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Article

Bechet, Sidney  

Bruce Boyd Raeburn

(Joseph)

(b New Orleans, LA, 14 May 1897; d Paris, France, 14 May 1959). American jazz clarinetist and soprano saxophonist. He was an Afro-French Creole, descended from free people of color residing in Tremé, an early hotbed of jazz activity. As a boy he emulated his older brothers who worked semi-professionally as musicians and played in a family band, the Silver Bells. “Big Eye” Louis Nelson and George Baquet were his primary teachers. Nelson remembered Bechet resisting formal instruction (“He wouldn’t learn notes, but he was my best scholar”), and the latter never became musically literate. Like many younger Creoles, Bechet rejected traditional Creole proprieties and gravitated to African American vernacular culture, particularly the blues as expressed by Buddy Bolden. By 1910 he was sitting in with bands such as the Eagle, and by 1915 he was being praised as a prodigy by musicians who frequented the Piron and Williams music publishing company on Tulane Avenue. ...

Article

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 ...

Article

Cabay, Guy  

Barry Kernfeld

(b Polleur, Belgium, 1950). Belgian vibraphonist and leader. Self-taught, he first played drums and piano, but in 1966 he heard Gary Burton perform in Comblain, and two years later he took up vibraphone. In the early 1970s, while working towards an undergraduate degree in musicology at the University of Liège, he played in dixieland and modern-jazz groups; he then moved to Italy to pursue graduate work in medieval music. He played jazz standards with Steve Houben in the group Merry-Go-Round (1975), which performed in the Netherlands, toured the USSR as an accompanist to the singer Jean Vallée, and from 1978 recorded albums of his compositions, incorporating elements of jazz, Belgian traditional songs, and bossa nova, with such guest soloists as Bill Frisell, Toots Thielemans, Houben, and Larry Schneider. In the late 1970s he began teaching in secondary schools, and he played in Félix Simtaine’s Act Big Band (from ...

Article

Caiazza, Nick  

Barry Kernfeld

[Nicholas Anthony]

(b New Castle, PA, March 20, 1914; d Woburn, MA, Dec 1981). American tenor saxophonist and clarinetist. His full name appears on his handwritten 1940 draft registration card. His first important engagements were with Joe Haymes (1936–7) and Muggsy Spanier’s Ragtimers (November–December 1939), with which he may be heard on the pairing Lonesome Road/Mandy, Make up your Mind (1939, Bb 10766) respectively as a ballad soloist and in a rambunctious mood. Later he played with Woody Herman (early 1940), the band led by Will Bradley and Ray McKinley, and Bobby Hackett (autumn 1940), and worked with Spanier’s big band (April 1941 – spring 1942), Teddy Powell, the guitarist Alvino Rey, and the pianist Chico Marx (summer 1943). During the mid-1940s Caiazza made many V-discs with Louis Armstrong, Jack Teagarden, Hot Lips Page, and others, and he may be heard to advantage on ...

Article

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 ...

Article

Colignon, Raymond “Coco”  

Robert Pernet

(b Liège, Belgium, Feb 7, 1907; d Wavre, Belgium, Feb 10, 1987). Belgian pianist . After working in cinemas and music halls he performed in Switzerland (1928) and France (1929). In 1930 he toured Algeria and worked in Paris, and from 1931 to 1934 he was pianist, organist, and arranger at a nightclub in Liège. Colignon then played with Fud Candrix’s orchestra, often as a principal soloist (1935–40), and led his own group in Brussels. After World War II he was in Antwerp, and later he held residencies in Brussels (1947–53) and Charleroi. Thereafter he worked in Germany, mainly as an organist. He made recordings as an unaccompanied soloist (1937–8), as a leader (1939, 1941–2), and as a sideman with Candrix (1937–40), Kutte Widmann and the clarinetist and tenor saxophonist Jack Lowens (both 1942), and René Compère (...

Article

Davis, Miles  

Jack Chambers

(Dewey, III)

(b Alton, IL, 26 May 1926; d Santa Monica, CA, 28 Sept 1991). American trumpeter, composer, bandleader, and painter.

His father, Miles Dewey Davis II, was a dental surgeon with degrees from Arkansas Baptist College and Northwestern College of Dentistry. He established his dental practice in East St. Louis and from the age of one Davis was raised and educated there. Davis’s youth was spent in relatively affluent circumstances. With his sister Dorothy, two years older, and brother Vernon, three years younger, he spent vacations on their father’s 200-acre hog farm near Millstadt, Illinois. Davis learned to ride horses and other country pursuits. One of his lasting memories was hearing spirituals wafting from the rural churches. But he was essentially a city boy, and from early adolescence he came to know big-city nightlife in St. Louis.

Davis’s father seems to have indulged every whim of his oldest son. He inculcated in him a sharply honed family pride predicated on three generations of African American success against oppressive odds. The patriarch, ...

Article

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 ...

Article

Evans, Bill  

Brian Harker

(b Plainfield, NJ, 16 Aug 1929; d New York, NY, 15 Sept 1980). American jazz pianist and composer.

He is widely regarded as the most influential jazz pianist of the late 20th century. Raised in a musical family, he studied classical piano as a child and became an excellent sight-reader. He encountered jazz for the first time at the age of 12 and began performing professionally while still in high school, playing jobs around northern New Jersey. In 1950 he graduated with honors in piano performance and music education from Southeastern Louisiana College. During the next three years he served in the army, playing flute and piccolo in the Fifth Army band. After his discharge he devoted a year to intense practicing before moving to New York to launch his jazz career in earnest.

As a young player Evans performed and recorded with numerous prominent bandleaders, including Tony Scott, Jerry Wald, Lucy Reed, George Russell, Charles Mingus, Don Elliott, Eddie Costa, and Helen Merrill. In ...

Article

Harris, Barry  

Andrew Scott

(Doyle)

(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...

Article

Hines, Earl  

J. R. Taylor

(Kenneth)[Fatha]

(b Duquesne, PA, 28 Dec 1903; d Oakland, CA, 22 April 1983). American jazz pianist and bandleader.

He was one of the most influential pianists of the pre-World War II period, and his Chicago-based Grand Terrace Orchestra one of the most popular black bands that worked outside of New York.

Hines grew up in a lower middle-class home in Duquesne, Pennsylvania (now a suburb of Pittsburgh). Trained primarily in the Western classical tradition by local teachers, in his teens he made his way to Pittsburgh’s black Hill District, where he was exposed to popular music and early jazz and crossed paths with such piano luminaries as Luckey Roberts, James P. Johnson, Willie “the Lion” Smith, and Eubie Blake. In 1921 the classical and popular vocalist Lois Deppe hired Hines as his accompanist, and the two worked together steadily for the next three years, both as a duo and in Deppe’s Serenaders, a nine-piece ensemble with which Hines made his first recordings in ...

Article

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 ...

Article

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 ...

Article

Inoue, Yosuke  

Kazunori Sugiyama

(b Osaka, Japan, July 16, 1964). Japanese double bass player. After first playing electric guitar he changed to electric bass guitar as a member of a high school band; he became interested in jazz through the influence of Jaco Pastorius. While studying composition at Osaka College of Music he performed jazz in local clubs. Following his graduation he moved to Tokyo and joined Motohiko Hino’s group, though he also performed and recorded with Masahiko Sato, Masami Nakagawa, Yosuke Yamashita, Terumasa Hino, and others. In January 1991 he settled in New York, where he accompanied such musicians as Abraham Burton, Hank Jones, Cyrus Chestnut, Don Friedman, Carmen Lundy, Eddie Daniels, Dewey Redman, Lee Konitz, Louis Hayes, and Michael Carvin, and recorded as a member of the cooperative Japanese quintet Inside Out (1992), a Japanese and American hard-bop group, the Jazz Networks, led by Roy Hargrove (1995...

Article

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 ...

Article

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...

Article

Johnson, Howard  

Richard H. Perry

(Lewis )

(b Montgomery, AL, Aug 7, 1941). American jazz tuba player, baritone saxophonist, and bandleader. Largely self-taught, he first learned baritone saxophone, then tuba. In 1963 he moved to New York, where he quickly established himself as a leading jazz tuba player and performed with Charles Mingus, Archie Shepp, and, notably, Gil Evans. He played with Evans’s orchestra from 1966 until the leader’s death in 1988. He also worked with Charlie Haden, Jack DeJohnette, Chet Baker, and McCoy Tyner and spent several years with the Norddeutscher Rundfunk orchestra. From 1975 to 1980 he was a member of the house band for “Saturday Night Live,” serving as bandleader from 1979 to 1980.

Although Johnson has been recognized for his work on baritone saxophone, he is best known for his tuba playing and for his work with tuba ensembles. In 1968 he formed the first jazz tuba ensemble, Substructure. Although this group never recorded, Johnson subsequently formed Gravity, an ensemble with six tubas, in the 1970s; it released ...

Article

Johnson, Lonnie  

Dean Alger

[Alonzo ]

(b New Orleans, LA, Feb 8, 1894; d Toronto, ON, June 16, 1970). American blues and jazz guitarist and singer. Research indicates that Johnson was born in 1894 (Alger). He was influenced by the musical activities of his family and the rich musical environment in New Orleans of the early 1900s, including the early blues, jazz, and the lyrically expressive French and Spanish music traditions. He began playing violin, developed excellent guitar skill, and by the 1920s was also recording on piano, banjo, mandolin, and harmonium.

Johnson performed on violin with Charlie Creath’s band on the Mississippi riverboat St. Paul, and after winning a blues singing contest in St. Louis, he began his recording career with OKeh Records. His first recording featured “Mr. Johnson’s Blues” and “Falling Rain Blues” (OK, 1925) and was a two-sided hit. From 1925 through 1932 he made more recordings than any other bluesman. In late ...

Article

Jordan, Clifford  

Ruth Rosenberg

[Cliff] (Laconia)

(b Chicago, IL, Sept 2, 1931; d New York, NY, March 27, 1993). American tenor saxophonist and bandleader. He was one of several notable jazz musicians to come out of DuSable High School on Chicago’s South Side, where his contemporaries included the tenor saxophonists Johnny Griffin and John Gilmore and the bass player Richard Davis. During his early years in Chicago he played with Max Roach and Sonny Stitt and a variety of rhythm-and-blues bands. In 1957 he moved to New York and recorded his first album, Blowing in from Chicago (BN) with the hard-bop pioneers Horace Silver on piano and Art Blakey on drums. In the years that followed Jordan performed and recorded prolifically, appearing with groups led by Silver and J.J. Johnson, as a sideman on recordings by Lee Morgan, among others, and co-leading a group with Kenny Dorham. In 1964 he toured Europe with the Charles Mingus Sextet playing alongside Eric Dolphy....

Article

Kelly, Wynton  

Bill Dobbins

(b Jamaica, Dec 2, 1931; d Toronto, ON, April 12, 1971). American jazz pianist. His family moved to the United States when he was four years old and settled in Brooklyn. As a youth he played professionally in rhythm-and-blues bands. By fusing earthy blues elements with those of the bop style as exemplified by Bud Powell, he developed a highly accessible and personal approach to jazz piano playing which influenced many subsequent performers. After working with the saxophonist Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis and the singer Dinah Washington, Kelly gained attention as a soloist while performing with Lester Young and Dizzy Gillespie. He continued to work for Washington and Gillespie in the mid-1950s and also played with Benny Carter and Charles Mingus. Although he frequently led his own trio from 1957 until his death, he was best known as a member of Miles Davis’s sextets and quintets from 1959. A consistent and sometimes brilliant improviser, he had exceptional skill as an accompanist, although this often overshadowed his rhythmically infectious solo style. His influence can be heard in the early work of Victor Feldman, Herbie Hancock, McCoy Tyner, and other pianists who emerged the 1960s....