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Pekka Gronow

[Junnu]

(bKouvola, Finland, Dec 12, 1935). Finnishtenor and alto saxophonist and flutist. He learned to play guitar and tenor saxophone during his years of schooling and army service, and spent three years in Sweden without playing; after returning to Finland he took up baritone saxophone, then changed to the alto instrument. He studied flute at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki and later spent a period in Boston at the Berklee College of Music. In the 1950s he played in a sextet led by the trumpeter Heikki Rosendahl in Inkeroinen. He moved to Helsinki in 1961 and worked frequently as a studio musician, except during the late 1970s, when a three-year government grant gave him the freedom to pursue his own musical interests. At the same time he made a name as a lyrical free-jazz and jazz-rock soloist, recording with Eero Koivistoinen (1969–73), Edward Vesala (from ...

Article

[Alvin]

(bToronto, Jan 27, 1910; dCanada, Nov 1970). Americanreed player. He played alto saxophone and in 1942 recorded with Jack Teagarden. After moving to Hollywood he performed and recorded with the bandleaders Horace Heidt (1943–5, 1948–9) and Skinnay Ennis (1945–8), then toured Europe and Asia and recorded with Les Brown, first on clarinet and alto saxophone (...

Article

Thomas Owens

(bPittsburgh, March 23, 1932). Americantrumpeter and flugelhorn player. He studied music in Pittsburgh (1947–50), Evanston, Illinois (with Renold Schilke of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, 1951–3), and at Wayne State University, Detroit (mid-1950s), where he worked for seven nights a week in the band at the Flame Show Bar. From 1956 to 1957 he played at Klein’s Showbar with Yusef Lateef, Pepper Adams, Kenny Burrell, Louis Hayes, and Tommy Flanagan, after which he was a member of Barry Harris’s band at the Bluebird Inn. He performed with Wild Bill Davis (1961), then joined Count Basie while working in a club in Washington, DC; he toured and recorded with Basie from August 1961 to July 1969, and in 1965 appeared as a soloist with the group on Blues for Ilean on the show “Jazz from WGN-TV.” After moving to Los Angeles he worked in television, and recorded with Ray Brown and Milt Jackson (both ...

Article

Michel Laplace

(b Paris, Jan 16, 1920). French clarinetist and bandleader. In 1941 he put together a jazz band which by 1943 had been joined by Boris Vian and was considered the first revival band in France. At its peak, in the years 1944–6, Abadie introduced such musicians as Claude Luter, Jef Gilson, and, from 1945, the Fol brothers, who may be heard on Tin Roof Blues (1946, Swing 212) and I’ve found a new baby (1946, Pathé 1013 [EP]). The band was strongly influenced by the Chicagoans and Bix Beiderbecke. In 1949 Abadie assembled a new band with such young players as Benny Vasseur and Jean-Claude Fohrenbach. He then retired from music (1952–63), but from 1965 led a modern-jazz nonet or tentet, which included the tenor saxophonist Paul Vernon (playing in a style influenced by Lester Young), with a repertory consisting of compositions by Ahmad Jamal, John Lewis, John Coltrane, and others....

Article

Aušra Listavičiūtė

[Gintas ]

(b Vilnius, USSR [now Lithuania], March 28, 1959). Lithuanian pianist. He played accordion from the age of four, studied piano from 1966 to 1977, and took courses in composition and jazz history at the M. K. Čiurlionis Gymnasium of Arts. At that time he admired rock music, but a recording by Oscar Peterson led to his interest in jazz. From 1977 he studied classical piano and composition at the Lithuanian music academy. In 1978 he formed a trio, which continued with a few changes in membership until 1994, and in the 1980s he led Jazz Archiv, a fusion group. He ceased to perform in public in 1992, though the trio played together for two more years. Abarius is admired for his use of impressionistic harmonies, his pure strong sound, and his impeccable technique, as heard on his album Reminiscence Blues (1988, Mel. C60-27877-007). He also plays other keyboard instruments and composes....

Article

Gary W. Kennedy

(b Fall River, MA, May 31, 1947). American alto saxophonist. He attended the Berklee School of Music (1966–71), after which he moved to Hollywood and worked in various local bands. He later toured internationally as a member of Ray Charles’s orchestra (1973–5), in which he succeeded David “Fathead” Newman, and then settled in Providence, Rhode Island, where he led a fusion group, Channel One (1979–84). He was a regular member of Artie Shaw’s orchestra from 1985 to 1987, and continued to work with him intermittently until 1994; during this time he also co-led a quintet with the leader of Shaw’s band, Dick Johnson. Abate performed in California, Quebec, and Spain with Jerome Richardson, and appeared with Red Rodney at Town Hall, New York, in a tribute concert to Charlie Parker. In 1991 he made his first recording as a leader and by the late 1990s he was working mainly on the East Coast and in Europe. An effective bop soloist, he has often worked in groups incorporating two saxophones. He also plays tenor and soprano saxophone, and flute....

Article

Rainer E. Lotz

(Alexander)

(bMinneapolis, May 7, 1900; dMinneapolis, Sept 15, 1975). Americanbandleader and violinist. He began his career playing light and classical music as a member of J. Rosamond Johnson’s orchestra (1920–25). In 1925 he recorded as a soloist with Clara Smith (If you only knowed, Col. 14058D, and You better keep the home fires burning, Col. 14062D) and began to lead his own band. The following year he directed the Savoy Bearcats, and in 1927 he reorganized the group for a tour of Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay; he also took a band to England. Between 1928 and 1939 he toured extensively in Europe and visited India twice. After returning to the USA he organized a band in 1940 for Ethel Waters, toured with a small group, and then settled in Chicago, where he played regularly with a trio until 1964. Although he was not a jazz soloist, Abbey employed excellent sidemen, including Fletcher Allen, Emile Christian, Bill Coleman, Peter DuConge, and Crickett Smith. His jazz recordings as a leader remain unissued except for ...

Article

John Curry

(bNew York, Jan 30, 1927; dNew York, Oct 2, 1993). Double bass and ‘ūd player. His early influences included the music played and sung by his father, who was Sudanese, and the Middle Eastern and East European music he heard growing up in Brooklyn’s multiracial community. He began learning violin at the age of seven and later studied double bass, piano, and tuba and attended the High School of the Performing Arts in New York. At this time he played Greek, Syrian, and Gypsy music professionally at weddings and other occasions. After playing double bass with Art Blakey (1945–8), Don Byas (1946), Sam “the Man” Taylor (1954), and Randy Weston (1954–7) he worked with Thelonious Monk (1957–8), with whom he recorded in performance at the Five Spot in New York and appeared on television in the CBS series “The Seven Lively Arts,” as well as on “The Sound of Jazz” (both ...

Article

Gary W. Kennedy

[Bland, Leroy ]

(b New York, May 10, 1947). American trumpeter and leader. He began on trumpet at the age of 13, studying formally while in college. In the 1960s he took up Islam and adopted his Muslim name. After working briefly with the Master Brotherhood he toured with rhythm-and-blues bands. In 1972 he formed his group Abdullah, which often included Vincent Chancey, and worked as music director for the dancer Diane McIntyre (1973–83). Having been involved with Sam Rivers’s Studio Rivbea from 1972, he appeared at the studio’s opening with the group Melodic Art-tette, with Charles Brackeen, Ronnie Boykins, and Roger Blank. Most notably he performed and recorded with Sun Ra’s Arkestra from 1975 until 1978, and again regularly from c1988, continuing with the band after the leader’s death in 1992.

Abdullah worked as a sideman with Rivers’s big band (1977–8), Hamiet Bluiett, Arthur Blythe (...

Article

Kazunori Sugiyama

(b Kawasaki, Japan, May 3, 1949; d Sept 9, 1978). Japanese alto saxophonist. Self-taught, he played alto saxophone and reportedly had developed a distinctive style by the age of 20. He made his first recording in a duo with Masayuki Takayanagi in 1970, and during the 1970s he performed with Motoharu Yoshizawa, the avant-garde composer and violinist Takehisa Kosugi, Yosuke Yamashita, Derek Bailey, Milford Graves, and others; he also appeared frequently as an unaccompanied soloist, and made the majority of his recordings in this context. One of the legendary masters of Japanese free jazz of the 1970s, Abe also played bass clarinet, sopranino saxophone, harmonica, and other wind instruments.

Article

Gregory E. Smith

revised by Barry Kernfeld

[Michael Christian Joseph, Jr.]

(bNew York, July 2, 1942). American pianist, arranger, and composer. His father was a guitarist and bandleader. Abene performed and recorded at the Newport Jazz Festival in Marshall Brown’s International Youth Band (1958) and studied composition at the Manhattan School of Music (1959–61), though he is primarily self-taught. After working with Clark Terry, Jimmy Nottingham, and others at the Cork ’n Bib on Long Island (1960) he played piano with Don Ellis (1960–61), Maynard Ferguson (1961–5), for whom he also wrote arrangements, Buddy Rich, Harry Edison, and Georgie Auld (in Las Vegas, 1963). From the mid-1960s he performed regularly in New York at the Half Note (with the quintets led by Al Cohn and Zoot Sims and by Bill Berry and Richie Kamuca, 1965–7), Bradley’s (1972–5), Sweet Basil (1978), and Freddy’s (with the singer Barbara Rankin, ...

Article

J. Bradford Robinson

revised by Barry Kernfeld

(Laird)

(b Port Chester, NY, Dec 16, 1944; d Cortlandt Manor, NY, Aug 22, 2017). American guitarist and leader. He was brought up in Connecticut and took up guitar at the age of 14. From 1962 to 1966 he attended the Berklee College of Music in Boston, during which time he performed with Johnny Hammond, playing locally at the Big M club and touring. He later studied at North Texas State University. After moving to New York in 1969 he played mainly in Chico Hamilton’s group, but also briefly joined the jazz-rock group Dreams (which included Billy Cobham and the Brecker brothers) and worked with Jeremy Steig, Gil Evans, and Gato Barbieri. In 1974 he became a member of Cobham’s jazz-rock group Spectrum, where he attracted widespread attention. From this same year, when his highly regarded trio recording Timeless was recorded, he began to prefer a subdued, “chamber” jazz style of performance, either working with his own small groups, including the trio Gateway with Dave Holland and Jack DeJohnette (...

Article

Lars Westin

(b Helsingborg, Sweden, Feb 26, 1942). Swedish tenor and soprano saxophonist and leader. After studying accordion from the age of ten he started on tenor saxophone when he was 14. He gradually evolved into a professional musician, working in Stockholm and his home-town Uppsala with groups led by Bosse Broberg (1962–7), Gugge Hedrenius (1963–5), Jan Johansson, Arne Domnérus, Red Mitchell (1969–71), and others. In 1967 he was a founding member of Radiojazzgruppen (ii), of which he became the leader early in the 1980s; the band maintained its activities well into the 1990s, in spite of diminishing support from the broadcasting company. From 1972 to 1992 Åberg led the quartet Rena Rama with Bobo Stenson. He also worked frequently with Okay Temiz in the group Oriental Wind, and he participated in a variety of musical projects and recordings led by George Russell, Bob Brookmeyer, Lars Gullin, Ed Thigpen, and many others. Åberg has composed and recorded music for large ensembles, and from the early 1990s he has led several groups. He has served as artistic director of several jazz festivals in Stockholm....

Article

Andrew Jaffe

revised by Barry Kernfeld

(bBaltimore, March 10, 1923; dLos Angeles, Jan 27, 2000). Pianist. He studied piano at the Manhattan School of Music. After playing french horn in an army band he returned to New York, where he worked with Snub Mosley (1948), Wilbur De Paris (1948–9), Kai Winding and Bill Harris (1951–2), Chuck Wayne (1952), Sy Oliver, and Louie Bellson (1954); he also recorded with Eddie South (1947) and Louis Armstrong (1951). From 1954 to 1957 he toured and recorded with Ella Fitzgerald (he may be seen accompanying her in the film Pete Kelly’s Blues, 1955), and after a brief period of freelancing he worked from 1958 to 1959 as accompanist to Carmen McRae. During these years he recorded with groups led by Benny Carter and Oscar Pettiford (both 1955), in a leaderless rhythm section with Jimmy Raney, Pettiford, and Kenny Clarke for the educational Music Minus One label (also ...

Article

Gary W. Kennedy

(b Beirut, Aug 17, 1957). Lebanese ’ūd player and leader. He was classically trained on ’ūd and flute, and continued to study flute when he moved to Munich at the outbreak of the Lebanese civil war in the late 1970s. He made two albums as a flute player, one in a duo with the pianist Michael Armann (1981), but neither attracted much attention, so Abou-Khalil resumed playing the ’ūd. In 1986 he recorded as the leader of a seven-piece group which included Charlie Mariano, Glen Moore, and the percussionist Glen Velez, all of whom have taken part in his later recordings. Among his other guests have been Kenny Wheeler and Steve Swallow, and Sonny Fortune toured and recorded as a soloist with him in 1988 and 1990. In the 1990s he led a group with the harmonica player Howard Levy, Michel Godard, Mark Nauseef, and the Syrian percussionist Nabil Khaiat; its combination of ...

Article

Barry Kernfeld

(b Mons, Belgium, 1962). Belgian trombonist and leader. He studied piano and guitar and at the age of 15 played piano in an amateur band; he then took up trombone (on which he is self-taught) and joined a succession of dixieland bands, including that of Claude Luter. In 1984 he turned to modern jazz as an occasional soloist with Félix Simtaine’s Act Big Band and the BRT (Belgische Radio & Televisie) Big Band and as the leader of a quartet; the latter group appeared at clubs and festivals, recorded its first album in 1986, and toured Europe from the late 1980s. Abraham joined Guy Cabay’s quintet in 1989. In the 1990s he appeared on television as a guest artist with a big band in Moscow, and he recorded with his quartet (including the albums Stapler, 1991, Igloo 091, and En public, 1996, Lyrae 9703007), as well as with Michel Herr’s big band (...

Article

Val Wilmer

(Stanley )

(b Cape Town, June 26, 1947). South African drummer, percussionist, singer, and leader. Known first for his singing, he developed as a drummer by accompanying other singers in Cape Town and playing with the quartet led by the pianist Cecil May. In 1962 he joined the Coon Carnival stage show. He then spent seven years in Swaziland, where he played bop with the pianists Roy Peterson and Howard Belling and accompanied Sarah Vaughan and Nancy Wilson. In 1975 he traveled to England and worked in variety and dance bands before joining Dudu Pukwana’s group Zila. In 1981 he founded the trio District Six with Mervyn Afrika and the guitarist Russell Herman, both of whom grew up in the District Six area of Cape Town; with Abrahams as its leader, the trio expanded to a sextet (including Jim Dvorak from 1983 to 1993 and Claude Deppa at some point thereafter) and became an important focus for musicians who played both jazz and African rhythms. Abrahams also worked with Ronnie Scott, John Taylor, Johnny Dyani, and the Brotherhood of Breath. In ...

Article

John Shand

(b Oamaru, New Zealand, April 9, 1961). Australian keyboard player. Having moved with his family to Australia in 1964 he began taking piano lessons at the age of five; his early inspirations included the boogie-woogie pianists and Teddy Wilson. He took Australian citizenship in 1975. During high school he heard Red Garland on a recording by Miles Davis, which led him to contemporary jazz. He attended the New South Wales Conservatorium of Music, where he formed The Benders with fellow students Dale Barlow, Lloyd Swanton, and the drummer Andrew Gander; the quartet recorded three albums in the first half of the 1980s. Abrahams was also involved with an improvised music collective, the Keys Music Association, which saw the start of an important association with Mark Simmonds. With the saxophonist Jason Morphett having replaced Barlow, The Benders recorded two more albums (1983, 1985), then toured India, Europe, and Cuba before disbanding. In those same years Abrahams recorded as an unaccompanied soloist, and in ...

Article

[Abramson, Raymond Joseph]

(bNew York, Jan 23, 1920). Americantenor saxophonist, brother of Lee Abrams. In the early 1940s he played in the resident band at Monroe’s Uptown House, which accompanied Coleman Hawkins in performances and on the first studio recordings of bop (16 February 1944); he remained with the group when it became the core of Dizzy Gillespie’s first big band in 1945. The following year he recorded with Kenny Clarke and (during a tour of Europe) Don Redman; his solo playing is well represented on Redman’s For Europeans Only (1946, Ste. 6020–21). His own band (formed 1947) recorded with the singer Billy Stewart (1947, 1949) and under Abrams’s name (1948); Fats Navarro and Coleman Hawkins were among his sidemen. After playing with Andy Kirk (1947–8) he rejoined Gillespie and recorded with Cecil Payne (both 1949). He toured and made recordings with Hot Lips Page (...

Article

Rainer E. Lotz

[Giovanni]

(bSan Girolamo di Lusiana, province of Vicenza, Italy, May 15, 1898; dMilan, Aug 1960). Italianbandleader, saxophonist, and violinist. He was brought up in Switzerland, where he formed a café orchestra with his brother Felice, who played banjo and violin. From 1925 to 1932 he toured Italy, Germany, and Switzerland and made several recordings as a leader for Homocord (1927–8, including Just Once Again, 2514, and Say it with a Red Rose, 2524, both 1928), in which Arthur Briggs may have taken part. Abriani held an engagement in Calcutta from 1932 to 1934, during which time he recorded for HMV’s Twin label. After returning to Europe he toured (1934–9) and made further recordings (1937–9), and then settled in Italy. Although he was not himself a jazz soloist, he often employed excellent jazz players as his sidemen. (A. Mazzoletti: Il jazz in Italia: dalle origini al dopoguerra...