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David Ades

[Isaac Cozerbreit]

(b London, May 8, 1893; d Worthing, Sept 7, 1978). English arranger, composer and conductor. In an early career as a violinist he performed with Beecham and Elgar and, like many of his contemporaries, also played for silent films. Williams contributed many scores for films before World War II, often uncredited on-screen, working alongside Mathieson and Nicholas Brodszky, and assisting on the first British sound-film, Alfred Hitchock's Blackmail. He finally achieved fame in 1947 when he wrote The Dream of Olwen for the film While I Live. While owing its success partly to its similarity to Addinsell's Warsaw Concerto, Williams's own mini-concerto became highly popular worldwide. A similar piece, Jealous Lover, reached the top of the US bestsellers when rediscovered in 1960 for the film The Apartment. He scored for over 20 feature films, and was the musical director for at least six more.

From 1941 Williams wrote and conducted numerous works for Chappell's Recorded Music Library, using the Queen's Hall Light Orchestra. This was the source of much of the music heard in wartime newsreels, and it also included ...

Article

J. Bradford Robinson

[Charles Melvin ]

(b Mobile, AL, July 10, 1911; d New York, Sept 15, 1985). American jazz trumpeter and bandleader . He taught himself to play the trumpet and toured with the Young Family band (which included Lester Young) when he was only 14. In 1928 he went to New York, where he made his first recordings (with James P. Johnson) and played briefly in the bands of Chick Webb and Fletcher Henderson. By February 1929 he had joined the Duke Ellington orchestra as a replacement for Bubber Miley, beginning a long association which was to make him famous. In his first 11 years with Ellington his playing became an indispensable part of the band’s sonority, and Ellington integrated solos for him into hundreds of compositions. Williams also took part in many excellent small-group recordings with Teddy Wilson, Billie Holiday, Lionel Hampton, Charlie Christian and other leading jazz musicians of the swing period....

Article

[Stanley R. ]

(b Danville, KY, April 10, 1894; d New York, Dec 17, 1975). American bandleader, clarinetist, and alto saxophonist. He began playing violin, but after 1909 concentrated on clarinet. In 1914 he moved to Cincinnati, where he later worked as a leader (1919–23). After settling in New York (1924) he led his own Royal Flush Orchestra (from 1925), which was resident at the Savoy Ballroom (1926 – January 1928); he made a number of recordings with the band as a singer, clarinetist, and alto saxophonist. Although Williams was capable of intense and effective blues playing, his style was marked by an extensive use of novelty effects. This has tended to obscure the quality of his bands, which recorded some of the finest examples of the Harlem style of the later 1920s, prominently featuring the trumpeter George Temple, the trombonist David “Jelly” James, and the pianist Hank Duncan, among other excellent soloists. Williams’s vocal work includes “talking blues” in the manner of Bert Williams (...

Article

Christopher Palmer

revised by Martin Marks

(Towner)

(b New York, NY, 8 Feb 1932). Composer, arranger, conductor, and pianist. He learned the piano from the age of eight and after moving to Los Angeles with his family in 1948 studied with the pianist and arranger Bobby Van Eps. He served in the US Air Force (1951–4), orchestrating for and conducting service bands, then moved back to New York, where he studied for a year with Rosina Lhévinne at the Juilliard School and played in jazz clubs and recording studios. After returning to the West Coast he enrolled at UCLA and took up private composition studies with Arthur Olaf Andersen and Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, among others. From 1956 Williams was a studio pianist in Hollywood and two years later began arranging and composing music for television, contributing the main title to Checkmate (1960; see Thomas and Burlingame). Through the mid-1960s he composed for several series and worked for Columbia Records as a pianist, arranger, and conductor; he also made a number of albums with André Previn. During this period Williams began scoring feature films, with many of his earliest scores for comedies, such as ...

Article

Bill C. Malone

[James Robert ]

(b nr Kosse, TX, March 6, 1905; d Fort Worth, May 13, 1975). American fiddler, singer, and bandleader. In 1931 he became one of the founding members of the seminal western-swing band the Light Crust Doughboys (named after the flour company that sponsored it on Fort Worth radio). Three years later he assembled the Texas Playboys, who played on radio station KVOO in Tulsa from 1934 to 1942. The group became very popular in the Southwest through broadcasts, recordings, personal appearances, and nightly dances at Cain’s Ballroom; during the 1940s it took part in films, and throughout the 1950s and 1960s it toured and recorded extensively. As a fiddler Wills combined traditional hoedown music with blues inflections, but as a bandleader he was receptive to musicians who could play jazz or the hot dance tunes that he himself was incapable of producing. The Playboys consequently combined country music string instruments with drums and wind instruments and performed an eclectic repertory that included blues, jazz, popular standards, and country music. Along with Milton Brown, Wills was one of the chief popularizers of ...

Article

(b Mason City, IA, May 18, 1902; d Santa Monica, CA, June 15, 1984). American composer, conductor, flautist and lyricist. Between 1921 and 1923, while still a student at the Institute of Musical Art (later the Juilliard School), he was engaged as principal flautist by Sousa. He then became a member of the New York PO (1924–9), while continuing to study privately with Hadley and Barrère. He worked in radio and television (1929–56), first as the musical director of the Northwest Territory for ABC, and eventually as the musical director, conductor and composer for the western division of NBC. Two of his songs achieved wide radio popularity: You and I (1941), the signature tune for the Maxwell House Coffee programme, and May the Good Lord bless and keep you (1950), the theme song for Tallulah Bankhead’s ‘The Big Show’. Willson composed the scores for such films as ...

Article

Bruce Johnson

[Milko ]

(b Sydney, June 22, 1944). Australian bandleader, trombonist, and arranger. He joined the Waratah Jazzmen in 1959 and during the late 1960s worked in nightclubs, as well as with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and the dance band of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. With Warren Daly, he formed the Daly–Wilson Big Band, which was active from ...

Article

Frederick A. Beck

revised by Barry Kernfeld

(Stanley )

(b Shelby, MS, Sept 4, 1918; d Los Angeles, September 8, 2014). American composer, arranger, bandleader, and trumpeter. When he was 14 his family moved to Detroit, and he studied music at high school. From August 1939 to April 1942 he worked with Jimmie Lunceford’s band as a soloist, composer, and arranger. He then moved to Los Angeles, where he performed with Les Hite (1942–3) and Benny Carter (1943). After playing with Clark Terry and Ernie Royal in Willie Smith’s navy band he organized his first big band, which he led from 1944 to 1947; it included such musicians as Snooky Young and Melba Liston and undertook a tour during which it played in New York. Wilson then worked with Count Basie, writing arrangements and performing with the band intermittently (1948–9), and Dizzy Gillespie (for six months, c1949) and wrote arrangements for Duke Ellington: “I’m happy to say that Duke Ellington liked my music so much he put his name on it,” he recalled (Hildebrand, ...

Article

Gary W. Kennedy

(b Knoxville, IL, Sept 27, 1964). American drummer and leader. He began playing drums professionally around the age of 13 and worked regularly during his high school years. He later studied percussion at Wichita State University (BM 1986) and with Ed Soph (1984). In 1987 he moved to Boston, where he performed and recorded with Charlie Kohlhase from 1989 and with the Either/Orchestra between 1989 and 1994. During the same time he recorded with the Mandala Octet and Garrison Fewell. In 1992 Wilson moved to New York, where he has worked regularly with Cecil McBee and Dewey Redman (both from 1994) and Lee Konitz (from 1995); from 1996 he has toured and recorded with his own quartet (with Andrew D’Angelo, the tenor saxophonist Joel Frahm, and Yosuke Inoue). Wilson’s interactive style is a blend of Max Roach’s melodic approach and Ed Blackwell’s sense of rhythmic freedom, and draws from genres other than jazz. His drumming always has a swing feeling and he is equally adept at both straight ahead and free playing. In addition to a conventional drum set and standard percussion he employs a number of unusual instruments, including a string of shells, a tube that whistles when swirled, duck calls, and a slide whistle; he incorporates these into his playing in a manner which is humorous and theatrical, yet consistently musical....

Article

[Door, Anita ]

(b Port Royal, TN). Singer and bandleader. She grew up in Indiana. Having first sung with the studio band of Radio WOW, Fort Wayne, and worked at various clubs, including the Chateau Lido in Indianapolis (where she appeared under the pseudonym Anita Door), she embarked on a career fronting territory bands, starting with Lloyd Hunter’s Serenaders (1936–7). In 1938 she took over the Oklahoma-based Kansas City Blue Devils, and she toured with them into 1939 as Anna Mae Winburn and her Cotton Club Boys. From 1940 to 1941 she fronted Red Perkins’s band, operating out of Omaha, Nebraska, then from early 1942 she fronted the International Sweethearts of Rhythm; she participated in a USO tour of Europe in 1945 and remained with the group until June 1948, when she left to marry Eustace “Duke” Pilgrim. In 1950 she re-formed the Sweethearts of Rhythm with Pilgrim as manager. The orchestra toured extensively, though by ...

Article

Klaus Schulz

(b Beuthen, Germany [now Bytom, Poland], Sept 24, 1914). Austrian clarinetist, singer, and bandleader. He began to play jazz in Berlin in the 1930s. During World War II he made recordings for the German record label Tempo with Willi Berking, Meg Tevelian, and others. He moved to Vienna in ...

Article

Bill Milkowski

(Theodore, Jr. )

(b Altoona, PA, Aug 31, 1939). American soprano and alto saxophonist and bandleader. While at Northwestern University he formed the Paul Winter Sextet, with which he played alto saxophone. In 1961 this group won the Intercollegiate Jazz Festival, at which Dizzy Gillespie and John Hammond were among the judges; the latter engaged the group to record for Columbia. In the 1960s Winter’s performances and recordings brought him to national and international prominence, and in 1962, sponsored by the US State Department, he undertook an extensive tour of Latin America. At this time he considered establishing a group that departed from the conventional instrumentation of jazz; he performed works inspired by his visit in “Paul Winter Sextet” (1964), an episode of the television series “Jazz Casual.” In 1967 he formed the Paul Winter Consort, which combined Latin American, African, and Western instruments; in the early 1970s the group included the guitarist Ralph Towner, the double bass player Glen Moore, the sitarist and percussionist Collin Walcott, the reed player Paul McCandless, and the cellist David Darling; after Towner, Moore, Walcott, and McCandless formed the cooperative group Oregon in ...

Article

Katherine K. Preston

(b Wilkes-Barre, PA, Aug 15, 1910; d Greenwich, CT, Sept 17, 1973). American arranger, conductor and composer. He started playing the violin at the age of six, later studied reed instruments, and was playing professionally by the time he was in high school. He taught music and led the school orchestra while a student at St Mary’s College in Emmitsburg, Maryland, and graduated from the New England Conservatory. After teaching music in high school he began to play the saxophone in club bands in New York; during the 1930s and 40s he played with various dance orchestras, including those of Larry Clinton, Raymond Scott, the Dorsey brothers, Count Basie, Vaughn Monroe and Benny Goodman. Winterhalter turned to arranging in 1944, and eventually arranged music for many of these bands, and also for such singers as Billy Eckstine, Kate Smith, Dinah Shore, Eddie Fisher, Kay Starr, Perry Como, Doris Day, Frank Sinatra, the Ames Brothers and Mario Lanza. In ...

Article

Gerhard Conrad

(b Nuremberg, Germany, Sept 8, 1967). German pianist, drummer, arranger, and bandleader. He studied accordion for eight years, then took up piano, double bass, and saxophone before studying drums with Charly Antolini. He began working professionally at the age of 15, and wrote his first arrangement the following year. After winning a prize at the Forum junger Deutscher Komponisten für Orchestermusik in 1984, he founded his own big band, which accompanied such guest soloists as Max Greger, the singer Etta Cameron, and Toots Thielemanns. He also led a trio. In 1990 he began working in a television series, “Swing It!.” Influenced by Count Basie, Wolf has written many compositions for films and television and arrangements for other bands. His recordings include Thilo Wolf Big Band Live: Swing It! (1993, MDL 1915) and Mr. Grooverix (1995, MDL 1925). (G. Conrad: “Thilo Wolf,” Der Jazzfreund, no. 159 (...

Article

Philip L. Scowcroft

(Henry)

(b Heckmondwike, Jan 24, 1875; d London, Jan 18, 1953). English composer, conductor and flautist. He gained early experience playing the flute in orchestras in Harrogate, then at Bournemouth under Dan Godfrey. He subsequently conducted at various London theatres (among them the Adelphi, Terry's, Daly's and Drury Lane), for over 30 years. He toured the USA with Messager's Véronique and recorded excerpts from the Savoy operas. He also composed musicals of his own, but these have survived less well than the splendidly scored orchestral works produced for Boosey & Hawkes, both original pieces and arrangements, for whom he was a staff composer.

His compositions include suites and separate movements, many betraying his northern origins and evoking the outdoors, also a concertino for his one-time instrument, the flute. His most durable piece is ‘Barwick Green’ from the suite My Native Heath, inspired by his home county of Yorkshire and used as the signature tune to the long-running BBC radio programme ‘The Archers’. This apart, only ...

Article

Gerhard Conrad

(b Mayen, Germany, June 19, 1961). German trombonist, arranger, and bandleader. He began his music studies in 1980 with Jiggs Whigham in Cologne. From 1983 to 1984 he was a member of the band led by the clarinetist and saxophonist Pierre Paquette, then joined Rod Mason. While with Mason (until 1991) he wrote his first arrangements and also worked as a studio musician and as a teacher at the Musikhochschule Cologne and at the university in Bonn. From 1992 he led his own band, Joe Wulf and his Gentlemen of Swing, and changed his style from traditional jazz to swing of the 1930s and 1940s. From October to December 1998 he toured with Buddy DeFranco and Terry Gibbs.

Article

Richard March

[Frank ]

(b Davis, WV, July 28, 1915; d New Port Richey, FL, Oct 14, 1998). American polka accordionist and bandleader. He is the polka musician who led the most prominent career in American popular music. His style of polka, called Slovenian-style, Cleveland-style, or Yankovic-style, has remained the most frequently played polka idiom. He used lead accordion, a second accordion playing riffs, a tenor banjo striking chords, and a string bass. Later bands included drums. Some Slovenian bands use saxophone, although Yankovic never did.

The son of immigrants from Slovenia, he was raised in the predominantly Slovenian Collingwood neighborhood of Cleveland, where his parents ran a boardinghouse for immigrant workers. He learned to play the button accordion from a boarder named Max Zelodec. In the early 1930s, he switched to the versatile piano accordion.

Yankovic formed a small dance band, and in 1938 and 1939 made self-produced records, which sold briskly. Before shipping out to Europe with the army in ...

Article

David Ades

(b London, Dec 4, 1902; d England, Feb 2, 1966). English arranger, composer and conductor. Like many of his contemporaries who later achieved recognition for their work in light music, Yorke began his pre-war career with Britain's leading dance bands, notably Percival Mackey, Jack Hylton and Louis Levy. In particular his distinctive scores of popular film songs in the pseudo-symphonic style required by Levy for recordings and broadcasts became a trademark that would distinguish Yorke for the remainder of his career. After the war light orchestras were a main element of BBC radio, and he became associated with a rich, full orchestral sound, often augmented with a strong saxophone section led by Freddy Gardner (1911–50). Yorke used Gardner in many of his commercial recordings for EMI's Columbia, notably pieces such as I'm in the Mood for Love and These Foolish Things, which have become minor classics of their genre. Yorke contributed many original compositions to the recorded music libraries of leading London publishers (Chappells, Francis Day & Hunter, Paxton etc.) and for ten years from ...

Article

Barry Kernfeld

[Leonidas Raymond ]

(b New Orleans, March 7, 1917; d Los Angeles, July 31, 2008). American drummer and leader, brother of Lester Young. With his older brother Lester and his sister Irma, he appeared with an orchestra led by his father, the pianist Willis Handy Young, performing for minstrel shows, at carnivals, and on the Theater Owners’ Booking Association circuit; even before he was old enough to play in the band he participated as its “conductor,” all the while studying soprano saxophone, trumpet, trombone, and piano. At some point (?1925) the family formed a short-lived band of seven saxophonists, comprising his father, his stepmother, his sister, himself and his brother, and two cousins. During this period of extensive touring, while Young was still a child, the family spent its winters in Memphis, in Warren, Arkansas (1923–4), and several times in Minneapolis, where he attended grammar school (mid-1920s). He became the drummer in his father’s band around ...

Article

Clifford McCarty

(b Chicago, Aug 8, 1900; d Palm Springs, CA, Nov 10, 1956). American composer, conductor and violinist. He began to play the violin at the age of six, and four years later went to live with his grandfather in Warsaw, where he studied at the conservatory. He made his début as a soloist with the Warsaw PO in 1917. In 1920 he returned to the USA, and the following year made his American début at Orchestra Hall in Chicago. Between 1922 and 1929 he was a leader in movie theatres, a musical supervisor of vaudeville productions, a violinist and arranger for Ted Fiorito’s orchestra, and the assistant musical director of the Balaban and Katz theatre chain.

He first worked for radio in 1929, and in 1931 became musical director for Brunswick Records, where in 1932 he arranged and conducted several selections from Show Boat with soloists, chorus and orchestra; released on four discs, it was the first American album ever made from the score of a Broadway musical. In ...