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Article

Alpert, Herb  

Terence J. O’Grady

revised by Bryan Proksch

(b Los Angeles, CA, March 31, 1935). American trumpeter, composer, bandleader, and record company executive. He studied trumpet as a child and left college to play in the army for a two-year period. After three years of producing records on his own, he launched A&M Records with Jerry Moss in 1962. A&M’s first issue was also Alpert’s first recording as a trumpeter and bandleader, The Lonely Bull (A&M, 1962). The title track included sounds from the bullring in Tijuana, Mexico, so Alpert dubbed his band the Tijuana Brass. His music exploited a distinctive combination of Mexican mariachi-style brass with jazz rhythms, which was dubbed Ameriachi. A string of hits including “Mexican Shuffle” (A&M, 1964) and “Tijuana Taxi” (A&M, 1965) followed. In 1966 Alpert had five recordings simultaneously listed on the Billboard Top 20. His cover of “This guy’s in love with you” reached no.1 in ...

Article

Badini, Gérard  

André Clergeat

revised by Barry Kernfeld

[Mr. Swing]

(b Paris, April 16, 1931). French tenor saxophonist, clarinetist, pianist, composer, and leader. His father was a lyric singer, and he grew up in a musical family; he studied classical singing as a child and took up clarinet in 1950. After playing traditional jazz with Michel Attenoux (from 1952) and working with Bill Coleman, Peanuts Holland, Lil Armstrong, Sidney Bechet, and Jimmy Archey, he joined Claude Bolling’s trio (1955) and toured Europe, Africa, and the Middle East with Bolling and with Jazz aux Champs Elysées, led by Jack Diéval. From 1958 his principal instrument was the tenor saxophone, which he played for many years with Bolling and as a freelance in studios. He also worked with Roger Guérin and Geo Daly (both 1957), Alice Babs and Duke Ellington (1963), Jean-Claude Naude (1963–4), Cat Anderson (recording in 1965), Paul Gonsalves (...

Article

Barber (Donald) Chris(topher)  

Alyn Shipton

(b Welwyn Garden City, England, April 17, 1930; d Marlborough, Wiltshire, England, March 2, 2021). English trombonist and bandleader. He began studying violin while evacuated to Royston, England, in 1943 during World War II, starting a sizeable collection of jazz and blues records at the same time. In 1946, in London, he took up the trombone. He formed his first amateur band in 1948. In 1951, while studying to become an actuary, he led this band, which included Dickie Hawdon, on its first issued recordings, modeled on King Oliver’s 1920s work. Barber’s early bands often included Alexis Korner, who shared his interest in the blues. In September 1951 he abandoned accountancy to study trombone and double bass at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London.

In 1952 he formed his first professional band, with Pat Halcox, Monty Sunshine, and Lonnie Donegan, to play jazz in the New Orleans revival style. Ken Colyer replaced Halcox and assumed titular leadership of the group. After touring to Denmark and recording there and in the UK, the band split from Colyer in ...

Article

Bellest, Christian  

Michel Laplace

(b Paris, April 8, 1922; d Dec 6, 2001). French trumpeter and arranger. He began on cornet in an amateur band. He made his professional début at the Moulin Rouge in Paris (1939) and played with Maceo Jefferson (1939–41). After taking informal lessons from Aimé Barelli he played with Alix Combelle’s group the Jazz de Paris (1940–41), Fred Adison’s band, the pianist Raymond Wraskoff (1940–41), the drummer Jerry Mengo (1941–2), the violinist Claude Laurence (1942), and Combelle again (1943). In 1945 he led a big band that made several recordings (including Rockin’ the Blues/Two o’Clock Jump, BStar 9). He also worked with the bandleader and saxophonist Raymond Legrand (1953), the pianist Christian Chevallier (1955, 1957), Lucky Thompson (1956), and Jacques Hélian’s band (1956). He collaborated frequently with André Hodeir in the 1960s and continued to appear with him in the 1970s; also during the 1970s he played with the trumpeter Sonny Grey (...

Article

Blake, Jerry  

Howard Rye

[Chabania, Jacinto]

(b Gary, IN, Jan 23, 1904/1906/1908; d c 1961). American saxophonist, clarinetist, arranger, and singer. Various sources give alternative birth years: 1904 appears on a 1929 passenger list; he gave his age as 20 upon marrying in 1926; 1908 appears on his 1940 draft registration, which he signed as Jacinto Chabania. Blake is the name of his adoptive parents. His birth father was Cuban and his birth mother was reportedly born in France. Blake studied violin, then alto saxophone and clarinet. After playing briefly with Charlie Turner’s Arcadians he took ship for Europe with Sam Wooding (1928), with whom he recorded in Barcelona and Paris (1929). He then moved to New York, played with Chick Webb, toured with Zack Whyte’s Chocolate Beau Brummels, and performed and recorded with Don Redman (late 1933 – spring 1934). In April 1934, calling himself Jacinto Blake, he moved to France to work with Willie Lewis, remaining in Europe until May 1935. He worked with Claude Hopkins, both in New York and on tour (mid-...

Article

Bradford, Bobby  

Ed Hazell

revised by Barry Kernfeld

(Lee)

(b Cleveland, MS, July 19, 1934). American cornetist, trumpeter, and composer, father of Carmen Bradford. He grew up in Dallas from 1946, took up cornet in 1949, and played with Buster Smith and John Hardee during his last year of high school. After graduating in January 1952 he enrolled at Sam Houston College in Austin, where the college big band included Leo Wright on lead alto saxophone; in summer 1953 he left college, went to Los Angeles, and played there with Ornette Coleman and Eric Dolphy. He served in air force bands and while stationed in Waco, Texas, deputized briefly in Ray Charles’s band; following his discharge he returned to Austin. In New York he was a member of the Ornette Coleman Quartet (1961). He attended Huston-Tillotson College (BM 1963) and then moved to Los Angeles (1964), where he formed the New Art Jazz Ensemble with John Carter. From ...

Article

Brecker, Randy  

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

Coker, Jerry  

Dave Gelly

revised by Barry Kernfeld

(b South Bend, IN, Nov 28, 1932). American tenor saxophonist, composer, and teacher. On his birth certificate, Jerry Coker is his full given name. He joined Woody Herman’s orchestra in late 1953, interrupting his music studies at Indiana University, and toured with the group until summer 1954; his solo on I Love Paris (1953, Mars 1002) attracted considerable critical acclaim. He recorded in Paris for the Vogue label (1954) and in San Francisco as a leader and with Mel Lewis (both 1956), then worked as a freelance on the West Coast, playing for a brief period with Stan Kenton. His work with college bands led to his becoming a prominent teacher of jazz, and in 1960 he was appointed to the first of several university posts. Coker has written a number of books about jazz and is one of the most highly regarded writers within the field of jazz education; he has also composed for student bands. In the mid-1980s he recorded two new albums as a leader, ...

Article

Coleman, (Randolph Denard) Ornette  

Gunther Schuller

revised by Aaron West

(b Fort Worth, TX, 9 March 1930). American jazz alto saxophonist, bandleader, and composer.

He is one of the most controversial and influential figures in jazz history.

He began playing alto saxophone at the age of 14 and developed a style influenced predominantly by Charlie Parker and rhythm-and-blues bands. During a visit in 1945 to New York, Coleman was first exposed to bebop. His early professional work came with a variety of rhythm-and-blues, carnival, and minstrel bands from the Southwest. In 1949 Coleman left Fort Worth with the traveling show Silas Green from New Orleans and then worked with the blues singer Clarence Samuel. By 1950 he had returned to Fort Worth, after which he went to the West Coast with Pee Wee Crayton’s rhythm-and-blues band. When he tried to introduce his more personal and innovative ideas, he was typically met with hostility, both from audiences and from musicians. Once he reached Los Angeles, where he worked as an elevator operator, he studied harmony and theory textbooks and gradually evolved a radically new concept and style....

Article

Colombo, Eugenio  

Stefano Zenni

(b Rome, Dec 10, 1953). Italian saxophonist, flutist, and composer. Self-taught, he played with Mario Schiano and Giorgio Gaslini in the early 1970s, and in 1974 founded a saxophone quartet, I Virtuosi di Cave. Between 1976 and 1979 he worked with Paolo Damiani, the drummer Andrea Centazzo, and the arranger and composer Tommaso Vittorini, and in 1978 he played in the trio SIC with Giancarlo Schiaffini and the percussionist Michele Iannaccone. At the conservatory in Frosinone he studied saxophone from 1979 (gaining his degree in 1982) and composition from 1983. After working with the composer Giovanna Marini he played in several orchestras, as an unaccompanied soloist, and with the saxophone quartet Fratelli Sax (1983–8). He then joined the quartet Fortuna, led by the guitarist Massimo Nardi and inspired by Italian folk music, and performed in a duo alongside Luca Spagnoletti, who operated various electronic devices. In the late 1980s Colombo composed works for chamber groups and a piece for brass band and jazz group, ...

Article

Coscia, Gianni  

Stefano Zenni

(b Alessandria, Italy, Jan 23, 1931). Italian accordionist and composer. Self-taught, he took up accordion during World War II, then played popular music in ballrooms. He studied law; after working for 30 years in a bank he left his job in 1986 and began to play jazz professionally. While performing on television in 1987 he met Gianluigi Trovesi, with whom he formed a successful duo. Coscia performed and recorded as the leader of several groups, and played with the guitarist and composer Battista Lena and his Banda Sonora, the guitarist Simone Guiducci, the clarinetist Gabriele Mirabassi, and the guitarist Bebo Ferra. From 1999 he led a band which paid homage to the veteran European jazz accordionist Gorni Kramer, and La Bottega, a drumless group with classical associations. With Trovesi he continued to tour in the new century and to record (2004, 2009, 2018); their duo can be seen in the video ...

Article

Covington, Warren  

Barry Kernfeld

(Lewis)

(b Philadelphia, Aug 7, 1921; d Clearwater, FL, Aug 24, 1999). American trombonist, leader, and arranger. His full name appears on his February 1942 draft registration card. Covington’s first professional engagement was with Isham Jones (1939). After serving in the Coast Guard (November 1943 – January 1946) he worked with Les Brown (1945–6) and Gene Krupa (1946) and joined the music staff of CBS in New York. He led the Commanders in 1946–7. In 1950 he recorded with Tommy Dorsey’s band, and following Dorsey’s death, in February 1958 he became its leader; from October 1961 into the 1970s he toured with the band under his own name. Covington also recorded in studio big bands accompanying Charles Mingus (1971), Randy Weston (1972), Bobby Hackett (1973), and George Benson (1974). He continued to be active as a studio musician and in films, and later appeared in a studio orchestra accompanying Joey DeFrancesco (...

Article

Dankworth, John  

Charles Fox

revised by Digby Fairweather and Barry Kernfeld

[Johnny](Philip William)

Member of Dankworth family (jazz)

(b Woodford, Essex, Sept 20, 1927; d London, Feb 6, 2010). English alto saxophonist, bandleader, arranger, and composer. Having first studied violin, he began his career playing clarinet in a novelty traditional-style band, the Garbage Men, led by the drummer Freddy Mirfield. After studying at the Royal Academy of Music (1944–6, LRAM) and serving in the military (July 1946 – June 1947) he performed on transatlantic liners in order to travel to the USA and hear jazz at first hand (intermittently, July 1947–1948). By this time Dankworth was playing alto saxophone (he was at first strongly influenced by Charlie Parker). He was a member of Bert Ambrose’s orchestra (late 1948 – July 1949) and accompanied Benny Goodman as a member of the Skyrockets (July 1949). At the same time, and more significantly, he was becoming a leading figure in postwar British jazz. He was a founding member in ...

Article

Davis, Miles  

Jack Chambers

(Dewey, III)

(b Alton, IL, 26 May 1926; d Santa Monica, CA, 28 Sept 1991). American trumpeter, composer, bandleader, and painter.

His father, Miles Dewey Davis II, was a dental surgeon with degrees from Arkansas Baptist College and Northwestern College of Dentistry. He established his dental practice in East St. Louis and from the age of one Davis was raised and educated there. Davis’s youth was spent in relatively affluent circumstances. With his sister Dorothy, two years older, and brother Vernon, three years younger, he spent vacations on their father’s 200-acre hog farm near Millstadt, Illinois. Davis learned to ride horses and other country pursuits. One of his lasting memories was hearing spirituals wafting from the rural churches. But he was essentially a city boy, and from early adolescence he came to know big-city nightlife in St. Louis.

Davis’s father seems to have indulged every whim of his oldest son. He inculcated in him a sharply honed family pride predicated on three generations of African American success against oppressive odds. The patriarch, ...

Article

de la Rosa, Tony  

Cathy Ragland

(b Sarita, TX, Oct 31, 1931; d Corpus Christi, TX, June 2, 2004). American accordionist, songwriter, and composer. He is one of the first Texas Mexican accordionists to achieve success as a full-time musician. At age six he learned harmonica from his mother, and after hearing early recordings by Narciso Martínez he turned to the accordion. By age 18 he had formed his own Conjunto, Tony de la Rosa y su Conjunto, and begun recording with San Antonio’s Rio Records. In 1950 he took over from Martínez as the house accordionist at Ideal Records in Alice, Texas. He accompanied many of the label’s top artists, was one of the first to travel the migrant circuit extensively across Texas and the Southwest, and made more than 100 recordings. He is best known for such polkas as “Atotonilco” and “Frijoles bailan” and for some important innovations to the conjunto style. Having also played in local honky tonk and Texas swing bands, he added drums and electric bass, which were the driving force behind the polka-inspired dance rhythms they played. These instruments provided a solid two-step rhythm for dancing and slowed down the pace enough for the accordion and ...

Article

Eichenberg, Walter  

Gerhard Conrad

(b Grossburschla, nr Eisenach, Germany, Dec 20, 1922; d Leipzig, March 13, 2018). German trumpeter, arranger, and bandleader. He studied trumpet at the City Orchestra School in Zschopau from 1937 to 1941, then from 1945 played in various bands in Chemnitz, where he was a member of the Karl Walter Orchestra (1946–7). In September 1947 he joined the Kurt Henkels Orchestra in Leipzig, and soon became its chief arranger; he also wrote many new compositions for the band, including Grand mit Vieren (1957, Amiga 45001) and Whisky Soda (1957, Amiga 550035). From 1953 to 1956 Eichenberg was a freelance arranger for Henkels, Erwin Lehn in Stuttgart, and the violinist and bandleader Adalbert Luczkowski in Cologne, among others. He returned to Henkels’s orchestra in 1956, and from 1961 until his retirement in 1991 served as leader. He made more than 5000 titles for broadcast, television, and recordings, including the album ...

Article

Ellis, Pee Wee  

Dina Bennett

[Alfred]

(b Bradenton, FL, April 21, 1941; d Somerset, Sept 23, 2021). American saxophonist, composer, and arranger. He began performing in public while still in junior high school. In 1955 his family moved to New York where he continued to perform professionally with jazz musicians throughout high school. He attended the Manhattan School of Music and spent the summer of 1957 studying music with jazz saxophonist Sonny Rollins. During the 1960s he worked as a bandleader of his own ensemble, Dynamics Incorporated, before becoming a member of the James Brown Revue in 1965. He appeared on many of Brown’s most notable recordings as alto saxophonist and organist, often serving as co-writer and arranger. In 1967, he arranged and co-wrote Brown’s million selling number one hit “Cold Sweat” and 1968’s massive hit “Say It Loud—I’m Black and I’m Proud.” He recorded his first solo album Home in the Country...

Article

English, Jon  

Stephen Montague

revised by Kelly Hiser

(Arthur )

(b Kankakee, IL, March 22, 1942; d San Rafael, CA, Sept 25, 1996). American composer, trombonist, conductor, and double bassist. He attended the University of Illinois, where he studied trombone with Robert Gray and composition with Kenneth Gaburo, herbert Brün , and salvatore Martirano (BM in performance 1965). He studied jazz improvisation with lee Konitz and electronic music with richard b. Hervig at the University of Iowa (1970–71). He was a member of the Harry Partch Ensemble (1961–2) and the Illinois Contemporary Chamber Players (1963–6) and was an associate artist at the University of Iowa Center for New Music and New Performing Arts (1969–74). From 1974 to 1984 English lived in Europe, where he performed widely as a soloist and with jazz and new music ensembles, at festivals, and on radio. He collaborated with his wife Candace Natvig, a singer and violinist; in ...

Article

Fasoli, Claudio  

Stefano Zenni

(b Lido di Venezia, Italy, Nov 29, 1939). Italian tenor and soprano saxophonist, composer, and leader. After studying piano and alto saxophone he began to perform as a saxophonist in 1956. In the early 1960s, while living in Milan, he played with such European musicians as Franco Ambrosetti and Daniel Humair; he appeared at the Jazz Power club with Dizzy Reece and Kenny Clarke. Fasoli changed to the soprano saxophone in 1971 and then worked with Guido Manusardi (1971–3) and the jazz-rock group Perigeo (1972–7); around 1975 he took up the tenor instrument. With Franco D’Andrea he led a quartet (1976–7) and played in a duo (1978–9). Thereafter he favored pianoless trios or quartets which involved Kenny Wheeler, Manfred Schoof, Mick Goodrick, Palle Danielsson, and such drummers as Billy Elgart, Aldo Romano, and Tony Oxley, though his trios were often without drums as well. He can be seen in the video ...

Article

Fonsèque, Raymond  

Michel Laplace

(b Paris, Nov 27, 1930; d Évreux, France, Nov 19, 2011). French trombonist, tuba player, bandleader, and arranger. After studying piano in Orsay (1937) and cello at the conservatory in Bordeaux and the Schola Cantorum in Paris, he changed to trombone (1947) and took lessons under several brass teachers while also studying with André Hodeir. He became a professional trombonist in 1949 and performed with Don Byas (1950, 1962–3), Peanuts Holland (1952, 1959–60), Nelson Williams, Lil Armstrong, and the blues singer and guitarist Big Bill Broonzy (all 1953), Sidney Bechet (1954), Albert Nicholas (1955), and George Lewis (1957). He was a member of bands led by Michel Attenoux (1952–4), Jacques Hélian (1956, 1958–9, 1962), Claude Luter (1959), and Claude Bolling (1962–3), and worked with modern-jazz musicians, including the saxophonist Tony Proteau (...