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Michael Ethen

(Guy)

(b Kingston, ON, Nov 5, 1959). Canadian rock singer, songwriter, and guitarist, and photographer. The son of a diplomat, he spent his youth in England, Israel, Portugal, and Austria. After returning with his family to North America, he began performing and recording at the age of 15 with rock bands in British Columbia and Ontario. In 1978 he began what became a long and successful songwriting partnership with Jim Vallance, with whom he created most songs recorded under his name up to 1987, as well as songs recorded by Rod Stewart, Kiss, Bonnie Raitt, Neil Diamond, and the Canadian groups Prism, BTO, and Loverboy.

Adams’ albums characteristically alternate between down-tempo piano ballads and straight-ahead rock numbers. His third solo album, Cuts like a Knife (1983) launched him to the status of an international celebrity; its singles included the ballad “Straight from the Heart” and the anthem “Cuts like a Knife,” which both featured for weeks on magazine charts and music television. The next album, ...

Article

Mark Tucker

[Stephen Valentine Patrick William]

(b New York, NY, Dec 16, 1921; d Encino, CA, Oct 30, 2000). American composer, radio and television personality, pianist, singer, and comedian. The son of Belle Montrose and Billy Allen, both of whom worked in vaudeville, he moved from place to place as a child, attending many schools for short periods of time. He played piano from an early age, although his musical training was mainly informal. He began a professional career in Los Angeles as a disc jockey on radio during the 1940s, then turned to television in the 1950s; he established himself as a comedian, and often played the piano during his shows, improvising jazz and singing his own songs. Among the musicians who appeared with him regularly was the vibraphonist Terry Gibbs. Allen’s most popular television program was “The Tonight Show,” which he began broadcasting locally in New York in 1953, subsequently leading it to nationwide success the following year. Allen performed the title role in the film ...

Article

Antony  

Shana Goldin-Perschbacher

[Hegarty, Antony]

(b Chichester, England, 1971). American singer-songwriter and pianist. After the Hegarty family moved to San Jose, Ccalifornia, in 1981, Antony studied experimental theater at New York University, formed a performance collective with Johanna Constantine, and collaborated with filmmaker William Basinski (Life on Mars, 1997) and rock icon Lou Reed (The Raven, Sire, 2003; Animal Serenade, RCA, 2004). Antony has become the world’s most famous transgender musician. Male-bodied and feminine-identified, Antony retains his birth name and uses masculine pronouns professionally. His band, Antony and the Johnsons (formed in 1996), is named after the murdered African American transgender activist Marsha P. Johnson.

Antony’s vocal depth, resonance, and melismatic grace evoke African American musical traditions. His tremulous vibrato and seemingly self-imposed limitations (also evident in his amateurish piano playing) express the grave earthly burdens of his lyrics. His eclectic work has been influenced by the AIDS-ravaged New York art scene (Peter Hujar), British synth-pop (Marc Almond), soul (Nina Simone, Boy George), and experimental underground music (Diamanda Galás). His band includes vocals, piano, drums, guitar, bass, cello, violin, and horns, he regularly appears with an orchestra, and he released an album of live symphonic performances with the Danish National Chamber Orchestra featuring arrangements by Nico Muhly, Rob Moose, Maxim Moston, and himself (...

Article

Barry Jean Ancelet

(b L’Anse des Prien Noir, near Duralde, LA, Nov 16, 1915; d Eunice, LA, May 18, 2007). Creole accordionist, vocalist, and songwriter. A cousin of the legendary Creole accordionist Amédé Ardoin, Alphonse became interested in the Creole “la-la” music of his community, learning to play on his older brother’s accordion. In the late 1940s, he teamed up with his long-time partner, Creole fiddler Canray Fontenot. Together they were the core of the Duralde Ramblers, performing at local dance halls and house dances. In 1964, they were recorded by Ralph Rinzler, who was doing fieldwork for the Newport Folk Festival. They were invited to perform at Newport in 1966 and recorded their first album, Les blues du bayou, on the way home. By the 1970s, Ardoin and Fontenot were performing with the Ardoin Family Band, featuring several of Ardoin’s sons. With this band, Ardoin and Fontenot took their pre-zydeco Creole music to many parts of the country, becoming fixtures on the folk festival circuit. Ardoin tried to retire in the early 1970s, passing the torch to his son Gustave, but he rejoined the group when Gustave died in ...

Article

Dan Sharp

(b Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Feb 9, 1978). American Brazilian composer, arranger, pianist, and vocalist. Clarice Assad is a member of one of Brazil’s most acclaimed musical families. Daughter of guitarist and composer Sergio Assad, and niece of Odair and Badi Assad, she began performing with her family when she was seven years old. Assad skillfully traverses the worlds of jazz and classical music in her performances and compositions. As a composer and arranger, she has written commissioned works and arrangements for violin, symphony orchestra, string quartets, and guitar quartets. She has also written original compositions for the ballet Step to Grace by Lou Fancher and the play The Anatomy Lesson by Carlus Mathus. Some of her notable compositions include Pole to Pole, O Curupira, Bluezilian, and Ratchenitsa. As a pianist, she performs her own compositions and also arranges popular Brazilian songs and jazz standards. As a vocalist, Assad sings in Portuguese, French, Italian, and English, and is known for her precise intonation, even when performing improvised scatting....

Article

Elijah Wald

[Ramón Covarrubias]

(b Monterrey, Nuevo León, Mexico, Dec 8, 1945). Mexican accordionist, singer, and bandleader. Born in Monterrey and raised in Reynosa, Tamaulipas, Ramón Ayala has been the foremost figure in norteño music along the Gulf Coast and Texas border region since the 1970s. He first became famous in the 1960s as the accordionist and coleader of Los Relámpagos del Norte, with the singer-songwriter Cornelio Reyna; then formed his own band, Los Bravos del Norte, in 1971. In Mexico, Ayala is regarded as part of a great generation of border bandleaders, along with Carlos y José and Los Cadetes de Linares. North of the border, though, he has far outstripped his peers, and only California’s Los Tigres del Norte rival his ongoing popularity. Unlike the Tigres, who have consistently pushed norteño in new directions, Ayala is a traditionalist, and his success is due as much to his image as a hard-working, old-fashioned bearer of the classic tradition as to his intricate accordion passages and his keen eye for good material, from gunfighter corridos to romantically mournful ...

Article

Michael J. Budds

(b Kansas City, MO, May 12, 1928). American composer and pianist. He learnt the cello, drums and piano from an early age and developed a particular interest in jazz. He played as a night club pianist, and then served in the army, touring as a pianist (1950–52). He went on to study music at the Mannes College of Music, New York, the New School of Social Research, McGill University, Montreal and gained a scholarship to the Music Academy of the West, Santa Barbara, California. His composition teachers included Milhaud, Martinů and Cowell. Bacharach became an accompanist for Vic Damone, subsequently working with such performers as Polly Bergen, Steve Lawrence, the Ames Brothers and Paula Stewart, to whom he was married from 1953 to 1958. From 1958 to 1961 he toured internationally with Marlene Dietrich. Bacharach began writing arrangements and composing songs in the mid-1950s, working at the Brill Building and collaborating with the lyricist Hal David (...

Article

Jonas Westover

(b Orange, TX, March 20, 1949). American blues singer and pianist. Ball began playing piano at age five, one in a long line of female pianists in her family. Her earliest influences were Tin Pan Alley songs, but as a young teenager she became interested in soul and blues music. Inspired by the music of Irma Thomas, Ball continued to play, attended Louisiana State University and performed with the blues/rock band, Gum. She decided to leave the area in 1970, but only made it as far as Austin, TX, where she put together a band named Freda and the Firedogs. Ball began songwriting in earnest around the same time, feeling a kindred spirit in the music of Professor Longhair. She was signed to Capitol Records in 1974, and launched her solo career with the album, Circuit Queen (1978). In the next two decades, she would release six records on Rounder Records while working on her personal sound, which has been described as a mix between “Texas stomp-rock” and “Louisiana swamp blues.” One of her most successful albums was ...

Article

Chadwick Jenkins

(b Lisle, IL, Nov 8, 1955). American singer, pianist, composer, and bandleader. Her father played with the Glenn Miller band and her mother was a professional blues singer. After studying psychology and classical piano at the University of Iowa, Barber returned to Chicago and began playing five nights a week at the Gold Star Sardine Bar, where she attracted varying critical attention for her husky voice and the inclusion of pop songs, including “Black Magic Woman” and “A Taste of Honey,” in her repertoire. She recorded her first album, Split (Floyd), in 1989 and her second album, A Distortion of Love (Antilles) in 1991. She subsequently moved to the independent label Premonition, which was bought by Blue Note in 1998. In 2003 Barber became the first songwriter to be awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship. Under its aegis she composed a song cycle based on Ovid’s Metamorphoses. She is the subject of a documentary, ...

Article

Vasil S. Tole

(b Përmet, Albania, May 2, 1929; d Përmet, Jan 26, 2014). Albanian folk music performer. A clarinettist and vocalist, nicknamed ‘Përmeti’s nightingale’, founder of the instrumental iso-polyphonic group (saze ensemble) in the Southern town of Përmet (1944–2004). At a young age, he showed a special ability to design and make instruments. He was taught to play the lute and the clarinet by the saze masters in the city of Korçë. Then his family returned to Përmet, where he joined the saze of Vangjel Leskoviku (1944). At Përmet, he organized his own saze and participated in the Folk Music Festival in Tirane (1952), where he was awarded the First Prize for the best folk clarinettist. His saze was composed of a clarinet, two lutes, two accordions, a frame drum, and a violin. The saze played instruments and sang at the same time. He is a composer of songs, clarinet ...

Article

Randolph Love

(b Edgard, LA, Dec 24, 1920; d New Orleans, June 23, 2019). American trumpeter, arranger, producer, songwriter, bandleader, and singer. He started his career as a trumpeter playing with established bands led by, among others, Papa Celestin, Joe Robichaux, and Claiborne Williams before joining Fats Pichon’s ensemble, considered one of the top groups in New Orleans, in 1939. During World War II he played in the 196th AGF (Army Ground Forces) Band, where he met Abraham Malone, who taught him how to write and arrange. After the war, he formed his own band in New Orleans, which made its début at the Dew Drop Inn and later performed at Sam Simoneaux’s club Graystone where many of the city’s top instrumental players, including the drummer Earl Palmer and the saxophonists Lee Allen and Red Tyler, were showcased.

Bartholomew is best known for his talents as an arranger and songwriter. In the 1950s and 60s he worked with many of the biggest stars of the day, including Smiley Lewis, Lloyd Price, Shirley and Lee, and Joe Turner. By the 1970s he had associations with some of rock and roll’s most established talents, including Paul McCartney, Elton John, and the Rolling Stones. His most productive association was with Fats Domino, whom he met through Lew Chudd, the owner of Imperial Records, where he worked as a house arranger, an A&R man, and an in-house bandleader. From ...

Article

Beck  

Rob Jovanovic

[Campbell, Bek David; Hansen, Beck]

(b Los Angeles, CA, July 8, 1970). American rock singer, songwriter, guitarist, and producer. He has recorded and performed songs in a wide range of genres including folk, country, bluegrass, grunge, indie, metal, rock, lounge, Latino, and noise. An obvious contributing factor to his eclectic tastes is his artistic and performer-laden family. His father David Campbell is a string player and arranger who has worked on string parts for some of his son’s more recent albums. His mother Bibbe Hansen worked with Andy Warhol at the artist’s studio the Factory in New York at an early age and was involved in the west coast punk scene during the 1980s. His grandfather Al Hansen was an artist and performer involved in the Fluxus movement. Beck grew up around rockers and in various ethnic neighborhoods which all contributed to his music education. After spending time at the end of the 1980s involved with New York’s anti-folk scene he returned west and began performing as often and wherever he could. These gigs involved him using a leaf-blower on stage, telling stories, setting fire to his acoustic guitar, and rocking out with a boom-box backing tape. His breakthrough came in ...

Article

Bruce Johnson

(Emerson )

(b Melbourne, Australia, Jan 4, 1919; d Melbourne, Australia, June 17, 2008). Australian trumpeter, washboard player, composer, singer, and bandleader, brother of Graeme Bell. He first worked as a drummer, then in 1938 began to play cornet. Having worked in Melbourne with his brother at Leonard’s Café, he briefly led the band at Heidelberg Town Hall (1943), where he recorded with a visiting Max Kaminsky, before Graeme Bell returned from Queensland to take over the group’s leadership. He remained in Graeme’s dixieland groups during their European tours (1947–8, 1950–52), after which he worked with Max Collie (1953) and in the house band at the Melbourne Jazz Club (from 1958). Bell was active as a freelance musician and led his own band, the Pagan Pipers (a name he had used first in 1949), which with various personnel (notably Len Barnard and Ade Monsbourgh) performed and recorded for many years; among its recordings were a number of Bell’s own compositions. His playing may be heard to advantage on ...

Article

Lee Jeske

(b Pittsburgh, March 22, 1943). American electric guitarist and singer. He sang in night clubs at the age of eight and formed a rock-and-roll group when he was 17. In the 1960s he attracted attention in jazz circles for his speed and agility on the electric guitar, which he played in an original style based on that of Wes Montgomery and somewhat touched by rock-and-roll. He played soul jazz as a member of Brother Jack McDuff’s quartet (1962–5), then performed and recorded as the leader of groups that included Ronnie Cuber and Jimmy Smith as sidemen. Having established his jazz credentials – he had recorded with Billy Cobham, Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Freddie Hubbard, Ron Carter and Lee Morgan – Benson began to make more commercially orientated recordings in the early 1970s, on which he sang as well as played electric guitar. His recordings for Warner Bros., which include the Grammy-winning ...

Article

Lara Pellegrinelli

[Andrew W.]

(b Newark, NJ, Oct 28, 1939). American jazz singer and pianist. He played boogie-woogie from the age of three and launched his professional career with his siblings Salome and Geraldine. Their vocal trio, Andy and the Bey Sisters, was active from 1956 to 1967 and worked across Europe. Footage from their performance at a Parisian salon was included in the Chet Baker documentary Let’s Get Lost (1989). After the group disbanded Bey worked with Max Roach, Horace Silver, and Stanley Clarke, as well as in big bands led by Howard McGhee and Thad Jones and Mel Lewis. Following a long period of the public eye, he worked again from the late 1980s, performing and recording alongside such musicians as Silver, McCoy Tyner, Lonnie Liston Smith, Eddie Harris, and Gary Bartz. In the 1990s he taught at the Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst in Graz, Austria. During this period he also made public his ongoing battle with HIV/AIDS. Two solo albums, ...

Article

Matthew A. Donahue

(Wegman)

(b Lake Bluff, IL, July 11, 1973). American singer, songwriter, and violinist. He is known for his eclectic sound recordings and dynamic live performances that draw on jazz, blues, folk, and art rock. He learned the violin from the age of four by the Suzuki method and attended Northwestern University, where he received a degree in violin performance (BM 1996). After releasing an album under his own name, Music of Hair, (Grimsey Records, 1996) he recorded and performed with the swing band Squirrel Nut Zippers (1996–8). He subsequently formed his own group, Andrew Bird’s Bowl of Fire, with which he released three albums, Thrills (Rykodisc, 1998), Oh! The Grandeur (Rykodisc, 1999), and The Swimming Hour (Rykodisc, 2001). Bird was also a member of Kevin O’Donnell’s group Quality Six, in which he was the singer and violinist and contributed to songwriting on two albums released on Delmark Records....

Article

Pavla Jonssonová

(b 22 July 1958, Bruntál in Czechoslovakia). Czech vocalist, violinist, composer, and actress..Bittová grew up in a musical family and with sisters Ida and Regina often accompanied her father, the composer and multi-instrumentalist Koloman Bitto. She gave up playing violin at the age of fourteen and so her mother, a choir singer and teacher, enrolled her to study acting at Brno Conservatory. In 1978, Bittová became a member of the avant garde theatre Husa na provázku (Goose on a String), starring as Eržika in the popular musical Balada pro banditu (Ballad for a Bandit). She also began her film acting career at this time. She quit her theatre career in 1982 to fulfill her father’s wishes and restarted her study of the violin under Rudolf Šťastný of the Moravian String Quartet. Enabled by her theatrical professionalism, improvisational skills, command of pitch, and purity of tone, Bittová developed a unique performance style consisting of combining the voice and the violin. This avant garde interplay of violin and extended vocalization techniques (ranging from primordial and nature-inspired clicking, screeching and ululating to folkloristic tunes) shocked her audiences. In ...

Article

Paul F. Wells

(b Chattanooga, TN, March 10, 1938). American multi-instrumentalist and singer. Blake has had a long and varied career playing many different genres of country music, but focusing on older styles and material. He is best-known as a guitarist, but is also skilled on mandolin, fiddle, banjo, and dobro. Blake played in a number of regional bands and came to wide attention through his work as a Nashville studio musician and sideman. He was a member of June Carter’s road band, played on Bob Dylan’s Nashville Skyline LP, and was a member of the house band on The Johnny Cash Show (1969–71). He began a solo career in the early 1970s. His first solo LP, Home in Sulphur Springs (Rounder, 1972), and his appearance on the seminal Will the Circle Be Unbroken?, the collaboration between the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and a cadre of Nashville musicians, did much to establish his reputation. In ...

Article

Jonas Westover

[Eddy]

(b Chicago, IL, 1941; d Palos Heights, IL, May 21, 2012). American polka bandleader, singer, and bass player. He was best known as the leader of his band, the Versatones. The son of two Polish immigrant musicians, he grew up in northern Wisconsin and formed a rock and roll band, which played backup for such stars as Buddy Holly and Gene Vincent. Under the name of Eddie (or Eddy) Bell, he recorded “Hi-Yo Silver” and other songs on the Mercury label. The Lucky Four label released his well-liked novelty song, “The Great Great Pumpkin.” At the insistence of his good friend and fellow musician Chet Kowalkowski, he moved back to Chicago and joined Versatones in 1963, a six-piece polka band that played both traditional and modernized repertoire. The result ended up changing the polka world, and they were quickly invited to record. Their first disc was Polka Parade (...

Article

David Font-Navarrete

(b Gaston, NC, Aug 28, 1936; d Baltimore, May 16, 2012). American bandleader, singer, guitarist, and composer. He was a musical icon of the Washington, DC metropolitan area. He was widely known as “The Godfather of Go-go” and renowned for his live performances, which emphasized continuous, percussion-driven grooves and audience participation, all staples of the Go-go genre he developed in the 1970s. Brown’s early years were marked by poverty and crime, and he first developed his guitar playing while incarcerated at the Lorton Penitentiary. With his band the Soul Searchers, Brown developed a distinctive sound that is grounded in funk and soul, but also heavily influenced by jazz and Latin genres. His hit songs include “Bustin’ Loose,” “We Need Some Money,” and “Go-Go Swing.” In 1992, Brown recorded The Other Side with vocalist Eva Cassidy, a critically-acclaimed album of jazz and blues material. He received a NARAS Governors Award and an NEA Lifetime Heritage Fellowship Award, and continued to record and perform regularly until his death in ...