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Alex Harris Stein

(b Toronto, ON, Feb 13, 1913; d Escondido, CA, May 27, 2001). American writer and record producer. In 1934 she settled in Chicago, where she became active as a jazz journalist and promoter, writing for the Chicago Herald-Examiner and Down Beat, founding the Chicago Rhythm Club, and promoting listening concerts featuring such performers as Earl Hines and Billie Holiday. At one such concert, Dance was responsible for bringing together Benny Goodman and Teddy Wilson in one of the first highly publicized interracial collaborations in jazz. She also produced her first recordings for the Okeh label (1935). In 1937 she relocated to New York, where she produced many of the legendary Duke Ellington small band recordings, collaborated with Red Norvo, Mildred Bailey, and Bob Crosby, and managed Chick Webb, organizing swing battles at the Savoy Ballroom in Harlem featuring the Webb Orchestra and Ella Fitzgerald. Among the many concerts that she organized was Benny Goodman’s historic ...

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Ryan D.W. Bruce

[Randolph Edward ]

(b Brooklyn, NY, April 6, 1926). American jazz pianist, bandleader, composer, and club owner. Weston did not identify with his classical music lessons as a youth, choosing instead to explore a percussive piano style under the influence of Duke Ellington. Other early influences include Count Basie, Nat “King” Cole, Art Tatum, and Coleman Hawkins. Weston’s playing was transformed after attending a concert by Hawkins and Thelonious Monk in 1945: Monk became Weston’s mentor from 1947–9, and inspired his heavy attack and improvisatory rhythmic displacements. He was hired by Marshall Stearns in 1949 to provide demonstrations of different jazz styles for university lectures given throughout the United States; their work lasted eight summers and fostered Weston’s interest in African music.

Beginning with his debut in 1954, his early recordings acquired critical recognition and included band members such as Art Blakey, Cecil Payne, Ahmed Abdul-Malik, and Coleman Hawkins. Some of his compositions of the time, especially “Little Niles” and “Hi-Fly,” gained popularity and have been recorded by many others. Weston also worked with arranger ...