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Val Wilmer

[Laka D; Koc, Dorota Mary]

(b Oxford, England, Jan 8, 1953). English singer, pianist, composer, and music director. From a background in rock and soul bands, notably Soulyard, from 1982 to 1988 she was a member of the Guest Stars, in which she played piano and sang; she also wrote much of the group’s material. In 1982 she co-founded the Lydia D’Ustebyn Swing Orchestra, was an organizer of Early Evening Jazz, the first women’s jazz festival held in London (at the Drill Hall), and sang in the a cappella group the Hipscats (comprising five singers, including Jan Ponsford, Jim Dvorak, and Ruthie Smith, and later the pianist Alastair Gavin). An intermittent affiliation with Carol Grimes involved work in her band and in a duo. She sang and played piano with Annie Whitehead, with whom she recorded the album Mix Up (1985, Paladin 6), then led her own band, which included Claude Deppa. In the 1990s she played with Mervyn Afrika, Kate Westbrook, the percussionist Josefina Cupido, and the saxophonists Louise Elliot and Diane McLaughlin, composed and directed music for stage shows, and taught. Laka Daisical is a propulsive pianist and exciting performer heavily influenced by African-American gospel music, as exemplified by ...

Article

Gary W. Kennedy

(b Chicago, Aug 14, 1943). American radio and television presenter, pianist, singer, writer, and producer. He grew up in Racine, Wisconsin, took up piano at the age of seven, and as a teenager played in a local dance band and led a bop trio. While attending the University of Wisconsin he played in a rock-and-roll and blues-rock band with Steve Miller and Boz Scaggs, both of whom later became successful pop musicians. From 1967 to 1970 Sidran worked towards a PhD in American studies at the University of Sussex, during which time he performed and recorded in London with Miller and various British rock groups; he later recorded with the Rolling Stones, Peter Frampton, and Eric Clapton. In 1970 he became a producer for Capitol records in Los Angeles. He then taught communication arts at the University of Wisconsin, and in 1973 he resumed producing and performing. Later he produced a jazz series for the television show “Sound Stage” (...

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Howard Rye and Alyn Shipton

[Calhoun, Charles E. [Chuck]]

(b Atchison, KS, Nov 16, 1901; d Altamonte Springs, FL, April 1, 1999). American bandleader, singer, pianist, arranger, and record producer. He was brought up in St. Joseph and Kansas City, Missouri, and began his professional career at the age of five as a singer and dancer in a traveling variety act with his parents, who gave him a formal musical education. Having played piano in a trio with the saxophonist Theodore Thyus, he formed his first band, the Blues Serenaders, in 1918, initially a quartet of piano, drums, violin and cello, though it later developed into a larger ensemble with woodwind and brass; Coleman Hawkins played cello and later C-melody saxophone with the band. Stone directed, played piano, and arranged music for the group, which performed a variety act in the St. Joseph area that involved dancing and conjuring tricks; with the help of the agent Frank Rock, he established an early network of venues for touring appearances, and in the early 1920s he pioneered jazz radio broadcasting in St. Joseph. He continued to lead the Blues Serenaders until ...