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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 ...


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 ...


Bechet, Sidney  

Bruce Boyd Raeburn


(b New Orleans, LA, 14 May 1897; d Paris, France, 14 May 1959). American jazz clarinetist and soprano saxophonist. He was an Afro-French Creole, descended from free people of color residing in Tremé, an early hotbed of jazz activity. As a boy he emulated his older brothers who worked semi-professionally as musicians and played in a family band, the Silver Bells. “Big Eye” Louis Nelson and George Baquet were his primary teachers. Nelson remembered Bechet resisting formal instruction (“He wouldn’t learn notes, but he was my best scholar”), and the latter never became musically literate. Like many younger Creoles, Bechet rejected traditional Creole proprieties and gravitated to African American vernacular culture, particularly the blues as expressed by Buddy Bolden. By 1910 he was sitting in with bands such as the Eagle, and by 1915 he was being praised as a prodigy by musicians who frequented the Piron and Williams music publishing company on Tulane Avenue. ...


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 ...


Caiazza, Nick  

Barry Kernfeld

[Nicholas Anthony]

(b New Castle, PA, March 20, 1914; d Woburn, MA, Dec 1981). American tenor saxophonist and clarinetist. His full name appears on his handwritten 1940 draft registration card. His first important engagements were with Joe Haymes (1936–7) and Muggsy Spanier’s Ragtimers (November–December 1939), with which he may be heard on the pairing Lonesome Road/Mandy, Make up your Mind (1939, Bb 10766) respectively as a ballad soloist and in a rambunctious mood. Later he played with Woody Herman (early 1940), the band led by Will Bradley and Ray McKinley, and Bobby Hackett (autumn 1940), and worked with Spanier’s big band (April 1941 – spring 1942), Teddy Powell, the guitarist Alvino Rey, and the pianist Chico Marx (summer 1943). During the mid-1940s Caiazza made many V-discs with Louis Armstrong, Jack Teagarden, Hot Lips Page, and others, and he may be heard to advantage on ...


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 ...


Derrane, Joe  

Stephen D. Winick

(b Boston, MA, Mar 16, 1930). American button accordion player. Derrane’s father played accordion and his mother played fiddle; both were immigrants from Ireland. At age ten Derrane took up the one-row diatonic button accordion (melodeon), and soon thereafter switched to the two-row C#/D accordion (which deploys a tuning that has since become a rarity in Irish American music). By the age of 17 he was playing regularly in Boston’s Irish dancehalls. In 1947 and 1948 he recorded 16 sides of Irish dance tunes for the Copley label. Derrane continued to perform professionally, but as the popularity of the Irish dancehall scene receded, and he found himself playing piano accordion, and later electronic keyboards, in all manner of ensembles. He retired in 1990, not having played traditional Irish music in years.

In 1993 the Irish American record label Rego Records reissued Derrane’s early recordings on CD. His playing style was vigorous and more highly ornamented than most Irish American playing, perhaps reflecting a French Canadian influence in New England music. His unusual playing intrigued many listeners, including journalist Earle Hitchener, who contacted Derrane and convinced him to revive his performance career. In ...


Ellis, Pee Wee  

Dina Bennett


(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...


Jiménez, Flaco  

Cathy Ragland


(b San Antonio, TX, March 11, 1939). American accordionist and songwriter. He inherited his nickname Flaco (“skinny”) from his accordionist father, Santiago Jiménez. Like many Texas-Mexican musicians of his generation, he was born into a musical family—his grandfather Patricio played the accordion, as does his younger brother Santiago Jr.—and has played the three-row, diatonic Hohner button accordion; his father played the two-row model. He began performing in his father’s conjunto band at the age of seven, accompanying him on the bajo sexto. By age 16 he was playing accordion and had his own conjunto band, Los Caporales. This was during the early rock-and-roll years when such artists as Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly made a lasting impression on him. In 1973 he recorded with Doug Sahm, a founding member of 1960s San Antonio’s rock pioneers Sir Douglas Quintet. Jiménez developed a syncopated and lively modern accordion sound by ornamenting and extending simple folk melodies and using fermatas. He has continued to mine blues, country, R&B, and pop music to update his style and as a result has collaborated with Bob Dylan, Ry Cooder, Dr. John, and Los Super Seven, among others. He has received an NEA National Heritage Fellowship and multiple Grammy Awards....


Jiménez, Santiago  

Cathy Ragland

(b San Antonio, TX, April 25, 1913; d San Antonio, Dec 18, 1984). American accordionist, songwriter, and composer, father of the accordionists Flaco Jiménez and Santiago Jiménez Jr. He is known as a pioneering accordionist and composer of many classic polkas. With encouragement from his accordion-playing father Patricio Jiménez, he began playing at age eight. Although he released his first recording, “Dices pescao” (Decca), in 1936, he was best known for weekly live performances on a Spanish-language radio program, La hora anáuhuac, which aired in the 1940s on San Antonio’s KCOR. He recorded two popular polkas, “Viva Seguin” and “La piedrera,” in 1942 for the Mexican Victor label, the latter written while he worked in a quarry. They were his most popular and have been widely performed and recorded by musicians since. Compared with that of Narciso Martínez, his main rival, Jiménez’s playing style was smoother with less syncopation and fewer 16th notes; he never graduated to the three-row button accordion. However, his precision and rich musicality has remained unmatched. Like Martínez, Jiménez could not make a living from music, and in the 1960s he moved to Dallas and worked as a janitor. He returned to San Antonio in ...


Johnson, Howard  

Richard H. Perry

(Lewis )

(b Montgomery, AL, Aug 7, 1941). American jazz tuba player, baritone saxophonist, and bandleader. Largely self-taught, he first learned baritone saxophone, then tuba. In 1963 he moved to New York, where he quickly established himself as a leading jazz tuba player and performed with Charles Mingus, Archie Shepp, and, notably, Gil Evans. He played with Evans’s orchestra from 1966 until the leader’s death in 1988. He also worked with Charlie Haden, Jack DeJohnette, Chet Baker, and McCoy Tyner and spent several years with the Norddeutscher Rundfunk orchestra. From 1975 to 1980 he was a member of the house band for “Saturday Night Live,” serving as bandleader from 1979 to 1980.

Although Johnson has been recognized for his work on baritone saxophone, he is best known for his tuba playing and for his work with tuba ensembles. In 1968 he formed the first jazz tuba ensemble, Substructure. Although this group never recorded, Johnson subsequently formed Gravity, an ensemble with six tubas, in the 1970s; it released ...


Jones, Dolly  

Jonas Westover

[Doli; Doll; Hutchinson, Dolly; Armenra, Dolly; Armena, Doli]

(b Chicago, IL, c1906; d ?Philadelphia, PA). American trumpeter and cornetist. Little is known about certain details of her life, except that she was the daughter of the female trumpeter Diyah [Diyer] Jones. She began her career as a member of the family band, which recruited Josephine Baker to dance with them around 1919. She was one of the first female jazz trumpeters to be heard on record. She recorded “When”/“That Creole Band” (1926, OK) as a soloist and a member of Al Wynn’s Creole Jazz Band; it may have been her only release. She spent much of her life in Chicago, where she played with Ma Rainey’s group in the mid-1920s. After marrying Jimmy Hutchinson she began to use his surname; later she returned to “Dolly Jones” and also used the surname Armenra, sometimes with variant spellings. By the middle of the next decade, she was performing regularly with Lil Armstrong’s band. She made a notable appearance in Oscar Micheaux’s all-black short film, ...


Jordan, Clifford  

Ruth Rosenberg

[Cliff] (Laconia)

(b Chicago, IL, Sept 2, 1931; d New York, NY, March 27, 1993). American tenor saxophonist and bandleader. He was one of several notable jazz musicians to come out of DuSable High School on Chicago’s South Side, where his contemporaries included the tenor saxophonists Johnny Griffin and John Gilmore and the bass player Richard Davis. During his early years in Chicago he played with Max Roach and Sonny Stitt and a variety of rhythm-and-blues bands. In 1957 he moved to New York and recorded his first album, Blowing in from Chicago (BN) with the hard-bop pioneers Horace Silver on piano and Art Blakey on drums. In the years that followed Jordan performed and recorded prolifically, appearing with groups led by Silver and J.J. Johnson, as a sideman on recordings by Lee Morgan, among others, and co-leading a group with Kenny Dorham. In 1964 he toured Europe with the Charles Mingus Sextet playing alongside Eric Dolphy....


King, Pee Wee  

Rich Kienzle

[Kuczynski, Julius Frank Anthony ]

(b Milwaukee, WI, Feb 18, 1914; d Louisville, KY, March 7, 2000). American country music accordionist, bandleader, songwriter, and vocalist. His musical career was inspired by his father, John, a Polish American who led a local polka band. At 15, he began learning accordion and, in 1930, met popular bandleader Wayne King who suggested the youth take the surname “King” in the interest of simplicity. His first band, the King’s Jesters, played both country music and polkas. In 1934, the group filled in for Gene Autry’s band when Autry, then a star of WLS’s National Barn Dance, toured Wisconsin. King joined Autry (who dubbed him “Pee Wee”) in Louisville until the singer left to launch his Hollywood film career. He briefly led a Louisville band known as the Log Cabin Boys, then in 1937 organized the Golden West Cowboys, who joined the Grand Ole Opry with a distinctive, progressive repertoire blending country, pop, polkas, waltzes, and western swing. From ...


Kirk, Andy  

J.R. Taylor

[Andrew Dewey ]

(b Newport, KY, May 28, 1898; d New York, NY, Dec 11, 1992). American jazz saxophonist and bandleader. He spent his childhood in Denver, where he studied piano, singing, alto saxophone, and music theory with Paul Whiteman’s father, Wilberforce Whiteman, among others. In 1918 he joined George Morrison’s orchestra as a bass saxophonist and tuba player. Around 1927 he moved to Dallas, where he joined Terrence Holder’s Dark Clouds of Joy orchestra; he assumed its leadership in 1929. In that year he transferred the band to Kansas City, Missouri, where it was known as the Clouds of Joy (among other related titles), rivaled Bennie Moten’s band, and made its first recordings (1929–30). From 1930 he made several nationwide tours, although the band continued to be based primarily in Kansas City. The success of “Until the Real Thing Comes along” (1936, Decca) established the band’s lasting popularity. Until the group disbanded in ...


Kirk, (Rahsaan) Roland  

Michael Baumgartner

[Ronald Theodore ]

(b Columbus, OH, Aug 7, 1935; d Bloomington, IN, Dec 5, 1977). American tenor saxophonist, flutist, and multi-instrumentalist. Blind from the age of two, he took up saxophone and clarinet at the Ohio State School for the Blind in 1948. By 1951 he was performing on tenor saxophone professionally in several local rhythm-and-blues bands. In the second half of the 1950s he worked in Louisville, Nashville, Cincinnati, and Indianapolis, before moving in 1960 to Chicago, where he recorded his first jazz album under his own name, Introducing Roland Kirk (1960, Argo). In 1961 he moved to New York, was part of the Charles Mingus Workshop for three months, and toured Germany in April and California in December. In 1963 he began a residency at Ronnie Scott’s club in London, an engagement which he repeated nearly every year during the 1960s. Until his death, Kirk led his own group, the Vibration Society. With this band he toured North America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand performing in a multitude of jazz styles. In the early 1970s he was the leader of the Jazz and People’s Movement, an organization for the promotion of black music. In ...


Laitman, Lori  

Paul André Bempéchat

(b Long Beach, NY, Jan 12, 1955). American composer and flutist. She attended Yale College (BA 1975) and Yale School of Music (MM, flute performance, 1976). She studied flute with john Wummer , Herbert Tichman, and Thomas Nyfenger, and composition with jonathan d. Kramer , Robert Moore, and Frank Lewin. Internationally acclaimed, she has composed more than 200 art songs, with settings that seek to retain the integrity of each poem while deploying the fullest resources of the voice. She has won the Boston Art Song Competition (2000) and the Best American Art Song Competition (2004, Men with Small Heads), and has received the Maryland State Arts Council’s Individual Artist Award in Music Composition several times. A mentor to many composers, performers, and scholars, she is regularly invited to conduct masterclasses and workshops throughout North America and across the world.

Her prosodic techniques encompass stream-of-consciousness and French didacticism. The work of multiple poets within single, larger forms evince her sharp attention to the integrity of individual movements and the cohesion of an entire composition. This is demonstrated in, among other works, the oratorio-cantata ...


Lateef, Yusef  

Lars Helgert

[Huddleston, William Emmanuel; Evans, Bill [William]; Gentle, Joe; Constantino, Monroe “Bones”]

(b Chattanooga, TN, Oct 9, 1920; d Shutesbury, MA, Dec 23, 2013). American tenor saxophonist, flutist, and composer. He grew up in Detroit and graduated from Sidney D. Miller High School, which was known for the quality of its music program. He began playing professionally in 1940 and later performed with the bands of Hot Lips Page, Roy Eldridge, and others before spending two years with the Dizzy Gillespie Orchestra (1948–9). In the late 1940s he converted to Islam and adopted the name Yusef Lateef. He spent much of the 1950s contributing to the jazz scene in Detroit, where he also studied composition and flute at Wayne State University. Moving to New York in 1960, Lateef performed and recorded with Charles Mingus, Cannonball Adderley, and Grant Green, and continued to lead his own groups (his earliest recordings as a leader date from the late 1950s). He studied at the Manhattan School of Music (BA in flute performance, ...


Lejeune, Iry  

Barry Jean Ancelet

(b Pointe Noire, nr Church Point, LA, Oct 28, 1928; d nr Eunice, LA, Oct 8, 1955). American accordionist, vocalist, and songwriter. He was one of the most influential musicians in Cajun music. Born into a musical family, which also included Angelas, Rodney, Vinesse, Eddie, Homer, and Felton Lejeune, Iry was nearly blind and thus hard to employ. Music allowed him to support his family, with whom he lived in his adopted hometown of Lacassine. He was a prolific songwriter, adapting many songs from the earlier repertoire of Amédé Ardoin. In his teens when World War II ended, he led the return of the diatonic accordion in Cajun music, which had dropped the instrument and the French language in favor of western swing and country music, and the English language, which attended the Americanization of the 1930s. In 1948, he went with Virgil Bozman’s Oklahoma Tornadoes to Houston to record “Love Bridge Waltz” and “Evangeline Special” for Opera Records, in French and in a style that harked back to the traditional sounds of earlier in the century. The record was surprisingly popular, especially among Cajuns who were increasingly concerned about drifting away from their cultural and linguistic heritage. He recorded all of his subsequent records with Eddie Shuler of Goldband Records of Lake Charles, Louisiana. He became a mainstay on the Cajun dance circuit, and though he recorded only a couple of dozen more sides before he died in an automobile accident, they are virtually all still being played by contemporary Cajun and Creole musicians. He was a poetic lyricist, a soulful vocalist, and a virtuoso accordionist, easily among the most imitated in Cajun music....


Lewis, Ted  

Mark Tucker

[Friedman, Theodore Leopold ]

(b Circleville, OH, June 6, 1890; d New York, NY, Aug 25, 1971). American bandleader, clarinetist, and entertainer. After working in tent shows and on the vaudeville circuit he settled in New York, first playing with Earl Fuller’s band, then forming his own group in 1918. Within two years he began recording for Columbia and appearing in various revues: the Greenwich Village Follies (1919 and 1921), Ziegfeld’s Midnight Frolics (1919), and the Ted Lewis Frolics (1923). In the early 1930s Lewis recorded with such first-rate jazz musicians as Muggsy Spanier, Georg Brunis, Frank Teschemacher, Jimmy Dorsey, Benny Goodman, and Fats Waller. He continued to lead groups of various sizes through the mid-1960s, working most often at hotels, resorts, and nightclubs. Lewis’s approach changed little over the years. At the end of his career he still appeared with battered top hat and cane performing old vaudeville routines, delivering songs he had popularized years before (“When My Baby Smiles at Me,” “Me and My Shadow”) in his characteristic patter style (more spoken than sung), playing his old Albert-system clarinet; and asking his favorite, time-worn question, “Is everybody happy?” His archival materials are held in ...