(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 ...
Terence J. O’Grady
revised by Bryan Proksch
John L., Jr. Clark
(b Chattanooga, TN, Sept 19, 1887; d Chicago, IL, July 10, 1972). American jazz and blues pianist, composer, bandleader, arranger, and music director. After studying at Roger Williams University (Nashville) and Knoxville College, she performed on the TOBA circuit and toured accompanying her second husband Buster Austin. In the early 1920s Austin moved to Chicago, where for almost 20 years she directed shows for touring stage performers as the music director and bandleader at the Monogram and Joyland theaters. From 1923 to 1926 she also led the house band at Paramount Records, accompanying blues singers and making instrumental recordings featuring such jazz musicians as Tommy Ladnier, Al Wynn, Johnny Dodds, and Jimmy O’Bryant. After working in a defense plant during World War II, Austin returned to music, working in dancing schools. Her final recording, in 1961 for Riverside Records, was a reunion with her friend Alberta Hunter and several musicians she had previously worked with in Chicago....
(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....
(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 ...
[Benoit, Jean-Louis ]
(b Philadelphia, May 18, 1926; d nr Paris, Feb 10, 1997). American organist and leader. His father was from Martinique. A child prodigy, he grew up in Baltimore, where he was taught by his grandmother; his grandfather was a Baptist minister, and Bennett directed their church choir from the age of 12. After military service (1943–6), during which time he played tuba and thereby developed his ability to invent bass lines, he began his jazz career in Baltimore (1947), leading a piano trio modeled after that of Nat “King” Cole. In 1949, under the influence of Wild Bill Davis, he began to play organ, an instrument he used professionally from 1951. By 1956 he was performing in a style much closer to that of Jimmy Smith rather than Davis, and from 1957 to 1959 he toured the Midwest and the East Coast with his own hard-bop organ trio. The following year he moved to Paris, where he performed at the Blue Note with Jimmy Gourley or René Thomas in Kenny Clarke’s trio, accompanying numerous distinguished guest soloists (until ...
(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 ...
(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...
[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 (...
Travis D. Stimeling
[Charles Edward ]
(b Wilmington, NC, Oct 28, 1936). 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 ...
(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. ...
Gary W. Kennedy
(b New York, Dec 9, 1954). American record producer, composer, bandleader, and percussionist. He began playing percussion at the age of nine and as a teenager he performed with local Latin bands and with Carla Bley. After studying art at Cooper Union in New York and then independently in the western Sahara, India, Haiti, and Europe, he worked with Chico Freeman. In 1979 he founded the record company and label American Clavé, the first release of which was Jerry Gonzalez’s album Ya yo ma curé; other artists presented by the label include the Argentinian bandoneon player Astor Piazzolla. In 1984 Hanrahan formed the group Conjure, which performs his own compositions and uses lyrics based on the poetry of Ishmael Reed. From the mid-1980s into the 1990s he performed internationally in both small groups and large orchestras, collaborating with, among others, Olu Dara, Lester Bowie, David Murray, Don Pullen, D. D. Jackson, Kenny Kirkland, Billy Bang, Jean-Paul Bourelly, Steve Swallow, Anthony Cox, Jamaaladeen Tacuma, Andy Gonzalez, Jack Bruce, Billy Hart, Ignacio Berroa, Little Jimmy Scott, the Latin percussionist Milton Cardona, the avant-rock guitarist Arto Lindsay, and the blues singer Taj Mahal. Hanrahan usually serves as a conductor, but he also plays guitar and sings. His eclectic style of music blends elements of rock, jazz, blues, and popular song over various rhythmic structures, which are often based on Latin music. He likens his role to that of a film director and has been called “the Jean-Luc Godard of music.”...
[Kahn, Lawrence Ira ]
(b Brooklyn, NY, March 20, 1939). 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 has been 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, considered one of his best recordings. In addition, ...
revised by Alyn Shipton
(b Great Lever, nr Bolton, July 2, 1892; d London, Jan 29, 1965). English bandleader, pianist and impresario. He worked as the director of a touring pantomime company (1909), as a cinema organist in London (1913) and as a freelance musician in various clubs. After military service he was appointed relief pianist for the dance band of the Queen’s Hall Roof; later he became this group’s arranger and director. Hylton made a number of recordings for HMV (from 1921), of which the early example Wang-Wang Blues (1921) is representative. He performed at various venues, including the Grafton Galleries, Piccadilly Hotel (1922–3), before enlarging his band to full orchestra size for a highly successful residency at the Alhambra Theatre (1924). In 1925 he set up a booking agency. During the late 1920s his orchestra became the English equivalent of Paul Whiteman’s show band and achieved huge commercial success. Between ...
(b Canton, OH, Aug 18, 1905; d West Redding, CT, July 31, 1978). American composer, violinist, bandleader, recording engineer, and producer. After graduating from Johns Hopkins University, he performed as a light classical violinist in the United States and Europe. During the 1930s he studied conducting with Maurice Frigara in Paris. After a near-fatal car accident in 1940, he organized his own dance band, the Light Brigade, which recorded for RCA and Columbia. After he disbanded it at the turn of the decade, Light devoted himself to management, working for several record companies before becoming president of Waldorf Music Hall Records in 1954. He founded his own label, Grand Award, in 1956 and had success with Dixieland and honky-tonk piano albums. In 1959, he founded Command Records on which he released Persuasive Percussion, the first in a successful series of high-fidelity albums that used stereo technology to great advantage. Over the next two decades, he continued to produce hit albums drawing on the latest technological savvy and packaged with covers usually designed by Josef Albers. Musicians who appeared on Light’s albums include the Free Design, Doc Severinsen, Dick Hyman, Bobby Byrne, and Bobby Hackett. In ...
(b Niterói, Brazil, Feb 11, 1941). Brazilian pianist, bandleader, arranger, producer and composer, active in the United States. Formally trained in classical music, Mendes turned to jazz, participating in the bossa nova nightclub scene in Rio de Janeiro in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Mendes and his group, the Sexteto Bossa Rio, performed at the pivotal Bossa Nova festival at Carnegie Hall, which contributed significantly to the popularity of bossa nova beyond Brazil.
In 1962, Mendes and the Sexteto Bossa Rio rode the wave of US interest in the genre, recording Do the Bossa Nova with Herbie Mann and Cannonball’s Bossa Nova with Cannonball Adderley. He moved to the United States soon after, adapting bossa nova to the American and international pop, light jazz, and easy listening markets. Mendes arranged, produced, and performed covers of pop hits by the Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, and Joni Mitchell, as well as Brazilian songs by Antonio Carlos Jobim, Jorge Ben, and others. The signature sound of his group was light and upbeat with two female vocalists singing in unison and a bouncy samba-derived rhythm. His groups were named “Brasil” followed by the year they were launched: ’65, ’66, ’77, ’88, ’99, and ...
(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....
[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....
H. Wiley Hitchcock
revised by Joanna R. Smolko
(b Chicago, IL, March 16, 1892; d Chicago, IL, Oct 23, 1984). American Labor leader. He played trumpet and at the age of 14 organized a dance band. He was soon attracted to union activity, and in 1914 he was elected president of the American Musicians Union (AMU) in Chicago. After being defeated for reelection three years later, he resigned from the AMU and joined the American federation of musicians (AFM). He became president of the Chicago local in 1922, was named to the parent union’s executive board in 1932, and in 1940 was elected national president, a post he held until he retired in 1958 (although he retained the presidency of the Chicago local for another four years).
Petrillo was an aggressive, shrewd, and powerful fighter for the musicians in the AFM. He built the Chicago local into a disciplined force in municipal politics and worked to expand the membership at the national level (by ...
(b New York City, Feb 28, 1938; d New York City, June 6, 1993). American vibraphone player, percussionist, composer, arranger, bandleader and producer. He trained at the Juilliard School of Music and launched his career in 1957, recording with Joe Loco. In 1960 he contributed to Johnny Pacheco’s first charanga album, El güiro de macorina and launched his own band in 1963, recording Introducing Louie Ramírez. Through the 1960s he performed with Joe Cuba and was a member of the Alegre All-Stars and, with the vocalist Pete Bonet, led the house band at New York City’s Corso Club in the late 1960s. Through the 70s and 80s he was a staff producer for Fania Records and its subsidiary labels Vaya, Inca, Cotique and Tico, and was also acting president of Alegre Records. As a producer, arranger and composer, he influenced the growing sophistication of New York salsa during this time, evident on his own tunes ...
revised by Digby Fairweather
(b London, Jan 28, 1927; d London, Dec 23, 1996). English jazz night-club owner, tenor saxophonist and bandleader. He first played the soprano saxophone and took up the tenor instrument at the age of 15. After touring with the trumpeter Johnny Claes (1944–5), Ted Heath (1946) and others, he was one of a number of British players who worked on transatlantic liners (1946–8) solely to travel to the USA to hear the music played by such musicians as Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker and Bud Powell. From 1948 he played in a number of bands including the Club Eleven, the Jazz Couriers (which he co-led with Tubby Hayes) and the Clarke-Boland Big Band, as well as leading his own quartets and quintets.
In 1959, he established Ronnie Scott’s night club in Gerard Street in Soho. It became the most important venue for jazz performance in the UK, especially after it moved to Frith Street in ...