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Will Boone

Hip-hop trio. The group formed in Los Angeles in the early 1990s when two teenage graffiti artists and frequent freestyle rap battle opponents—Iriscience [Rakaa Taylor] and MC Evidence [Michael Perretta]—joined forces. The duo completed their first album in 1995 for Immortal Records, but it was never officially released due to distribution problems. Signing with the vinyl-only company ABB Records and adding famed West Coast Filipino American turntablist DJ Babu (Chris Oroc) to their lineup enhanced both the sonic quality and hip-hop credibility of their 1998 single “Work the Angles,” and its remix “Rework the Angles.” Capitol Records took notice, signed the group, and released their debut LP, The Platform, in 2000. Another LP, Expansion Team, followed the next year. With their sample-based production, prominence of scratching, and battle-style lyrics that touted the MCs’ rap skills rather than gang-related exploits, these albums established Dilated Peoples as a hip-hop purist’s alternative to many contemporaneous and more commercially successful rap acts. ...


Matt Meacham

Bluegrass and country-rock band. The brothers Douglas (b East St. Louis, IL, 6 March 1937; d Nashville, TN, 16 May 2012; banjo and vocals) and Rodney (b East St. Louis, 18 May 1942; guitar, Dobro, harmonica, and vocals) Dillard were raised in a musical family in Salem, Missouri, a small Ozarks town. Having recorded and performed regionally, they organized a band in the early 1960s, recruiting the mandolinist Dean Webb (b Independence, MO, 5 July 1937) and the lyricist, raconteur, and bass player Mitch Jayne (b Hammond, IN, 5 July 1930; d Columbia, MO, 2 Aug 2010). In 1962 they moved to Los Angeles, where they secured a contract with Elektra Records and a television engagement portraying the Darling family on The Andy Griffith Show. Their first two albums established them as a tradition-grounded yet innovative bluegrass ensemble, yielding several now-standard original compositions, including “Dooley” and “The Old Home Place” (both ...


Matt Sakakeeny

Brass band. Formed in 1977, they initially played traditional New Orleans brass band music at community parades and eventually created innovative arrangements and compositions heard by audiences around the globe. The horn players Gregory Davis, Roger Lewis, Charles Joseph, Efrem Townes, and Kevin Harris incorporated melodic ideas from bebop into the brass band tradition, while the rhythm section of Kirk Joseph, Benny Jones, and Jenell Marshall imported rhythms from funk and increased the tempos from their predecessors. The modern arrangements on the band’s debut album, My feet can’t fail me now (Conc., 1984), produced by the Newport Jazz Festival director George Wein, brought worldwide recognition to contemporary brass band music; two original songs, “Blackbird Special” and the title track soon became standards in the group’s hometown.

The Dirty Dozen helped initiate a brass band renaissance in New Orleans, and their innovative reformulations of traditional music instigated a spirit of experimentation among their successors. The Rebirth Brass Band, inheritors of the Dirty Dozen’s famed weekly show at the intimate Glass House bar, have incorporated elements of hip hop since the late 1990s, along with their contemporaries the Soul Rebels and Hot 8. Meanwhile, the Dirty Dozen has often changed personnel and experimented with instrumentation to update their sound, while maintaining a global presence as the most prominent New Orleans brass band....


Jeffrey Holmes

An all-woman fifteen-piece big band founded in 1992. It is led by drummer and composer-arranger Sherrie Maricle (b Buffalo, NY, Sept 2, 1963), the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival. Joan LaBarbera initially served as music director while Stanley Kay offered early guidance. DIVA maintains an active touring schedule that blends club, festival, and educational performances at venues worldwide. Its personnel has included trumpeter Ingrid Jensen, and reedists Anat Cohen and Tia Fuller, with guest artists ranging from Cleo Laine, Nancy Wilson, and Diane Schuur to Randy Brecker, Clark Terry, and Slide Hampton. Seven CD releases to date feature updated and energized arrangements of American songbook and jazz standards as well as works written for the orchestra....


David B. Pruett

American country music group. One of the most popular country acts of the late 1990s and early 2000s, the Dixie Chicks was formed as a bluegrass and country-western group in 1989 by Martie (Erwin) Maguire (b York, PA, 12 Oct 1969; violin), Emily (Erwin) Robinson (b Pittsfield, MA, 16 Aug 1972; banjo), Laura Lynch (b Dell City, TX, 18 Nov 1958; bass), and Robin Macy (b Dallas, TX, Nov 1958; guitar). By 1995 Lynch and Macy had left the group, and Natalie Maines (b Lubbock, TX, 14 Oct 1974; vocals), a recent Berklee College of Music dropout and the daughter of the Texas music producer and steel guitarist Lloyd Maines, was invited to complete the new trio. Maines brought a rebellious attitude and modern country vocal style that complemented Maguire’s and Robinson’s instrumental virtuosity and helped them develop a more contemporary sound and image.

The Dixie Chicks made their major-label debut with ...


Vocal group. It was formed in 1950 by Billy Ward (b Robert L. Williams, Savannah, Georgia, Sept 19, 1921; d Inglewood, California, Feb 16, 2002) along with a number of his vocal students. Initially the African American group performed at a number of New York talent shows, including those that were regularly held at the Apollo Theater, until they were signed to Federal Records and released their first single “Do Something For Me.” It was quickly followed by the widely successful “Sixty Minute Man,” which made both the R&B and pop charts in 1951 and is sometimes cited as an early example of rock and roll. The group had continued success throughout the 1950s with hits such as “Have Mercy Baby,” “St. Therese of the Roses,” and “Stardust,” though none of these records met with the same level of success as “Sixty Minute Man.”

The group’s legacy is important to R&B and the early history of rock and roll. Their hit “Sixty Minute Man” was extremely popular with both black and white audiences and pushed the boundary for acceptable lyrics with its overtly sexual language. The single was initially banned by a number of radio stations, but it grew in popularity and was eventually covered by a number of white artists. The group also is known for helping launch the careers of successful R&B singers ...


Jonas Westover

Rock group. Formed in California in 1970, its original members were Tom Johnston (vocals and guitar), John Hartman (drums), Patrick Simmons (vocals and guitar), and Dave Shogren (bass guitar). Johnston and Simmons have remained with the group for more than four decades. The reference to marijuana in the band’s name did not prevent them from landing a contract with Warner Bros. in 1971, and their second album, Toulouse Street (1972), produced their first hit single, “Listen to the Music.” During this early period the band’s membership shifted often, and they changed their country-rock sound to include a fuller rhythm section and piano to support their distinctive vocal harmonies. They produced a string of successful singles, including “Black Water” (1975), and well received albums, including The Captain and Me (1973), What were once vices are now habits (1974), and Stampede (1975). The addition of the lead singer and principal songwriter Michael McDonald transformed their sound once again, leading to hit singles built around his soulful voice such as “Takin’ it to the Streets” (...


Name used by various rhythm-and-blues vocal groups. The first of these was active from 1953 to 1958, the second from 1959. The first group’s original members were Clyde McPhatter (b Durham, NC, 15 Nov 1932; d New York, NY, 13 June 1972; lead vocals), Bill Pinkney (b Sumter, SC, 15 Aug 1925; d Daytona Beach, FL, 4 July 2007), Andrew Thrasher (b Wetumpka, AL), and Gerhart Thrasher (b Wetumpka); their first successful recordings were “Money Honey” (Atl., 1953), “White Christmas” (Atl., 1954), and “Whatcha gonna do” (Atl., 1955). At the end of 1954 McPhatter left the group on his induction into the US Army; he was succeeded by a number of lead singers, including Dave Baughn, Johnny Moore, and Bobby Hendricks, before the group disbanded in 1958. The following year George Treadwell, who had been the Drifters’ manager and retained the rights to their name, hired a group called the Five Crowns to fulfill their remaining tour obligations, and renamed them the Drifters. The new ensemble included the baritone Ben(jamin) E(arl) King (Nelson; ...


Joe C. Clark

Record company founded by Houston-based African American entrepreneur Don Robey in 1949. It focused primarily on rhythm-and-blues and gospel music. Robey’s initial label, Peacock Records, was created to record bluesman Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown. The label also recorded Big Mama Thornton’s rendition of “Hound Dog,” which was later covered and made famous by Elvis Presley. Gospel artists including the Five Blind Boys of Mississippi, the Mighty Clouds of Joy, the Dixie Hummingbirds, and the Bells of Joy joined the label and provided much of its success during the early 1950s.

In 1952 Peacock acquired the Memphis-based rhythm-and-blues label Duke from WDIA DJ David James Mattis. Its roster included Rosco Gordon, Bobby “Blue” Bland, and Johnny Ace. Robey later formed additional subsidiary labels: Sure Shot; Song Bird, which featured gospel music; Back Beat, formed in 1957 to meet the growing teen market; and Peacock’s Progressive Jazz label.

In 1973 Robey retired and sold the Duke/Peacock label, affiliated labels, and publishing companies to ABC-Dunhill Records. Its catalog consisted of nearly 2700 songs and approximately ...


John Piccarella

Rhythm-and-blues and funk group formed by the brothers Maurice White (b Memphis, TN, 19 Dec 1941 vocals, songwriting, drums, and production) and Verdine White (b Chicago, IL, 25 July 1951; bass guitar and vocals). Their brother Fred White joined the group on drums in 1974. Other principal members were Philip Bailey (vocals), Roland Bautista (guitar), Larry Dunn (keyboards), Ralph Johnson (vocals and percussion), and Andrew Woolfolk (saxophone). Its lineup has changed frequently.

Maurice White began playing drums in Memphis with his schoolmate Booker T. Jones (who later led Booker T. and the MGs). He studied in Chicago, first at Roosevelt University, then at the Chicago Conservatory. In the early 1960s he worked as a session drummer for Chess Records, and in 1966 he became the drummer for Ramsey Lewis. He formed the Salty Peppers in 1969 and the group had some local success. After moving to Los Angeles in ...



Record label. It was owned by the East Wind Trade Associates company, founded in 1984 in Hartford, Connecticut, by Steve Boulay, Ted Everts, and David Barrick with the assistance of Gerald A. Friedman. Its catalogue was devoted to Russian jazz in styles ranging from bop to jazz-rock. (E. Schmitt: “3 in Hartford Importing Records of Russian Jazz,” ...



Tania Camacho-Azofeifa

Costa Rican trio founded in 1990. It was formed by Edín Solís (b Zarcero, Alajuela, Costa Rica, 22 Nov 1963, guitar), Ricardo Ramírez (b San José, Costa Rica, 11 Nov 1967, violin), and Carlos “Tapado” Vargas (b San José, Costa Rica, 22 Jan 1971, percussion).

Editus is an eclectic group based in San José, Costa Rica. Its style and sound moves from classical music to new age, from jazz to Costa Rican and Latin American folk styles, and from popular to electronic music. Editus’ musical projects, including recordings, DVDs, and tours, typically seek to increase public awareness about environmental and other causes, and to promote social activism. This commitment is clearly expressed from their first recording, Ilusiones (1994), and its single/video, “Tokú,” to their most recent, Editus 360 DVD (2008).

The quality and versatility of the group has proved attractive not only to music schools but also to critics, filmmakers, and other musicians who have invited Editus to collaborate in new artistic and musical projects. One of their most successful partnerships has been with Rubén Blades. Together, Blades and Editus produced the recordings ...


Steve Loza

Rock and soul band. This successful group emerged in 1970, the year of the Chicano Moratorium in East Los Angeles and the high school blowouts, and a period in which political unrest and cultural reawakening manifested themselves through artistic expression, especially among young Chicanos or Mexican Americans. Originally assembled as the VIPs, the group recorded a rendition of “Viva tirado” by the jazz composer Gerald Wilson. Soon the name was changed to El Chicano, and the single and album Viva Tirado were released. “Viva Tirado” became a local hit within 12 weeks after being aired on such radio stations as KGFI and KHJ. It remained the number one record for 13 consecutive weeks and attained top radio ratings in Baltimore, New York, the South, and the Midwest. One of the band’s more successful local hits was an interpretation of the traditional Mexican bolero “Sabor a mi,” sung by the female lead vocalist Ersi Arvizu and recorded on the album ...



Christopher Doll

Record company. It was established by CBS in 1953 as a subsidiary of Columbia Records. Although from the start its issues included jazz and pop, Epic for many years was known primarily for its recordings of George Szell conducting the Cleveland Orchestra (including those made with a young Leon Fleisher as piano soloist). In the latter part of the 1950s, as rock and roll began to overtake the industry, the company struggled to find itself artistically and commercially, accumulating an odd assortment of American, Australian, and European performers representing a wide array of classical, jazz, and popular styles.

The label’s fortunes began to change in 1964 with its participation in the British Invasion. Epic distributed the American releases of the Dave Clark Five and the Yardbirds and later those of the Hollies and Donovan. The true turning point for the company was the signing in 1967 of Sly and the Family Stone, whose critical and financial success helped redefine the label as a youth-oriented powerhouse. The company expanded through the 1970s, achieving unimaginable heights in the 1980s with Michael Jackson’s mature solo work (...


Ian Mikyska

Czech string quartet, founded 1999. Its line-up has remained constant since its foundation: David Pokorný and Vladimír Klánský on violins, Vladimír Kroupa on viola, and Vít Petrášek on cello. Although classical repertoire remains central to their professional lives, the Epoque Quartet is remarkable for the breadth and professionalism of its ‘crossover’ work. The quartet has performed with the leading artists of Czech popular music, arranged world music from various traditions (most recently with the clarinettist Irvin Venyš for their CD Irvin_Epoque), and given the premières of over 80 pieces, the style of which ranges from rock- and jazz-influenced music to contemporary art music, mostly by Czech composers including Jan Kučera, Petr Wajsar, Jan Dušek, Gabriela Vermelho, and others.

Their open-mindedness and long-standing interest in various musical fields allows them to perform stylistically in a way classically-trained ensembles often find problematic, particularly in terms of rhythm, feeling, and energy when performing jazz- and rock-influenced repertoire....



Ryan Kirk

[Emerald, Sapphire and Gold]

Funk dance group formed in the South Bronx, New York, in 1978 by the sisters Maria (vocals), Renee (guitar and vocals), Deborah (bass and vocals), and Valerie Scroggins (drums). Its sound is characterized by the prominent role of bass and drums with only sparse guitar and repetitive, catchy vocal lines. The use of call and response techniques in the vocals and the sophisticated rhythmic interplay between the bass and drums gave the group’s music a raw and primal energy.

Although the group split up shortly after releasing their debut album Come away with ESG (99 Records, 1983), their music proved influential to hip hop, no-wave, and post-punk artists. ESG reformed in 1991, and in response to their popularity among hip hop producers released the album Sample credits don’t pay our bills (Nega Fulô Records, 1992). After they disbanded again in 2007, Soul Jazz Records released further compilations and EPs, and two new full length albums, enabling their music to reach a younger generation of punk, funk, and dance-oriented artists....



Joe C. Clark

Record company. Excello was founded in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1952 by Ernie Young, owner of a chain of jukeboxes and record stores. The label was a subsidiary of Young’s Nashboro Records, established a year earlier, which focused on gospel music. Excello initially featured some R&B and hillbilly music but was primarily a blues label. Notable artists included Arthur Gunter, Ted Garrett, Earl Gaines, Roscoe Shelton, the Crescendos, the Gladiolas, and the Marigolds.

In 1956 Jay Miller of Crowley, Louisiana, began producing a number of important swamp blues releases for Excello, including recordings by Lightnin’ Slim, Lazy Lester, and Slim Harpo. Young founded Nasco Records, another subsidiary that centered on pop music, in 1957. Young sold Excello and Nashboro in 1966 to Crescent Amusement Company; Miller’s association with Excello ended soon thereafter. The label issued releases through the mid-1970s featuring a number of southern soul artists, including Maceo and the King’s Men, Z.Z. Hill, Freddie North, and Kip Anderson. In ...


Cedric Dent

Male gospel quartet. It began as a trio at the Fairfield Missionary Baptist Church in Nashville, Tennessee in 1921. The group originally consisted of Rufus and Harold Carrethers and John Battle. Nathaniel Irvin joined in 1925, Samuel McCrary in 1935. McCrary became a notable lead singer, auguring the lead-driven sound of post–World War II gospel style quartets. Like most gospel style quartets, it often comprised more than four singers to maintain a consistent four-part accompaniment behind one or more lead singers. In 1942 the group began a 12-year engagement with WLAC, a 50,000-watt radio station in Nashville. The exposure led to a recording contract with Bullet Records in 1946. The quartet’s repertory consisted of Negro spirituals and newer songs by pioneering black gospel composers such as Thomas Dorsey, Lucie E. Campbell, and W. Herbert Brewster. Many personnel changes occurred throughout the 1950s before the group eventually disbanded in 1960. A reunion concert 20 years later in Birmingham, Alabama sparked renewed interest in the group, leading to a recording contract with Warner Bros. in ...


Barry Jean Ancelet

Cajun musicians. On 27 April 1928 Joseph Falcon (b nr Robert’s Cove, LA, 28 Sept 1900; d Crowley, LA, 19 Nov 1965; accordionist, vocalist, and songwriter) and his wife Cléoma (b Crowley, LA, 27 May 1906; d Crowley, LA, 9 April 1941; guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter) became the first musicians to record a commercially released Cajun music record. They recorded for Columbia with Cléoma on guitar and Joseph on accordion and vocals. Their first album featured “Lafayette” and “La valse qui ma portin de ma fose” [La valse qui m’a porté dans ma fosse]. They subsequently recorded more songs for Columbia as well as for Decca until Cléoma’s death in 1941. Many of these recordings became part of the core repertoire of Cajun music as it evolved in the 1920s and 30s. Partly due to the impact of their early recordings, and also as a result of their musical talents, Joseph and Cléoma Falcon were among the most popular and influential Cajun musicians of that formative period. They shared vocal duties, with Joseph singing mostly traditional Cajun material, and Cléoma singing both traditional songs and Cajun French translations of American popular tunes, such as “Lulu’s Back in Town.” Cléoma, who was the sister of active Cajun musicians Amédé, Ophy, and Clifford Breaux, was especially renowned for her soaring, soulful vocal style. Joseph, on the other hand, had a keenness for improvising new arrangements for older traditional songs. After Cléoma’s death Joseph continued to perform, eventually with his second wife Thérèse playing drums. He produced one additional recording, a live performance at the Triangle Club in Scott in ...