(b Bronx, NY, Oct 22, 1946). American luthier, notable for handmade archtop jazz guitars. In childhood he learned woodworking from his father, a skilled cabinetmaker, and music from an uncle, a violinist; his grandfather had worked for Steinway & Sons. A visit to the Gretsch guitar factory in Brooklyn fueled his interest in the instrument; he played a Chet Atkins model 6120 guitar from 1960 to 1968. Upon discharge from the US Air Force in 1968 he started to make his first guitar and began repairing Gibson, D’Angelico, and New York Epiphone instruments. At the time he was the youngest and least experienced archtop maker of a group that included William Barker, Carl Barney, Roger Borys, James D’Aquisto, Sam Koontz, and Philip Petillo. In the 1970s jazz guitarists such as Bucky Pizzarelli, Chuck Wayne, and Martin Taylor began to use and endorse Benedetto’s instruments. He incorporated his business as Benedetto Guitars, Inc., but in ...
revised by Barry Kernfeld
Member of Coltrane family
(b Detroit, Aug 27, 1937; d West Hills, CA, Jan 12, 2007). Pianist, organist, and harpist, sister of Ernie Farrow. She studied classical music from the age of seven and jazz with Bud Powell, and gained early experience in church groups and in the jazz ensembles of Kenny Burrell, Johnny Griffin, Lucky Thompson, and Yusef Lateef. She married the singer Kenny Hagood while overseas and after the marriage broke up she returned to Detroit. While touring and recording with Terry Gibbs (1962–3) she met John Coltrane, whom she married around 1965; in 1966 she joined his group as McCoy Tyner’s replacement. Following Coltrane’s death (1967) she led many groups that at various times included the saxophonists Pharoah Sanders, Archie Shepp, Joe Henderson, Frank Lowe, and Carlos Ward, the double bass players Cecil McBee and Jimmy Garrison, and the drummers Rashied Ali, Ben Riley, and Roy Haynes....
Member of Coltrane family
(b Huntingdon, NY, Aug 6, 1965). Tenor and soprano saxophonist, son of (1) John Coltrane and (2) Alice Coltrane. He was named after the sitarist Ravi Shankar. Having played clarinet at junior high school he studied jazz and saxophone at the California Institute of the Arts, where Charlie Haden was among his teachers. In 1988 he toured internationally in his mother’s group. Three years later he moved to New York and joined Elvin Jones, with whom he appears in the video Elvin Jones Jazz Machine (n.d. [filmed 1991]). Coltrane made his recording début with Jones in 1991 and toured with him until early in 1993. He went on to record with, among others, the Contempo Trio (1991), David Murray (1992), Cody Moffett, Wallace Roney, Cecil Brooks III, and Dwayne Dolphin (all 1993), Carola Grey and Lionel Hampton (both 1994...
M. Rusty Jones
[Al Laurence Dimeola ]
(b Jersey City, NJ, July 22, 1954). American jazz fusion guitarist and composer. He is known especially for his technical virtuosity and for combining Latin, world, and jazz styles. His guitar influences include Larry Coryell, Tal(madge Holt) Farlow, and Kenny Burrell. He was also inspired by the tangos of Ástor Piazzolla, with whom he developed a close friendship. He enrolled in the Berklee College of Music in Boston in 1971, where he remained until 1974 when he was invited to join the fusion group Return to Forever with Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke, and Lenny White. The group released three recordings with Di Meola, including the Grammy award-winning No Mystery (1975), before disbanding in 1976. The group reunited for a tour in 2008. Di Meola’s career as a leader began with the production of Land of the Midnight Sun (1976). Recordings on which he is recognized as leader now number over 20 albums. He has collaborated with luminaries such as Jaco Pastorius, Jan Hammer, and Chick Corea. One of his most successful collaborations was his trio with guitarists John McLaughlin and Paco de Lucia. Their ...
revised by Kelly Hiser
(b Kankakee, IL, March 22, 1942; d San Rafael, CA, Sept 25, 1996). American composer, trombonist, conductor, and double bassist. He attended the University of Illinois, where he studied trombone with Robert Gray and composition with Kenneth Gaburo, herbert Brün , and salvatore Martirano (BM in performance 1965). He studied jazz improvisation with lee Konitz and electronic music with richard b. Hervig at the University of Iowa (1970–71). He was a member of the Harry Partch Ensemble (1961–2) and the Illinois Contemporary Chamber Players (1963–6) and was an associate artist at the University of Iowa Center for New Music and New Performing Arts (1969–74). From 1974 to 1984 English lived in Europe, where he performed widely as a soloist and with jazz and new music ensembles, at festivals, and on radio. He collaborated with his wife Candace Natvig, a singer and violinist; in ...
Czech string quartet, founded 1999. Its line-up has remained constant since its foundation: David Pokorný and Vladimír Klánský on violins, Vladimír Kroupa on viola, and Vít Petrášek on cello. Although classical repertoire remains central to their professional lives, the Epoque Quartet is remarkable for the breadth and professionalism of its ‘crossover’ work. The quartet has performed with the leading artists of Czech popular music, arranged world music from various traditions (most recently with the clarinettist Irvin Venyš for their CD Irvin_Epoque), and given the premières of over 80 pieces, the style of which ranges from rock- and jazz-influenced music to contemporary art music, mostly by Czech composers including Jan Kučera, Petr Wajsar, Jan Dušek, Gabriela Vermelho, and others.
Their open-mindedness and long-standing interest in various musical fields allows them to perform stylistically in a way classically-trained ensembles often find problematic, particularly in terms of rhythm, feeling, and energy when performing jazz- and rock-influenced repertoire....
(b Lake Forest, IL, 1957). American jazz violinist and composer. Known for his unconventional violin technique, Hwang participated in downtown New York’s free jazz scene in the late 1970s and early 80s and became increasingly associated with Asian American jazz in the 1980s and 90s. His more recent work emphasizes cross-cultural themes, especially as they relate to the Chinese experience in the United States.
Hwang spent his childhood in Waukegan and Highland Park, Illinois, before attending New York University. In New York he frequented “loft jazz” performances, which featured experimental players such as David Murray, Lester Bowie, Charles “Bobo” Shaw, and Frank Lowe. Hwang was mentored by alto saxophonist Will Connell Jr. who had come to New York after his tenure with Horace Tapscott’s Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra in Los Angeles. Hwang and Connell Jr. teamed with bassist William Parker and percussionist Takeshi Zen Matsuura to form the quartet Commitment. Commitment achieved modest local success, toured Germany, and recorded a self-titled album in ...
Term for an electric guitar of a type commonly used since the 1930s for jazz performance, exemplified by Gibson L5 and similar models. Typically it is an archtop hollow-body instrument of large dimensions (especially depth), with elongated f-holes, steel strings fastened to a tailpiece rather than to the floating bridge, and one or two magnetic or piezo-electric pickups. Some types are solid-bodied. Paired tone and volume controls and a pickup selector switch are normally mounted on the top, and the upper treble bout is often cut away to facilitate fingering in high positions....
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...
(b New Orleans, LA, Feb 8, 1894; d Toronto, ON, June 16, 1970). American blues and jazz guitarist and singer. Research indicates that Johnson was born in 1894 (Alger). He was influenced by the musical activities of his family and the rich musical environment in New Orleans of the early 1900s, including the early blues, jazz, and the lyrically expressive French and Spanish music traditions. He began playing violin, developed excellent guitar skill, and by the 1920s was also recording on piano, banjo, mandolin, and harmonium.
Johnson performed on violin with Charlie Creath’s band on the Mississippi riverboat St. Paul, and after winning a blues singing contest in St. Louis, he began his recording career with OKeh Records. His first recording featured “Mr. Johnson’s Blues” and “Falling Rain Blues” (OK, 1925) and was a two-sided hit. From 1925 through 1932 he made more recordings than any other bluesman. In late ...
(b Muskogee, OK, Oct 17, 1923; d San Diego, CA, May 6, 2004). American jazz guitarist. He played with Chico Marx (1943) and performed in the short film Jammin’ the Blues (1944) before attracting attention in several big bands, including Artie Shaw’s (1945). Later he became a freelance studio guitarist in Los Angeles, although he interrupted this work for a lengthy tour with Oscar Peterson’s trio (1952–3), various recordings for the Verve and Contemporary labels, and club engagements with his own combos (early 1960s). In 1969, following a successful European tour, he shifted his focus away from studio work. From the early 1970s until he suffered a stroke in 1992 he performed in clubs and concerts, often with the jazz guitarists Charlie Byrd and Herb Ellis in the group Great Guitars. He also led workshops, made jazz recordings, and toured internationally. Although Kessel possessed the smooth tone and immaculate technique required of a studio musician, he improvised swinging, infectious jazz melodies. He published instruction manuals, including ...
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 ...
(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....
Gary W. Kennedy
Member of Marsalis family
(b New Orleans, July 28, 1965). Trombonist and record producer, son of Ellis Marsalis. He played electric bass guitar and took up trombone at the age of 12, and later studied record production and trombone at the Berklee College of Music. After graduating (spring 1989) he performed around New Orleans, and at some point he read English at the University of New Orleans. Having worked with Ray Charles, Fats Domino, Abdullah Ibrahim’s septet Ekaya, and Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, around spring 1991 Marsalis began leading his own quintet, which has included Mark Turner, the pianist Victor “Red” Atkins, the double bass player Greg Williams, Brian Blade, and his brother Jason Marsalis; in September 1992 he led the group at the reopening of Kimball’s in San Francisco. Between 1993 and 1998 he was a member of Elvin Jones’s Jazz Machine. He moved to New York in ...
Member of Marsalis family (jazz)
(b New Orleans, March 4, 1977). Drummer, son of Ellis Marsalis. He took violin lessons and played drums on a casual basis before studying percussion seriously; while in his teens he led his own quartet. From 1991 to 1998 he worked regularly with his father’s trio, and during the same period he performed and recorded with his brother Delfeayo Marsalis (1991–3) and Edward Petersen (1993–4). In autumn 1994 he began what became a long-lasting relationship with Marcus Roberts that included tours and recordings. In addition he recorded with Marcus Printup and the saxophonist Harold Battiste (1996) and worked briefly and recorded with Marlon Jordan (1997). In 1997–8 he was a member of a fusion band, Neslort, led by the trombonist Rick Trolsen, and from 1998 he performed and recorded alongside the percussionist Bill Summers under the leadership of the trumpet player Irvin Mayfield in Los Hombres Calientes. In the same year he formed his own quintet and recorded as a leader. Marsalis may be seen in the German and English video documentary ...
Daniel John Carroll
(b Philadelphia, PA, May 31, 1972). American jazz bass player. He began studying electric bass at the age of nine and then attended the High School for Creative and Performing Arts in Philadelphia. In 1989 he moved to New York to study with the bass player Homer Mensch at the Juilliard School. He soon joined the band of the alto saxophonist Bobby Watson and left school after one year to tour with the trumpeter Roy Hargrove. He subsequently performed with the trumpeter Freddie Hubbard and has also worked with Sonny Rollins, J.J. Johnson, Chick Corea, and Herbie Hancock. His albums include Gettin’ to it (1994, Verve), Number Two Express (1995, Verve), Sci Fi (2000), and Vertical Vision (2003). In addition McBride has served as an administrator for the Jazz Aspen Snowmass Academy Summer Sessions, the National Jazz Museum, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association. His work as a composer has been rewarded with a commission by the National Endowment for the Arts to compose a work about the Civil Rights Movement entitled ...
(b Minot, ND, 17/July 18, 1921; d Bakersfield, CA, March 4, 1992). American jazz guitarist and singer. One of 11 children born to Elvy and Estelle Orsborn, she was raised in Bismarck, North Dakota. Both parents played guitar and at an early age Osborne learned to play ukelele, violin, guitar, and bass. She played banjo in her father’s string band at ten and by 15 was a featured instrumentalist, singer, and dancer in a local trio. After hearing Charlie Christian in Bismarck, she switched to electric guitar. One of its early pioneers, she developed a single-line playing style influenced by Christian and Django Reinhardt. She played in an all-female band that later joined Buddy Rogers’ ensemble. In November 1942 she married the trumpeter Ralph Scaffidi. After Rogers’ band broke up, its members were stranded in New York, and Osborne found work as a radio musician and session player. In the late 1940s she led her own trio and recorded with Mercer Ellington and Coleman Hawkins, among others. From ...
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 ...
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....