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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 ...


Caine, Uri  

Eliot Gattegno

(b Philadelphia, PA, June 8, 1956). American classical and jazz pianist and composer. Born and raised in Philadelphia, Caine began playing piano at the age of seven. At age 12 he commenced studies with French jazz pianist Bernard Peiffer. He later studied composition with ...


Di Meola, Al  

M. Rusty Jones

[Al Laurence Dimeola ]

(b Jersey City, NJ, July 22, 1954). American jazz fusion guitarist and composer. He is known especially for his technical virtuosity and for combining Latin, world, and jazz styles. His guitar influences include Larry Coryell, Tal(madge Holt) Farlow, and Kenny Burrell. He was also inspired by the tangos of Ástor Piazzolla, with whom he developed a close friendship. He enrolled in the Berklee College of Music in Boston in 1971, where he remained until 1974 when he was invited to join the fusion group Return to Forever with Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke, and Lenny White. The group released three recordings with Di Meola, including the Grammy award-winning No Mystery (1975), before disbanding in 1976. The group reunited for a tour in 2008. Di Meola’s career as a leader began with the production of Land of the Midnight Sun (1976). Recordings on which he is recognized as leader now number over 20 albums. He has collaborated with luminaries such as Jaco Pastorius, Jan Hammer, and Chick Corea. One of his most successful collaborations was his trio with guitarists John McLaughlin and Paco de Lucia. Their ...


Harris, Barry  

Andrew Scott


(b Detroit, MI, Dec 15, 1929; d North Bergen, NJ, Dec 8, 2021). American jazz pianist, composer, and pedagogue. He first encountered music through the church where his mother worked as a pianist and he first performed. After starting piano lessons at the age of four, he taught himself the boogie-woogie style of Albert Ammons before hearing bebop at a performance by Charlie Parker at Club El Sino in 1947. Having played some of his first professional engagements with Frank Rosolino, Harris became the house pianist at the Blue Bird Inn in Detroit, where he accompanied Lester Young, Sonny Stitt, Miles Davis, and Parker, among others. After travelling to New York in 1956 to record with Thad Jones and Hank Mobley, Harris remained in Detroit until 1960, when he moved to New York to join Cannonball Adderley’s group. Harris made his first recording as a leader in 1958...


Hwang, Jason Kao  

Loren Kajikawa

(b Lake Forest, IL, 1957). American jazz violinist and composer. Known for his unconventional violin technique, Hwang participated in downtown New York’s free jazz scene in the late 1970s and early 80s and became increasingly associated with Asian American jazz in the 1980s and 90s. His more recent work emphasizes cross-cultural themes, especially as they relate to the Chinese experience in the United States.

Hwang spent his childhood in Waukegan and Highland Park, Illinois, before attending New York University. In New York he frequented “loft jazz” performances, which featured experimental players such as David Murray, Lester Bowie, Charles “Bobo” Shaw, and Frank Lowe. Hwang was mentored by alto saxophonist Will Connell Jr. who had come to New York after his tenure with Horace Tapscott’s Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra in Los Angeles. Hwang and Connell Jr. teamed with bassist William Parker and percussionist Takeshi Zen Matsuura to form the quartet Commitment. Commitment achieved modest local success, toured Germany, and recorded a self-titled album in ...


Ibarra, Susie  

Mary Talusan

(b Anaheim, CA, Nov 15, 1970). American jazz percussionist and composer. Of Filipino heritage, Ibarra grew up in Houston, Texas. She received a music diploma from Mannes College and a BA from Goddard College. She studied drums with Buster Smith and Vernel Fournier and percussion with Milford Graves. She also played with William Parker and his big band, The Little Huey Creative Music Orchestra. In the 1990s, Ibarra became interested in Philippine musical traditions and took lessons on kulintang from master artist Danongan Kalanduyan. She joined the avant-garde free jazz quartet led by David S. Ware and became well known in the New York jazz scene. She collaborated on several albums with a number of respected musicians such as Assif Tsahar, Cooper-Moore, Charles Burnham, Chris Speed, Wadada Leo Smith, and Pauline Oliveros, notably on the album ...


Jamal, Ahmad  

Richard Wang

revised by Brad Linde

[Jones, Frederick Russell ]

(b Pittsburgh, PA, July 2, 1930). American jazz pianist and composer. He studied with the singer mary cardwell Dawson and the pianist james Miller in Pittsburgh where he began playing professionally at the age of 11. After attending Westinghouse High School, he left in the late 1940s to join the George Hudson Orchestra. In 1951 he formed his first trio, the Three Strings, and after an extended engagement at the Blue Note club in Chicago, he appeared at the Embers in New York, where he attracted the critical support of John Hammond. He changed his name on his conversion to Islam in the early 1950s. In 1958, with the bass player Israel Crosby and the drummer Vernel Fournier, Jamal recorded his most popular and influential album, Ahmad Jamal at the Pershing, which included influential versions of “But not for me” and “Poinciana.” Miles Davis admired the album’s lean style, use of space, and simple embellishments, all of which characterized Davis’s own bands and recordings in the 1950s. Jamal’s trio disbanded in ...


Jenkins, Leroy  

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...


Kuhn, Steve  

Russ Musto

[Stephen Lewis ]

(b New York, NY, March 24, 1938). American jazz pianist and composer. A pianist with a distinctive voice, he started classical piano lessons at five and at 17 began studies with Madame Chaloff in Boston, where he led a trio and accompanied such visiting greats as Coleman Hawkins, Chet Baker, and Vic Dickenson. After graduating from Harvard University in 1959, he returned to New York where he worked with Kenny Dorham, John Coltrane (in the saxophonist’s first quartet), Stan Getz (alongside the bass player Scott LaFaro, who influenced his playing significantly), and Charles Lloyd. He then worked in Art Farmer’s quartet with Steve Swallow and Pete La Roca, appearing on the trumpeter’s album Sing Me Softly of the Blues (1965, Atlantic). The rhythm section also recorded together on La Roca’s album Basra (1965, BN, with the saxophonist Joe Henderson) and on Kuhn’s first trio date as a leader, ...


LaFaro, Scott  

David Chevan

(b Irvington, NJ, April 3, 1936; d Geneva, NY, July 6, 1961). American jazz double bass player, composer, and bandleader. While growing up in Geneva, New York, he took up clarinet, after which he played tenor saxophone at high school. The music education program he attended at Ithaca College required that LaFaro learn a string instrument, and so at age 18 he began to focus on double bass. He subsequently played with the Buddy Morrow band from 1955 to 1956, during which period he decided to move to Los Angeles to establish himself professionally. After playing with Chet Baker’s band for a year, he moved between Chicago, where he played with Ira Sullivan, and Southern California, where he worked with Sonny Rollins, Harold Land, and Barney Kessel.

LaFaro’s move to New York in 1959 proved immediately fruitful; that year he performed with a number of important bandleaders, including Stan Kenton and Benny Goodman. In that year LaFaro also joined the Bill Evans Trio, the group in which he cemented his reputation as an innovator on his instrument. In this trio, which also featured the drummer Paul Motian, LaFaro was accorded tremendous freedom to deviate from the traditional 4/4 walking bass line. His approach to the bass within this ensemble was as much melodic as it was focused on keeping time and establishing the harmony. Additionally he was granted substantial space for improvisation, which allowed him to showcase his nimble, bebop-influenced technique. Evans’s trio recorded “Jade Visions,” a LaFaro composition with static modal harmony that served as a showcase for his prodigious technique....


Lee, Jeanne  

Jessica Bissett Perea

(b New York, NY, Jan 29, 1939; d Tijuana, Mexico, Oct 25, 2000). American jazz singer, lyricist, composer–improviser, multidisciplinary artist, and educator. During her 40-year career she performed internationally and recorded more than 40 albums, working with such artists as Carla Bley, Anthony Braxton, Marion Brown, Enrico Rava, Andrew Cyrille, Roland Kirk, Jimmy Lyons, Archie Shepp, Sunny Murray, Cecil Taylor, and Reggie Workman. Her vocal style reflects the influence of early mainstream jazz vocalists, including Billie Holiday and Dinah Washington, and the intellectualism of postwar avant-garde jazz and experimental music. Starting in the 1960s Lee forged a new path in multidisciplinary performance that fused the aesthetics of modern dance, vocal improvisation and sound poetry (intonation, non-verbal utterances, and vocalizations), and visual arts (paintings, slide projections, and film). In the 1970s she established Earthforms Rituals, a nonprofit corporation that promoted concerts and educational programs. She also completed an MA in education at New York University in ...


Lewis, Ramsey  

Michael Conklin

(Emmanuel )

(b Chicago, IL, May 27, 1935). American pianist and composer. His earliest exposure to jazz was as a child listening with his father to recordings of Duke Ellington, Art Tatum, and Meade “Lux” Lewis. At 15 he joined a jazz band that included fellow church musicians, the bass player Eldee Young and the drummer Redd Holt. He went on to study music at Chicago Musical College and De Paul University. In 1956 he reunited with Young and Redd to form the Ramsey Lewis Trio; their first album was entitled Ramsey Lewis and the Gentleman of Swing. The band reached its apex with The In Crowd (1965, Argo), an album which sold a million copies and earned the trio a Grammy Award for best jazz recording by a small group in 1965; Lewis has since been awarded two other Grammy Awards. Throughout his career, his work has showcased an eclectic fusion of gospel, jazz and Western European elements. He later began composing large-scale works, including the music for the ballet ...


McPherson, Charles  

Russ Musto

(b Joplin, MO, July 24, 1939). American alto and tenor saxophonist and composer. One of the most inventive bebop alto saxophonists in the tradition of Charlie Parker, he possesses a fluid melodic style that reflects the initial influence of Johnny Hodges. At age nine he moved to Detroit and at 13 started playing saxophone. He began studies with barry Harris when he was 18 and landed his first professional gigs with the pianist a year later in a band that also featured Lonnie Hillyer. McPherson arrived in New York in 1959 and the following year joined Charles Mingus, with whom he played for the next decade and a half. He made his first album as a leader, Bebop Revisited!, for Prestige in 1964 and recorded frequently for that label for the next five years. During the 1970s he made three records each for the Mainstream and Xanadu labels, the dates for the latter offering some of the purest bebop of its time. He relocated to San Diego in ...


Mehldau, Brad(ford Alexander)  

William Kirk Bares

(b Jacksonville, FL, Aug 23, 1970). American jazz pianist and composer. An avid classical and jazz pianist from an early age, he starred in Hartford’s Hall High School jazz band, won the Berklee College of Music’s Best All-Around Musician award, and studied at the New School in New York and with Kenny Werner, fred Hersch , and jimmy Cobb . He gained widespread attention as a member of the Joshua Redman Quartet before striking out on his own with his debut album, Introducing Brad Mehldau (1995, WB). With the producer Matt Pierson, he began recording the Art of the Trio series in 1996. Comprising five albums (two studio and three live) and spanning nearly a decade, it documented the development of a trio with Larry Grenadier on bass and Jorge Rossy on drums. In 2007 Jeff Ballard replaced Rossy, and the trio has continued to evolve following Mehldau’s move to the Nonesuch label the same year....


Melford, Myra  

Jonas Westover

(b Chicago, IL, Jan 5, 1957). American jazz pianist and composer. She studied music at the Cornish Institute in Seattle under Art Lande and gary Peacock . She moved to the East Coast in 1982 and eventually setted in New York, where she studied with such luminaries as ran Blake and jaki Byard . She worked with Leroy Jenkins and Butch Morris and developed her own sound influenced by the percussive approach of Don Pullen. She played small clubs at first, frequently with the flute player Marion Brandis, with whom she also recorded. Melford then put together a trio which included Lindsey Horner (bass) and Reggie Nicholson (drums); the group recorded two spirited, sharp-edged, infectious albums, Jump (1990, Enemy) and Now & Now (1991, Enemy). Melford went on to other projects later in the decade, including the band The Same River, Twice. She played in the trio Equal Interest in the late 1990s and continued to play with other ensembles, including Be Bread, into the next century. Although she originally played mostly piano, Melford eventually included harmonium in her performances, reflecting her interest in the music of India. A Fulbright grant in ...


Mitchell, Roscoe  

Charles Garrett


Morgan, (Edward) Lee  

Jeffery S. McMillan

(b Philadelphia, PA, July 10, 1938; d New York, NY, Feb 19, 1972). American jazz trumpeter, bandleader, and composer. One of the charismatic individualists to emerge in the late 1950s, he began playing vibraphone at 12, but soon thereafter turned to trumpet. He studied music at Jules E Mastbaum Vocational Technical High School and privately with the trumpeter Tony Marchione, but learned jazz by playing in Philadelphia rehearsal bands, sitting in with visiting professionals, and leading his own combo from age 15. After graduation in 1956, Morgan played a week with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, joined Dizzy Gillespie’s big band, and made his first recordings as a leader for Blue Note. He was a featured soloist on “A Night in Tunisia” with Gillespie until the band dissolved in January 1958. After a short period of freelancing, he joined a revamped edition of the Jazz Messengers and stayed until ...


Motian, (Stephen) Paul  

Michael Baumgartner

(b Philadelphia, PA, March 25, 1931; d New York, NY, Nov 22, 2011). American jazz drummer and composer. He grew up in Providence, Rhode Island, where he began playing guitar and drums at the age of 12. During the Korean War he studied at the Navy School of Music in Washington before being stationed in Brooklyn from November 1953. After his discharge in September 1954 he moved to New York, entered the Manhattan School of Music and took private lessons on drums and timpani. In the mid- to late 1950s he accompanied various musicians, including Tony Scott, Stan Getz, Oscar Pettiford (in both his quintet and big band), Lennie Tristano, Lee Konitz, Al Cohn and Zoot Sims. In 1956 Motian began collaborating with Bill Evans, appearing on the pianist’s first album. Subsequently he was the drummer in Evans’s first and second trios (1959–64). He continued his career as an experienced drummer of piano trios, first with Paul Bley’s group (...


Murray, David  

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 ...


Noge, Yoko  

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 ...