (1972), and Gil Evans (1974). Abercrombie attracted wider attention performing with Cobham’s fusion band Spectrum from 1974. He also toured with Jack DeJohnette and recorded his debut album, ...
[Abrams, Richard Louis]
(b Chicago, IL, Sept 19, 1930; d New York, Oct 29, 2017). American pianist, composer, and administrator. After receiving private piano lessons, he studied at the Chicago Musical College and taught himself the system of composition devised by Joseph Schillinger. He began to work professionally in 1948 and performed regularly at the Cotton Club in Chicago during the 1950s, accompanying visiting musicians such as Dexter Gordon, Sonny Stitt, and Max Roach. After composing and arranging for the Walter “King” Fleming band in the mid-1950s, Abrams joined the hard bop ensemble MJT+3 and made his recording debut on the group’s album DADDY-O PRESENTS MJT+3 (1957, VJ 1013). Beginning in 1961 Abrams led the Experimental Band, a composer-centered rehearsal ensemble whose members included the double bass player Donald Rafael Garrett, Jack DeJohnette, Roscoe Mitchell, and the reed player Joseph Jarman. He subsequently co-founded the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians...
[Alexander, John Marshall ]
(b Memphis, TN, June 9, 1929; d Houston, TX, Dec 25, 1954). American rhythm-and-blues singer and songwriter. He served in the US Navy in World War II, then played piano with the Memphis-based group the Beale Streeters alongside Bobby Bland, Junior Parker, Roscoe Gordon, and B. B. King; they played electric blues in the style of Sonny Boy Williamson, and in the early 1950s recorded for Ike Turner and Sam Phillips. Ace then signed a contract as a solo artist with Don Robey’s Duke recording company; his record “My Song” reached number one on the rhythm-and-blues chart in 1952, as did “The Clock” the following year. Using a smoother style, he made a series of successful recordings in 1953 and 1954, and became a popular live performer. After his death, his song “Pledging my Love” (1955) became his greatest hit; it was later recorded by Elvis Presley, among others. Ace developed a sophisticated type of rhythm and blues, and had more success as a performer of emotional ballads than as a bluesman. His earnest, suppliant style became a model for later romantic singers....
Musical subculture of the late 1980s and 90s. Acid jazz is largely a fusion of black American musical styles such as funk, soul and hip-hop combined with a visual aesthetic which borrows extensively from both British popular culture of the 1960s and black American street style of the 70s. Fundamentally a form of street style, it combined music, fashion and recreational drug use to create an ‘attitude’ that owed much to the beatniks of the 1960s (hence ‘jazz’) and a nostalgia for the 1960s and 70s, regarded as a time when musicianship was vital to good dance music as opposed to the more contemporary technological emphasis. The term covers a wide range of musical styles, from the electronic disco styling of bands such as Jamiroquai and Brand New Heavies to the Santana-inspired funk rock of Mother Earth and the Mendez Report. The common denominator is usually the influence of funk, drawing on syncopated rhythmic interplay between the instruments and the use of chromatic chord sequences used widely in post-bop jazz but rarely in mainstream pop or dance music....
American family of composers of gospel music. Alfred H(enry) Ackley (b Spring Hill, PA, 21 Jan 1887; d Whittier, CA, 3 July 1960) composed and edited gospel hymns and choruses and was associated with Homer A. Rodeheaver. Alfred's brother, Bentley DeForest Ackley (b Sping Hill, PA, 27 Sept 1872...
(b Kingston, ON, Nov 5, 1959). Canadian rock singer, songwriter, and guitarist, and photographer. The son of a diplomat, he spent his youth in England, Israel, Portugal, and Austria. After returning with his family to North America, he began performing and recording at the age of 15 with rock bands in British Columbia and Ontario. In 1978 he began what became a long and successful songwriting partnership with Jim Vallance, with whom he created most songs recorded under his name up to 1987, as well as songs recorded by Rod Stewart, Kiss, Bonnie Raitt, Neil Diamond, and the Canadian groups Prism, BTO, and Loverboy.
Adams’ albums characteristically alternate between down-tempo piano ballads and straight-ahead rock numbers. His third solo album, Cuts like a Knife (1983) launched him to the status of an international celebrity; its singles included the ballad “Straight from the Heart” and the anthem “Cuts like a Knife,” which both featured for weeks on magazine charts and music television. The next album, ...
[Park Frederick, III ]
(b Highland Park, MI, Oct 8, 1930; d Brooklyn, NY, Sept 10, 1986). American jazz baritone saxophonist and composer. He grew up in Rochester where he took up tenor and baritone saxophones and clarinet, but settled on baritone after moving to Detroit in 1947 as a means of finding work in the city’s fiercely competitive music scene. After serving for two years in the US Army Band, Adams returned to Detroit in 1953 and worked there with Tommy Flanagan, Barry Harris, Kenny Burrell, and Elvin Jones, in the house band at the Blue Bird and at Klein’s. In 1956 he moved to New York and was a member of Stan Kenton’s big band for six months following a recommendation from Oscar Pettiford. From the following year, Adams spent 20 years working in big bands led by Maynard Ferguson, Benny Goodman, Quincy Jones, Lionel Hampton, and Thad Jones and Mel Lewis. During this period he also performed in small ensembles whenever possible and was in demand as a recording artist. Notably, he co-led a quintet with Donald Byrd from ...
(b Tampa, FL, Nov 25, 1931; d Lakeland, FL, Jan 2, 2000). American jazz cornetist, bandleader, and composer, brother of Cannonball Adderley. He took up trumpet as a child at the suggestion of his father, a cornetist, but switched to cornet in 1950. His career was closely linked with that of Cannonball. They formed their first band as children and played together through school, college, and the Army. Adderley then played with Lionel Hampton (1954–5), before joining Cannonball’s new band after the saxophonist’s Café Bohemia debut (1955). He then worked with J.J. Johnson and Woody Herman (1957–9) while his brother was with Miles Davis, after which he spent 16 years as a member of Cannonball’s successful quintet (1959–75). During this period he played the trumpet part for Sammy Davis Jr. in the film A Man Called Adam (1966). Following Cannonball’s death in ...
(b Springhill, LA, Jan 13, 1962). American country music singer. In line with country “hat acts” and neo-traditionalists such as Toby Keith and Tim McGraw, Trace Adkins has forged a working-class image and hard-driving sound by merging honky-tonk with Southern rock, gospel, and blues. His masculine bravado and allegiance to a blue-collar ethos has solidified his position as one of country’s top acts.
After time spent working on an oil rig, Adkins moved to Nashville in 1992 to pursue his musicalcareer. There he met producer Scott Hendricks, who signed him to Capitol Records. His 1996 debut album, Dreamin’ Out Loud, yielded the successful singles “Every Light in the House,” “I Left Something Turned on at Home,” and “(This Ain’t) No Thinkin’ Thing,” which became his first number-one country hit. Despite problems with alcoholism and a drunk-driving charge, his 2001 album Chrome reached the top five on Billboard’s Country Albums chart. In ...
Paul D. Fischer
(b Chicago, IL, Dec 13, 1933). American record producer, songwriter, artist manager, label owner, and entrepreneur. He was most active in the popular-music industry from the 1950s to the 1970s. He held jobs in publishing and became co-manager of Jan and Dean with Herb Alpert. Under the pseudonym Barbara Campbell, the pair co-wrote “Only Sixteen” for Sam Cooke. Adler also co-wrote “Wonderful World” with Alpert and Cooke. In 1964 he founded Dunhill Records, which was sold to ABC in 1966. He later brought the songwriter P.F. Sloan and the singer Barry McGuire together for “Eve of Destruction.” While the manager and producer of the Mamas and Papas, he co-produced the Monterey international pop festival in 1967, insisting that the event be filmed and retaining those rights. The following year he founded Ode Records, which is noted for releasing Carole King’s album Tapestry. He also produced records and directed a series of “stoner” films for Cheech and Chong. He also served as an executive producer for and bought the US rights to the film ...
American hard rock band. Formed in 1970, the band's best-known line-up was Steven Tyler (Steven Tallerico; b New York, 26 March 1948; vocals), Joe Perry (b Boston, 10 Sept 1950; guitar), Brad Whitford (bReading, MA, 23 Feb 1952; guitar), Tom Hamilton (b Colorado Springs, CO, 31 Dec 1951; bass) and Joey Kramer (b New York, 21 June 1950; drums). The band was initially dismissed by critics, who saw them as imitators of the Rolling Stones, in part because of Tyler's physical resemblance to Mick Jagger. However, by 1976 they were major stars and ended up being very influential on subsequent bands in their own right. Although sometimes considered a heavy metal band, their loose rhythmic feel, Perry's blue-style guitar solos and Tyler's diverse lyrical topics separate them from that genre. They have succeeded with riff-oriented rock songs but also power ballads such as Dream on...
A jazz style. It was created from a fusion of bop with traditional Cuban elements, that arose in the 1940s, primarily in the work of Dizzy Gillespie; it is distinguished from the more general Latin jazz by the specific influence of Cuban dance, folk and popular idioms. Although a Latin-American or Caribbean influence (Jelly Roll Morton called it the ‘Latin tinge’) is discernible in jazz from the late 19th century, the earliest use of Cuban elements is traceable only to Alberto Socarras and Mario Bauzá in the late 1930s. Afro-Cuban jazz became a clearly defined style and acquired an international following only when Gillespie, who had been influenced by Bauzá, began to collaborate with the outstanding Cuban percussionist Chano Pozo. For Gillespie, Bauzá, and others, the main impulse for the Afro-Cuban movements came from their feeling that American jazz of the 1930s and 1940s, being essentially monorhythmic, needed the kind of enrichment that an infusion of Afro-Cuban polyrhythms would provide....
(b New York, NY, Dec 18, 1980). American singer. She is one of the most popular singers of her generation. Her father (originally from Ecuador), a sergeant in the US Army, and her American mother, a Spanish teacher, divorced when Aguilera was seven. As a child, Aguilera placed second on the television show Star Search, and performed on the Mickey Mouse Club along with Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears. In 1998, she launched her recording career with a track for Disney’s animated film Mulan. In 1998 she also signed with RCA, and her first album, Christina Aguilera (1999) reached number one on the Billboard 200. Her singles from that album, “Genie in a Bottle,” “What a Girl Wants,” and “Come on Over Baby” reached Number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. Her first Spanish language album, Mi reflejo (2000), stood for 20 weeks at Number 1 on the Billboard Latin charts and earned her a Latin Grammy for Best Female Pop Vocal Album. In ...
Bryan S. Wright
(b New York, NY, Sept 19, 1892; d New York, NY, Oct 20, 1953). American songwriter and arranger. He was raised in Manhattan and, after graduating from the City College of New York and Fordham Law School, took a job with publishers Waterson, Berlin, and Snyder. He began writing songs for vaudeville acts and had his first notable success with the 1920 song “I’d Love to Fall Asleep and Wake Up in My Mammy’s Arms” (co-written with Sam Lewis and Joe Young). In the 1920s and 1930s, he wrote arrangements for such dance orchestras as Irving Aaronson’s Commanders and Fred Waring’s Pennsylvanians. He is perhaps best remembered for his Tin Pan Alley collaborations with lyricist Roy Turk, with whom he wrote such songs as “I’ll Get By (As Long As I Have You),” “Mean to Me,” “Walkin’ My Baby Back Home,” “Where the Blue of the Night Meets the Gold of the Day” (which became Bing Crosby’s theme song), and “Love, You Funny Thing!” For a time in the early 1930s, Ahlert lived in Los Angeles where he wrote scores for films such as ...
Musical group formed in 2002 in Los Angeles. The most successful exponents of the Southern California style known as “banda rap” or “urban regional” music, Akwid is a duo of brothers Francisco and Sergio Gómez. Born in Michoacan and raised in Los Angeles, the Gomezes made their debut in the mid 1990s as English-language rappers Juvenile Style, then switched to Spanish and renamed themselves Akwid (a combination of their deejay pseudonyms, A.K. and Wikid) in 2000.
Their first album gained only lackluster sales, but after they signed with a subsidiary of Univision in 2003, their second, Proyecto Akwid, sold a third of a million CDs. Its sound mixed traditional Mexican music—especially the West Coast brass band style known as banda—with rhythms and studio techniques adapted from gangsta rap. Other groups were attempting similar fusions, but where most had to rely on outside producers, Akwid controlled their own sound and created a particularly organic musical combination, driven by the thump of tuba samples and clever use of familiar ...
David B. Pruett
Country music group. Acknowledged by the Academy of Country Music (ACM) in 1989 as the Artist of the Decade for the 1980s, Alabama is arguably the most celebrated country music group in the history of the genre. Three of the band’s members—lead vocalist Randy Owen (b Fort Payne, AL, 13 Dec 1949), multi-instrumentalist Jeff Cook (b Fort Payne, AL, 27 Aug 1949), and bassist Teddy Gentry (b Fort Payne, AL, 22 Jan 1952)—had been performing their unique blend of southern rock and country pop together throughout the American South since 1969. Beginning in 1974, the group began playing regular shows in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, where drummer Mark Herndon (b Springfield, MA, 11 May 1955) became the group’s fourth and final member in 1979, one year before Alabama signed with RCA. The group’s first major label release My Home’s in Alabama (RCA, ...
E. Ron Horton
(b Hollywood, CA, Aug 30, 1957). American jazz and pop saxophonist. With Grover Washington jr and George Benson he was at the forefront of a movement in the 1970s that combined a jazz sensibility with more mass-market styles such as funk, rock, and rhythm and blues. Albright attended Locke High School where Patrice Rushen was a fellow student. At the University of Redlands, he read business management with a minor in music; during this time he refined his saxophone technique and learned to play bass guitar. He subsequently performed and recorded with Rushen, playing the well-known saxophone solo on her hit single “Forget me nots” (Rhino, 1982). Thereafter, his career flourished as he worked with a range of artists including Anita Baker, the Winans Family, Lola Folana, Whitney Houston, Phil Collins, and Quincy Jones. One of Bill Clinton’s favorite saxophonists, Albright performed at the president’s inauguration as well as at several of his private functions. As a leader, he has made nine albums and sold more than one million records in the United States; his recordings ...
(b Jewett, TX, Sept 12, 1900; d Richards, TX, April 18, 1954). American blues singer. He spent most of his life in east Texas, where he worked as a farmhand in Leon and Grimes counties and as a storeman in Dallas. There he was heard by the record salesman and blues pianist Sam Price, who arranged his first recording session. Alexander became one of the most popular recording blues singers of the 1920s. He was imprisoned for at least two offenses in the course of his career, and his earliest recordings, including “Levee Camp Moan” (1927, OK), are strongly influenced by work song. Unlike most male folk blues singers, he did not accompany himself; on this and the well-known “West Texas Blues” (1928, OK) among others, he was supported by the guitarist Lonnie Johnson, who was able to complement his irregular timing and verse structure. Alexander had a low, moaning singing style and used hummed choruses to good effect, as on “St. Louis Fair Blues” (...
Horace Clarence Boyer
revised by Tammy L. Kernodle
(b Hamilton, MS, Jan 21, 1916; d Los Angeles, CA, July 8, 1996). American gospel singer, manager, and promoter. He moved to Los Angeles in the early 1940s to become a member of the Southern Gospel Singers, an all-male quartet. In 1946 he joined the Pilgrim Travelers, another male quartet, of which he soon became the guiding force. During its period of greatest popularity in the 1950s and 1960s the group became known for its close and smooth harmonies. Its members have included Kylo Turner and Keith Barber (leads), Jesse Whitaker (baritone), and Raphael Taylor (bass); jazz singer Lou Rawls also sang with the group in the late 1950s. Among their popular recordings were “Mother Bowed” (1950) and “I was there when the spirit came” (1952). The group performed in concert throughout the United States and won acclaim for their appearances at the Apollo Theater in New York. When the Travelers disbanded following a car accident that left Rawls hospitalized, Alexander shifted his focus to production and management. Alexander was instrumental in securing a recording contract for Dorothy Love Coates and the Original Gospel Harmonettes, recommended the singer Jessy Dixon to Brother Joe May and is credited as one of Little Richard’s early mentors and managers. He started working with Sam Cooke, who left gospel music in the late 1950s to pursue a career in pop music, and together they formed SAR records in ...