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Article

J.W. Junker

[Edward] (Leilani)

(b Honolulu, Hawaii, Aug 4, 1927). Hawaiian musician, bandleader, songwriter, and researcher. A leading figure in the late 20th century revival of Hawaiian culture, Kamae has led the seminal Sons of Hawaii band for over 50 years. He has reintroduced a large number of classic Hawaiian songs from earlier eras, composed several standards, and has documented important Hawaiian topics on over 1000 hours of film.

He began his career in 1948 performing light classics and pop with Shoi Ikemi as The Ukulele Rascals. Self taught, Kamae developed chord voicings and plucking techniques that expanded the instrument’s reach. In 1959 Kamae met Gabby Pahinui and formed Sons of Hawaii. He radically transformed his style for the group, moving between rhythmic accompaniment and pa‘ani (soloing) in a fluid give and take. He also began singing in a distinctive voice full of Hawaiian vocal inflections. With mentoring from scholar Mary Kawena Pukui and others, Kamae began researching older Hawaiian repertoire and composing. His arrangement of waltzes, such as “Sanoe,” and other songs of the 19th century introduced a classical elegance into the group. At the same time The Sons performed downhome party favorites, like “‘Ama ‘Ama.”...

Article

Claire Levy

(b Sofia, 8 Dec 1934; d Sofia, 12 July 2008). Bulgarian conductor, composer, pianist, and arranger, of Armenian origins, remembered for his prominent role as a musician and public figure in the development of popular music in Bulgaria. He graduated from the Technical University in Sofia (1957) and studied in the Faculty of Theory at the Bulgarian State Conservatory. In 1953 he joined the band Jazz of the Young. By the end of the 1950s he played the piano also at the Satiric Theatre Orchestra and founded Studio 5, a band famous for its supportive role in promoting young singers. Following a similar purpose, later on he initiated Trombata na Vili (‘The Horn of Vili’), a radio contest for discovering new talented pop singers. Since 1960 Kazassian’s music activities have been closely associated with the newly created Big Band of the Bulgarian National Radio where he took successively the positions of pianist (...

Article

J. Bradford Robinson

(b Wichita, KS, Dec 15, 1911; d Los Angeles, Aug 25, 1979). American jazz bandleader, pianist and arranger. After playing the piano and writing arrangements for various theatre and dance bands in the 1930s he formed his own 14-piece big band, the Artistry in Rhythm Orchestra, in 1941. This group immediately drew public attention with its large sound and precise execution (for example, on the album Artistry in Rhythm, 1943, Cap.), and from 1945, when Pete Rugolo became its staff arranger, it began to dominate jazz popularity polls. In 1949 Kenton appeared in Carnegie Hall with a new 20-piece orchestra, Progressive Jazz, which gave its name to the jazz movement it represented. After retiring briefly in 1949 for reasons of health, Kenton assembled his most ambitious band, the 43-piece Innovations in Modern Music Orchestra, with strings and an expanded wind section. This group conducted two nationwide tours (...

Article

Rich Kienzle

[Kuczynski, Julius Frank Anthony ]

(b Milwaukee, WI, Feb 18, 1914; d Louisville, KY, March 7, 2000). American country music accordionist, bandleader, songwriter, and vocalist. His musical career was inspired by his father, John, a Polish American who led a local polka band. At 15, he began learning accordion and, in 1930, met popular bandleader Wayne King who suggested the youth take the surname “King” in the interest of simplicity. His first band, the King’s Jesters, played both country music and polkas. In 1934, the group filled in for Gene Autry’s band when Autry, then a star of WLS’s National Barn Dance, toured Wisconsin. King joined Autry (who dubbed him “Pee Wee”) in Louisville until the singer left to launch his Hollywood film career. He briefly led a Louisville band known as the Log Cabin Boys, then in 1937 organized the Golden West Cowboys, who joined the Grand Ole Opry with a distinctive, progressive repertoire blending country, pop, polkas, waltzes, and western swing. From ...

Article

Harry B. Soria

(b Kaumana, HI, Sept 26, 1901; d Honolulu, HI, Feb 1, 1972). American singer, musician, bandleader, composer, and recording artist. Kinney’s career stretched over 57 years, and he achieved the greatest popularity of any Hawaiian singer-musician during his era. Sent to school in Utah, Kinney and his brothers toured as a Hawaiian band. In 1920, his mother died, and he was summoned home to Hawaii, where he continued to hone his musical skills as an accomplished tenor balladeer with exceptional diction and clarity. In 1925, he toured California as a member of Charles E. King’s “Prince of Hawaii” cast. Returning home to Hawaii, he joined the David Burrows Trio and was named the most popular male singer in Hawaii at that time. For the rest of his life, he alternated between touring the continental United States and performing in Hawaii. He was engaged for four years at The Hawaiian Room at Hotel Lexington in New York City. In a ...

Article

[Christopher]

(b Poznań, April 27, 1931; d Warsaw, April 23, 1969). Polish composer, jazz pianist and bandleader . He studied the piano at the Poznań Conservatory in the late 1930s and the 40s along with medicine at the Poznań Medical Academy. In 1954 he took part in the first unofficial jazz festival in Kraków and formed his first group. In 1956 he formed a sextet which achieved success at the Sopot Jazz Festival (1956 and 1957), and in 1958 Komeda appeared in the first series of Jazz at the Philharmonic concerts, Warsaw. He wrote the music for Polanski’s short film Dwaj ludzie z szafa ̧ (‘Two People with a Wardrobe’, 1958), and subsequently wrote his first score for a feature film, Do widzenia, do jutra (‘Goodbye, until Tomorrow’, 1960). He took part in performances of jazz and poetry and, from 1960, frequently toured Europe. His recording ...

Article

Bryan S. Wright

(b Tamaqua, PA, May 1868; d Miami, FL, Sept 30, 1933). American Bandleader and composer. Born to a German immigrant cigar maker and his American-born wife, Krell began musical training as a child, studying both brass instruments and piano. In his teens he led local bands, writing arrangements for them. He moved to Chicago sometime around 1890, where he married and began leading a touring band professionally. His first published composition, “Our Carter: A Beautiful Ballad” (with Silas Leachman), appeared in 1893, dedicated to the recently assassinated Chicago mayor, Carter Harrison Sr. In the seven years that followed, Krell published an additional 16 pieces, mostly waltzes, marches, or cakewalks. He is best remembered for his “Mississippi Rag,” copyrighted 27 January 1897, which is the earliest copyrighted piece designated “Rag” in the title. The piece does not follow the classic AABBACCDD piano rag form, but like many early so-called rags, it strings together several lightly syncopated melodic strains in imitation of a “cakewalk patrol.” Krell evokes the sound of a passing parade band, beginning with a quiet, repetitive opening motive that crescendos to a boisterous middle section, concluding with a return to the opening motive that decrescendos to a quiet finish. Although Krell originally conceived of the piece for band, it became famous through a piano reduction arrangement. Although Krell published no new pieces after ...

Article

David Chevan

(b Irvington, NJ, April 3, 1936; d Geneva, NY, July 6, 1961). American jazz double bass player, composer, and bandleader. While growing up in Geneva, New York, he took up clarinet, after which he played tenor saxophone at high school. The music education program he attended at Ithaca College required that LaFaro learn a string instrument, and so at age 18 he began to focus on double bass. He subsequently played with the Buddy Morrow band from 1955 to 1956, during which period he decided to move to Los Angeles to establish himself professionally. After playing with Chet Baker’s band for a year, he moved between Chicago, where he played with Ira Sullivan, and Southern California, where he worked with Sonny Rollins, Harold Land, and Barney Kessel.

LaFaro’s move to New York in 1959 proved immediately fruitful; that year he performed with a number of important bandleaders, including Stan Kenton and Benny Goodman. In that year LaFaro also joined the Bill Evans Trio, the group in which he cemented his reputation as an innovator on his instrument. In this trio, which also featured the drummer Paul Motian, LaFaro was accorded tremendous freedom to deviate from the traditional 4/4 walking bass line. His approach to the bass within this ensemble was as much melodic as it was focused on keeping time and establishing the harmony. Additionally he was granted substantial space for improvisation, which allowed him to showcase his nimble, bebop-influenced technique. Evans’s trio recorded “Jade Visions,” a LaFaro composition with static modal harmony that served as a showcase for his prodigious technique....

Article

Dave Laing

[Hans]

(b Bremen, April 17, 1929; d FL, June 9, 2015). German composer and bandleader. An accomplished jazz bass player, James Last confected an easy-listening style in which almost any type of music could be reduced to a medley of soft pop dance tunes. After leading his own band and working as an arranger and record producer, in 1965 he perfected his formula with the album Non-Stop Dancing which linked together the melodies of 26 recent hit songs over a cheerful dance rhythm. The party atmosphere was cemented by the addition of laughter, cheers and clapping between each section, and the success of this album led Last and his orchestra to undertake annual European tours for a number of years. Further volumes of Non-Stop Dancing followed as well as albums based on themes, such as Classics Up To Date, In South America and James Last plays Andrew Lloyd Webber...

Article

David F. Garcia

[Pupi]

(b Cienfuegos, Cuba, 1940). American violinist, flutist, arranger, composer, and bandleader of Cuban birth. Legarreta began studying the violin in Cienfuegos at the age of ten under the tutelage of Orquesta Aragón violinist Rafael Lay. While still a teenager, Legarreta performed with the great Cuban charangas Antonio Arcaño y sus Maravillas and Orquesta Sensación. In 1954 he moved to Mexico City with Orquesta América de Ninón Mondejar, popularizing cha cha cha throughout Mexico and performing in at least eleven films. Legarreta returned to Cuba around 1956, and then left for Chicago in 1959, where he joined Armando Sánchez’s Orquesta Nuevo Ritmo. In New York he taught himself to play the five-keyed Cuban wooden flute. He also studied harmony with Nicholas “Rod” Rodriguez” and counterpoint with Alfredo Romero in Puerto Rico. With this training he became a highly sought-after arranger, working for Machito, Mongo Santamaría, Johnny Pacheco, and others. Through the 1970s he led his own ...

Article

Daniele Buccio

(Henry )

(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 ...

Article

Aaron J. West

(b Philadelphia, PA, Nov 4, 1952). American jazz rd player, bandleader, and composer. He began playing piano at the age of four and studied at the Berklee College of Music. Interest in the works of Herbie Hancock, McCoy Tyner, and Chick Corea influenced Lorber’s early style. In 1977 his group the Jeff Lorber Fusion recorded their self-titled debut album (c1977, IC), which features jazz fusion-derived grooves and virtuosic improvisations that are clearly indebted to groups like Weather Report and Return to Forever. Over the next four years the group released four albums that also achieved commercial success. In 1982 Lorber released his first solo album, It’s a Fact (c1981, Ar.). In 1986, after four solo albums, he temporarily ceased recording his own material and focused on producing and composing for other artists. In 1993 he began recording solo material again with Worth Waiting For...

Article

Jenni Veitch-Olson

(Kaulumau Wai‘ale‘ale )

(b Honolulu, HI, Oct 16, 1903; d Honolulu, HI, Jan 22, 1974). Hawaiian composer and bandleader. Born to musical parents, she learned the ancient Hawaiian style of singing, storytelling, and playing ukulele by imitating the chanting and high-pitched vocal leaps of elder master teachers. In 1926 she married Luciano Machado and accepted an invitation as the featured soloist with the Royal Hawaiian Band. A year later the Brunswick-Balke-Collender record company of Muskegon, Michigan, first recorded Machado, and thus earned the singer the widespread acknowledgement as the first woman in Hawaii to make a recording for a major record label. The San Francisco World’s Fair in 1939 brought the singer to California, and she performed throughout the West Coast for several years. On the brink of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Machado returned to Hawaii, and accepted a radio broadcast contract with the USO. She toured extensively throughout the United States until her husband’s death in ...

Article

Mark C. Gridley

revised by Barry Long

[Charles Frank ]

(b Rochester, NY, Nov 29, 1940). American jazz flugelhorn player, composer, and bandleader. While studying at the Eastman School (BMEd 1963) he recorded with his brother, the pianist Gap Mangione, for the Riverside label as the Jazz Brothers. With an early style that bore similarities to early Miles Davis and Clifford Brown, his work with bandleaders such as Woody Herman (1965), Maynard Ferguson (1965), and Art Blakey (1965–7), drew wider attention. Following a brief tenure on the Eastman faculty (1968–1972), Mangione concentrated on flugelhorn, and his work began to synthesize jazz elements, string arrangements, and a pop sensibility. Following the success of his album Land of Make Believe (1973, Mer.), he moved to Herb Alpert’s A&M label to record Bellavia (1975, A&M) and won his first Grammy Award, for Best Instrumental Composition, for its title track. He began to draw a large following with performances of catchy original melodies, particularly “Land of Make Believe” and “Feels So Good,” with simplified arrangements and a reduced improvisational element that attracted widespread radio airplay. Strong sales for a jazz artist, including an extraordinary two million copies of his album ...

Article

Lars Helgert

[Robert ]

(b New York, NY, March 11, 1950). American singer, composer, and conductor, son of Robert McFerrin. He studied at the Juilliard Pre-College Division prior to his family’s relocation to California in 1958. His earliest instruments were clarinet and piano. He attended Cerritos College and Sacramento State College, but left before graduation to pursue employment as a pianist. His singing career began in 1977. He became known in jazz circles through appearances at the Playboy Jazz Festival in 1980 and with Wynton Marsalis at the Kool Jazz Festival in 1982; a recording of the latter concert was released as The Young Lions (Elektra, 1982). McFerrin’s self-titled first solo album (1982, Elek. Mus.) was followed by The Voice (1984, Elek. Mus.) and Spontaneous Inventions (1986, BN). He also recorded with Herbie Hancock, Weather Report, Al Jarreau, and Quincy Jones in the 1980s. McFerrin is best known for his Grammy-winning song “Don’t worry, be happy,” which appeared on the album ...

Article

Anthony S. Lis

(b Honolulu, HI, Dec 15, 1904; d New York, NY, June 17, 1951). American bandleader, singer, songwriter, and guitarist. He came to California in the early 1920s, where he found work in Hollywood playing “atmospheric music” during the filming of Hoot Gibson’s silent movies. He also played rhythm guitar in at least four different trios with Hawaiian steel guitar virtuoso Sol Hoopii, and likely recorded 55 Columbia sides between 1926 and 1928 as a member of Hoopii’s Novelty Trio. McIntire recorded with his own quartet, the Hawaiians, beginning in 1935; he cultivated a repertoire including reworked Hawaiian standards (Queen Kapiolani’s “He Manao He Aloha”) and newly written popular-style tunes with a Hawaiian feel (Margarita Lane and Johnny Noble’s “That’s the Hawaiian in Me”). In early 1937 McIntire accompanied Bing Crosby on six sides for Decca, including Crosby’s top-ten hits “Sweet Leilani,” “Blue Hawaii,” and “Sail Along Silv’ry Moon.” In fall ...

Article

Michael Fitzgerald

[Ken(neth Arthur) ]

(b Boston, MA, Sept 7, 1931; d New York, NY, June 13, 2001). American jazz alto saxophonist, flutist, oboist, bassoonist, bass clarinetist, composer, educator, and bandleader. He grew up in Boston where he studied with Andy McGhee, Gigi Gryce, and Charlie Mariano. He completed a degree from Boston Conservatory in 1959. After moving to New York he recorded on the New Jazz and United Artists labels between 1960 and 1963, including Stone Blues (1960, New Jazz) with Eric Dolphy. All of his recordings focused almost exclusively on his own compositions.

Apart from sideman appearances with Bill Dixon, Cecil Taylor, and the Jazz Composer’s Orchestra (1964–5), McIntyre made no commercial recordings for more than a decade, while he focused on a career in music education. He taught music in various New York public schools and in 1969 was appointed a professor at Wesleyan University. He earned his doctorate in education from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in ...

Article

Barry Kernfeld

[Mahavishnu]

(bKirk Sandall, Yorks., Jan 4, 1942). English jazz guitarist, composer and bandleader. He studied the piano and violin from the age of nine, taking classical lessons and then taught himself to play acoustic guitar: he learnt blues before turning to flamenco, and then jazz. In the early 1960s he became involved with the blues movement in London, playing electric guitar with Graham Bond, Jack Bruce, Eric Clapton and Alexis Korner among others; he also began playing with jazz musicians including John Surman. After working with the free jazz vibraphonist Gunter Hampel in Germany, he moved to the USA in February 1969 to join Tony Williams's group Lifetime and Miles Davis; he figures prominently on Davis’s pioneering jazz-rock album Bitches Brew (Col., 1969). McLaughlin became a disciple of the guru Sri Chinmoy in 1970, and the following year formed the Mahavishnu Orchestra, which achieved a popular success approaching that of the most famous contemporary rock groups. The album ...

Article

Kenny Mathieson

[John Lenwood; Abdul Kareem, Omar Ahmed]

(b New York, NY, May 17, 1931; d Hartford, CT, March 31, 2006). American jazz alto saxophonist, bandleader, and composer. He began on soprano saxophone in his mid-teens before switching to alto and practiced with a number of neighborhood players, including Sonny Rollins and Bud Powell. He became addicted to heroin at this time and lost his cabaret card for a decade from 1957. He worked with Miles Davis (1951–2) and later played with Charles Mingus (1956, 1958–9) and Art Blakey (1956–8). An inventive player with a distinctive, sharp-edged sonority, he made a number of albums for Prestige during the 1950s and Blue Note from 1959. That switch of labels also marked a shift in perspective as he moved away from canonical hard bop to a more exploratory direction in the 1960s, as so-called post bop and free jazz began to take hold. He acknowledged that change in the liner notes of the emblematically titled album ...

Article

Dan Sharp

[Santos ]

(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 ...