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Megan E. Hill

(b Osaka, Japan, 1957). Jazz and blues pianist, singer, and composer of Japanese birth. She took piano lessons briefly as a child and was exposed to the blues while growing up in Osaka in the 1960s and 1970s. As a high school student, she formed the Yoko Blues Band with classmates. The band earned some success, winning first prize and a recording contract in a television-sponsored contest. In 1984 she moved to the United States to pursue a jazz and blues career in Chicago. Initially a singer, she studied piano with boogie, blues, and jazz pianist Erwin Helfer. In the early 1990s Noge established the Jazz Me Blues Band, which has played regularly in Chicago since its formation. In addition to Noge on piano and vocals, the ensemble has included Noge’s husband, Clark Dean, on soprano saxophone, saxophonist Jimmy Ellis, trombonist Bill McFarland, and bassist Tatsu Aoki. In addition to playing more conventional jazz and blues, Noge has made a name for herself through the unique compositions she has written for the group, which meld Japanese folk music styles with Chicago blues. Active in the broader Asian American community, she cofounded the Chicago Asian American Jazz Festival in ...

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Jonas Westover

(Belle )

(b Chicago, IL, Oct 18, 1919; d Los Angeles, CA, Nov 23, 2006). American jazz singer. She began to appear in show business as a dancer on the endurance dance contest circuit, where she was occasionally invited to sing. At age 18 she became determined to become a professional singer. While working her way through numerous Chicago venues, she was seen at the Off Beat club by Gene Krupa, who hired her to sing with his band. The result for O’Day was almost instant success; not only did her recording of the song “Let me off Uptown” (1941, OK) become a huge hit, but she was also named New Star of the Year by Downbeat. Together with Krupa, O’Day recorded 34 songs plus two film shorts. She stayed with him until his group was disbanded in 1943 and returned to sing with him again in 1946. In the meantime she worked with Stan Kenton, recording a number of sides including “And her Tears Flowed like Wine” (...

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Yoko Suzuki

[Elvira; Meeks, Elvira; Goldberg, Elvira; Avelino, Elvira]

(b Los Angeles, CA, Sept 20, 1928). American jazz alto and soprano saxophonist, singer, and bandleader. Her father Alton Redd was a jazz drummer from New Orleans. Redd started to sing in church at about age 5 and played alto saxophone at about 12, studying with her great-aunt Alma Hightower, a noted music educator in Los Angeles. In about 1948 she formed a band with her first husband, trumpeter Nathaniel Meeks, and began performing professionally as a saxophonist and singer. She had her first son when she was in her late 20s and her second son a few years later. Between 1957 and 1961 she performed less often and taught at public schools. During the 1960s she performed at the renowned club Ronnie Scott’s for ten weeks and toured with Earl Hines and Count Basie. Leonard Feather produced her two albums, Bird Call (1962) and Lady Soul...

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Jeffrey Holmes

(b Detroit, MI, Oct 12, 1956). American jazz singer. She grew up in Denver and attended the University of Colorado. After mentoring by clark Terry she worked in Los Angeles as a session musician from the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s and with the Latin/fusion band Caldera, Sergio Mendes, and Harry Belafonte successively. She began recording as a solo artist in 1982 and signed with the resurrected Blue Note/EMI label in 1987. She won an unprecedented three consecutive Grammy awards for Best Jazz Vocal Performance for In the Moment—Live in Concert (2001), The Calling: Celebrating Sarah Vaughan (2002), and A Little Moonlight (2003). On her nearly 20 albums, her voice evokes predecessors such as Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, and Carmen McCrae but also is capable of sharing vocal hues with singers as diverse as Luther Vandross, Al Jarreau, and Sarah McLachlan. Her approach embraces R&B, African folk, pop, and world music currents delivered in a lyrical manner as well as scat-singing. As one of the most formidable and sought-after jazz vocalists of the early 21st century, she has performed at the closing ceremonies of the ...

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Jeffrey Holmes

[Lynch [née Short], Annabelle ]

(b Mitcham, England, July 25, 1930). English jazz vocalist, naturalized American. Active in entertainment from childhood, she signed a six-month contract with MGM after entering a radio talent show. She subsequently appeared alongside Judy Garland in the film Presenting Lily Mars (1943). At age 14 she composed “Let’s Fly,” which was later recorded by Johnny Mercer and Jo Stafford. In the late 1940s she became involved in the modern-jazz scene in Paris, where she recorded “Le vent vert” with James Moody. In the 1950s she worked in New York with Max Roach, Tommy Potter, and George Wallington and toured with Lionel Hampton’s all-star band.

Ross was a founding member of the jazz vocal trio Lambert, Hendricks, and Ross, for which she composed such jazz standards as “Twisted.” Beginning with Sing a Song of Basie (1957, ABC-Para.) and continuing until her departure (1962), the group crafted seven groundbreaking albums highlighted by Lambert’s arranging, Hendricks’s deft vocalese, and Ross’s assured dexterity. An ASCAP Jazz Wall of Fame inductee in ...

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Nina Sun Eidsheim

[James] (Victor) [Little Jimmy Scott]

(b Cleveland, OH, July 17, 1925). American jazz singer. Born with Kallmann Syndrome, which prevented his voice from changing at puberty, Scott was initially a teenage novelty act due to his small stature and ambiguously gendered voice. His career began in earnest at Harlem’s Baby Grand in the mid-1940s, where he impressed listeners including Billie Holiday and Doc Pomus. He had his first recorded hits as an unnamed vocalist on Lionel Hampton’s “Everybody’s Somebody’s Fool” (1950–52) and Charlie Parker’s “Embraceable You” (1950).

1962’s Falling in Love is Wonderful, produced by Ray Charles on Tangerine Records, was a pivotal career point for Scott. But because he was legally contracted to Savoy Records, the album was withdrawn, as was The Source (Atlantic, 1969). Scott then fell off the music world’s radar due to professional and personal obstacles, and turned to nonmusical work. Live appearances on Newark’s WBGO put him back on the map in ...