(bMiddleport, OH, Jan 30, 1909; dCalifornia, Sept 1963). Americanpianist. At the age of ten he played for silent films. He joined Dave Nelson, with whom he recorded in 1931, then worked as second pianist in James P. Johnson’s orchestra. From 1932 to 1937 he performed and recorded with Teddy Hill. While on a tour of Europe in 1937 he recorded in Paris with Dicky Wells, and the following year he recorded in New York with Slim (Gaillard) and Slam (Stewart). Later he worked with Stuff Smith (c autumn 1938 – early 1940) and played as a soloist in Washington. After moving to California he led his own trio and worked as accompanist to the singer Billie Heywood.
[Stephen Valentine Patrick William]
(b New York, NY, Dec 16, 1921; d Encino, CA, Oct 30, 2000). American composer, radio and television personality, pianist, singer, and comedian. The son of Belle Montrose and Billy Allen, both of whom worked in vaudeville, he moved from place to place as a child, attending many schools for short periods of time. He played piano from an early age, although his musical training was mainly informal. He began a professional career in Los Angeles as a disc jockey on radio during the 1940s, then turned to television in the 1950s; he established himself as a comedian, and often played the piano during his shows, improvising jazz and singing his own songs. Among the musicians who appeared with him regularly was the vibraphonist Terry Gibbs. Allen’s most popular television program was “The Tonight Show,” which he began broadcasting locally in New York in 1953, subsequently leading it to nationwide success the following year. Allen performed the title role in the film ...
(bWinnemucca, NV, May 26, 1915; dSan Francisco, Oct 3, 2004). Americandouble bass player. He grew up in San Francisco, played clarinet through his primary and high-school years, and took up double bass while at Sacramento Junior College. At the beginning of the 1940s he performed and made recordings with Lionel Hampton on double bass and electric bass guitar (1940–42; including Attitude, 1940, Vic. 27316) and with Count Basie (September–November 1942), with whom he may be seen in the film Reveille with Beverly (1943); at some point he also briefly accompanied Fats Waller at Sweet’s Ballroom in Oakland, California. After serving in the navy from November 1942 to 1947 he returned to San Francisco, where he led small bands and hosted the program “Down Vernon’s Alley” on both radio and television. His most important position was as leader of the house rhythm section and music director at the Blackhawk during the 1950s, though he played briefly with Ella Fitzgerald and Duke Ellington and recorded with a dixieland band led by the cornetist and trombonist Jack Sheedy (...
Gary W. Kennedy
(b New Haven, CT, Nov 17, 1966). American double bass player and leader. He learned guitar from the age of nine and later took up double bass, which he studied at Yale University (1984–5) and New York University (BM performance, 1989). In 1992, with Frank Kimbrough, he established the Herbie Nichols Project and the Jazz Composers Collective, for which he works as artistic director and artist-in-residence. In the same year he joined Kimbrough’s small group and that of the saxophonist Michael Blake, and formed a quintet with Ron Horton, Ted Nash (ii), Kimbrough, and Tim Horner which recorded in 1995–6. He formed another quintet, Medicine Wheel, in 1996, with Nash, Blake, the cellist Thomas Ulrich, and the drummer Jeff Ballard as sidemen, although Kimbrough occasionally performed as a guest. From 1998 he has led the trio Medicine Wheel Lite, consisting of Blake and Ballard, and he performs weekly at Kush, a club in New York in which he is a partner. Allison also worked with Lee Konitz from ...
Horace Clarence Boyer
(b McCormick, SC, Sept 25, 1921; d Philadelphia, PA, July 30, 2008). American gospel singer, pianist, and composer. She moved to Philadelphia at an early age and sang and played at a local Church of God in Christ. In 1942 she joined a female quartet, the Spiritual Echoes, and served as their pianist for two years, leaving the group in 1944 to organize the Angelic Gospel Singers with her sister Josephine McDowell and two friends, Lucille Shird and Ella Mae Norris. Their first recording, “Touch Me, Lord Jesus” (1950), sold 500,000 copies in less than six months. Her most famous composition is “My Sweet Home” (1960). The incidental harmony of their rural singing style and Allison’s sliding technique appealed to a large number of supporters who otherwise found the gospel music of the period controlled and calculated. The group traveled and recorded with the Dixie Hummingbirds during the 1950s. Allison toured, recorded, and performed gospel music for over seven decades....
(John, Jr. )
(b Tippo, MI, Nov 11, 1927). American jazz and blues pianist, singer and songwriter. His style was influenced by the blues music he heard on the juke box at his father’s general store. Primarily self taught on piano and trumpet, Allison began playing professionally in Delta roadhouses and attended the University of Mississippi, Oxford. However, he left to enlist in the US Army in 1946, and during his service he played trumpet and piano and wrote arrangements for an army band. After completing a degree in English at Louisiana State University, he moved to New York in 1956 and attracted attention nationally playing piano with such leaders as Chet Baker, Al Cohn, Zoot Sims, Gerry Mulligan, and Stan Getz.
Allison created a hybrid style that integrated country blues with urbane jazz; it can be heard on his first album, Back Country Suite (1959, Prst.), which includes what became his signature tune, “Young Man’s Blues.” In the 1960s Allison’s music influenced British rock musicians, and this tune was covered as a generational anthem by The Who. During the same period Allison recorded for Atlantic and wrote pithy lyrics about public service and social commentary (“Everybody Cryin’ Mercy”) and personal crisis (“Hello There, Universe”), some with a playful sense of humor (“Your Mind’s on Vacation”). Later songs such as “Ever Since the World Ended” and “Certified Senior Citizen” focused on contemporary culture and aging. Allison has also interpreted blues and jazz standards such as Willie Dixon’s “Seventh Son,” Muddy Waters’ “Rollin’ Stone,” and Duke Ellington’s “I ain’t got nothin’ but the blues.” His elaborate piano instrumentals and improvisations draw upon the music of Charles Ives and Alexander Scriabin and reflect his experimentation with conventional ideas of time....
(Pastor Gomez )
(b Sincelejo, Colombia, Feb 18, 1949). American saxophonist of Colombian birth. His father was a percussionist who performed traditional Colombian music and Almario began his career playing in this style. Influenced by the Cuban music that was popular along the Caribbean coast of Colombia, Almario studied wind instruments and theory in Barranquilla, where he later moved. After a tour of the United States in 1967, he accepted an invitation to move to Miami and in 1969 was offered a scholarship to the Berklee School of Music. Two years later, while he was still studying, Almario was invited to sit in with Mongo Santamaria, who subesequently hired him as musical director for his ensemble; Almario can be heard on a number of Santamaria’s recordings, including Afro-Indio (1975, Fania). In the following years, Almario worked with Duke Ellington, Machito, Willie Bobo, and Charles Mingus. His group Koinonia, which he formed with Alex Acuña, performed West Coast jazz and promoted Christian spirituality, such as on the album ...
(b Ukraine [then USSR], 1956). Moldavian pianist. Although he was born in Ukraine, he grew up in Bessarabia, in the eastern part of Moldavia, where he studied composition and piano while playing with local folk musicians. In 1980 he became a member of the Moldavian Jazz Ensemble, led by the saxophonist and violinist Semjon Shirman, and started to play jazz piano – listening for the first time to such pianists as Art Tatum and Keith Jarrett and transcribing, for the piano, solos by Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, and other saxophone and brass players. In 1983 he moved to Moscow, where he formed a duo with the french horn and flugelhorn player Arkady Shilkloper, with whom he began to synthesize elements of Moldavian folk music with improvised jazz; the duo played regularly at Moscow's Blueberry Jazz Club and later recorded Wave over Sorrow (1989, ECM 1396). A member of the Moscow Art Trio, with Shilkloper and the singer and clarinetist Sergey Starostin, Alperin also performed with many Russian and foreign musicians; his first album as an unaccompanied soloist, ...
Terence J. O’Grady
revised by Bryan Proksch
(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 ...
(b Indianapolis, Sept 3, 1916). American double bass player. He studied music at Indiana University (1938–9). In 1940 he performed with the bandleader Alvino Rey in New York and from 1940 to 1944 he toured and recorded with Glenn Miller, playing both in New York and with his forces band. After working briefly with Tex Beneke and taking part in a radio show with Benny Goodman he played with Frank Sinatra (1946–50) and Woody Herman’s quintet (1947). Alpert recorded with Bud Freeman, Ella Fitzgerald, Muggsy Spanier, and Roy Eldridge (all 1945), Louis Armstrong, Ray McKinley, and Bernie Leighton (all 1946), and Jerry Jerome (1947). Later he worked for CBS in New York (1950–62), during which time he recorded with Artie Shaw (1950, 1953), Coleman Hawkins (1952), the Sauter–Finegan Orchestra (1952–3, 1955...
(b Havana, Cuba, Jan 12, 1931; d Los Angeles, Nov 20, 1998). Jamaican alto, tenor, and soprano saxophonist. The son of a Cuban father and a Jamaican mother, he went to Jamaica with his family at the age of two. Having played side drum and trumpet at Kingston’s Stoney Hill School, he took up jazz alto saxophone in Sonny Bradshaw’s Seven but changed to the tenor instrument in the orchestras of the saxophonists Eric Deans and Roy Colbourn (Cobourne, or Coburn; sources disagree). He teamed up with the stage comedians Bim and Bam on variety shows and was particularly active as a session musician. In the 1950s and 1960s, as a member of the Blues Blasters house band led by the producer Clement “Coxone” Dodd, his work encompassed cover versions of Bill Doggett’s recordings and the island’s characteristic rhythm-and-blues with a shuffle beat, heralding the arrival of the popular styles ska, rocksteady, and reggae. He often played with Ernest Ranglin until becoming a founding member of the ...
(b Washington, DC, Dec 14, 1905; d Washington, July 5, 1989). American trumpeter and singer. His birth and death dates, previously unknown, are taken from the social security death index. After working in New York with the trombonist Bill Brown (1928–30) he performed and recorded with Claude Hopkins (1931–6); a good example of his playing may be heard on I would do anything for you (1932, Col. 2665D), and he may be seen with Hopkins in the short films Barber Shop Blues (1933) and By Request (1935). He then formed his own big band, which made its début at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem in December 1936 and held residencies at various clubs in New York, including the Ubangi Club (1937), the Plantation Club (1937–8), the Roseland Ballroom (1939–41, 1942–7) and the Baby Grand Café (...
revised by Barry Kernfeld
(b New York, Jan 06, 1943). American drummer. He took up drums at the age of 11, and after initially teaching himself he studied from 1960 with Charli Persip. In 1964 he met Paul Bley, with whom he worked regularly until 1970 and occasionally thereafter; at the same time he was a member of the Jazz Composers Guild and the Jazz Composer’s Orchestra Association (1964–8). He recorded with Alan Silva’s free-jazz group in New York in October 1968, and he played more conventional jazz in Europe with Carmell Jones, Leo Wright, and Johnny Griffin for ten months (1967–8), in California in a quartet consisting of Sonny Criss, Hampton Hawes, and Reggie Johnson for three or four months (1969), and again in New York with Tony Scott. Early in 1970, with Chick Corea, Dave Holland, and Anthony Braxton, he formed the free-jazz group Circle, which recorded his composition ...
(b Los Angeles, Dec 27, 1945). American tenor saxophonist. After attending California State University, Los Angeles (1963–7), he toured with Stan Kenton (1967–9), with whom he also recorded (Stan Kenton Conducts the Jazz Compositions of Dee Barton, 1967, Cap. ST2932). In 1969 he performed with Nat Adderley and Bobby Bryant, played and recorded with Don Ellis, and began an association with Gerald Wilson that continued intermittently for several years. He also performed with Louie Bellson, Terry Gibbs, Duke Pearson, and Frank Zappa and in television orchestras. (...
William F. Lee III
(b Montreal, Feb 3, 1920; d Las Vegas, NV, Aug 1, 1992). American trumpeter. He was brought up in Inglewood, California, and studied piano and violin for ten years before taking up trumpet. He was a soloist with Stan Kenton from 1941 to 1943, served in the US Army (1943–6), then rejoined Kenton, with whom he remained until 1951 except for a brief period in the late 1940s when he played with Red Norvo, Benny Carter, and Charlie Barnet; he may be seen with Kenton in the soundie This Love of Mine (1942) and the film Let’s Make Rhythm (1947). He then opened a music store in Hermosa Beach, California, and worked as a trumpeter and arranger for Latin bands. After moving to Las Vegas he accompanied Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, and others from 1958 to 1982 at a number of hotels in Las Vegas, including the Flamingo, where he played for eight years. Later he formed the Las Vegas Jazz Band and in ...
(b Genoa, Italy, 1908). Italian pianist, singer, and violinist. He first worked in Genoa with Tullio Mobiglia and others (1927–33). From 1934 he played piano and violin in a small band led by Kramer Gorni in Milan, which made several recordings, including Anime gemelle (1935...
(b Rio de Janeiro, April 28, 1950). Brazilian double bass player, pianist, and composer. From 1964 he played piano in the trio Camara, and later made a tour of France, where he settled in 1973; he then changed from piano to double bass and also studied composition at the Paris Conservatoire. He formed a duo with the pianist Jean-Pierre Mas (1978), appeared in Martial Solal’s trio, and played in Eric Le Lann’s quartet (1982). Between 1982 and 1985 he was heard with Jean-Louis Chautemps, Philip Catherine, Joachim Kühn, Michel Portal, and the Americans Charlie Mariano, Joe Henderson, and Lee Konitz. In 1985 he resumed playing piano and formed the Cesarius Alvim Connection, with Jean-François Jenny-Clark on double bass and André Ceccarelli on drums. After a period of voluntary retirement from 1992 to 1997 (though he continued to make recordings) Alvim resumed working: he composed a piece for symphony orchestra, ...
revised by Barry Kernfeld
(b Chicago, May 1, 1907; d New York, Dec 29, 1972). American tuba and double bass player. He began playing drums, but while working with Jelly Roll Morton (1927 – early 1928) he changed to tuba and double bass, learning the rudiments from Lawson Buford and Quinn Wilson respectively. From late 1928 to 1930 he played tuba with Earl Hines, with whom he recorded his arrangement Blue Nights (1929, Vic. 38096); he also recorded in Chicago with the Dixie Rhythm Kings, Omer Simeon, and Jabbo Smith (all 1929), and Harry Dial’s Blusicians (November 1930). After moving to New York with Jimmie Noone (spring 1931) Alvis recorded with King Carter and his Royal Orchestra and performed on double bass and tuba with the Mills Blue Rhythm Band (1931–4, 1936) and for a time acted as the group’s road manager; he plays one of the earliest recorded double bass solos on ...
Roger T. Dean
(b Sydney, May 4, 1969). Australian guitarist. He first played drums, but while a rabbinical student, influenced by a mixture of Jewish mystical components and the music of John Coltrane, Cecil Taylor, and others, he changed to guitar. He performed in particular with Rob Avenaim (percussion, electronics, sampling), for example in the rock-noise group Phlegm (formed 1993), and also with the pianist Max Lyandvert in Ear Rational Music. The latter group involved Eddie Bronson (a member of the earlier and influential band Free Kata), whom Ambarchi had met through his rabbinical studies and who had been another early influence. From 1994 Ambarchi coordinated a series of improvising large ensembles, often based on John Zorn’s conceptual “game” piece Cobra. Following a series of small-scale recordings, often involving studio manipulation of their playing, he released a major work with Avenaim, The Alter Rebbe’s Nigun (1998). In the late 1990s he focused intensively on unaccompanied solo performance and made a series of recordings on European labels, mainly recorded in real-time (rather than involving studio manipulation), and with analogue rather than computer processing. He uses an array of effects units linked to create varied timbres....
Otto Flückiger and Aldo Sandmeyer
(b Lugano, Switzerland, Oct 8, 1919). Swiss alto saxophonist and vibraphonist, father of Franco Ambrosetti. An engineer by profession, he never worked as a full-time musician. He learned classical piano at the age of six, then early in 1935, after hearing Coleman Hawkins, he took up tenor saxophone, on which he was largely self-taught. Influenced by the work of Benny Carter he changed to the alto instrument, and from the mid-1940s he modeled his playing on that of Charlie Parker. Ambrosetti performed and recorded while studying engineering in Zurich. He made his first commercial recordings in 1943 with Rio de Gregori and with his own group, and in 1949 he played and recorded swing and bop with Gil Cuppini and Hazy Osterwald. Thereafter he played in various Swiss groups and also worked as a leader, recording in Italy and other European countries; in the mid-1950s his sidemen included Raymond Court and George Gruntz, with whom he began a longstanding association. Ambrosetti’s quintet in the mid-1960s consisted of his son Franco, Gruntz, Daniel Humair, and a number of different double bass players; it appeared at many festivals and broadcast on radio and television. This quintet became the nucleus of a large ensemble which in ...