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Article

Abrams, Muhal Richard  

Harald Kisiedu

[Abrams, Richard Louis]

(b Chicago, IL, Sept 19, 1930; d New York, Oct 29, 2017). American pianist, composer, and administrator. After receiving private piano lessons, he studied at the Chicago Musical College and taught himself the system of composition devised by Joseph Schillinger. He began to work professionally in 1948 and performed regularly at the Cotton Club in Chicago during the 1950s, accompanying visiting musicians such as Dexter Gordon, Sonny Stitt, and Max Roach. After composing and arranging for the Walter “King” Fleming band in the mid-1950s, Abrams joined the hard bop ensemble MJT+3 and made his recording debut on the group’s album DADDY-O PRESENTS MJT+3 (1957, VJ 1013). Beginning in 1961 Abrams led the Experimental Band, a composer-centered rehearsal ensemble whose members included the double bass player Donald Rafael Garrett, Jack DeJohnette, Roscoe Mitchell, and the reed player Joseph Jarman. He subsequently co-founded the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians...

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

Atkins, Chet  

Bill C. Malone

revised by Barry Mazor

[Chester Burton ]

(b nr Luttrell, TN, June 20, 1924, d Nashville, TN, June 30, 2001). American country-music guitarist and recording company executive. Although the first instrument he played professionally was the fiddle, he became internationally famous as a guitarist. Developed while he was in high school, his guitar style was influenced by Merle Travis, Les Paul, Django Reinhardt, and George Barnes and was characterized by the use of the thumb to establish a rhythm on the lower strings and multiple fingers to play melodic or improvisational passages on the higher strings, sometimes with complex voicings. In the early 1940s Atkins toured with Archie Campbell and Bill Carlisle playing both fiddle and guitar, and appeared with them on WNOX radio in Knoxville. He then toured with the second generation Carter Family as a sideman and in 1946 joined Red Foley. After beginning his association with the “Grand Ole Opry” he settled in Nashville 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

Beck  

Rob Jovanovic

[Campbell, Bek David; Hansen, Beck]

(b Los Angeles, CA, July 8, 1970). American rock singer, songwriter, guitarist, and producer. He has recorded and performed songs in a wide range of genres including folk, country, bluegrass, grunge, indie, metal, rock, lounge, Latino, and noise. An obvious contributing factor to his eclectic tastes is his artistic and performer-laden family. His father David Campbell is a string player and arranger who has worked on string parts for some of his son’s more recent albums. His mother Bibbe Hansen worked with Andy Warhol at the artist’s studio the Factory in New York at an early age and was involved in the west coast punk scene during the 1980s. His grandfather Al Hansen was an artist and performer involved in the Fluxus movement. Beck grew up around rockers and in various ethnic neighborhoods which all contributed to his music education. After spending time at the end of the 1980s involved with New York’s anti-folk scene he returned west and began performing as often and wherever he could. These gigs involved him using a leaf-blower on stage, telling stories, setting fire to his acoustic guitar, and rocking out with a boom-box backing tape. His breakthrough came in ...

Article

Beck, Joe  

John Bass

[Joseph Arnold]

(b Philadelphia, PA, July 29, 1945; d Danbury, CT, July 22, 2008). American guitarist, composer, and producer. After graduating from high school, he moved to New York and played with a jazz trio in the club Chuck’s Compository. He also worked as a studio musician and jingle writer, which eventually led to collaborations with Gil Evans. Beck was among the first jazz guitarists to incorporate rock guitar techniques, including the use of a distorted tone, into his playing. He was also a key figure in the fusion movement of the 1970s, along with the Brecker Brothers and David Sanborn. In 1967 he participated in recording sessions with Miles Davis’s second quintet (alongside Ron Carter, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, and Tony Williams). Although the music from this session was not immediately released, it influenced Davis’s later fusion of jazz and rock on such albums as Bitches Brew. From the 1970s through the 2000s, Beck recorded and performed with many notable jazz musicians, including Woody Herman, Larry Coryell, Kai Winding, Don Grolnick, Sanborn, Atilla Zoeller, Red Mitchell, and John Abercrombie. He also invented and performed on an instrument he called the alto guitar. Beck remained an in-demand session guitarist throughout his life, performing on albums by popular musicians including James Brown and Paul Simon. He also founded and ran the company Code Works, which specialized in creating jingles and songs for television and radio commercials....

Article

Benoit, David  

Jeffrey Holmes

(Bryan)

(b Bakersfield, CA, Aug 18, 1953). American jazz pianist, composer, arranger, and producer. He studied piano and theory at El Camino College (1972), arranging and orchestration at Valley College (1973), and film scoring at UCLA (1981). His teachers included Abraham Fraser (piano), Donald Neligan, Heichiro Ohyama, Donald Ray, and Jan Robertson. In 1976 he became music director and conductor for the singer Lainie Kazan, followed by similar work for the singers Ann Margaret and Connie Stevens. From 1977 he has recorded his own smooth jazz albums; those from the 1980s, including This Side Up and Every Step of the Way (one of his many Grammy nominated recordings), helped to define the genre. He has been involved in a wide range of projects, including working for ten years as a composer for “Peanuts” TV specials, with the GRP All-Star Big Band, and with such musicians as Kenny Loggins, Patti Austin, Kenny Rankin, and Faith Hill. He is also a film score composer and conductor; in the latter role he has worked with the Asia America Symphony Orchestra, which gave the first performance of his piano concerto ...

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

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

Brion, Jon  

Stephanie Conn

(b Glen Ridge, NJ, Dec 11, 1963). American producer, composer, songwriter, drummer, guitarist, pianist, bass player, keyboard player, and vibraphonist. Born into a musical family he left high school early to play music. He performed in Boston in the late 1980s and then moved to Los Angeles, where he worked as a sideman, songwriter and producer with various musicians he knew from Boston including the singer-songwriter Aimee Mann. He became known as an indispensable studio session musician and producer.

Although Brion is a prolific songwriter, he is perhaps best known for his varied projects as a producer and composer, which have spanned pop, rock, jazz, hip hop, and bluegrass. Among the artists that he has produced are Fiona Apple, Beck, Dido, Brad Mehldau, of Montreal, Elliott Smith, Rufus Wainwright, and Kanye West. Brion often plays and co-writes for his productions. He has also written scores for films, including ...

Article

Burnett, T-Bone  

Olivia Carter Mather

[Joseph Henry]

(b St. Louis, MO, Jan 14, 1948). American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer. Best known for his work as a record producer in the 1990s and 2000s, he began his career as a rock musician, hired by Bob Dylan in 1975 for his Rolling Thunder Revue tour. In the late 1970s Burnett formed the Alpha Band and recorded three albums before launching his solo career. Burnett’s solo material was critically acclaimed—he was named Songwriter of the Year by Rolling Stone in 1983—but commercially unsuccessful. He has continued to record solo albums intermittently into the 2000s, but his main work since the mid-1980s has been production.

Burnett’s credits span a wide range of genres with an emphasis on singer-songwriters and Americana; he has recorded Elvis Costello, John Mellencamp, Gillian Welch, B.B. King, the Counting Crows, Los Lobos, Roy Orbison, Bruce Cockburn, Willie Nelson, Robert Randolph, and Sam(uel Cornelius) Phillips...

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

Creese, Malcolm  

Mark Gilbert

revised by Simon Adams

(b Bristol, England, Aug 24, 1959). English double bass player and arts administrator. The son of professional classical musicians, he took up cello at the age of three and attended St John’s College, Cambridge, as a chorister (1967–72). He continued his education at Radley College, Berkshire, and then at the Guildhall, London, but left in 1975 to manage a record shop. Five years later he began working for the music publisher Hal Leonard. In the mid-1980s, having bought a double bass, he began to play jazz, and appeared with numerous British players and visiting Americans. He was with Stan Tracey from 1990 to 1996, touring worldwide, and in 1991 became the principal double bass player with John Dankworth and Cleo Laine. In 1994 he began working with Tony Coe; he assembled a band featuring Coe for the Jersey Jazz Festival and made broadcasts and recordings (including ...

Article

Cropper, Steve  

Rob Bowman

(b Willow Spring, MO, Oct 21, 1941). American electric guitarist, producer and songwriter. He initially achieved fame as the guitarist in two Memphis-based instrumental groups, the Mar-Keys and Booker T. and the MGs. Having left the Mar-Keys in the summer of 1961, he began working for Jim Stewart at Stax Records in a number of capacities: as a member of the house band (the MGs), a songwriter, engineer and promoter. In this way he was involved in most of the records issued by Stax in the 1960s. In 1970 he left Stax and founded the Trans-Maximus Inc. (TMI) studio and record label with Jerry Williams, and embarked on a freelance career. He produced and played on albums recorded at TMI or Ardent Studios by such artists as Poco, Jeff Beck, José Feliciano, Yvonne Elliman, John Prine and Mitch Ryder. Later production successes included Tower of Power's We came to play...

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

DiFranco, Ani  

Lori Burns and Jada Watson

[Angela Maria ]

(b Buffalo, NY, Sept 23, 1970). American folk singer-songwriter, guitarist, label owner, and political activist. She began performing music at local bars and busking at age nine. A fiercely independent spirit, she left home at 15 and lived with friends while she wrote and performed her music in the Buffalo area. By 19 she had written more than 100 songs and begun to build a devout grassroots following. In 1989 she founded Righteous Records (renamed Righteous Babe Records in 1994), an independent record label for which she has composed, performed, recorded, and produced all of her material. Since the late 1990s the label has released albums for other non-mainstream artists. DiFranco has also published two volumes of poetry: Self Evident: poesie e disegni (Rome, 2004) and Verses (New York, 2007).

DiFranco is a prolific lyricist whose songs communicate strong messages about gender, identity, social institutions, and politics, and address social issues including racism, homophobia, poverty, war, and reproductive rights. Much of her lyrical material is autobiographical and tackles topics including religion, relationships, motherhood, and sexuality. Her music is classified variously as folk rock, alternative rock, punk folk, and singer-songwriter folk. DiFranco has emerged as an icon of feminism and independent music making, and her career has featured solo albums, many compilations and collaborations, live albums, official bootleg releases, and an unrelenting concert calendar....

Article

Fahey, John  

John Cline

(Aloysius )

(b Takoma Park, MD, Feb 28, 1939; d Salem, OR, Feb 22, 2001). American guitarist, folklorist, and record producer. As a teenager, Fahey’s early interest in country music was expanded to include bluegrass and country-blues due to a friendship with richard Spottswood , later a noted folk and ethnic music scholar. With Spottswood and famed collector Joe Bussard, Fahey sought out pre-war 78 r.p.m. records. After taking up the guitar, Fahey’s made his first recordings for Bussard’s private Fonotone label on 78 r.p.m. shellac discs, some of which Fahey claimed to have slipped into boxes of more “authentic,” vintage records at flea markets. In 1959 Fahey founded Takoma Records to distribute his own recordings, beginning with the LP Blind Joe Death; his liner notes also frequently mock the language of then-contemporary blues scholars, the very people he had hoped to fool with the Fonotone 78s.

Despite his sense of humor Fahey was a serious student of American vernacular music. He travelled long distances to find Bukka White and Skip James in the Mississippi Delta in the early 1960s; he relates these events in the memoir, ...

Article

Foster, David  

S. Timothy Maloney

(Walter )

(b Victoria, Canada, Nov 1, 1949). Canadian record producer, songwriter, arranger, and pianist. After playing keyboards with Chuck Berry and Ronnie Hawkins in his teens, he went to Los Angeles, where he became a studio musician recording in the mid-1970s with Michael Jackson, John Lennon, and other major artists. By the early 1980s, Foster had become a leading record producer, collaborating with musicians ranging from Bryan Adams, Mariah Carey, Chicago, and Alice Cooper to Barbra Streisand, Neil Diamond, and Andrea Bocelli. Three of his biggest commercial and critical successes were Natalie Cole’s recording of “Unforgettable,” Céline Dion’s “Because You Loved Me,” and Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You.” In 1997 he launched his own label, 143 Records, for which he produced highly acclaimed debut albums by Michael Bublé, The Corrs, and Josh Groban.

Foster has written songs for Bocelli, Dion, Streisand, Nicole Kidman, and fellow Canadians Gordon Lightfoot and Anne Murray, among others, and his film soundtrack credits include ...