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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 (...


Hairston, Jester  

Warren Fields


(b Belews Creek, NC, July 9, 1901; d Los Angeles, CA, Jan 18, 2000).

American arranger, choral conductor, and actor. He grew up in Homestead, Pennsylvania, where he sang in school and church choirs. After two years of study at Massachusetts Agricultural College he transferred to Tufts University where he graduated with a music degree in 1929. In search of opportunities to sing professionally, he went to New York where he joined the Hall Johnson Choir in 1931. From that point forward, his career progressed with remarkable consistency in three streams. By the mid-1930s, he had established himself as a skillful arranger and conductor of choral music. In the latter capacity he travelled extensively in the United States and abroad until well into his nineties. His published arrangements are characterized by lively, repetitive, and often syncopated rhythms, fundamental harmonies with well-spaced modulations, and colorful melodies that are always true to their ethnic origins. Among the best known of more than ninety such works are ...


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 ...