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Article

Abadie, Claude  

Michel Laplace

(b Paris, Jan 16, 1920; d Suresnes, Hautes de Seine, France, March 29, 2020). French clarinetist and bandleader. In 1941 he put together a jazz band which by 1943 had been joined by Boris Vian and was considered the first revival band in France. At its peak, in the years 1944–6, Abadie introduced such musicians as Claude Luter, Jef Gilson, and, from 1945, the Fol brothers, who may be heard on Tin Roof Blues (1946, Swing 212) and I’ve found a new baby (1946, Pathé 1013 [EP]). The band was strongly influenced by the Chicagoans and Bix Beiderbecke. In 1949 Abadie assembled a new band with such young players as Benny Vasseur and Jean-Claude Fohrenbach. He then retired from music (1952–63), but from 1965 led a modern-jazz nonet or tentet, which included the tenor saxophonist Paul Vernon (playing in a style influenced by Lester Young), with a repertory consisting of compositions by Ahmad Jamal, John Lewis, John Coltrane, and others. Abadie continued to lead this group for the remainder of his life, to age 100, directing and playing clarinet solos; they perform compositions of Thelonious Monk in the video ...

Article

Abercrombie, John  

Barry Long

(b Port Chester, NY, Dec 16, 1944; d Cortlandt Manor, NY, Aug 22, 2017). American jazz guitarist, composer, and bandleader. He grew up in Greenwich, CT, and began playing guitar at the age of 14. He was primarily self taught until he studied at the Berklee College of Music (1962–6) and with Jack Petersen. Abercrombie joined Johnny Hammond’s touring band after the blues organist had spotted him performing with other Berklee students at Paul’s Mall in Boston. After studying briefly at the University of North Texas, in 1969 he moved to New York where he performed and recorded in Billy Cobham’s jazz-rock band Dreams (1970), joined Chico Hamilton’s group, and recorded with Gato Barbieri (1971), Barry Miles (1972), and Gil Evans (1974). Abercrombie attracted wider attention performing with Cobham’s fusion band Spectrum from 1974. He also toured with Jack DeJohnette and recorded his debut album, ...

Article

Actis Dato, Carlo  

Stefano Zenni

(b Turin, Italy, March 21, 1952). Italian tenor and baritone saxophonist, bass clarinetist, and leader. He first played jazz in the Turin area in the early 1970s. In 1974 he was a founding member, with the guitarist Claudio Lodati, the double bass player Enrico Fazio, and the drummer Fiorenzo Sordini, of the quartet Art Studio, for which all four members provide compositions and arrangements; the group plays throughout Europe in a style mixing free improvisation techniques, extended forms, and contrapuntal work. In 1984 Actis Dato formed his own quartet, consisting of the saxophonist Piero Ponzo, Fazio, and Sordini; it toured internationally through the 1990s, from the USA to Africa to Japan. He was also a member of the Democratic Orchestra (1982–5), Mitteleuropa Orchestra (1982–90), Pino Minafra’s quintet (1984–9) and Sud Ensemble (from 1994), and the Italian Instabile Orchestra (from 1990). In ...

Article

Akiyoshi, Toshiko  

J. Bradford Robinson

(b Dairen, China, 12 Dec 1929). Japanese jazz composer, pianist, and bandleader.

She was born to Japanese parents in Manchuria. She began classical piano at seven and was playing professionally in her teens. She studied classical music and turned to jazz only in 1947 after moving to Japan. There she was discovered by Oscar Peterson, who urged her to take up a career in the United States. After studying at Berklee College of Music (1956–9) she became a highly regarded bop pianist, especially in groups with the alto saxophonist Charlie Mariano (to whom she was married from 1959 to 1967). She worked in Japan (1961), joined Charles Mingus in the United States (1962–3), then returned to Japan until 1965. In 1973 she founded a large rehearsal band in Los Angeles with the tenor saxophonist and flautist Lew Tabackin, whom she had married in ...

Article

Allen, Marshall  

Barry Long

(b Louisville, KY, May 25, 1924). American alto saxophonist and bandleader. He began clarinet lessons when he was ten and later took up alto saxophone. After joining the US Army at 18 years of age, Allen performed in military bands and, while stationed in Paris, formed a trio with Art Simmons and Don Byas. Allen remained in Europe following his discharge, touring with James Moody and studying clarinet at the Paris Conservatory with Ulysse Delécluse. He returned to the United States in 1951 and led dance bands and worked as a composer in Chicago. After hearing a demo recording of Sun Ra’s Arkestra in a record store, Allen sought out the bandleader during a rehearsal and began an apprenticeship. He subsequently rehearsed with the Arkestra for more than a year before joining officially in 1958. His association with the ensemble has lasted more than 50 years.

Allen worked closely with Sun Ra for much of his professional career, composing for the bandleader and performing both in concert and on more than 200 albums; he even shared a house with him. Alongside John Gilmore Allen anchored the reed section, adding flute, clarinet, oboe, and in later years wind synthesizer. He invented the morrow, a woodwind instrument combining a saxophone mouthpiece with an open-holed wooden body, and learned to play and build the kora, a West African multi-string instrument. Allen rarely worked outside the Arkestra, although he made a notable recording with Paul Bley (...

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

Ashton, Bill  

Digby Fairweather

revised by Simon Adams

[William Michael Allingham]

(b Blackpool, England, Dec 6, 1936). English bandleader. He began playing saxophone and clarinet in school, and after service in an RAF band he organized two jazz bands while studying at Oxford University (1955–62). In the early 1960s he performed in several clubs in London. In 1965 he formed the London Schools Jazz Orchestra, which was later known as the London Youth Jazz Orchestra and then the National Youth Jazz Orchestra (NYJO); it became a professional organization in 1974 and is the only full-time big band of its kind in Great Britain. Through its ranks have passed some of Britain’s finest young musicians, including Julian and Steve Argüelles, Guy Barker, Chris Biscoe, Paul Lytton, Dave O’Higgins, Gerard Presencer, and Jamie Talbot. It has toured with Shorty Rogers (1982, 1983), and John Dankworth (1986), made regular appearances at Ronnie Scott’s Club in London, and made a large number of recordings, among them ...

Article

Ayala, Ramón  

Elijah Wald

[Ramón Covarrubias]

(b Monterrey, Nuevo León, Mexico, Dec 8, 1945). Mexican accordionist, singer, and bandleader. Born in Monterrey and raised in Reynosa, Tamaulipas, Ramón Ayala has been the foremost figure in norteño music along the Gulf Coast and Texas border region since the 1970s. He first became famous in the 1960s as the accordionist and coleader of Los Relámpagos del Norte, with the singer-songwriter Cornelio Reyna; then formed his own band, Los Bravos del Norte, in 1971. In Mexico, Ayala is regarded as part of a great generation of border bandleaders, along with Carlos y José and Los Cadetes de Linares. North of the border, though, he has far outstripped his peers, and only California’s Los Tigres del Norte rival his ongoing popularity. Unlike the Tigres, who have consistently pushed norteño in new directions, Ayala is a traditionalist, and his success is due as much to his image as a hard-working, old-fashioned bearer of the classic tradition as to his intricate accordion passages and his keen eye for good material, from gunfighter corridos to romantically mournful ...

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

Balkwill, Bryan  

Noël Goodwin

(Havell )

(b London, July 2, 1922; d Beaconsfield, February 24, 2007). English conductor . After studies at the RAM, in 1947 he joined the New London Opera Company at the Cambridge Theatre as a répétiteur; he made his début there that year conducting Carl Ebert’s production of Rigoletto. He went to Glyndebourne as a répétiteur in 1950, returning (1953–8) as chorus master and associate conductor, working closely with Vittorio Gui on the Italian repertory. During that period he was also principal conductor at the Wexford Festival. In 1959 he became a resident conductor at Covent Garden, where he remained until 1965, giving over 200 performances of 16 operas. He toured with the English Opera Group to the USSR and Portugal, conducting Albert Herring and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. From 1963 to 1967 he was music director of the WNO. He first conducted the Sadler’s Wells Opera in 1957...

Article

Barber, Patricia  

Chadwick Jenkins

(b Lisle, IL, Nov 8, 1955). American singer, pianist, composer, and bandleader. Her father played with the Glenn Miller band and her mother was a professional blues singer. After studying psychology and classical piano at the University of Iowa, Barber returned to Chicago and began playing five nights a week at the Gold Star Sardine Bar, where she attracted varying critical attention for her husky voice and the inclusion of pop songs, including “Black Magic Woman” and “A Taste of Honey,” in her repertoire. She recorded her first album, Split (Floyd), in 1989 and her second album, A Distortion of Love (Antilles) in 1991. She subsequently moved to the independent label Premonition, which was bought by Blue Note in 1998. In 2003 Barber became the first songwriter to be awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship. Under its aegis she composed a song cycle based on Ovid’s Metamorphoses. She is the subject of a documentary, ...

Article

Barretto, Ray  

Jairo Moreno

(b Brooklyn, NY, April 29, 1929; d Hackensack, NJ, Feb 17, 2006). American conga player, bandleader, and producer of Puerto Rican descent. He began playing percussion informally during time in Germany as part of the US occupation army (1946–9). Returning to New York City in 1949, he participated in the lively jam-session scene in Harlem, playing bongos in sessions with Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie. In 1957, he replaced Mongo Santamaría in Tito Puente’s band. By 1960, he became the house percussionist for various jazz labels (Blue Note, Prestige, Riverside), recording his first album as leader for Riverside in 1961. The Charanga La Moderna was his first full-fledged Latin dance band, beginning in 1962. In 1963, his song El Watusi became the first Latin tune to enter the Billboard Top 20. By 1990, his salsa career stagnant, he formed a small, jazz-influenced sextet, New World Spirit, recording a number of Grammy-nominated albums....

Article

Bartholomew, Dave  

Randolph Love

(b Edgard, LA, Dec 24, 1920; d New Orleans, June 23, 2019). American trumpeter, arranger, producer, songwriter, bandleader, and singer. He started his career as a trumpeter playing with established bands led by, among others, Papa Celestin, Joe Robichaux, and Claiborne Williams before joining Fats Pichon’s ensemble, considered one of the top groups in New Orleans, in 1939. During World War II he played in the 196th AGF (Army Ground Forces) Band, where he met Abraham Malone, who taught him how to write and arrange. After the war, he formed his own band in New Orleans, which made its début at the Dew Drop Inn and later performed at Sam Simoneaux’s club Graystone where many of the city’s top instrumental players, including the drummer Earl Palmer and the saxophonists Lee Allen and Red Tyler, were showcased.

Bartholomew is best known for his talents as an arranger and songwriter. In the 1950s and 60s he worked with many of the biggest stars of the day, including Smiley Lewis, Lloyd Price, Shirley and Lee, and Joe Turner. By the 1970s he had associations with some of rock and roll’s most established talents, including Paul McCartney, Elton John, and the Rolling Stones. His most productive association was with Fats Domino, whom he met through Lew Chudd, the owner of Imperial Records, where he worked as a house arranger, an A&R man, and an in-house bandleader. From ...

Article

Bartz, Gary  

Michael Fitzgerald

(Lee)

(b Baltimore, MD, Sept 26, 1940). American jazz alto and soprano saxophonist, bandleader, composer, and vocalist. He began playing in Baltimore, where his father owned the well-known club the North End Lounge. He attended the Juilliard School between 1957 and 1958 and then studied at the Peabody Conservatory. After moving to New York he worked with Charles Mingus (1962–4) and Max Roach (1964 and 1968–9, when he traveled to Europe and the Middle East). He also performed and recorded with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers (1965–6) and Miles Davis (1970–71). Between 1969 and 1974 Bartz led his own ensemble, Ntu Troop, which recorded six albums blending African music and funk with jazz. In the late 1970s and 1980s, he worked occasionally with Woody Shaw’s group as well as with McCoy Tyner. After playing with Kenny Barron (1990s), Bartz was a member of the ensemble Sphere (...

Article

Battaglia, Stefano  

Stefano Zenni

(b Milan, Aug 31, 1965). Italian pianist and leader. He took up piano at the age of seven and later studied composition. He began his career as a classical pianist, playing works by Bach and early baroque music at many festivals, including the Bach Festival in Düsseldorf in 1986. After turning to jazz he formed his own trio, with Paolino Dalla Porta on double bass, began recording as a leader, and collaborated throughout Europe with such musicans as Tony Oxley, Steve Swallow, Aldo Romano, Kenny Wheeler, and Marc Johnson. He also was a member of Roberto Ottaviano’s quartet from 1986 to 1991. From 1991 to 1992 he played in the Orchestra Nazionale dell’AMJ and in the mid-1990s he established duos with the clarinetist Gabriele Mirabassi and with Pierre Favre. He formed the trio Triplicity with Dominique Pifarély and Dalla Porta in 1993, a quartet with the tenor saxophonist Emanuele Cisi, and a large ensemble, Theatrum, in ...

Article

Bell, Graeme  

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

Bell, Roger  

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

Berry, Bill  

Steven Strunk

revised by Barry Kernfeld

[William Richard; Beez]

(b Benton Harbor, MI, Sept 14, 1930; d Los Angeles, November 13, 2002). American trumpeter, cornetist, and bandleader. Born into a musical family, he traveled from infancy with his father, a professional double bass player. He studied piano from about the age of five and took up trumpet as a teenager. After traveling with midwestern territory bands (1947–50) and serving in the air force (1951–4) he studied at the Cincinnati College of Music (1954) and the Berklee School of Music (1955–7). While in Boston he played with Herb Pomeroy. From March to September 1957 he was with Woody Herman, but he returned to Boston, then performed in Cincinnati, and in 1960 briefly rejoined Herman. He worked with Maynard Ferguson (1960–61) and toured with Duke Ellington (1961–4), and became known for the obbligato he played for the tap-dancer Bunny Briggs on Ellington’s album ...

Article

Björksten, Hacke  

Erik Kjellberg

revised by Lars Westin

[Gunnar Olof]

(b Helsinki, Feb 17, 1934; d Stockholm, Dec 17, 2020). Swedish tenor saxophonist and bandleader of Finnish birth. He moved to Sweden in 1945 and gained recognition in the early 1950s in Gothenburg, where he worked with the drummer Kenneth Fagerlund (1951–4). From 1954 to 1959 he led groups which worked at Nalen in Stockholm; these often involved Åke Persson and performed arrangements by Jan Johansson and others. The recording On the Alamo (1955), which Björksten made as the leader of a quintet that included Persson, shows to advantage his fluent technique, large tone, and rhythmic spark. After several years of inactivity he recorded again as a leader (1972, 1979). Although he pursued a profession outside of music, he continued to perform and record as a leader, and in 1987 he made a trio album with Mel Lewis and Ulf Johansson as his sidemen. He resumed recording as a leader in ...

Article

Blade, Brian  

Daniel John Carroll

(b Shreveport, LA, July 25, 1970). American jazz drummer, bandleader, and composer. During his early years he became acquainted with gospel and soul music, studied violin, recorder and melodic percussion and eventually began playing drums in his father’s church. While in high school he began listening to John Coltrane, Charlie Parker and other jazz musicians and worked with the Polyphonics, a jazz group led by Dorsey Summerfield Jr. After moving to New Orleans in 1988 to attend Loyola University, Blade studied and played with several local jazz musicians including Ellis Marsalis, John Mahoney, Harry Connick Jr., and Alvin Red Tyler. In 1997 he formed a trio with Joshua Redman and Christian McBride and later performed in another trio with Larry Grenadier and Pat Metheney. In 1998 Blade and Jon Cowherd started recording together as leaders of the group Fellowship; its first album was Brian Blade Fellowship (1998...