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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

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

Bley, Paul  

Ryan Bruce

(b Montreal, Canada, Nov 10, 1932; d Montreal, Jan 3, 2016). Canadian jazz pianist, composer, record producer, and bandleader. He was established by the age of 17, when Oscar Peterson recommended him as his replacement for the last year of an engagement at the Alberta Lounge in Montreal. After moving to New York to attend the Juilliard School (1950–54), he became part of the traditional and modern music scenes and recorded his first album as leader, with Charles Mingus and Art Blakey among his sidemen (Introducing Paul Bley, 1953, Debut). He also played with other notable musicians such as Ben Webster, Lester Young, Roy Eldridge, and Charlie Parker during the 1950s. In 1957 he moved to Los Angeles where he performed at the Hillcrest Club. His quintet, which included Charlie Haden, Billy Higgins, Don Cherry, and Ornette Coleman, became Coleman’s quartet when Bley left for New York in ...

Article

Bohannon  

G. Theroux

[Bohannon, Hamilton Frederick]

(b Newman, GA, March 7, 1942; d Atlanta, GA, April 24, 2020). American drummer, bandleader, and producer. He received a BA in music education from Clark College in Atlanta and taught music in public schools. While in Atlanta, he met Jimi Hendrix, who became a major influence on his style. He began his professional performing career in 1965 as a drummer for Stevie Wonder. In 1967 he became the leader of the Motown’s leading road band—known on radio as Bohannon and the Motown Sound—and spent the next five years on tour backing such acts as Gladys Knight and the Pips, the Temptations, Diana Ross and the Supremes, the Spinners, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, and the Four Tops. When Motown moved its headquarters from Detroit to Los Angeles, Bohannon left the company and signed a contract with Dakar, a small label based in Chicago. There he began writing and arranging, and produced a series of disco albums, dominated by his percussion playing, which blended mellow funk with primitive, irrepressible rhythms. In ...

Article

Bovell, Dennis  

Roger Steffens

[Blackbeard]

(b St Peter, Barbados, 1953). English reggae guitarist, bandleader and producer. He grew up in London where in the early 1970s he co-founded Matumbi, one of the first reggae groups in Britain, and also ran the Jah Sufferer sound system. Although he recorded with such rock and punk bands as the Pop Group and the Slits, his true strength was dub music which he recorded under the name Blackbeard (Strictly Dub Wize, Tempus, 1978). Brain Damage (Fontana, 1981), released under his own name, provides an overview of Bovell's creative production, with its shrieks, deep echo effects and syncopated hi-hats. In 1979 Matumbi recorded Point of View which placed traditional reggae toasting in a big band setting. Bovell is perhaps best known for his collaborations, in the studio and on tour, with the political dub poet Linton Kwesi Johnson. Among their best work is Dread Beat an' Blood...

Article

Colón, Willie  

Lise Waxer

[Colón Román jr, William Anthony; ‘El malo’]

(b South Bronx, New York, April 28, 1950). American bandleader, composer, arranger, trombonist, popular singer, producer and actor. Dubbed ‘El malo’ (the ‘bad boy’) of salsa, he began playing the trumpet in 1963 with the teenage band the Dandees. Switching to trombone, he made his professional début at 17 with the album El malo (Fania, 1967). Both as a bandleader and a member of the Fania All-Stars, he quickly moved to the fore of the burgeoning New York salsa scene, cementing the raw, trombone-heavy ‘New York sound’ inspired by earlier artists such as Eddie Palmieri and Mon Rivera. Between 1967 and 1973 he made a series of important recordings with vocalist Hector Lavoe, which included the albums Asalto Navideño I and II (Fania, 1972 and 1973) with cuatro virtuoso Yomo Toro, where traditional Puerto Rican Christmas aguinaldos were fused with salsa. During his second period (...

Article

Cowell, Stanley (Allen)  

Ed Hazell

revised by Barry Kernfeld

(b Toledo, OH, May 5, 1941; d Dover, DE, Dec 17, 2020). American pianist, composer, record producer, and leader. He played piano from the age of four and when he was only six heard Art Tatum. Having pursued classical studies on piano and pipe organ, he was, at the age of 14, a soloist with the Toledo Youth Orchestra, a church organist and choir director, and a jazz pianist. He attended Oberlin College Conservatory (BM 1962), spent his junior year (1960–61) at the Mozarteum Academy, and undertook graduate studies at the University of Wichita (1962–3), the University of Southern California (1963–4), and the University of Michigan (MM 1966); while at Oberlin he played with Roland Kirk. Following graduation he worked with Marion Brown (1966–7) and Max Roach (1967–70) and in a quintet led by Bobby Hutcherson and Harold Land (...

Article

Daniels, Charlie  

Travis Stimeling

[Charles Edward]

(b Wilmington, NC, Oct 28, 1936; d Nashville, TN, July 6, 2020). American session guitarist and fiddler, record producer, and Southern rock bandleader. After taking up the guitar at the age of 15, he was working as a professional rock musician by his early 20s, touring North Carolina, Virginia, and Washington, DC, with the Rockets and, after the band changed its name to the Jaguars, recording two sides for Epic Records in 1959 with the producer Bob Johnston. In 1962 Daniels and Johnston co-wrote “It hurts me,” which RCA Victor released as the B-side of Elvis Presley’s “Kissin’ Cousins” (RCA, 1964). Encouraged by Johnston, he moved to Nashville to become a session musician for CBS in 1967, in which capacity he recorded with Bob Dylan, Al Kooper, Leonard Cohen, and Flatt and Scruggs, among others. In 1969 he produced the Youngbloods’ album Elephant Mountain (RCA, 1969) and joined Leonard Cohen’s touring band. Daniels signed with Capitol Records in ...

Article

Estefan, Emilio, Jr.  

Mario Rey

(b Santiago de Cuba, Cuba, March 4, 1953). Cuban-American musician, songwriter, bandleader, and producer. Estefan immigrated to the United States in 1968. A central figure in Latin pop, Estefan is the recipient of 19 Grammy Awards. Largely a self-taught accordionist and keyboardist, he formed his own group in Cuba, then continued his career in the United States, performing in various local clubs. In 1975 he founded the all-Spanish Miami Latin Boys, later renamed Miami Sound Machine with the introduction of lead vocalist Gloria Estefan, to whom he has been married since 1978. The group launched its recording career in 1976 with the Spanish-language album Renacer, but subsequently achieved a remarkably successful English-language crossover with the hit “Conga” (1986).

Estefan’s musical creativity engendered a hybrid style known as “the Miami Sound,” a danceable variety of Latin pop that synthesized American electronic music and pop with rock-influenced arrangements of Cuban rhythms. He thus defined the Cuban-American pop sound that would invade the musical mainstream in the 1980s and 1990s, and propel the “Latin Boom” into the international music scene....

Article

Hammer, Jan  

Michael Fitzgerald

(b Prague, Czechoslovakia, April 17, 1948). American jazz keyboard player, composer, producer, drummer, and bandleader of Czech birth. His mother, Vlasta Pruchova, was a jazz singer in Prague and his father played bass and vibraphone. He attended the Academy of Musical Arts in Prague and formed the Junior Trio with the bass player Miroslav Vitous and the drummer Alan Vitous, which lasted from 1962 to 1966. After the invasion of Czechoslovakia by the USSR in 1968, he moved to the USA to accept a scholarship to study at the Berklee College of Music. However, he abandoned his studies after a year and a half to work with Sarah Vaughan.

As a member of John McLaughlin’s group the Mahavishnu Orchestra (1971–3), Hammer played electric and acoustic pianos and began using the Minimoog synthesizer (on the album Birds of Fire), quickly becoming a major influence on other keyboard players. Hammer is often cited as having developed a synthesizer style that mimics that of an electric guitar, but he instead credits the influence of Indian and Eastern European music. Several albums on which Hammer performed with Elvin Jones during the early 1970s helped to introduce the synthesizer to more mainstream jazz. ...

Article

Harlow, Larry  

Marisol Negron

[Kahn, Lawrence Ira]

(b Brooklyn, NY, March 20, 1939; d Bronx, NY, Aug 20, 2021). American salsa pianist, bandleader, and producer. He developed an interest in both jazz and Latin music as a teenager, while he attended the New York High School of Music and Art in Harlem. A multi-instrumentalist most widely recognized for his talent as a pianist, he was known for combining traditional Cuban sounds with innovative arrangements. He debuted as bandleader in 1965 with Heavy Smoking, the second album released by the newly formed Fania Records. Affectionately nicknamed “El judío maravilloso” (the marvelous Jew) by fellow musicians, he became a member and producer of the original Fania All-Stars, an ensemble band that achieved international acclaim for its live concerts. In 1973 Harlow brought Latin music to Carnegie Hall with the opera Hommy (inspired by the Who’s rock opera Tommy), and in 1974 he released Salsa...

Article

Hatch, Tony  

Dave Laing

(b Pinner, June 30, 1939). English composer, bandleader and record producer. While writing arrangements for the band of the Coldstream Guards during his national service he composed the teenbeat ballad Look for a Star, recorded by Garry Mills in 1960. He became one of the busiest journeymen in British pop music during the 1960s showing a chameleon-like ability to adapt to the changing fashions. As recording manager for Pye Records throughout the decade, Hatch wrote and produced a beat group hit for The Searchers (Sugar and Spice), the dramatic ballad Joanna for Scott Walker, and a sequence of bright ballads for Petula Clark. Co-written with his wife, the singer Jackie Trent, these included Downtown, Don’t sleep in the subway and I know a place. Trent’s own recordings of Hatch-Trent songs included the more conventional ballad Where are you now (my love).

Hatch was also a highly successful composer of television theme tunes. He wrote the themes for the soap operas ...

Article

Humphrey, Bobbi  

Yoko Suzuki

[Barbara Ann]

(b Marlin, TX, April 25, 1950). American jazz and rhythm-and-blues flutist, singer, bandleader, composer, and producer. She started to play flute in the Lincoln High School band in Dallas. Studying both classical and jazz flute, she continued her musical training at Texas Southern University and Southern Methodist University. In 1971 she moved to New York, where a relative, Eddie Preston, played trumpet with Duke Ellington. Because of this connection, she had the opportunity to play with Ellington’s band. She also competed in the Apollo Theater’s amateur night, winning first place for seven consecutive weeks. Blue Note Records signed Humphrey in 1971 and had recorded six of her albums by 1976, including Blacks and Blues (1973, BN). She performed at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1973 and 1977. She also appeared on “Another Star” from Stevie Wonder’s album Songs in the Key of Life (1975–1976, Tamia). After switching to Epic she recorded three more albums for that label: ...

Article

Jones, Bobby  

Carrie Allen Tipton

(b Henry, TN, Sept 18, 1938). American gospel music television and radio host, singer, choir director, and media executive. He began singing publicly in the Methodist church as a child, although his first exposure to gospel music came in sanctified churches. His involvement with gospel music deepened in Nashville when he served as keyboard player, singer, and director for church and civic choirs while studying at Tennessee State University. In 1978 Jones recorded the first of many albums with his small ensemble, the New Life Singers, whose aesthetic leaned more toward contemporary Christian music than black gospel. Around this time he began hosting children’s and gospel music shows on Nashville television stations. In 1980 Black Entertainment Television began broadcasting one of these programs, Bobby Jones Gospel. The popular program has featured performances by Jones’s ensembles, established gospel stars, and up-and-coming gospel artists. Firmly within the gospel entrepreneurial tradition, Jones’s other enterprises include music festivals, workshops, radio shows, the gospel opera ...

Article

Miller, Mitch(ell)  

Albin Zak

(William )

(b Rochester, NY, July 4, 1911; d New York, NY, July 31, 2010). American record producer, conductor, recording artist, and oboist. Miller attended the Eastman School of Music in Rochester and played oboe in the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra before moving to New York in the mid-1930s. He was a first-call soloist for such conductors as Fritz Reiner and Leopold Stokowski and a member of the Columbia Symphony Orchestra. As a studio musician he recorded in a variety of idioms, including a featured spot on the Charlie Parker with Strings LP, before moving into the role of pop record producer at Mercury Records.

Miller was a pivotal figure in postwar American pop music. Early in his production career, in 1949, he produced a set of Frankie Laine discs, three of which reached number one on the Billboard charts within six months. Each of the records—“That Lucky Old Sun,” “Mule Train,” and “Cry of the Wild Goose”—was a resourceful studio concoction. Mixing styles without regard for idiomatic conventions, inventing one-off ensembles for the song at hand, and employing sound effects and electronic enhancements such as added reverb, these three recordings epitomize Miller’s novel conception of record making. He developed these ideas and techniques in the course of the 1950s, during which his productions for the likes of Johnnie Ray, Tony Bennett, Rosemary Clooney, Doris Day, Guy Mitchell, and Johnny Mathis were perennial public favorites, regularly posting sales in the millions....

Article

Pacheco, Johnny  

David F. Garcia

(b Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic, March 25, 1935). American flutist, bandleader, and producer of Dominican origin. Pacheco’s early exposure to Cuban radio fostered a lifelong passion for Cuban dance music. The family moved to New York in 1946, where he began to play Cuban music professionally with Gilberto Valdés’s charanga (dance ensemble). With Valdés’s encouragement, Pacheco learned the traditional five-keyed Cuban wooden flute. In 1959 he joined Charlie Palmieri’s charanga La Orquesta Duboney and then formed his own charanga the following year. Their first LP, Pacheco y su charanga (1960), sold over 100,000 copies, an unprecedented amount for a Latin band. In 1965 he abandoned the charanga format for the trumpet-based conjunto ensemble, reinterpreting the music of La Sonora Matancera, Arsenio Rodríguez, Félix Chappottín, and Cheo Marquetti. That same year he and Italian American lawyer Jerry Masucci started Fania Records, which would become the most successful salsa record company in the 1970s. As Fania’s musical director, Pacheco played a formative role in the international popularization of Willie Colón, Pete “El Conde” Rodríguez, Celia Cruz, and others. In his heyday Pacheco was a charismatic bandleader and musician in tune with the roots of Cuban popular music. But it was his acumen for the commercial music industry that accounts for his importance in the history of Latin popular music....

Article

Shaffer, Paul  

Craig Jennex

(b Thunder Bay, ON, Nov 28, 1949). Canadian pianist, composer, musical director, actor, producer, and bandleader. He has been musical director for David Letterman’s late-night shows since 1982. Prior to working with Letterman, Shaffer was a featured performer on “Saturday Night Live.” He has served as musical director and producer for the Blues Brothers and cowrote the 1980s dance hit “It’s raining men.” He has served as musical director for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony since its inception in ...

Article

Turner, Ike  

Susan Fast

(Wister )

(b Clarksdale, MS, Nov 5, 1931; d San Marcos, CA, Dec 12, 2007). American songwriter, guitarist, pianist, bandleader, talent scout, and record producer. He began playing piano as a boy in Clarksdale, forming the Kings of Rhythm while still in school. His musical education consisted of listening to music and playing with blues musicians such as B.B. King. Turner is often credited with writing and recording the first rock and roll record (according to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame), “Rocket 88,” although the track was released under the name of Jackie Brenston (a member of Turner’s band who sang and played sax on the record). Recorded in 1951 at Sam Phillips’s Sun Studios in Memphis, this uptempo R&B song provided a template for the rock and roll emerging later in the decade. The modified 12-bar blues form, boogie woogie bass line, percussive piano, guitar distortion, and rowdy sax solo became standard features of songs by Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, and others....

Article

Weston, Randy  

Ryan D.W. Bruce

[Randolph Edward ]

(b Brooklyn, NY, April 6, 1926). American jazz pianist, bandleader, composer, and club owner. Weston did not identify with his classical music lessons as a youth, choosing instead to explore a percussive piano style under the influence of Duke Ellington. Other early influences include Count Basie, Nat “King” Cole, Art Tatum, and Coleman Hawkins. Weston’s playing was transformed after attending a concert by Hawkins and Thelonious Monk in 1945: Monk became Weston’s mentor from 1947–9, and inspired his heavy attack and improvisatory rhythmic displacements. He was hired by Marshall Stearns in 1949 to provide demonstrations of different jazz styles for university lectures given throughout the United States; their work lasted eight summers and fostered Weston’s interest in African music.

Beginning with his debut in 1954, his early recordings acquired critical recognition and included band members such as Art Blakey, Cecil Payne, Ahmed Abdul-Malik, and Coleman Hawkins. Some of his compositions of the time, especially “Little Niles” and “Hi-Fly,” gained popularity and have been recorded by many others. Weston also worked with arranger ...