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Charles Fox and Digby Fairweather

(b Welwyn Garden City, April 17, 1930). English jazz trombonist, arranger and bandleader. He studied the trombone and the double bass at the GSM in London, and formed his first traditional jazz band in 1949. In 1953 he helped to organize a band that was led by Ken Colyer, at that time the most ardent British propagandist for traditional New Orleans music. The following year Barber took over the band; Colyer was replaced by Pat Halcox, and the ensemble soon became one of the most popular and technically accomplished groups of its kind. From the mid-1950s Barber helped foster British interest in blues by bringing over such American musicians as Muddy Waters, the harmonica player Sonny Terry and the guitarist and singer Brownie McGhee. He made several tours of the USA beginning in 1959, and also recorded two albums with his American Jazz Band, which included Sidney De Paris, Edmond Hall and Hank Duncan. Barber expanded his interests, recording classic rags (scored for his band) long before the popular rediscovery of Scott Joplin, and working with musicians from other areas of jazz (notably the Jamaican saxophonists Bertie King and Joe Harriott). Renewed interest in traditional jazz in the early 1960s brought wide success to Barber and his group, which included as its singer his wife, Ottilie Patterson. After rhythm-and-blues achieved general popularity in the early 1960s he re-formed his group as Chris Barber’s Jazz and Blues Band, and, while retaining his roots in New Orleans jazz, engaged rock and blues musicians guitarist John Slaughter and the drummer Pete York. During the 1970s the band toured frequently in Europe. In ...

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Leonidas Economou

(b Athens, Greece, Dec 11, 1922; d Athens, April 7, 2005). Greek singer and composer. He began his career as a laïko composer and bouzouki soloist and sang only occasionally. He made his first great hit as a singer in 1956, with a song by Manos Hadjidakis, but he became widely known in the early 1960s when Mikis Theodorakis chose him as the main interpreter of some of his most important works. His career peaked between 1960 and 1974. He became the most important male voice of the entechno laïko song, performing a great number of songs of all the composers of this genre. He also recorded new influential versions of classic rebetika and many laïko and elafrolaïko hits (often his own compositions). His timid acceptance of the Junta regime blemished his image and, due also to the deterioration of his voice, his career declined and he made only a few recordings after ...

Article

Brenda M. Romero

(b Tlaxiaco, Mexico, Sept 9, 1967). Mexican singer, composer, and anthropologist. She was already well known in Mexico when she emerged in the US mainstream with her performance in the film Frida (2002). Her father was Scottish American and her mother is Mixtec from Oaxaca, thus Downs grew up traveling back and forth between the United States and Mexico and between cultures. She began singing at the age of five and began formal classical voice studies at 14 at Bellas Artes in Oaxaca. She subsequently studied in Los Angeles and at the University of Minnesota, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in anthropology, focusing on Oaxacan highland textiles. In addition to crediting African American music in general, and female singers and the music of jazz in particular, for showing her the many ways in which the voice can be used as an instrument to articulate a wide palette of expressiveness, she credits a range of musical influences, including the Grateful Dead, Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, Meredith Monk (especially her extended vocal techniques), Thelonious Monk, and John Coltrane. She has conducted most of her work in collaboration with her husband ...

Article

Ian Whitcomb

(b Hohensalza [now Inowrocław, Poland], Aug 18, 1879; d Los Angeles, CA, Nov 7, 1945). American singer, songwriter, and impresario. His family immigrated to the United States in the 1880s. By the age of 14 Edwards was working as a singer in Tony Pastor’s Music Hall in New York, and he subsequently appeared as a vaudeville performer with four other boys in an act called the Newsboy Quintet. In 1899 he began to write songs with the lyricist Will D. Cobb, beginning a partnership that lasted for several years. Their first hit was “I can’t tell why I love you, but I do” (1900), and they went on to establish their reputation with such songs as “Goodbye little girl, goodbye” (1904) and “School Days” (1907), a melodious waltz ballad with lyrics yearning for the simple days of small-town rural America. This last-named song was written for a revue in which Edwards appeared with a number of young actors; its success was such that he continued to present his “kiddie discovery shows” with new performers and material for the next 20 years. Among the juvenile actors he promoted were Eddie Cantor, George Jessel, Walter Winchell, and Ray Bolger. Many of Edwards’s best songs, including “Sunbonnet Sue” (...

Article

David Buckley

revised by Cecilia Sun

(Peter George St John Le Baptiste de la Salle )

(b Woodbridge, UK, May 15, 1948). English composer, singer, keyboard player, sound artist, and producer. He attended art school in Ipswich and Winchester, during which time he was inspired by John Cage’s Silence to develop an interest in experimental music. He later joined the Scratch Orchestra and the Portsmouth Sinfonia. He first worked professionally from 1970 to 1973 with the seminal art-rock band Roxy Music, playing keyboard on their first two albums Roxy Music (Island, 1972) and For your Pleasure (Island, 1973). By treating the group’s live sound electronically with a tape recorder and VC5 3 synthesizer, he defined a role for himself as an “aural collagist.” After leaving Roxy Music, Eno developed this interest in the timbral quality of music further with the albums No Pussy Footing (Island, 1973; with Robert Fripp) and Another Green World (Island, 1975), the latter a brilliant combination of quirky songs and pastoral instrumentals. In ...

Article

Charles Fox

(b London, May 28, 1907; d London, Dec 23, 1958). English jazz pianist, composer and bandleader. The son of a West African barrister and a German mother, he was educated in England. During the late 1920s he travelled to the USA, where he wrote arrangements for Earl Hines’s orchestra and was commissioned by Paul Whiteman to compose new works. In 1933 he returned to Britain and formed a band made up of two clarinets, bassoon, three saxophones, piano, double bass and drums – an unconventional instrumentation for jazz and dance music at that time. For this and later ensembles he wrote many short pieces, including Serenade for a Wealthy Widow/Angry Jungle (1933, Col.), The Autocrat before Breakfast (1934, Col.), Dodging a Divorcee (1935, Col.) and Swing for Roundabout (1936, Decca). In 1934 Foresythe returned to the USA to perform with Whiteman, and the following year he recorded in New York with a band that included Benny Goodman, John Kirby and Gene Krupa; apart from this occasion, however, he made little use of improvisation. After World War II he led another band, but his final years were spent in obscurity, playing the piano in small drinking clubs in London around Soho and Kensington....

Article

Leonidas Economou

(b Athens, Greece, Nov 26, 1926; d Athens, Dec 3, 1988). Greek singer, composer, and lyricist. He grew up in a working class district and was forced to work from an early age. He became a professional musician in the early 1950s and had his first hits in 1956. His career took off from 1959 and he became one of the most popular laïko singers of the next decade. Always accompanied, after 1960, by the singer Ria Kourti, Gavalas made many hit records, performed in high-end nightclubs, and appeared in numerous films. He reacted to the changing tastes and commercial policies of the late 1960s by creating, and recording for, his own record company (1966–72), and he continued to perform and to make hits until the mid-1980s. His greatest hits include laïko songs of all different styles, many of which he wrote himself. Gavalas, who was called a ‘popular aristocrat’, had his own faithful audience and represented a distinct sensitivity within ...

Article

Nicholas Tochka

(b Shkodra, Albania, June 7, 1963). Albanian popular music singer, composer, and showman. A multifaceted musician and entrepreneur, he is among the most influential members of Albania’s new post-socialist class of entertainers. He was a child singer in the northern Albanian city of Shkodra during the late 1970s before relocating to Tirana for further musical training. As a composition student in the late 1980s, he became one of the first musicians to receive permission to study abroad, in Italy, after Albania’s diplomatic break with the Soviet Union in 1961. As a singer-songwriter (kantautor) in the early 1990s, he composed a number of popular compositions about Albania’s transition from socialism, including ‘Jon’ (The Ionian Sea, 1991). Deemed foreign and politically suspect under socialism, the singer-songwriter served an important political function during Albania’s transition. For many listeners, Gjebrea expressed important truths about democracy and the country’s future. As a radio and television host, Gjebrea subsequently helped to modernize each format in the late 1990s and 2000s. His annual song competition, Magic Song (...

Article

Erik Kjellberg

(b Visby, Sweden, May 4, 1928; d Vissefjärda, Sweden, May 17, 1976). Swedish jazz baritone saxophonist, composer and arranger. From the age of 13 he played the bugle, then the clarinet, in a military band; a few years later he began formal study of the piano. He became acquainted with Swedish folk music before turning to jazz in the late 1940s, when he played with the orchestras of Charles Redland (as a pianist, 1947–8), Arthur Österwall (1948), and Seymour Österwall (1949–51), changing from alto to baritone saxophone; he next performed with Arne Domnérus’s orchestra (1951–3), then led his own small groups and worked freelance, notably with Clifford Brown and Chet Baker. Although at first influenced by the cool jazz of Miles Davis, Lee Konitz and Stan Getz, he soon developed a highly personal, expressive style, both as a soloist and as a composer, and became one of the most highly regarded jazz musicians in Europe. In ...

Article

Erik Kjellberg

(b Göteborg, Sept 13, 1932). Swedish jazz pianist, composer and arranger. He began to play piano professionally in his early teens and made his first trio recording at the age of 17. During the early 1950s he was the leading jazz pianist in Sweden; he played regularly with local bands in Göteborg and made numerous recordings with various international and Swedish all-star groups of which Lars Gullin, Arne Domnérus, Stan Getz, Quincy Jones and Clifford Brown were members. In 1957, Dinah, his first album, recorded with a trio, was awarded a Gold Disc by Orkester journalen. After studying counterpoint and composition at the Swedish Royal Academy of Music (1954–7) he turned principally towards composing and arranging, especially for films, television and stage productions. Nevertheless he continued to perform as a member of the Swedish Radio Big Band (1956–63) and the Radiojazzgruppen (from 1969). In the 1970s he was much sought after as a pianist, arranger and composer; he performed as a soloist in George Russell’s composition ...

Article

Michael Fitzgerald

(b Prague, Czechoslovakia, April 17, 1948). American jazz keyboard player, composer, producer, drummer, and bandleader of Czech birth. His mother, Vlasta Pruchova, was a jazz singer in Prague and his father played bass and vibraphone. He attended the Academy of Musical Arts in Prague and formed the Junior Trio with the bass player Miroslav Vitous and the drummer Alan Vitous, which lasted from 1962 to 1966. After the invasion of Czechoslovakia by the USSR in 1968, he moved to the USA to accept a scholarship to study at the Berklee College of Music. However, he abandoned his studies after a year and a half to work with Sarah Vaughan.

As a member of John McLaughlin’s group the Mahavishnu Orchestra (1971–3), Hammer played electric and acoustic pianos and began using the Minimoog synthesizer (on the album Birds of Fire), quickly becoming a major influence on other keyboard players. Hammer is often cited as having developed a synthesizer style that mimics that of an electric guitar, but he instead credits the influence of Indian and Eastern European music. Several albums on which Hammer performed with Elvin Jones during the early 1970s helped to introduce the synthesizer to more mainstream jazz. ...

Article

Dave Laing

(b Pinner, June 30, 1939). English composer, bandleader and record producer. While writing arrangements for the band of the Coldstream Guards during his national service he composed the teenbeat ballad Look for a Star, recorded by Garry Mills in 1960. He became one of the busiest journeymen in British pop music during the 1960s showing a chameleon-like ability to adapt to the changing fashions. As recording manager for Pye Records throughout the decade, Hatch wrote and produced a beat group hit for The Searchers (Sugar and Spice), the dramatic ballad Joanna for Scott Walker, and a sequence of bright ballads for Petula Clark. Co-written with his wife, the singer Jackie Trent, these included Downtown, Don’t sleep in the subway and I know a place. Trent’s own recordings of Hatch-Trent songs included the more conventional ballad Where are you now (my love).

Hatch was also a highly successful composer of television theme tunes. He wrote the themes for the soap operas ...

Article

Bradford Lee Eden

(b Minsk, Russia, Sept 25, 1902; d New York, NY, July 21, 1960). Composer of Russian birth. His family moved to Seattle when he was six. After graduating from high school, he started his own nightclub band and moved to New York, where he established a reputation as a drummer and collaborator on songs with Tin Pan Alley performers. He joined ASCAP in 1930 and co-wrote a number of well-known songs with Dick Manning, Mack David, and Jerry Livingston, among many others. His songs were performed by well-known singers such as Perry Como, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Ella Fitzgerald, Bette Midler, Patsy Cline, and Louis Armstrong. Two of his better-known songs are “Mairzy Doats” (1943) and “Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo” (1948) from the Disney movie Cinderella, for which he wrote the film score. Hoffman moved to London in 1934 but returned to the United States in 1938...

Article

Michael Baumgartner

[David]

(b Wolverhampton, England, Oct 1, 1946). English jazz double bass player, bass guitarist, cellist, and composer. He played guitar and electric bass before he switched to double bass in 1961, after hearing recordings by Ray Brown and Leroy Vinnegar. In 1963 he moved to London in order to study privately with James E. Merritt, and from 1964 to 1968 he attended the Guildhall School of Music and Drama where he was the principal bass player in the school’s orchestra. From 1966 he played on the London jazz scene with Roy Budd, Kenny Wheeler, Evan Parker, John Surman, John McLaughlin, and the Spontaneous Music Ensemble (Karyobin, 1968). In September 1968 he was hired by Miles Davis, replacing Ron Carter, and stayed with the trumpeter until autumn 1970. Holland switched from acoustic to electric bass, as heard on the albums Filles de Kilimanjaro (1968, Col.), In a Silent Way...

Article

Trebor Jay Tichenor

(b Columbia, TN, May 16, 1876; d St Louis, Jan 23, 1906). American ragtime composer. He was born almost totally blind, and learnt piano tuning at a school for the blind. He later worked as a tuner for the Jesse French Piano Co., and taught himself to play and compose ragtime. In 1902 the company transferred him to St Louis, where he played in various bordellos in Chestnut Valley and contracted the dissipated habits which, despite belated attempts to reform, hastened his early death from tuberculosis.

Hunter was a pioneer among white ragtime composers. His rags are syncopated country marches with a distinctive folk flair that seem to celebrate rural life, though tempered with the same touch of melancholy that characterizes country band breakdowns and fiddle tunes. Within the traditional march form he delightfully combined the more complex syncopations of sophisticated piano rags with the simpler rhythms of the cakewalk. Like most folk ragtime composers and performers who begin playing by ear, he had a predilection for the flat keys, especially A♭. His most popular rag, ...

Article

David Buckley

(b Lyons, Aug 24, 1948). French composer and synthesizer player. The son of the composer Maurice Jarre, he studied harmony and structure at the Paris Conservatoire and developed an interest in electronic instrumentation. Although he wrote for advertising and worked on film and ballet scores, his first major international success came with his instrumental tour de force, Oxygène (Pol., 1976). This and the following Equinox (Pol., 1978) established a highly commercial musical formula of sweeping, French melodies and intricate symphonic synthesized arrangements married to contemporary dance rhythms. In the 1980s and 90s, Jarre became better-known for his grandiose outdoor spectacles, which used state-of-the-art lasers, projections and interactive technology at venues such as Houston (1986) and London's Docklands (1988), than he did for his actual music, which became more eclectic, particularly on the more experimental Zoolook (Pol., 1984). In 1995, Jarre's ‘Concert pour la Tolérance’, which took place in Paris in front of the Eiffel Tower, played to over one-and-a-half million people and included a traditional Arab orchestra and African percussionists. He returned to the pop charts in ...

Article

Dave Laing

(Hercules)[Dwight, Reginald Kenneth]

(b Pinner, March 25, 1947). English composer, singer and pianist . The son of a dance band musician, he was awarded a junior exhibition to the RAM where he learned the basic principles of composition (1958–62); he was already a devotee of rock and roll and the greatest influences on his percussive piano style were Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis. His musical apprenticeship between the ages of 14 and 22 encompassed classical training, work as a jobbing rock musician, journeyman songwriting and performing in a local public house. He worked at the Mills Music publishing company and played the piano and sang with Bluesology, a soul and blues group which also made a few undistinguished singles before becoming the backing group for Long John Baldry. Elton John's stage name was drawn from those of Baldry and the saxophonist Elton Dean.

From 1967 he concentrated on songwriting, working with Bernie Taupin (...

Article

Michael J. Budds

revised by Maristella Feustle

(b Koblenz, Germany, Nov 6, 1886; d Los Angeles, CA, Oct 8, 1941). Lyricist of German birth. He immigrated with his family to the United States in 1891 and settled in Chicago, where he showed an early talent for writing and the use of rhyme despite having learned English as a second language. After graduating from high school, he worked various nonmusical jobs from driving a horse-drawn truck to working as a clerk in a mail-order company, all the while writing over 200 songs as a hobby. A chance meeting with a Remick employee (and his future wife) resulted in Kahn’s first hit, “I Wish I Had a Girl” (1909).

Kahn continued to work in Chicago, and began collaborating with Walter Donaldson in 1921 throughout the decade on hits including “Carolina in the Morning” (1932), “Yes Sir, That’s My Baby” (1925), and “Makin’ Whoopee” (...

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Leonidas Economou

(b Trikala, Greece, April 7, 1922; d Athens, Greece, April 8, 1990). Greek composer and lyricist. He was of middle-class origin and finished high school in 1941. He became fascinated with rebetiko and the music of the refugees from Asia Minor, and he was also influenced by religious Byzantine and folk music. From 1941 until 1947 he worked as a bouzouki player in taverns and nightclubs in Trikala and especially Thessaloniki. He was lauded for his first recorded compositions, made in 1947 and including the emblematic laïko song Nychtose choris fengari (‘The Night Fell with No Moon’), which were invested with various social and political meanings as a result of the civil war. In the following years he cooperated with several important laïko creators, and had dozens of hits in the late rebetiko style with singers like Haskil, Tsaousakis, and Bellou, and in grieving or Indian style with singers like Kazantzidis, Gavalas, Angelopoulos, Menidiatis, and Lydia. From ...

Article

Claire Levy

(b Sofia, 8 Dec 1934; d Sofia, 12 July 2008). Bulgarian conductor, composer, pianist, and arranger, of Armenian origins, remembered for his prominent role as a musician and public figure in the development of popular music in Bulgaria. He graduated from the Technical University in Sofia (1957) and studied in the Faculty of Theory at the Bulgarian State Conservatory. In 1953 he joined the band Jazz of the Young. By the end of the 1950s he played the piano also at the Satiric Theatre Orchestra and founded Studio 5, a band famous for its supportive role in promoting young singers. Following a similar purpose, later on he initiated Trombata na Vili (‘The Horn of Vili’), a radio contest for discovering new talented pop singers. Since 1960 Kazassian’s music activities have been closely associated with the newly created Big Band of the Bulgarian National Radio where he took successively the positions of pianist (...