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Article

Melissa Ursula Dawn Goldsmith

[Esquivel! ]

(b Tampico, Mexico, Jan 20, 1918; d Jiutepec, Mexico, Jan 3, 2002). Mexican bandleader, arranger, composer, and pianist. He moved with his family to Mexico City in 1928. He began as a self-taught musician, composer, and arranger, inspired by Stan Kenton and his arranger Pete Rugolo. By 1936 he had become the orchestra bandleader for the Mexican radio station XEW, where he developed his conducting as well as his musical style. His style became known as “space age pop” or “space age bachelor pad music” with Latin inspiration. Special vocal effects included nonsensical mono- and polysyllabic words like “boing,” “zu-zu-zu,” and “pow” as well as one-word references to popular song titles, such as “Sorry” for the song “Who’s Sorry Now.” He typically employed production techniques that took advantage of hi-fi stereo capabilities and contemporary technology—for example, glissandi that traveled from speaker to speaker and clear separation and experimentation with as many channels as available....

Article

Gunther Schuller

[Green, Ian Ernest Gilmore]

(b Toronto, May 13, 1912; d Cuernavaca, Mexico, March 20, 1988). American jazz arranger, composer, pianist and bandleader. A self-taught musician, he led his own band in southern California from 1933 to 1938. When the singer Skinnay Ennis then took over the band, Evans stayed on as arranger. In 1941 he joined Claude Thornhill’s orchestra in the same capacity, contributing in 1946–7 such outstanding arrangements as Donna Lee (1947, Har.), Anthropology, Yardbird Suite and Robbins’ Nest (all 1947, Col.). In these works and others of the period Evans used two french horns and a tuba (in addition to the standard swing era big-band instrumentation); this, along with a restrained vibrato in the saxophones and brass, produced a rich, dark-textured, ‘cool’ orchestral sound, foreshadowed only by Duke Ellington and Eddie Sauter. Emphasizing ensemble over improvised solo, Evans’s scores for Thornhill were far from being straightforward arrangements – they were in essence ‘recompositions’ and ‘orchestral improvisations’ on the original materials (for example, lines borrowed from Charlie Parker, popular songs and classical works such as Musorgsky’s ...

Article

Andrew Lamb

revised by Kate Wells Robson

[Teodorico] (Salvatore)

(b Newark, NJ, Dec 20, 1900; d Scottsdale, AZ, July 22, 1971). American Bandleader, composer, and pianist. He served as a piano accompanist in dance academies, cafés, and movie theaters, and a song plugger for a music publisher in New York. During the 1920s he collaborated with Dan Russo to form the Oriole Terrace Orchestra in Chicago. Fiorito composed a number of successful songs in the contemporary light, romantic dance style. He collaborated with such lyricists as Gus Kahn, Ernie Erdman, and Albert Von Tilzer. His greatest successes as a songwriter emerged during the 1920s, but Fiorito’s accomplished career as a bandleader followed in the 1930s. From 1928 he began receiving national recognition with his own orchestra through network and radio broadcasts, coast-to-coast tours, recordings, and appearances in such films as Twenty Million Sweetheart (1934) and Broadway Gondolier (1935). His orchestra was occasionally fronted by young singers Betty Grable and June Haver in the 1930s. In the 1940s his band’s popularity began to wane. Upon settling in Scottsdale, AZ during the 1960s he became leader of his own dance orchestra, which performed at venues in California and Nevada until his death in ...

Article

Kevin Kehrberg

(Anton Leoš )

(b New York, NY, July 10, 1958). American banjoist, bandleader, and composer. As the world’s leading exponent of the banjo, Fleck has far surpassed the fame of any other player since Earl Scruggs. Named after three of his father’s favorite composers (Bartók, Webern, and Janáček), he was drawn to Scruggs’s playing from the television show The Beverly Hillbillies. At 15 he was playing guitar and attending New York’s High School of Music and Art, where he attempted French horn and later switched to voice when his grandfather brought home a secondhand banjo. The instrument became Fleck’s obsession. He was performing with local groups within months and soon began studies with Tony Trischka, America’s foremost avant-garde banjoist. After high school Fleck joined a rising Boston bluegrass band called Tasty Licks and began studying improvisation with local jazz musicians. While modern stylistic explorations beyond the confines of bluegrass were then uncommon on the instrument, Fleck pursued them from the beginning. He later claimed his chief innovation was not what he did, but that he did it on the banjo....

Article

Charles Fox

(b London, May 28, 1907; d London, Dec 23, 1958). English jazz pianist, composer and bandleader. The son of a West African barrister and a German mother, he was educated in England. During the late 1920s he travelled to the USA, where he wrote arrangements for Earl Hines’s orchestra and was commissioned by Paul Whiteman to compose new works. In 1933 he returned to Britain and formed a band made up of two clarinets, bassoon, three saxophones, piano, double bass and drums – an unconventional instrumentation for jazz and dance music at that time. For this and later ensembles he wrote many short pieces, including Serenade for a Wealthy Widow/Angry Jungle (1933, Col.), The Autocrat before Breakfast (1934, Col.), Dodging a Divorcee (1935, Col.) and Swing for Roundabout (1936, Decca). In 1934 Foresythe returned to the USA to perform with Whiteman, and the following year he recorded in New York with a band that included Benny Goodman, John Kirby and Gene Krupa; apart from this occasion, however, he made little use of improvisation. After World War II he led another band, but his final years were spent in obscurity, playing the piano in small drinking clubs in London around Soho and Kensington....

Article

Michael Fitzgerald

(Dubois)

(b Detroit, MI, Dec 15, 1934). American jazz trombonist, bandleader, and composer. He grew up in an orphanage where he first came in contact with music. He attended Cass Technical High School in Detroit before serving in a US Army band under Cannonball Adderley’s leadership. He subsequently enrolled at Wayne State University before moving to New York in 1957 as a member of Yusef Lateef’s quintet. Fuller was immediately in demand for Prestige and Blue Note recording sessions, both as a leader and as a sideman with Bud Powell and John Coltrane, among others. In 1960 he was featured in the Jazztet, led by Art Farmer and Benny Golson, but left after recording one album. The following year he toured South America and joined the front line of Art Blakey’s new sextet with Freddie Hubbard and Wayne Shorter, staying until 1965. Although influenced by J.J. Johnson’s style, Fuller leans more towards the lyrical and relies less on extremes of the upper range and horizontal density....

Article

Michael Fitzgerald

[Gubenko, Julius]

(b New York, NY, Oct 13, 1924). American jazz vibraphonist, bandleader, and composer. He grew up in Brooklyn, befriending future drummer Tiny Kahn at age six. He showed an early aptitude for music, touring with the Major Bowes Amateur Hour in 1936 and meeting many jazz musicians in his neighborhood as a teenager. He entered the army in 1943 and around this time was introduced to bebop by Kahn. Following his discharge he played with guitarist Bill DeArango in New York before traveling to Europe in 1947 with Chubby Jackson.

After a brief stay in the big band of Buddy Rich, Gibbs came to national attention as a member of Woody Herman’s Second Herd (1948–9) and then played with Benny Goodman’s sextet in 1950–51. In the mid-1950s and 1960s he toured with his own quartets and recorded for a variety of labels. In 1957 Gibbs moved to California, where he led his own big band from ...

Article

Jeffery S. McMillan

[John Birks ]

(b Cheraw, SC, Oct 21, 1917; d Englewood, NJ, Jan 6, 1993). American jazz trumpeter, bandleader, singer, and composer. He was one of the principal innovators in jazz, who along with Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, and Kenny Clarke, pioneered the harmonic and rhythmic advances of the early 1940s that became known as bebop. His exceptional talent for playing higher, faster, and more accurately than anyone who preceded him set a new standard for jazz musicians and his style of playing was widely imitated, especially by trumpeters. Gillespie wrote such early bebop compositions as “Woody ’n’ You,” “Groovin’ High,” and “Salt Peanuts,” and his most enduring piece, “A Night in Tunisia,” is one of the most frequently recorded in jazz. His career spanned almost six decades, and it is difficult to overstate his impact as one of the most influential musicians in jazz history.

Gillespie was born the youngest of nine children to a poor, rural Southern family. His father was a bricklayer who also played various musical instruments with groups on the weekends, but died from an asthma attack when Gillespie was ten. Gillespie was given a trombone at school and taught himself to play it even though he was too small to reach fifth position. After a neighbor received a trumpet, Gillespie visited the house repeatedly to play it until he was allowed to exchange his trombone for a trumpet. He performed locally at rent parties and school dances and his ability allowed him to attend Laurinberg Technical Institute in nearby North Carolina on a music scholarship. Although he received little formal instruction, he practiced trumpet and piano incessantly, and taught himself basic theory. In ...

Article

Richard Wang

[Benjamin] (David)

(b Chicago, May 30, 1909; d New York, June 13, 1986). American clarinettist, composer and bandleader.

Goodman received rudimentary musical training from 1919 at Chicago’s Kehelah Jacob Synagogue and, more importantly, two years of instruction from the classically trained clarinettist Franz Schoepp. He made his professional début in 1921. During his formative years he absorbed the music of the New Orleans musicians; he was particularly influenced by Leon Roppolo, the clarinettist with the New Orleans Rhythm Kings. In summer 1923 he met Bix Beiderbecke whose influence may be heard in Goodman’s on-the-beat attacks, careful choice of notes and across-the-bar phrasing on A Jazz Holiday (1928, Voc.) and Blue (1928, Bruns.) – especially on the latter, where Goodman played solos on both alto and baritone saxophone. In August 1925 Goodman left for Los Angeles to join Ben Pollack. Pollack’s band returned to Chicago in January 1926 and early in ...

Article

Mike Heffley

[Charles Edward]

(b Shenandoah, IA, Aug 6, 1937; d Los Angeles, CA, July 11, 2014). American double bass player, bandleader, and composer. His signature style as a jazz bass player—improvising harmonies to melodic lines by ear—is rooted in his role as Cowboy Charlie in his family’s country-music band. He sang with the group professionally between the ages of two and 15, when a bout of polio damaged his vocal cords. An avid fan of classical music and jazz, he learned the latter on his brother’s double bass by playing along with records. After high school and a stint as the house bass player for the TV show “Ozark Jubilee,” he was drawn to Los Angeles in 1956 by the then-rare jazz-inclusive music department at the Westlake College of Modern Music (chosen over a scholarship offer from Oberlin Conservatory) and by his hope of meeting his favorite pianist, Hampton Hawes. He soon became a regular on the jazz club scene, working with artists such as Hawes, Art Pepper, Paul Bley, and Dexter Gordon....

Article

Barry Kernfeld

[Foreststorn]

(b Los Angeles, CA, Sept 21, 1921). American jazz drummer, bandleader, and commercial composer. He toured with Lionel Hampton and Lester Young, among others (1940–41), before serving in the US Army. From 1948 to 1955 he regularly accompanied Lena Horne and in 1952 he played in Gerry Mulligan’s original pianoless quartet. In 1955 Hamilton founded the first of a series of quintets which introduced such emerging jazz musicians as Eric Dolphy, Ron Carter, Jim Hall, and Charles Lloyd. The groups’ innovative instrumentation—winds, cello, guitar, double bass, and drums—and soft, controlled sounds became, by jazz standards, extremely popular; their performances were captured on film in The Sweet Smell of Success (1957) and Jazz on a Summer’s Day (1958). From 1960 Hamilton’s quintet adopted a gutsy blues and swing style, and Hamilton subsequently replaced the cello with a trumpet and then a trombone. In ...

Article

Patricia Willard

[James ]

(b Dillon, SC, May 25, 1917; d Christiansted, St. Croix, Virgin Islands, Sept 20, 1994). American jazz clarinetist, tenor and alto saxophonist, pianist, flutist, composer, arranger, and bandleader. He played trumpet alongside Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Shavers in Frank Fairfax’s band in 1935. In the late 1930s he abandoned baritone horn, trumpet, tuba, and trombone to switch exclusively to reed instruments. Hamilton played clarinet and tenor saxophone with Lucky Millinder, Jimmy Mundy, Bill Doggett, Teddy Wilson, Benny Carter, Eddie Heywood, and Yank Porter and recorded with Billie Holiday (1939–42). Billy Strayhorn heard him with Wilson at Café Society Downtown and invited him to sit in with the Ellington band, where he became principal clarinetist, doubling on tenor saxophone, and a major Ducal arranger (1943–68). In 1959 Hamilton appeared with Ellington and was heard on Ellington’s soundtrack of Anatomy of a Murder. In 1968 he moved to the Virgin Islands, where he performed with his wife, the pianist Vivian Smith, at various venues, led a quartet at Hotel Buccaneer, and made weekly broadcasts from the Holger Danske Hotel on WSTX-AM. He also taught brass and reed instruments at Christiansted Central High School and acted as a sales representative in the for several musical instrument manufacturers. In the 1980s Hamilton joined Clark Terry’s Ellington Spacemen at Carlos I in New York, played briefly with Mercer Ellington, toured Europe as a soloist, and performed and recorded alongside Alvin Batiste and David Murray as a member of John Carter’s Clarinet Summit. His outstanding musicianship, pure tone, and soaring range on the clarinet inspired compositions by Ellington and Billy Strayhorn such as “The Tattooed Bride,” “Air Conditioned Jungle,” “Flippant Flurry,” “Ad Lib on Nippon,” and “Bluebird of Delhi,” which were played only by Hamilton. As a leader he recorded 11 albums, five after leaving Ellington....

Article

Michael Fitzgerald

(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. ...

Article

(b Florence, AL, Nov 16, 1873; d New York, March 28, 1958). American composer and bandleader. His main claim to fame is summarized by the controversial attribution of ‘Father of the Blues’ that he assiduously cultivated, that others applied to him and that became the title of his autobiography (1941). Whether or not he deserved this lofty reputation, there can be no doubt that Handy played a major role in the early popularization of the blues form and in the arrangement and adaptation of what was essentially a type of folk music into something that was acceptable and accessible to mainstream American and international tastes.

There are two main problems in cutting through the hagiography and arriving at an objective assessment of Handy’s role and importance in the blues and in American music. One is the fact that he viewed and treated the blues primarily as a musical form, whereas throughout most of its history it has existed also as a performance art and an evolving set of musical styles. The other is the fact that most of what we know about his life comes directly or indirectly from Handy himself. In different accounts details have varied and been altered, reinterpreted and polished to support his status as a central figure in blues music and an icon in 20th-century American music....

Article

Dave Laing

(b Pinner, June 30, 1939). English composer, bandleader and record producer. While writing arrangements for the band of the Coldstream Guards during his national service he composed the teenbeat ballad Look for a Star, recorded by Garry Mills in 1960. He became one of the busiest journeymen in British pop music during the 1960s showing a chameleon-like ability to adapt to the changing fashions. As recording manager for Pye Records throughout the decade, Hatch wrote and produced a beat group hit for The Searchers (Sugar and Spice), the dramatic ballad Joanna for Scott Walker, and a sequence of bright ballads for Petula Clark. Co-written with his wife, the singer Jackie Trent, these included Downtown, Don’t sleep in the subway and I know a place. Trent’s own recordings of Hatch-Trent songs included the more conventional ballad Where are you now (my love).

Hatch was also a highly successful composer of television theme tunes. He wrote the themes for the soap operas ...

Article

Michael Fitzgerald

(Bennett)

(b Los Angeles, CA, Nov 13, 1928; d Los Angeles, CA, May 22, 1977). American jazz pianist, bandleader, and composer. Hawes grew up in Los Angeles where his father was a minister and his older sister studied classical piano. In 1947, after high school, he joined Howard McGhee’s quartet in which he played with Charlie Parker. Hawes visited New York City and toured the South before returning to California and joining Red Norvo’s group. He was an active participant in the Central Avenue scene in Los Angeles, working with Dexter Gordon, Teddy Edwards, and Wardell Gray. Early recordings were made with well-known players including Shorty Rogers, Art Pepper, and Howard Rumsey.

His first recordings as a leader were made for the Discovery label shortly before he was drafted into the US Army in 1952, serving in Korea. Back in California, Hawes made a series of LPs for Contemporary Records between ...

Article

Andrew Bartlett

(Arthur)

(b Fort Worth, TX, Jan 24, 1938; d New York, NY, April 2, 1995). American composer, bandleader, and alto saxophonist. He studied at North Texas State College and subsequently served in the US Army (from 1964), during which time he played in the US Army Band. After moving to St. Louis in 1968, he co-founded the Black Artists Group (BAG), modeled on the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians in Chicago. Hemphill’s multi-media interests, which included dance, chamber music, and drama, helped define the BAG as more than a musicians’ collective. While in St. Louis, Hemphill founded his record label, Mbari, and began his recording career with the album Dogon A.D. (1971, Mbari, later reissued on the label Arista/Freedom). In 1976 he founded the World Saxophone Quartet [WSQ] with Hamiet Bluiett, Oliver Lake, and David Murray. In addition to making many recordings with the famed quartet, until he departed the group in ...

Article

Yoko Suzuki

[Barbara Ann]

(b Marlin, TX, April 25, 1950). American jazz and rhythm-and-blues flutist, singer, bandleader, composer, and producer. She started to play flute in the Lincoln High School band in Dallas. Studying both classical and jazz flute, she continued her musical training at Texas Southern University and Southern Methodist University. In 1971 she moved to New York, where a relative, Eddie Preston, played trumpet with Duke Ellington. Because of this connection, she had the opportunity to play with Ellington’s band. She also competed in the Apollo Theater’s amateur night, winning first place for seven consecutive weeks. Blue Note Records signed Humphrey in 1971 and had recorded six of her albums by 1976, including Blacks and Blues (1973, BN). She performed at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1973 and 1977. She also appeared on “Another Star” from Stevie Wonder’s album Songs in the Key of Life (1975–1976, Tamia). After switching to Epic she recorded three more albums for that label: ...

Article

(b Broussard, nr Lafayette, LA, Oct 31, 1922; d New York, NY, July 22, 2004). American saxophonist, bassoonist, composer, and bandleader. Born to a black Creole father and a Sioux mother—in a musical family, which had moved to Texas by 1923—he grew up onstage, sang on the air at three, and tap-danced before his father’s band in Houston. He learned the drums, then soprano and alto saxophone, which he played in Milt Larkin’s band (1939–40). After moving to California, he worked with Floyd Ray (1941) and Lionel Hampton (1941–2), who had him concentrate on tenor. At 19, on his second recording session, he played a powerful solo on “Flying Home,” in a simplified Coleman Hawkins style, which won him overnight stardom; the solo was to be regularly repeated by him and later Hampton tenors. Jacquet next worked with Cab Calloway (...

Article

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...