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Jeffrey Holmes

[Randal Edward ]

(b Philadelphia, PA, Nov 27, 1945). American trumpeter, flugelhorn player, composer, arranger, and bandleader, brother of Michael Brecker. After graduating from Indiana University in 1966, he moved to New York, where he played with Clark Terry, Duke Pearson, and the Thad Jones–Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra. A versatile musician, he worked with Blood, Sweat and Tears, performing on their debut album, played hard bop and soul jazz with the Horace Silver Quintet and Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, and helped form the fusion group Dreams, which included his brother Michael, Billy Cobham, and John Abercrombie. During the 1970s he worked with Silver, Larry Coryell, Stevie Wonder, the Plastic Ono Super Band, and Cobham. He and Michael also performed and recorded (six albums) as the Brecker Brothers, garnering much critical acclaim. He continued to lead his own group into the 1980s and also recorded and toured with virtuoso performers Jaco Pastorious and Stanley Clarke. A reunion of the Brecker Brothers in ...

Article

Mark C. Gridley

revised by Charles Garrett

(b Chicago, IL, March 11, 1932; d New York, NY, Feb 24, 2007). American jazz violinist, composer, and bandleader. He was influenced by the violinists Jascha Heifetz, Eddie South, and Bruce Hayden, as well as the saxophonists Charlie Parker, Ornette Coleman, and John Coltrane. From 1965 to 1969 he played in Chicago with the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians and the Creative Construction Company, becoming the leading violinist in the free jazz style. He then helped to organize the Revolutionary Ensemble (1971) and led his own trio (1977–9) and quintet (1982–3). In addition to collaborating with such musicians as Cecil Taylor, Joseph Jarman, and Myra Melford, he also contributed to the new music scene by serving on the board of directors of the Composer’s Forum. In his later career, he turned to creating theatrical productions, including the operas Mother of Three Sons...

Article

Richard H. Perry

(Lewis )

(b Montgomery, AL, Aug 7, 1941). American jazz tuba player, baritone saxophonist, and bandleader. Largely self-taught, he first learned baritone saxophone, then tuba. In 1963 he moved to New York, where he quickly established himself as a leading jazz tuba player and performed with Charles Mingus, Archie Shepp, and, notably, Gil Evans. He played with Evans’s orchestra from 1966 until the leader’s death in 1988. He also worked with Charlie Haden, Jack DeJohnette, Chet Baker, and McCoy Tyner and spent several years with the Norddeutscher Rundfunk orchestra. From 1975 to 1980 he was a member of the house band for “Saturday Night Live,” serving as bandleader from 1979 to 1980.

Although Johnson has been recognized for his work on baritone saxophone, he is best known for his tuba playing and for his work with tuba ensembles. In 1968 he formed the first jazz tuba ensemble, Substructure. Although this group never recorded, Johnson subsequently formed Gravity, an ensemble with six tubas, in the 1970s; it released ...

Article

Ruth Rosenberg

[Cliff] (Laconia)

(b Chicago, IL, Sept 2, 1931; d New York, NY, March 27, 1993). American tenor saxophonist and bandleader. He was one of several notable jazz musicians to come out of DuSable High School on Chicago’s South Side, where his contemporaries included the tenor saxophonists Johnny Griffin and John Gilmore and the bass player Richard Davis. During his early years in Chicago he played with Max Roach and Sonny Stitt and a variety of rhythm-and-blues bands. In 1957 he moved to New York and recorded his first album, Blowing in from Chicago (BN) with the hard-bop pioneers Horace Silver on piano and Art Blakey on drums. In the years that followed Jordan performed and recorded prolifically, appearing with groups led by Silver and J.J. Johnson, as a sideman on recordings by Lee Morgan, among others, and co-leading a group with Kenny Dorham. In 1964 he toured Europe with the Charles Mingus Sextet playing alongside Eric Dolphy....

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J. Bradford Robinson

(b Baltimore, MD, Dec 31, 1908; d Hollywood, CA, June 14, 1952). American jazz double bass player and bandleader. Originally a trombonist, he played tuba and double bass with Fletcher Henderson (1930–34, 1935–6) and Chick Webb (1934–5), attracting attention with his strong pulse and walking bass lines. In 1937 he established his own small group at the Onyx Club, New York, with the trumpeter Frankie Newton and the alto saxophonist Pete Brown. The following year the band’s personnel stabilized into a sextet: Charlie Shavers (trumpet), Russell Procope (alto saxophone), Buster Bailey (clarinet), Billy Kyle (piano), O’Neill Spencer (drums), and Kirby, with the frequent addition of the singer Maxine Sullivan (Kirby’s wife). From 1938 to 1942 this group was perhaps the leading small jazz ensemble in the swing style and gained a nationwide from its many recordings and network radio broadcasts. The group concentrated on a chamber jazz style with intricate arrangements (many of them by Shavers), a subdued dynamic level, light swing, and extremely precise ensemble playing. In this way they presaged many cool jazz groups of the late 1940s and early 1950s, particularly those of Lennie Tristano. From ...

Article

J.R. Taylor

[Andrew Dewey ]

(b Newport, KY, May 28, 1898; d New York, NY, Dec 11, 1992). American jazz saxophonist and bandleader. He spent his childhood in Denver, where he studied piano, singing, alto saxophone, and music theory with Paul Whiteman’s father, Wilberforce Whiteman, among others. In 1918 he joined George Morrison’s orchestra as a bass saxophonist and tuba player. Around 1927 he moved to Dallas, where he joined Terrence Holder’s Dark Clouds of Joy orchestra; he assumed its leadership in 1929. In that year he transferred the band to Kansas City, Missouri, where it was known as the Clouds of Joy (among other related titles), rivaled Bennie Moten’s band, and made its first recordings (1929–30). From 1930 he made several nationwide tours, although the band continued to be based primarily in Kansas City. The success of “Until the Real Thing Comes along” (1936, Decca) established the band’s lasting popularity. Until the group disbanded in ...

Article

David Chevan

(b Irvington, NJ, April 3, 1936; d Geneva, NY, July 6, 1961). American jazz double bass player, composer, and bandleader. While growing up in Geneva, New York, he took up clarinet, after which he played tenor saxophone at high school. The music education program he attended at Ithaca College required that LaFaro learn a string instrument, and so at age 18 he began to focus on double bass. He subsequently played with the Buddy Morrow band from 1955 to 1956, during which period he decided to move to Los Angeles to establish himself professionally. After playing with Chet Baker’s band for a year, he moved between Chicago, where he played with Ira Sullivan, and Southern California, where he worked with Sonny Rollins, Harold Land, and Barney Kessel.

LaFaro’s move to New York in 1959 proved immediately fruitful; that year he performed with a number of important bandleaders, including Stan Kenton and Benny Goodman. In that year LaFaro also joined the Bill Evans Trio, the group in which he cemented his reputation as an innovator on his instrument. In this trio, which also featured the drummer Paul Motian, LaFaro was accorded tremendous freedom to deviate from the traditional 4/4 walking bass line. His approach to the bass within this ensemble was as much melodic as it was focused on keeping time and establishing the harmony. Additionally he was granted substantial space for improvisation, which allowed him to showcase his nimble, bebop-influenced technique. Evans’s trio recorded “Jade Visions,” a LaFaro composition with static modal harmony that served as a showcase for his prodigious technique....

Article

Jack Stewart

[George Vital(is) ]

(b New Orleans, LA, Sept 21, 1873; d New Orleans, LA, June 1, 1966). American drummer, alto horn player, and bandleader. Primarily a bass drum player, he also played snare drum, drum set, alto horn, and string bass. He was leading string bands and brass bands by 1889 and led a drum and bugle corps during the Spanish-American War. His specialty was funerals, and he operated within an established territory of the Algiers and Gretna neighborhoods in New Orleans.

Laine organized his Reliance Brass Band around 1900. As demand for dance music grew, he added pianists, guitarists, and string bass players to the brass band lineup. Laine’s bands were multiethnic and included light-skinned blacks he could hire without running afoul of the law. Some members had musical training, others had none, resulting in a successful combination of readers and fakers. Laine hired many musicians, 150 of whom have identified. A third of these became mainstays of early jazz. Members of Tom Brown’s band, the Original Dixieland Jazz Band, the Louisiana Five, Jimmy Durante’s band, and the New Orleans Rhythm Kings became internationally famous....

Article

Marc Rice

[James Columbus; Hootie]

(b Muskogee, OK, Jan 12, 1916; d Kansas City, MO, Dec 7, 2006). American jazz and blues pianist and bandleader. He was self-taught and learned by listening to other players and radio broadcasts, in particular, those of the Earl Hines Orchestra. He briefly attended the Tuskegee Institute, but left around 1934 to perform in Oklahoma and Arkansas. In 1936 he took a bus ostensibly for Omaha, but during a layover in Kansas City, he discovered the Reno Club, where a band led by Buster Moten introduced him to the music and lifestyle of Kansas City jazz. Here he also encountered the boogie-woogie piano playing of Pete Johnson with Joe Turner. He remained in Kansas City, working with Buster Smith, among others, formed a sextet in 1937, and a big band in 1939 which featured Charlie Parker in one of his first professional jobs.

McShann took his band to the Savoy Ballroom in ...

Article

Charles Garrett

Article

Jeffery S. McMillan

(b Philadelphia, PA, July 10, 1938; d New York, NY, Feb 19, 1972). American jazz trumpeter, bandleader, and composer. One of the charismatic individualists to emerge in the late 1950s, he began playing vibraphone at 12, but soon thereafter turned to trumpet. He studied music at Jules E Mastbaum Vocational Technical High School and privately with the trumpeter Tony Marchione, but learned jazz by playing in Philadelphia rehearsal bands, sitting in with visiting professionals, and leading his own combo from age 15. After graduation in 1956, Morgan played a week with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, joined Dizzy Gillespie’s big band, and made his first recordings as a leader for Blue Note. He was a featured soloist on “A Night in Tunisia” with Gillespie until the band dissolved in January 1958. After a short period of freelancing, he joined a revamped edition of the Jazz Messengers and stayed until ...

Article

Michael Baumgartner

(b Oakland, CA, Feb 19, 1955). American jazz saxophonist, bass clarinetist, composer, and leader. He grew up in Berkeley, where he received his first musical training, in stride and ragtime piano. At the age of nine he began playing alto saxophone and at the age of 11 tenor saxophone. From the age of 12 through his later teens he led several R&B bands. He continued his formal training at Pomona College in Los Angeles, where stanley Crouch and Margaret Kohn were among his teachers. After his graduation in 1975 Murray moved to New York where he began playing the loft circuit with such experimental musicians as Anthony Braxton, Don Cherry, and Julius Hemphill. His first steady engagement came with the Ted Daniels’ Energy Band; its members were Hamiett Bluiett, Lester Bowie, and Frank Lowe. After his first European tour in 1976, Murray established the renowned World saxophone quartet ...

Article

A. Scott Currie

(b Bronx, NY, Jan 10, 1952). American jazz bass player, bandleader, and composer. He grew up listening to such swing artists as Duke Ellington and played trumpet, trombone, and cello. Inspired by Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane, Archie Shepp, Cecil Taylor, and Albert Ayler, he took up bass in his teens and had formal studies, first with Paul West, then with richard Davis , Art Davis, and milt Hinton at Jazzmobile. Later he studied privately with jimmy Garrison and Wilbur Ware and developed a unique style featuring a propulsive alternation between rapid-fire upper-register playing and low punctuating open-string strums, along with vamps, walking “freebop” lines, and lyrical arco work. In 1973 Parker launched his professional career in the downtown New York loft-jazz scene, performing with Muntu and the Music Ensemble, and making his recorded debut on Frank Lowe’s album Black Beings (1973, ESP). Soon he was playing in bands led by Cecil Taylor and Don Cherry at Carnegie Hall and the Five Spot Café, jointly organizing loft concerts and festivals, and leading his own Centering Orchestras. By the early 1980s he had become Taylor’s main bass player and he eventually filled the chair from ...

Article

J. Bradford Robinson

[Passalaqua, Joseph Anthony Jacobi ]

(b New Brunswick, NJ, Jan 13, 1929; d Los Angeles, CA, May 23, 1994). American jazz guitarist and bandleader. Soon after beginning his career he began to take drugs and spent many years in prisons, hospitals, and halfway houses. In 1961, together with other jazz musicians in Synanon, a self-help organization for drug addicts, he issued a collective album which attracted some critical attention to his easygoing manner and astounding technical prowess. He then worked for several years in Los Angeles studios, recording with Johnny Griffin, Gerald Wilson, and Les McCann, among others, but remained more or less in obscurity until 1973, when he was retained for the Pablo label and recorded his first solo album, Virtuoso. The success of this recording catapulted him to fame and Pass immediately began to dominate jazz popularity polls for his instrument. For the rest of the decade and through the 1980s he was in high demand for concerts, festivals, and recording sessions, notably as an accompanist to Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan, and as a member of Oscar Peterson’s groups....

Article

Mark Tucker

[Pestritto, Antonio ]

(b Middletown, CT, Oct 26, 1907; d Old Lyme, CT, Oct 31, 1969). American bandleader, singer, and saxophonist. He began playing as a sideman in the orchestras of John Cavallaro, Irving Aaronson, and Vincent Lopez, before joining Artie Shaw’s band (1936), in which he was a tenor saxophone soloist and singer; “Indian Love Call” (1938, B♭) offers a good example of his throaty, somewhat gruff vocal style. After Shaw dissolved the band Pastor formed his own in 1940, taking some of Shaw’s players with him. Many of the group’s arrangements were written by the guitarist Al Avola, although Budd Johnson, Walter Fuller, and Ralph Flanagan also made contributions. Pastor’s singing was greatly influenced, he acknowledged, by Louis Armstrong and was always an important part of his shows. In the late 1940s Pastor also performed with Betty and Rosemary Clooney. He broke up his big band in ...

Article

John-Carlos Perea

[James Gilbert ]

(b Salem, OR, June 18, 1941; d Portland, OR, Feb 10, 1992). American tenor and soprano saxophonist, singer, bandleader, and composer. Of Native American (Creek and Kaw) heritage, he was raised in Oregon and Oklahoma. Early musical influences included tap dance, big band jazz, Southern Plains powwow music and dance, and peyote music. Pepper moved to New York in 1964 and joined the Free Spirits (1966), an early fusion jazz ensemble featuring Larry Coryell and Bob Moses. After forming the group Everything is Everything (1967) with former members of Free Spirits Chris Hills and Columbus Baker, Pepper recorded “Witchi Tai To,” a composition fusing a peyote song with jazz, rock, and country influences. Released on Everything is Everything featuring Chris Hills (Vanguard Apostolic, 1969), “Witchi Tai To” peaked at number 69 on the Billboard pop charts. By 2011 it had been covered by at least 90 artists ranging from Brewer & Shipley, Jan Garbarek, and Oregon to the Paul Winter Consort and Joy Harjo. Pepper released four albums as a leader: ...

Article

Bruce Boyd Raeburn

[Crawford, Joseph ]

(b, New Orleans, LA, c1897; d New Orleans, LA, July 4, 1931). American jazz cornetist and bandleader. Buddy Petit began his professional career as a founding member of the Young Olympia Band, formed when Olympia Band cornetist Freddie Keppard left New Orleans to join the Original Creole Band in Los Angeles in 1914. Other members of the Young Olympia were clarinetist Jimmie Noone, trombonist Zue Robertson, banjoist Simon Marrero, bassist John Marrero, and drummer Arnold DePass, and shortly afterward Noone and Petit co-led a band of their own at places such as the Pythian Temple until the clarinetist left to join Keppard in Chicago for the Creole Band’s final vaudeville season in 1917–8. Petit made a short trip to Los Angeles in 1917 to work with Jelly Roll Morton before returning to New Orleans and situating himself as one of the top bandleaders on the regional (Texas-Florida) scene. A photograph taken in Mandeville, Louisiana, ...

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J. Bradford Robinson

(b Okmulgee, OK, Sept 30, 1922; d Copenhagen, Denmark, Sept 8, 1960). American jazz double bass player, cellist, and bandleader. Of mixed African American and Native American heritage, he was born into a large, musical family and learned many instruments in the family’s touring band, which was based in Minneapolis. In 1943 he was engaged as a bass player for Charlie Barnet’s band, with which he traveled to New York in the same year. After working with a quintet led by Roy Eldridge (1943), he found a place in the emerging bop scene; he worked as coleader, with Dizzy Gillespie, of a combo at the Onyx (1943–4). Personal differences caused this pioneering group to disband, but one year later he and Gillespie recorded together. From 1944 Pettiford played in numerous small bop combos and in various big bands, notably Duke Ellington’s (1945–8) and Woody Herman’s (...

Article

John L. Clark Jr.

(b Chicago, IL, June 22, 1903; d Palm Springs, CA, June 7, 1971). American jazz drummer and bandleader. Born into a wealthy family, he began playing drums and was hired by the New Orleans Rhythm Kings, with whom he played and recorded in 1923. While with this band he became known as perhaps the best white drummer in the style and influenced the next generation of players, including Dave Tough and Gene Krupa.

After a year on the West Coast with the Harry Bastin band, he took over Bastin’s group in 1925. For the next 15 years Pollack led big bands, primarily in Chicago and New York, before settling in Los Angeles in the late 1930s. His first band included such later jazz worthies as Benny Goodman, Bud Freeman, and Glenn Miller.

By the early 1930s Pollack had replaced his early stars with younger musicians. His affair with singer Doris Robbins caused friction in the new band and most of the musicians left to form a cooperative group later fronted by Bob Crosby. Pollack again reformed, using other young musicians including Harry James and Irving Fazola....

Article

Yoko Suzuki

[Elvira; Meeks, Elvira; Goldberg, Elvira; Avelino, Elvira]

(b Los Angeles, CA, Sept 20, 1928). American jazz alto and soprano saxophonist, singer, and bandleader. Her father Alton Redd was a jazz drummer from New Orleans. Redd started to sing in church at about age 5 and played alto saxophone at about 12, studying with her great-aunt Alma Hightower, a noted music educator in Los Angeles. In about 1948 she formed a band with her first husband, trumpeter Nathaniel Meeks, and began performing professionally as a saxophonist and singer. She had her first son when she was in her late 20s and her second son a few years later. Between 1957 and 1961 she performed less often and taught at public schools. During the 1960s she performed at the renowned club Ronnie Scott’s for ten weeks and toured with Earl Hines and Count Basie. Leonard Feather produced her two albums, Bird Call (1962) and Lady Soul...