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Article

Bruce Johnson

revised by Roger T. Dean

(Emerson) [Gay]

(b Melbourne, Australia, Sept 7, 1914; d Sydney, June 13, 2012). Australian bandleader, composer, and pianist, brother of Roger Bell. He began classical piano studies at the age of 11, and was introduced to jazz by his brother. In 1941 he held a pioneering jazz residency at Leonard’s Café in Melbourne and played for the Contemporary Art Society, indicating his radical interests. After working briefly in Queensland (1943) he returned to Melbourne, where he took over the group led by his brother at Heidelberg Town Hall and performed regularly for the Hot Jazz Society of the communist Eureka Youth League. In 1946 he started the Uptown Club in their premises and helped to inaugurate the Australian Jazz Convention. Having established his reputation in Australia with recordings in the dixieland style made in 1947, he toured Europe with his band (1947–8) under the Eureka’s sponsorship. In England his “jazz for dancing” policy was influential in promoting the acceptance of jazz as a major form of youth entertainment. 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

Val Wilmer

[Cecil Valentine ]

(b Kingston, Jamaica, March 28, 1926; d Romford, Oct 10, 2009). Jamaican trumpeter, flugelhorn player, conductor, arranger, bandleader, journalist, and broadcaster. Self-taught on clarinet, he changed to trumpet to play with the big bands of the drummer Redver Cooke and the saxophonist Eric Deans, then formed the Beboppers with Ernest Ranglin and Dizzy Reece. He performed annually with the Jamaica All-Stars, and in 1950 he formed a septet which included Joe Harriott. From 1954 he promoted concerts and festivals, organizing the annual Big Band, which featured the island’s leading talents, notably Wilton “Bogey” Gaynair, Don Drummond, and the pianist (later politician) Seymour “Foggy” Mullings. Ranglin, Roland Alphonso, and the trombonist Emanuel “Rico” Rodriguez joined this ensemble to accompany such visiting artists as Sarah Vaughan, Donald Byrd, and Jimmy Owens. Bradshaw, who played in a raw, direct style influenced by Dizzy Gillespie, was a tireless promoter of Jamaican music. For 25 years he served as president of the Jamaican Federation of Musicians, and he arranged the island’s national anthem. Although he recorded extensively and toured throughout the Americas playing reggae, jazz was his preferred mode of expression. Among the guests who appeared with his poll-winning small group are Roy Haynes, Reece, Coleridge Goode, and Byard Lancaster. In the 1990s he travelled to England annually, playing in Birmingham with Andy Hamilton’s band....

Article

Jeffrey Holmes

[Randal Edward ]

(b Philadelphia, PA, Nov 27, 1945). American trumpeter, flugelhorn player, composer, arranger, and bandleader, brother of Michael Brecker. After graduating from Indiana University in 1966, he moved to New York, where he played with Clark Terry, Duke Pearson, and the Thad Jones–Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra. A versatile musician, he worked with Blood, Sweat and Tears, performing on their debut album, played hard bop and soul jazz with the Horace Silver Quintet and Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, and helped form the fusion group Dreams, which included his brother Michael, Billy Cobham, and John Abercrombie. During the 1970s he worked with Silver, Larry Coryell, Stevie Wonder, the Plastic Ono Super Band, and Cobham. He and Michael also performed and recorded (six albums) as the Brecker Brothers, garnering much critical acclaim. He continued to lead his own group into the 1980s and also recorded and toured with virtuoso performers Jaco Pastorious and Stanley Clarke. A reunion of the Brecker Brothers in ...

Article

Bruce Johnson

revised by Roger T. Dean

[John Joseph, John Jazza]

(b Adelaide, Australia, Jan 5, 1926; d Sarasota, FL, October 28, 2010). Australian vibraphonist, drummer, arranger, composer, and bandleader. He was playing xylophone by the age of six and later studied piano and drums; he became interested in jazz while serving in an RAAF entertainment unit (1944–6). After the war he led groups in Adelaide and played in coffee lounges and at concerts in Melbourne (1947–8). Among his sidemen at this period was Errol Buddle; Brokensha’s playing is well represented by the recording Buddle’s Bebop Boogie (1948, Jazzart 3–4). Extensive touring established his reputation in Australia, and he worked in Sydney (1949–50), Brisbane (1950), where his group disbanded, and Adelaide (1951). With Bryce Rohde he traveled in 1953 to Canada, where he became a founding member of the Australian Jazz Quartet (December 1954, with Rohde, Buddle, and the reed player Dick Healey). Later expanded to a quintet and occasionally to a sextet, the group was extremely successful in the USA; among its albums were ...

Article

Stan Britt

revised by Barry Kernfeld

(b Dumfries, Scotland, April 21, 1933; d London, Feb 25, 2009). English trumpeter, flugelhorn player, bandleader, composer, writer, and teacher, brother of Mike Carr. His mother played ukulele and banjo. Carr grew up in northeast England, where he took piano lessons from the age of 12 and taught himself trumpet from 1950. After studying at King’s College, Newcastle upon Tyne (1952–60, degree, English literature, diploma, education) he served in the army (1956–8), then played with his brother in a band, the Emcee Five (1960 – August 1962). He briefly joined Don Rendell in November 1962 and, after recovering from illness, formed a long-lived quintet with Rendell from 1963 to July 1969; during this period he also worked with Joe Harriott (recording in 1969), Don Byas, and John McLaughlin. In September 1969 he formed his own band, Nucleus, which rapidly became recognized internationally for its experiments with jazz-rock. As a result of its performance at the Montreux International Jazz Festival in ...

Article

Bruce Johnson

revised by Roger T. Dean

[David Frederick ]

(b Freeling, nr Gawler, Australia, Oct 25, 1914; d Adelaide, South Australia, March 24, 2003). Australian composer, bandleader, pianist, arranger, and trombonist. He was first exposed to jazz through recordings, notably those of Duke Ellington. In 1945 he took over the leadership of the Southern Jazz Group, a dixieland band in Adelaide, and in 1946 appeared with it at the first Australian Jazz Convention; the band recorded several times between then and 1950, and Dallwitz remained its leader for its intermittent performances from 1951 to 1961. He then withdrew from jazz, but continued to play (on cello and bassoon) and compose in symphonic, chamber, and light-music contexts. His return to jazz performance and composition was marked by a recording in 1972. From that time he led several concert bands, including the Hot Six, a big band, and a ragtime ensemble – the last reflecting a change in his interests; these different groups provided opportunities for the presentation of his prolific compositional output, which often focused on Australian history. His finest album, ...

Article

Thomas Owens

[Robert Chase ]

(b Los Angeles, May 20, 1932; d Los Angeles, May 15, 2008). American pianist, arranger, composer, and bandleader. His mother played music for films in Philadelphia. He began learning piano at the age of three and gave a recital when he was seven. From 1953 to 1955, while studying arranging at Los Angeles City College, he wrote his first big-band arrangements and formed a rehearsal band to play them. In 1955 he was a member of the band led by the guitarist Alvino Rey at Lake Tahoe, and in 1956 he briefly joined Les Brown’s orchestra. During this time he contributed some arrangements to Brown’s repertory, and he was soon writing for others as well: Harry James, Louie Bellson, and Jimmy Witherspoon (all 1959), Si Zentner (1959–70), Frank Capp (1960), Dave Pell (1962), the popular Brazilian pianist Sergio Mendes (1965...

Article

Walter Ojakäär

(Aramovich)

(b Moscow, Aug 15, 1934; d Krasnodar, Russia, Jan 11, 2010). Russian alto saxophonist, composer, and bandleader of Armenian descent. Formerly known as Garanyan, he began to spell his surname Garanian at some point in the 1990s. He taught himself to play saxophone and led an amateur octet (1954–7) which later evolved into the youth orchestra of the Art Workers’ Central House in Moscow. For the next eight years he was a principal soloist in and arranger for Oleg Lundstrem’s orchestra (1958–66); he also led a quartet with the guitarist Nikolay Gromin, performing at festivals in Tallinn, Prague, and Moscow. He was a member of the Kontsertny Estradny Orkestr Tsentral’novo TV i Vsesoyuznovo Radio (‘Concert variety orchestra of the central TV and all-union radio’) from 1966 to 1970, and after studying at the Moscow P.I. Tchaikovsky State Conservatory (until 1969) he led the orchestra from ...

Article

Giordano Montecchi

(b Milan, Oct 22, 1929; d Parma, Italy, July 29, 2014). Italian composer, pianist, and conductor. Having studied the piano from a young age, he began to appear at the age of 13 as a conductor and orchestral pianist specializing in light music, and in jazz groups. After the war, while establishing himself as a jazz musician, he completed his studies of the piano, composition, and conducting at the Milan Conservatory (with, among others, Renzo Bossi, Antonino Votto, and Giulini) and at the Accademia Musicale Chigiana, Siena (with Paul Van Kempen). Active for many years as a conductor of various musical groups and as a composer, his growing interest in jazz led him during the second half of the 1950s to attempt to combine jazz and classical music composition.

A key work was the octet Tempo e relazione (1957) – a piece in five movements based on two 12-note series – and from that point on Gaslini became recognized as a major figure of the Italian and wider jazz avant garde. His music continued to be characterized by a determination to integrate different idioms, including free jazz, serialism, pop, and electronics. Alongside this ‘multi-lingual’ approach, set apart from the American Third Stream, he made manifest a political commitment to working-class and student left-wing movements after ...

Article

Peter Schwalm

revised by Barry Kernfeld

(Paul)

(b Basel, Switzerland, June 24, 1932; d Basel, Jan 10, 2013). Swiss keyboard player, composer, and bandleader. He studied music at the conservatories in Basel and Zurich. From 1956 he was a member of Flavio Ambrosetti’s small groups, with which he later recorded (1959–67). After performing and recording at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1958 as a member of Marshall Brown’s International Youth Band he appeared at the jazz festival in Comblain-la-Tour, France, as a member of Dusko Goykovich’s band in both 1960 and 1961. In the 1960s he was a member of a bop trio that accompanied such American musicians as Donald Byrd, Dexter Gordon, Roland Kirk, and Lee Konitz on their visits to Europe. Having supported himself as an automobile salesman during the early portion of his career, he worked exclusively as a musician from 1963, when he toured the Far East with Helen Merrill. Later he played in Phil Woods’s European Rhythm Machine (...

Article

Wolfram Knauer

(b Bucharest, Dec 31, 1935; d Köln, March 27, 2010). German bandleader, trombonist, composer, and arranger of Romanian birth . After living for two years in Germany he moved in 1953 to Detroit, where he played guitar in clubs; he returned to Germany in 1957, took up trombone, and for one year attended the conservatory in Nuremberg. In the 1960s he played in the dance orchestra of Nuremberg radio under Josef Nissen, and in 1968 he joined the pit orchestra at the Deutsches Schauspielhaus, of which Hans Koller was the music director. In the late 1960s he was a member of Radio Jazz Group Stuttgart. In 1969 he formed a big band, Rhythm Combination and Brass, which included leading musicians from European radio orchestras and for which he wrote most of the arrangements; among those who were at various times associated with the band were Dusko Goykovich, Herb Geller, Art Farmer, Palle Mikkelborg, Ack van Rooyen, Karl Drewo, Bo Stief, Ferdinand Povel, Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen, Alex Riel, and Allan Botschinsky. In the late 1970s the band toured with such guest soloists as Stan Getz, Nat Adderley, Gerry Mulligan, Toots Thielemans, Clark Terry, and Albert Mangelsdorff, among others. Herbolzheimer wrote music for the Olympic Games in Munich in ...

Article

Mark C. Gridley

revised by Charles Garrett

(b Chicago, IL, March 11, 1932; d New York, NY, Feb 24, 2007). American jazz violinist, composer, and bandleader. He was influenced by the violinists Jascha Heifetz, Eddie South, and Bruce Hayden, as well as the saxophonists Charlie Parker, Ornette Coleman, and John Coltrane. From 1965 to 1969 he played in Chicago with the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians and the Creative Construction Company, becoming the leading violinist in the free jazz style. He then helped to organize the Revolutionary Ensemble (1971) and led his own trio (1977–9) and quintet (1982–3). In addition to collaborating with such musicians as Cecil Taylor, Joseph Jarman, and Myra Melford, he also contributed to the new music scene by serving on the board of directors of the Composer’s Forum. In his later career, he turned to creating theatrical productions, including the operas Mother of Three Sons...

Article

Klaus Schulz

(b Vienna, Feb 12, 1921; d Vienna, Dec 22, 2003). Austrian tenor saxophonist, composer, and bandleader. He studied at the Academy of Music in Vienna (1936–9) and, after serving in the army (1940–46), joined the group Hot Club Vienna (1947), of which he later became the leader. In 1950 he moved to Germany, where he played for a short time with Freddie Brocksieper and then formed a quartet, which made several successful recordings for Discovery in 1952; he also led the New Jazz Stars, which included Albert Mangelsdorff and Jutta Hipp. He worked with Dizzy Gillespie (1953), Bill Russo (1955), Lee Konitz and Lars Gullin (for a tour of Europe from c late 1955 into early 1956), Stan Kenton (1956), Eddie Sauter (1957–8), and Benny Goodman (1958). During the late 1950s Koller led a quartet (with Attila Zoller, Oscar Pettiford, and Kenny Clarke or Jimmy Pratt), while at the same time working in Hamburg as the music director of the Norddeutscher Rundfunk jazz workshops (...

Article

Claire Levy

(b Plovdiv, 19 Dec 1937). Bulgarian composer, pianist, conductor, arranger, and bandleader. He was internationally acknowledged for his innovative ideas, cross-cultural experiments, and contribution to the concept of fusion and free improvisation. Classically trained at the Bulgarian State Conservatory (1955–60) under Pancho Vladigerov (composition) and Andrey Stoyanov (piano), he is the author of numerous compositions in styles and genres including jazz, pop, symphony, chamber, film, and theatrical music. He conducted the Radio and Television Big Band in Sofia (1962–6) and led his own avant-garde quartet, Jazz Focus’65 (1965–8), which won the Critic’s Prize at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1967. In 1970 he left Bulgaria for political reasons and moved to the USA where he joined the Don Ellis Orchestra (1971–8), and later collaborated with the classical/jazz quartet Free Flight. He also played with outstanding jazz musicians including Art Pepper, Billy Cobham, and Dave Holland, among many others....

Article

Walter Ojakäär

(Leonidovich )

(b Chita, Russia, April 2, 1916; d Oct 13, 2005). Russian composer and bandleader. He lived from 1921 in Harbin, China, where with local Russian musicians in 1934 he formed a band that played jazz and dance music at dance halls in Shanghai and on the islands of Hangchow Bay; he also played piano and studied violin at a local music school, from which he graduated in 1935. Later he graduated from the High Technical Centre of Shanghai as an architectural engineer (1944). In 1947 he repatriated his band to the USSR. Having been refused permission to settle in Moscow, the group played at a workers’ club in Kazan, the capital of what was then the Tatar Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic; in addition he studied composition and conducting at the Kazan State Conservatory (graduating in 1953). The 18-piece group worked professionally from 1956 and played jazz exclusively from ...

Article

(b London, Canada, Feb 14, 1935; d Toronto, May 1, 2010). Canadian trombonist, bandleader, arranger, and composer. In Toronto he played valve trombone in dance bands and studied with Gordon Delamont (1958–62); he was also a member of Delamont’s rehearsal band. He performed and recorded with Maynard Ferguson in New York (1964), then returned to Toronto, where he played with (Phil) Nimmons ’n’ Nine Plus Six (1965–9) and worked as a studio musician and arranger. McConnell formed the Boss Brass as a 16-piece studio band to play pop material, but added a reed section in 1971 and completed the ensemble’s transformation into a 22-piece jazz orchestra by 1976. He has arranged most of its repertory, drawing on jazz standards and original compositions, though bandmembers Ian McDougall and Rick Wilkins have also contributed; McConnell’s writing is characterized by its subtle orchestral coloring and its close attention to detail. The Boss Brass’s appearances outside the Toronto area, while limited, included their US début at the Monterey Jazz Festival in ...

Article

Charles Garrett

Article

Michael Baumgartner

(b Oakland, CA, Feb 19, 1955). American jazz saxophonist, bass clarinetist, composer, and leader. He grew up in Berkeley, where he received his first musical training, in stride and ragtime piano. At the age of nine he began playing alto saxophone and at the age of 11 tenor saxophone. From the age of 12 through his later teens he led several R&B bands. He continued his formal training at Pomona College in Los Angeles, where stanley Crouch and Margaret Kohn were among his teachers. After his graduation in 1975 Murray moved to New York where he began playing the loft circuit with such experimental musicians as Anthony Braxton, Don Cherry, and Julius Hemphill. His first steady engagement came with the Ted Daniels’ Energy Band; its members were Hamiett Bluiett, Lester Bowie, and Frank Lowe. After his first European tour in 1976, Murray established the renowned World saxophone quartet ...

Article

A. Scott Currie

(b Bronx, NY, Jan 10, 1952). American jazz bass player, bandleader, and composer. He grew up listening to such swing artists as Duke Ellington and played trumpet, trombone, and cello. Inspired by Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane, Archie Shepp, Cecil Taylor, and Albert Ayler, he took up bass in his teens and had formal studies, first with Paul West, then with richard Davis , Art Davis, and milt Hinton at Jazzmobile. Later he studied privately with jimmy Garrison and Wilbur Ware and developed a unique style featuring a propulsive alternation between rapid-fire upper-register playing and low punctuating open-string strums, along with vamps, walking “freebop” lines, and lyrical arco work. In 1973 Parker launched his professional career in the downtown New York loft-jazz scene, performing with Muntu and the Music Ensemble, and making his recorded debut on Frank Lowe’s album Black Beings (1973, ESP). Soon he was playing in bands led by Cecil Taylor and Don Cherry at Carnegie Hall and the Five Spot Café, jointly organizing loft concerts and festivals, and leading his own Centering Orchestras. By the early 1980s he had become Taylor’s main bass player and he eventually filled the chair from ...