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Rich Kienzle

[Kuczynski, Julius Frank Anthony ]

(b Milwaukee, WI, Feb 18, 1914; d Louisville, KY, March 7, 2000). American country music accordionist, bandleader, songwriter, and vocalist. His musical career was inspired by his father, John, a Polish American who led a local polka band. At 15, he began learning accordion and, in 1930, met popular bandleader Wayne King who suggested the youth take the surname “King” in the interest of simplicity. His first band, the King’s Jesters, played both country music and polkas. In 1934, the group filled in for Gene Autry’s band when Autry, then a star of WLS’s National Barn Dance, toured Wisconsin. King joined Autry (who dubbed him “Pee Wee”) in Louisville until the singer left to launch his Hollywood film career. He briefly led a Louisville band known as the Log Cabin Boys, then in 1937 organized the Golden West Cowboys, who joined the Grand Ole Opry with a distinctive, progressive repertoire blending country, pop, polkas, waltzes, and western swing. From ...

Article

Barry Jean Ancelet

(b Pointe Noire, nr Church Point, LA, Oct 28, 1928; d nr Eunice, LA, Oct 8, 1955). American accordionist, vocalist, and songwriter. He was one of the most influential musicians in Cajun music. Born into a musical family, which also included Angelas, Rodney, Vinesse, Eddie, Homer, and Felton Lejeune, Iry was nearly blind and thus hard to employ. Music allowed him to support his family, with whom he lived in his adopted hometown of Lacassine. He was a prolific songwriter, adapting many songs from the earlier repertoire of Amédé Ardoin. In his teens when World War II ended, he led the return of the diatonic accordion in Cajun music, which had dropped the instrument and the French language in favor of western swing and country music, and the English language, which attended the Americanization of the 1930s. In 1948, he went with Virgil Bozman’s Oklahoma Tornadoes to Houston to record “Love Bridge Waltz” and “Evangeline Special” for Opera Records, in French and in a style that harked back to the traditional sounds of earlier in the century. The record was surprisingly popular, especially among Cajuns who were increasingly concerned about drifting away from their cultural and linguistic heritage. He recorded all of his subsequent records with Eddie Shuler of Goldband Records of Lake Charles, Louisiana. He became a mainstay on the Cajun dance circuit, and though he recorded only a couple of dozen more sides before he died in an automobile accident, they are virtually all still being played by contemporary Cajun and Creole musicians. He was a poetic lyricist, a soulful vocalist, and a virtuoso accordionist, easily among the most imitated in Cajun music....

Article

Eddy Determeyer

[Melvin James ]

(b Battle Creek, MI, Dec 17, 1910; d New York, NY, May 28, 1988). American arranger, composer, producer, bandleader, trumpeter, and singer. Growing up as an African American musician in Zanesville, Ohio, Oliver was self taught as a trumpeter and arranger. After playing in territory bands in and around Zanesville and Columbus, he became a member of Jimmie Lunceford’s orchestra in 1933. His charts for the Lunceford band were distinguished by contrasts, crescendos, and unexpected melodic variations, thereby setting new standards in big band swing and close-harmony singing. His use of two-beat rhythms also set his arrangements apart.

In 1939 Oliver was hired by the trombonist Tommy Dorsey and turned his band into one of the hardest swinging and most sophisticated ensembles of the early 1940s. In 1946 he started his own big band. During the late 1940s and 1950s he mainly did studio work, as a music director for the labels Decca, Bethlehem, and Jubilee. He continued to lead big bands and smaller ensembles, recycling his old Lunceford and Dorsey successes and performing new arrangements. Along with Duke Ellington and Fletcher Henderson, Oliver must be rated one of the top arrangers of the swing era and infused almost every chart with vigor and surprise....

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

Cathy Ragland

[Domingo ]

(b Marion, TX, May 29, 1936). American accordionist, singer, and songwriter. Texas-Mexican musician Domingo “Mingo” Saldívar is from a musical family and learned traditional ballads and folk songs from his mother. By age 11 he played guitar and accordion. In the 1950s and 60s he played in Los Guadalupanos and Los Caminantes during which time he wrote his first hit song, “Andan diciendo” (“People are talking”). He spent some years in the military and in Alaska where he worked for relatives who owned a restaurant, often playing and singing for customers. In 1975 he formed Los Tremendos Cuatro Espadas (“the four tremendous swordsmen”) and settled in San Antonio, Texas. Saldívar, a fan of the blues and country music, is known for his bilingual interpretation of the Johnny Cash classic “Ring of Fire” (“Rueda de fuego”), which appeared on his popular 1992 Rounder Records recording I love my freedom, I love my Texas...

Article

Peter Kemp

(Leopold Maria)

Member of Strauss family

(b Vienna, March 24, 1910; d Vienna, April 6, 1969). Conductor; grandson of (4) Eduard (i) and nephew of (5) Johann (iii). He learnt the piano, horn and singing, privately and at the Vienna Music Academy. He was an accompanist at the Auer-Weissgerber private singing school in Vienna, then in 1939 enlisted for military service. From 1946 to 1956 he worked as a teacher and répétiteur in Alfred Jerger’s opera class at the Vienna Conservatory, where he met his future wife, the Polish-born soprano Elisabeth Pontes (b 1919). He made his public conducting début in Vienna in 1949, although, not being a violinist, he conducted with a baton. His good looks, self-effacing manner and the elegance he brought to his interpretations of music by the Strauss family and composers such as Mozart and Schubert won him great popularity. International tours took him to Manila, Seoul, Moscow, Cairo, Paris, London, Athens, Gothenburg and Warsaw. Of greatest significance were the six tours of Japan he made between 1956 and 1967 with the Tokyo SO, which helped spread the popularity of western classical and light-classical music in that country. In 1966 he became founder-conductor of the Vienna Johann Strauss Orchestra, with which he made a highly successful tour of Canada and the USA. His final public engagement was on ...

Article

Barry Jean Ancelet

(b Crowley, LA, Oct 2, 1958). Cajun accordionist, vocalist, and songwriter. He is arguably the most influential Cajun musician of the current generation. He was one of the new generation of young musicians that emerged in the 1970s, just when many were predicting that Cajun music would die out. He honed his vocal and accordion skills by sitting in with bands at house dances and dance halls. He began recording as a backup musician for established musicians such as Camey Doucet and eventually formed his own group to perform and record his first album for Sonet Records. He continued to experiment with styles and instrumentation, leading to the development of what he called zydecajun: a fusion of Cajun music and zydeco, influenced by Southern rock and country as well as old masters within the tradition, especially Iry Lejeune, Aldus Roger, Belton Richard, and Lawrence Walker. He recorded a number of albums for J.D. Miller’s Master Trak studios in Crowley and eventually for Mercury and Polygram, featuring songs with English as well as French lyrics, such as “Mon ami,” “Soigne mes enfants,” “Take my hand,” and a locally popular cover of “Tupelo Honey.” He has taken his zydecajun music on tour throughout the United States and on a few State Department–sponsored USIA tours abroad. His modernization of Cajun music and zydeco has been especially popular among younger generations, influencing not only a new generation of young musicians but also a new generation of young fans. He has been featured in several documentaries, including Les Blank and Chris Strachwitz’s ...

Article

Ian Mikyska

(b Boskovice, 19 Jan 1984).Czech composer and performer (voice, accordion, and tap dance). She studied the accordion (2004–10) and composition (2007–8) at the Brno Conservatory, and composition at the Janáček Academy of Music and Performing Arts (with martin smolka and Peter Graham[1]). She also studied as an exchange student at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague, the California Institute of the Arts (with michael pisaro), the Universität der Künste Berlin (with Marc Sabat), and Columbia University (with george e. lewis).

While she often works with elements outside of music, there is almost always an intense engagement with direct listening, often arrived at through intense focus on very limited material. Sources for her work include Morse code, maps of garments which she turns into scores (Shirt for Harp, Oboe, and Accordion; Jacket for Ensemble), field recordings which she notates descriptively and then asks musicians to interpret the notation (...