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Howard Rye

[Marion Joseph ]

(b Indianapolis, July 22, 1915). American trumpeter, singer, and dancer. From 1932 he was featured as a singer and dancer in New York shows, notably Blackbirds of 1939. In 1941 he was a master of ceremonies at Kelly’s Stable and took part in jam sessions as a drummer at Monroe’s Uptown House. He recorded as a singer with Count Basie in May 1942, and he may be seen in the soundie A Song and Dance Man (1943). In 1944–5 he toured North Africa and Asia as a member of a USO unit led by Alberta Hunter; this tour included a month’s residency in Casablanca. In the late 1940s and early 1950s Miller worked around New York; he recorded again as a singer with Basie in 1947 and 1949. In 1953, as a member of Mezz Mezzrow’s band, he traveled to France, Switzerland, Italy, Morocco, and Belgium, where he recorded under his own name with a band in which Buck Clayton and Kansas Fields were sidemen; on ...

Article

Barry Kernfeld

[Willis ]

(b Chicago, Dec 10, 1913; d New York, Jan 28, 1976). American trumpeter, cornetist, violinist, singer, and dancer. He learned piano from the age of six, initially taking lessons from his mother. Later he took up violin, taught himself trumpet, and marched as a drum master in high school. From 1932 to 1937 he led a sextet in Chicago, then worked, principally as a trumpeter, with Earl Hines (February 1937 – December 1938) and Horace Henderson (January 1939 – March 1940). In 1940, after spending eight months performing as a solo act – singing, dancing, and playing both trumpet and violin – he joined Duke Ellington, with whom he remained until 1963 apart from a few periods, including nine months’ leave in 1944 to lead his own quartet. While with Ellington, Nance continued to make use of all his talents. He often performed as a singer and dancer, and the full and penetrating tone he obtained on violin was the highlight of many of the band’s recordings, including ...

Article

John Storm Roberts

[Pozo Gonzales, Luciano ]

(b Havana, Cuba, Jan 7, 1915; d New York, NY, Dec 2, 1948). Cuban drummer, singer, and dancer. His drumming and singing were rooted in Santeria, the lucumí faith derived from West African rituals. On 29 September 1947 he and the bongo player Chiquitico performed in a concert at Carnegie Hall with trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie—a landmark event in the history of fusing elements of jazz and Latin music. Pozo was murdered before he could fully develop his ideas with Gillespie, but during his brief career in the United States he provided the starting point for much popular music of the late 1940s and the 50s. The collaboration between the two men, which produced the infectious “Manteca” (1947), supplied the initiative for American musicians, and some of the listening public, to appreciate fully the tradition of Latin music.

D. Gillespie and A. Fraser: To Be, or Not … to Bop: Memoirs...

Article

John L. Clark Jr.

(b Chattanooga, TN, 2 June ?1900; d New York, NY, May 30, 1956). American singer, trumpeter, and dancer. Daughter of a mixed-race couple who were both entertainers and musicians, she learned several instruments before deciding to concentrate on trumpet. By the 1920s she was touring the T.O.B.A. circuit with various revues, and in 1926 she visited Shanghai. In 1935, her performance in Blackbirds of 1934 brought her to England, where she began making records that showed her chief instrumental and vocal influence to be Louis Armstrong. After a brief return in 1936 to the United States, where she performed with Earl Hines in Chicago and made films in Hollywood, Snow moved to Europe, where she made more films and recordings. She was incarcerated in a Nazi concentration camp in Denmark in 1940 and was badly injured before being exchanged in 1943. After a recuperation period she continued touring and recording until her death during a comeback appearance at the Palace Theatre. Snow stands out from other women performers of her time in that she was known as much as an instrumentalist as a singer. Her extensive touring probably cost her the name recognition that professional stability might have brought, but her recordings show her to have been a fine, swing-influenced trumpeter and vocalist....