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Laurence Libin

(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 ...

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Thomas Owens

[Thomas Joseph ]

(b Milwaukee, May 20, 1931). American accordionist and musical equipment manufacturer. He began accordion lessons in Milwaukee at the age of 11 and from 1944 to 1949 studied the instrument in Chicago. Harry James heard him in a club in Milwaukee in 1951 and in January 1952 engaged him as a (non-jazz) soloist on his television show in Los Angeles. In 1955 Gumina left James to work independently, first as a soloist and later with his own group. From 1960 to 1965 he led a quartet with Buddy DeFranco which made several recordings; he also recorded with Willie Smith in 1965. During the 1960s he began using an electronically modified instrument capable of producing organ-like effects. He played at Donte’s, North Hollywood, with Art Pepper in 1974, but thereafter performed only intermittently, concentrating instead on running Polytone Musical Instruments (also in North Hollywood), a company he founded in ...