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Article

[Abrams, Richard Louis ]

(b Chicago, IL, Sept 19, 1930). 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 (AACM) in 1965...

Article

Terence J. O’Grady

revised by Bryan Proksch

(b Los Angeles, CA, March 31, 1935). American trumpeter, composer, bandleader, and record company executive. He studied trumpet as a child and left college to play in the army for a two-year period. After three years of producing records on his own, he launched A&M Records with Jerry Moss in 1962. A&M’s first issue was also Alpert’s first recording as a trumpeter and bandleader, The Lonely Bull (A&M, 1962). The title track included sounds from the bullring in Tijuana, Mexico, so Alpert dubbed his band the Tijuana Brass. His music exploited a distinctive combination of Mexican mariachi-style brass with jazz rhythms, which was dubbed Ameriachi. A string of hits including “Mexican Shuffle” (A&M, 1964) and “Tijuana Taxi” (A&M, 1965) followed. In 1966 Alpert had five recordings simultaneously listed on the Billboard Top 20. His cover of “This guy’s in love with you” reached no.1 in ...

Article

Roxanne R. Reed

(b Anguilla, MS, March 21, 1919; d Hazel Crest, IL, 15 June, 1995). American gospel director, singer, composer, and publisher. Anderson established a career forming and training gospel groups in Chicago. His formative years were spent as one of the original Roberta Martin Singers, one of the premiere gospel groups of the 1930s and 1940s. He left briefly, between 1939 and 1941, to form the first of his many ensembles, the Knowles and Anderson Singers with R.L. Knowles. He rejoined Martin, but ultimately resigned because of the travel demands. In 1947 he formed Robert Anderson and his Gospel Caravan, but after several members left in 1952, he formed a new set of singers that recorded and performed under the name the Robert Anderson Singers through the mid-1950s. Throughout his career, Anderson recorded on a multitude of labels including Miracle and United with Robert Anderson and the Caravans; and later with the Robert Anderson Singers, on Apollo. Anderson wrote, and often sang lead on, many of the songs his groups performed, including “Why Should I Worry” (...

Article

John L., Jr. Clark

[Calhoun, Cora]

(b Chattanooga, TN, Sept 19, 1887; d Chicago, IL, July 10, 1972). American jazz and blues pianist, composer, bandleader, arranger, and music director. After studying at Roger Williams University (Nashville) and Knoxville College, she performed on the TOBA circuit and toured accompanying her second husband Buster Austin. In the early 1920s Austin moved to Chicago, where for almost 20 years she directed shows for touring stage performers as the music director and bandleader at the Monogram and Joyland theaters. From 1923 to 1926 she also led the house band at Paramount Records, accompanying blues singers and making instrumental recordings featuring such jazz musicians as Tommy Ladnier, Al Wynn, Johnny Dodds, and Jimmy O’Bryant. After working in a defense plant during World War II, Austin returned to music, working in dancing schools. Her final recording, in 1961 for Riverside Records, was a reunion with her friend Alberta Hunter and several musicians she had previously worked with in Chicago....

Article

Randolph Love

(b Edgard, LA, Dec 24, 1920). American Trumpeter, arranger, producer, songwriter, bandleader, and singer. He started his career as a trumpeter playing with established bands led by, among others, Papa Celestin, Joe Robichaux, and Claiborne Williams before joining Fats Pichon’s ensemble, considered one of the top groups in New Orleans, in 1939. During World War II he played in the 196th AGF (Army Ground Forces) Band, where he met Abraham Malone, who taught him how to write and arrange. After the war, he formed his own band in New Orleans, which made its debut at the Dew Drop Inn and later performed at Sam Simoneaux’s club Graystone where many of the city’s top instrumental players, including the drummer Earl Palmer and the saxophonists Lee Allen and Red Tyler, were showcased.

Bartholomew is best known for his talents as an arranger and songwriter. In the 1950s and 60s he worked with many of the biggest stars of the day, including Smiley Lewis, Lloyd Price, Shirley and Lee, and Joe Turner. By the 1970s he had associations with some of rock and roll’s most established talents, including Paul McCartney, Elton John, and the Rolling Stones. His most productive association was with fats Domino, whom he met through Lew Chudd, the owner of Imperial Records, where he worked as a house arranger, an A&R man and an in-house bandleader. From ...

Article

John Bass

[Joseph Arnold]

(b Philadelphia, PA, July 29, 1945; d Woodbury, CT, July 22, 2008). American guitarist, composer, and producer. After graduating from high school, he moved to New York and played with a jazz trio in the club Chuck’s Compository. He also worked as a studio musician and jingle writer, which eventually led to collaborations with Gil Evans. Beck was among the first jazz guitarists to incorporate rock guitar techniques, including the use of a distorted tone, into his playing. He was also a key figure in the fusion movement of the 1970s, along with the Brecker Brothers and David Sanborn. In 1967 he participated in recording sessions with Miles Davis’s second quintet (alongside Ron Carter, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, and Tony Williams). Although the music from this session was not immediately released, it influenced Davis’s later fusion of jazz and rock on such albums as Bitches Brew. From the 1970s through the 2000s, Beck recorded and performed with many notable jazz musicians, including Woody Herman, Larry Coryell, Kai Winding, Don Grolnick, Sanborn, Atilla Zoeller, Red Mitchell, and John Abercrombie. He also invented and performed on an instrument he called the alto guitar. Beck remained an in-demand session guitarist throughout his life, performing on albums by popular musicians including James Brown and Paul Simon. He also founded and ran the company Code Works, which specialized in creating jingles and songs for television and radio commercials....

Article

Stephen Holden

(b Kingston, Jamaica, Jan 27, 1943). American record producer, arranger, and songwriter of Jamaican birth. After spending his youth in Philadelphia he worked in the 1960s as a pianist for Cameo Records in Philadelphia and was a member of the group Kenny Gamble and the Romeos; Gamble later became Leon Huff’s production partner, and Bell collaborated with them on a number of projects. Bell had his first success as an independent record producer with the Delfonics’ “(La-La) means I love you” (Philly Groove, 1968) and two years later was responsible for another of their hits, “Didn’t I blow your mind this time” (Bell, 1970). He went on to create the refined, silky pop-soul sound of the Stylistics, who like the Delfonics made prominent use of falsetto in crooning ballads such as “You are everything” (Avco, 1971) and “Betcha by golly, wow” (Avco, 1972). Bell’s melodic style was heavily indebted to Burt Bacharach, and his sparkling orchestrations, using strings, woodwind, horns, and delicately scored percussion, were among the most ingenious quasi-symphonic, pop-soul arrangements of the 1970s. His equally fine work with the Spinners—including “I’ll be around” (Atlantic, ...

Article

Gareth Dylan Smith

[Balassoni, Luigi Paulino Alfredo Francisco Antonio]

(b Rock Falls, IL, July 6, 1924; d Los Angeles, CA, Feb 14, 2009). American drummer, composer, arranger, and music director. He began learning drums with his father at the age of three and won the first annual Slingerland National Gene Krupa Drumming Contest when he was 17. He performed with, among others, Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, Sammy Davis Jr., Tommy Dorsey, Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Benny Goodman, Lionel Hampton, Woody Herman, Harry James, Oscar Peterson, Mel Tormé, Sarah Vaughan, and Pearl Bailey, to whom he was married. He was a member of Duke Ellington’s orchestra several times (1951–3, 1956, and 1965–6), and Ellington incorporated a number of Bellson’s compositions into the band’s repertoire, including the drum kit feature “Skin Deep.” Bellson also led his own band almost uninterrupted for 40 years, and wrote more than 1000 compositions in a range of classical and jazz styles. An ambidextrous player, he pioneered the use of two bass drums that was subsequently emulated by numerous heavy metal drummers as well as others such as Billy Cobham, Jon Hiseman, and Ian Paice. He was awarded four doctorates, nominated for four Grammy Awards, named a Living Legend of Music by the Avedis Zildjian Company (...

Article

Jeffrey Holmes

(Bryan)

(b Bakersfield, CA, Aug 18, 1953). American jazz pianist, composer, arranger, and producer. He studied piano and theory at El Camino College (1972), arranging and orchestration at Valley College (1973), and film scoring at UCLA (1981). His teachers included Abraham Fraser (piano), Donald Neligan, Heichiro Ohyama, Donald Ray, and Jan Robertson. In 1976 he became music director and conductor for the singer Lainie Kazan, followed by similar work for the singers Ann Margaret and Connie Stevens. From 1977 he has recorded his own smooth jazz albums; those from the 1980s, including This Side Up and Every Step of the Way (one of his many Grammy nominated recordings), helped to define the genre. He has been involved in a wide range of projects, including working for ten years as a composer for “Peanuts” TV specials, with the GRP All-Star Big Band, and with such musicians as Kenny Loggins, Patti Austin, Kenny Rankin, and Faith Hill. He is also a film score composer and conductor; in the latter role he has worked with the Asia America Symphony Orchestra, which gave the first performance of his piano concerto ...

Article

Ryan D.W. Bruce

(b Montreal, Canada, Nov 10, 1932). Canadian jazz pianist, composer, record producer, and bandleader. He was established by the age of 17, when Oscar Peterson recommended him as his replacement for the last year of an engagement at the Alberta Lounge in Montreal. After moving to New York to attend the Juilliard School (1950–54), he became part of the traditional and modern music scenes and recorded his first album as leader, with Charles Mingus and Art Blakey among his sidemen (Introducing Paul Bley, 1953, Debut). He also played with other notable musicians such as Ben Webster, Lester Young, Roy Eldridge, and Charlie Parker during the 1950s. In 1957 he moved to Los Angeles where he performed at the Hillcrest Club. His quintet, which included Charlie Haden, Billy Higgins, Don Cherry, and Ornette Coleman, became Coleman’s quartet when Bley left for New York in 1959. During the early 1960s he again played with Mingus, as well as with George Russell, Jimmy Giuffre, and Sonny Rollins. As a founding member of the Jazz Composers Guild (from ...

Article

Jonas Westover

[Salvatore Phillip]

(b Detroit, MI, Feb 16, 1935; d South Lake Tahoe, CA, Jan 5, 1998). American singer, composer, producer, actor, and politician. Bono began his career as a composer; one of his first songs, “Things You Do To Me,” was recorded by Sam Cooke in 1957–8. He eventually made contact with Phil Spector, with whom he worked closely for several years. One of his first successes came in 1963, when his song “Needles and Pins” (co-written with Jack Nitzsche) was recorded by Jackie DeShannon and reached number one on the charts in Canada. The height of his musical career came in the 1960s and 1970s as part of the duo Sonny and Cher. He wrote, produced, and performed on many of their hits, including “I Got You Babe” and “The Beat Goes On.” Success with Cher, to whom he was married from 1964 to 1975, led to many appearances on television, including ...

Article

John W. Rumble

(b Westmoreland, TN, Oct 21, 1915; d Nashville, TN Jan 7, 1998). American record producer, arranger, and bandleader. Adept at piano and other instruments, he began playing professionally by age 15, following his family’s move to Nashville. By 1940, he was leading his own dance band and broadcasting on local radio, and in 1942, with fellow WSM musicians Marvin Hughes and Beasley Smith, he composed “Night Train to Memphis,” a hit for rising Grand Ole Opry star Roy Acuff. After World War II, Bradley became WSM’s music director.

In 1947, Decca Records country recording chief Paul Cohen tapped Bradley to head the company’s Nashville office and assist in sessions. Bradley recorded for the Bullet, Coral, and Decca labels, and he made his reputation by working with Decca hit makers Ernest Tubb, Red Foley, Kitty Wells, Webb Pierce, Bobby Helms, and Brenda Lee, the last gaining pop stardom before releasing a series of country hits in the 1960s. After assuming Cohen’s position in ...

Article

(b Honolulu, HI, Nov 9, 1909; d Honolulu, HI, April 27, 1992). Hawaiian singer, musician, bandleader, composer, and impresario. Sol Bright was a master entertainer of the old school: an energetic showman, accomplished musician, comic hula dancer, composer, raconteur, and entertainment director during Hawaiian music’s era of greatest international appeal, the 1920s through the 1960s.

His professional experience began as a teenager playing drums with his sister Hannah’s dance band. In 1928 an offer to play rhythm guitar and sing with Sol Ho`opi`i took him to Kaleponi (California), where a large community of Hawaiian musicians had formed. He started his own group, The Hollywood Hawaiians, in 1932. Playing steel guitar and singing, he recorded prolifically for major labels. He also appeared on radio and in four films: South Sea Rose,Charlie Chan’s Greatest Case,Flirtation Walk, and White Woman. Bright composed a number of songs that have become standards, including the jazzy English language “Sophisticated Hula” and “Hawaiian Cowboy,” a show-stopping novelty song in Hawaiian. With rapid-fire verses, reflective of fast ...

Article

Stephanie Conn

(b Glen Ridge, NJ, Dec 11, 1963). American producer, composer, songwriter, drummer, guitarist, pianist, bass player, keyboard player, and vibraphonist. Born into a musical family he left high school early to play music. He performed in Boston in the late 1980s and then moved to Los Angeles, where he worked as a sideman, songwriter and producer with various musicians he knew from Boston including the singer-songwriter Aimee Mann. He became known as an indispensable studio session musician and producer.

Although Brion is a prolific songwriter, he is perhaps best known for his varied projects as a producer and composer, which have spanned pop, rock, jazz, hip hop, and bluegrass. Among the artists that he has produced are Fiona Apple, Beck, Dido, Brad Mehldau, of Montreal, Elliott Smith, Rufus Wainwright, and Kanye West. Brion often plays and co-writes for his productions. He has also written scores for films, including ...

Article

Ian Whitcomb

[Bush, Louis Ferdinand; Carr, Joe ‘Fingers’]

(b Louisville, KY, July 18, 1910; d Camarillo, CA, Sept 19, 1979). American ragtime pianist, composer and recording executive. At the age of 16 he left home to tour as a pianist with the Clyde McCoy band, a popular dance orchestra of the 1930s. He later served as a pianist and arranger with a series of big bands, notably those of George Olsen, Ray Noble, Vincent Lopez and Henry Busse. In 1941 he settled in Los Angeles and, after a period as accompanist to Lena Horne, was employed by the newly formed West Coast record label Capitol. When Euday L. Bowman’s Twelfth Street Rag (recorded in 1948 by Pee Wee Hunt) sold more than 3 million copies worldwide, Busch was placed in charge of Capitol's artists and repertory department and invited to capitalize on the success of the recording. He then adopted his pseudonym, Joe ‘Fingers’ Carr, and agreed to be marketed on record covers as a typical black bar-room pianist with gartered sleeves, cigar and derby hat; despite this promotional gimmickry, he played fine ragtime piano. He also wrote a long series of sturdy hit rags. His 36 singles and 14 albums during the 1950s created a congenial setting for the ragtime revival and inspired many young musicians who later developed the second revival in the late 1960s. Under the name Lou Busch he also enjoyed success in Britain with his recording ...

Article

Hsun Lin

[Caesar, Isidore ]

(b New York, NY, July 4, 1895; d New York, NY, Dec 17, 1996). American lyricist, composer, producer, and writer. He attended what became the Third Street Music School Settlement for his early training. He worked for the Ford Motor Company for several years before he began his career on Broadway. His first hit was “Swanee,” one of many collaborations with George Gershwin. It became a hit for Al Jolson upon its premiere in Sigmund Romberg’s Sinbad (1918–19).

Although Caesar remained productive throughout his life, most of his successful works were written before World War II, especially those created for stage musicals and revues in the 1920s. Among his most important songs are “I Love Her, She Loves Me” (Make It Snappy, 1922, with Eddie Cantor); “The Yankee Doodle Blues” (Spice of 1922, with Buddy DeSylva and George Gershwin); and the enormously popular standards “Tea For Two” and “I Want To Be Happy” (...

Article

Horace Clarence Boyer

revised by Roxanne R. Reed

[Williams, Lucie ]

(b Duckhill, MS, April 30, 1885; d Nashville, TN, Jan 3, 1963). American gospel composer and director. Her widowed mother moved the family to Memphis when Campbell was four. Campbell learned piano by listening in on lessons taken by an older sister and proved an astute student of music with a keen intellect. She graduated as the valedictorian of her class at Booker T. Washington High School in 1899 and immediately accepted a teaching position there, which she held for the next 44 years. In 1904 she organized and presided over the Music Club, the local affiliate of the National Association of Negro Musicians. She combined her vocation of teaching and her avocation of music in her most revered service, as the music director of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. (1916–62). Each year, beginning in 1930, Campbell introduced a new song into the convention’s repertoire. It was for the convention that she wrote most of her 46 published gospel songs beginning with “Something within” (...

Article

Jonas Westover

(Angela)

(b Huntington, NY, March 27, 1970). American singer, composer, producer, and actress. She is one of the top-selling artists of all time, a star in R&B and pop who sold, according to some estimates, more than 200 million albums during the 1990s and 2000s. She learned to sing as a child from her mother, an opera singer and vocal coach. While in high school she sang backing vocals for other artists and developed her own compositional style. She moved to New York in the mid-1980s and became a backing singer for Brenda K. Starr. The record company executive Tommy Mottola sought out Carey after hearing her voice on a demo tape. He immediately offered her a recording contract, resulting in her first album, Mariah Carey (1990); the two eventually married. Carey wrote or co-wrote a significant portion of the music on her first album and insisted on maintaining a degree of control over its production. Both of these elements have become her standard practice, and she is one of the few major pop artists to compose much of her own material. ...

Article

Gareth Dylan Smith

(b Medford, MA, Aug 4, 1965). American jazz drummer, composer, and producer. She was a child prodigy, born to a musical family. Her father was a saxophonist and her grandfather played drums with Duke Ellington, Fats Waller, and Sammy Davis Jr. After initially playing saxophone, Carrington took up drums when she was seven and began playing professionally at ten. She studied at the Berklee College of Music for three semesters from the age of 11. She has performed with such musicians as Robin Eubanks, Stan Getz, Dizzy Gillespie, John Patitucci, Oscar Peterson, David Sanborn, Wayne Shorter, and Stephen Touray. Although primarily a jazz drummer, Carrington has shown interest as well in rock and has performed in a wide range of styles as a first-call session musician with, among others, Kenny Barron, Greg Osby, Vernon Reid, Patrice Rushen, Brenda Russell, Pharoah Saunders, Esperanza Spaulding, Michael Thompson, Freddy Washington, Larry Williams, and Cassandra Wilson. She is perhaps best known for her long association with Herbie Hancock and gained attention of the wider public as the house drummer on television talk shows including the ...

Article

Noal Cohen

[Cohen, Theodore Charles]

(b Chicopee Falls, MA, April 13, 1928, d Riverhead, NY, April 16, 2012). American jazz vibraphonist, composer, arranger, and record producer. Although initially a drummer, he found his true calling as a vibraphonist and by the late 1940s had emerged as one of a handful of musicians capable of adapting that instrument to bebop. While studying percussion at the Juilliard School, he met the composer Hall Overton who was an important influence in the development of Charles’s distinctive approach to jazz performance. His first significant recordings took place between 1952 and 1955 for Prestige, which resulted in a series of albums called New Directions. Strikingly fresh and innovative, this music was based upon the integration of the written and improvised portions of a jazz piece in a manner that afforded new challenges and opportunities for the artists involved. The culmination of these efforts came in 1956 with the formation of the Teddy Charles Tentet; this group’s landmark recordings for Atlantic drew critical acclaim. In addition to the leader, other notable writers including Gil Evans, George Russell, and Jimmy Giuffre contributed to the ensemble’s unique repertoire. Always in search of ways to expand the jazz vocabulary, Charles established associations with like-minded individuals including the bass player Charles Mingus, the pianist Mal Waldron, and the saxophonist Teo Macero. In addition, he often participated in studio sessions led by pop and rhythm-and-blues artists and produced recordings for Prestige, Bethlehem, and Warwick. In the late 1960s he left music to concentrate on his other life passion, sailing. From the 1980s until his death in ...