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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 ...


Oliver, Sy  

Eddy Determeyer

[Melvin James ]

(b Battle Creek, MI, Dec 17, 1910; d New York, NY, May 28, 1988). American arranger, composer, producer, bandleader, trumpeter, and singer. Growing up as an African American musician in Zanesville, Ohio, Oliver was self taught as a trumpeter and arranger. After playing in territory bands in and around Zanesville and Columbus, he became a member of Jimmie Lunceford’s orchestra in 1933. His charts for the Lunceford band were distinguished by contrasts, crescendos, and unexpected melodic variations, thereby setting new standards in big band swing and close-harmony singing. His use of two-beat rhythms also set his arrangements apart.

In 1939 Oliver was hired by the trombonist Tommy Dorsey and turned his band into one of the hardest swinging and most sophisticated ensembles of the early 1940s. In 1946 he started his own big band. During the late 1940s and 1950s he mainly did studio work, as a music director for the labels Decca, Bethlehem, and Jubilee. He continued to lead big bands and smaller ensembles, recycling his old Lunceford and Dorsey successes and performing new arrangements. Along with Duke Ellington and Fletcher Henderson, Oliver must be rated one of the top arrangers of the swing era and infused almost every chart with vigor and surprise....


Porter, Jake  

Howard Rye

[Vernon Haven]

(b Oakland, CA, Aug 3, 1916; d Los Angeles, March 25, 1993). American trumpeter and record producer. He began playing violin in 1923 and changed to cornet in 1925. Between 1931 and 1939 he worked with bands in the San Francisco Bay area; in 1938–9 he was with Saunders King. Porter moved in 1940 to Los Angeles, where he performed with Cee Pee Johnson and Slim Gaillard, among others. In 1942–3 he served in the 10th Cavalry Band at Camp Lockett near San Diego, and following his discharge in May 1943 he played with Benny Carter and Fats Waller. During 1944 he worked with Noble Sissle, Fletcher Henderson, with whom he made a tour of the Southwest in the spring, Lionel Hampton, with whom he played trombone from around June until October (during which time he took part in a recording session), and, from November, Horace Henderson, with whose band he recorded accompanying the singer Lena Horne. While a member of Fletcher Henderson’s band (...