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Bruce Johnson

revised by Roger T. Dean

[John Joseph, John Jazza]

(b Adelaide, Australia, Jan 5, 1926; d Sarasota, FL, October 28, 2010). Australian vibraphonist, drummer, arranger, composer, and bandleader. He was playing xylophone by the age of six and later studied piano and drums; he became interested in jazz while serving in an RAAF entertainment unit (1944–6). After the war he led groups in Adelaide and played in coffee lounges and at concerts in Melbourne (1947–8). Among his sidemen at this period was Errol Buddle; Brokensha’s playing is well represented by the recording Buddle’s Bebop Boogie (1948, Jazzart 3–4). Extensive touring established his reputation in Australia, and he worked in Sydney (1949–50), Brisbane (1950), where his group disbanded, and Adelaide (1951). With Bryce Rohde he traveled in 1953 to Canada, where he became a founding member of the Australian Jazz Quartet (December 1954, with Rohde, Buddle, and the reed player Dick Healey). Later expanded to a quintet and occasionally to a sextet, the group was extremely successful in the USA; among its albums were ...

Article

Gerhard Conrad

(b Velke Levary, nr Malacky, Czechoslovakia [now Czech Republic], May 22, 1921; d Brno, Czech Republic, Dec 25, 1995). Czech clarinetist and bandleader. He studied violin and clarinet and in 1940 formed a student big band, which in 1945 toured Eastern Europe and made the first of several recordings. With the band he played for several months in Switzerland (1947), then returned to Czechoslovakia to record and play regularly for radio stations in Bratislava and (from 1948) Brno. In 1955 he formed a new ensemble that played swing, dixieland, and West Coast jazz, and chamber jazz in the manner of the Modern Jazz Quartet; his concerts, during which he discoursed on the history of jazz, helped to gain acceptance and popularity for the music in Czechoslovakia. In 1960 his band recorded in Czechoslovakia with Edmond Hall; during the following decade, when it began to play in a bop style, it performed at festivals in Manchester, England (...

Article

Tony Gould

(b Melbourne, Australia, Dec 29, 1933). Australian composer, tenor and soprano saxophonist, and bandleader. He was self-taught as a musician. He formed his first group, a quintet, in 1956, and this quickly became prominent in Australian experimental jazz. Later he led and composed for a number of ensembles, and he recorded numerous albums from 1958 onwards. He toured Europe both with his Australian Jazz Ensemble (1978) and with various groups that performed experimental and newly composed classical works (1980–86). In 1981 Brown established a course in jazz at the Victorian College of the Arts. Having played tenor and soprano saxophone, in the mid-1970s he began to concentrate on the soprano instrument. His activities in the 1980s and 1990s embraced commissions of new works, notably Spirit of the Light (1990), Winged Messenger (1994), and Temple Dreaming (1996), appearances in North America, performances as an unaccompanied soloist in South Africa, and new recordings. In ...

Article

David Font-Navarrete

(b Gaston, NC, Aug 28, 1936; d Baltimore, May 16, 2012). American bandleader, singer, guitarist, and composer. He was a musical icon of the Washington, DC metropolitan area. He was widely known as “The Godfather of Go-go” and renowned for his live performances, which emphasized continuous, percussion-driven grooves and audience participation, all staples of the Go-go genre he developed in the 1970s. Brown’s early years were marked by poverty and crime, and he first developed his guitar playing while incarcerated at the Lorton Penitentiary. With his band the Soul Searchers, Brown developed a distinctive sound that is grounded in funk and soul, but also heavily influenced by jazz and Latin genres. His hit songs include “Bustin’ Loose,” “We Need Some Money,” and “Go-Go Swing.” In 1992, Brown recorded The Other Side with vocalist Eva Cassidy, a critically-acclaimed album of jazz and blues material. He received a NARAS Governors Award and an NEA Lifetime Heritage Fellowship Award, and continued to record and perform regularly until his death in ...

Article

(bc1951). American drummer and leader. After conservatory training in Philadelphia in the early 1970s he traveled to the Netherlands with John Lee in 1972. Together they toured Europe and recorded with Chris Hinze (1972–4) and Joachim Kühn (1974, 1976), and recorded with Toots Thielemans and Charlie Mariano (both 1974) and Philip Catherine (1974, 1975). Brown performed and recorded in New York with Stanley Clarke (1976) and Chick Corea (1977), and then, with Lee once again, led a jazz-rock group which toured between 1977 and 1980 and included the guitarists Rodney Jones, Eef Albers, and Darryl Thompson, the keyboard player Rodney Franklin, and the tenor saxophonist Bob Malach; between 1978 and 1981 Brown and Lee also toured Europe as accompanists to Larry Coryell and Catherine. After recording again with Clarke in 1979, Brown performed and recorded at the ...

Article

David Brackett

(b Barnwell, SC, May 3, 1928; d Atlanta, Dec 25, 2006). American soul and funk singer, composer, arranger and bandleader. Born into extreme poverty in the rural South, he began his career as a professional musician in the early 1950s with the gospel-based group, the Flames. By 1956 the group had recorded the rhythm and blues hit Please, Please, Please (Federal, 1956) and changed their name to James Brown and the Famous Flames. This early recording established what was to become a stylistic trademark: insistent repetition of a single phrase (in this case, the song's title) resulting in a kind of ecstatic trance. This approach and Brown's characteristic raspy vocal timbre and impassioned melismas display his debt to the black American gospel tradition. His stage shows, dancing and inspired call-and-response interactions with the audience also convey the fervour of a sanctified preacher.

The first decade of Brown's recording career saw him alternating energetic dance numbers such as ...

Article

Marcello Piras

(b Reinerton, PA, March 14, 1912; d Los Angeles, CA, Jan 4, 2001). American clarinetist, saxophonist, bandleader, arranger, and songwriter. His father, an amateur musician, taught him to read music. He started performing at nine and was leading his Royal Serenaders at 14. He studied at Ithaca Conservatory (1926–9, teachers including Patrick Conway and Wallingford Riegger), New York Military Academy (1929–32), and Duke University (1932–6). At this last he led his Duke Blue Devils, who recorded in 1936–7. In 1938 he recruited a band, later called Les Brown and His Band of Renown, which flourished by 1941—mostly thanks to scores by Ben Homer (“Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio,” 50,000 records sold) and Frank Comstock—and was modeled after Jimmie Lunceford, and later after Count Basie. Trumpeter Billy Butterfield and reedman Abe Most were its most prominent soloists. Their biggest hit was “Sentimental Journey” (...

Article

Steven Strunk

revised by Barry Kernfeld

(Richard )

(b Framingham, MA, Dec 21, 1920; d New York, Dec 13, 1983). American teacher, bandleader, and trombonist. He taught himself to play various instruments at an early age. After gaining a BS degree in music from New York University (1949) he directed high-school bands in the New York area (1949–57) while pursuing graduate studies at Columbia University (MA music, 1953). His dance band from Farmingdale, the Dalers, played at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1957 to unprecedented acclaim, winning Brown international fame and an appointment to the Newport Festival board. He then toured Europe with George Wein to select members for the International Youth Band, which performed at the Brussels World’s Fair and at Newport in 1958. In New York he organized the Newport Youth Band, which played at Newport and other festivals (1959–60). Many members of Brown’s groups, such as Dusko Goykovic, Albert Mangelsdorff, George Gruntz, Gábor Szabó, Gil Cuppini, Eddie Gomez, Jimmy Owens, Mike Abene, and Ronnie Cuber, became well-known jazz artists. After the dissolution of the Newport Festival Corporation (...

Article

Rich Kienzle

(b Stephenville, TX, Sept 7, 1903; d Fort Worth, TX, Apr 18, 1936). American singer and bandleader. Brown, along with Bob Wills, created and defined the idiom known as Western swing. An aspiring professional vocalist, he grew up in Fort Worth singing in amateur trios. In 1930, he met Wills and guitarist Herman Arnspiger when the pair played at a local dance and began singing with them. He turned to music full-time after losing his job as a cigar salesman. Wills and Brown developed a broad repertoire of fiddle tunes, blues, jazz, and pop songs that widened the group’s appeal at local dancehalls. In 1931, when Light Crust Flour began sponsoring their daily broadcasts at Fort Worth’s KFJZ, the group became the Light Crust Doughboys. Their popularity grew to the point their show was broadcast statewide. Brown left in Sept 1932 to form the Musical Brownies. The first actual western swing band, it grew to include piano, tenor banjo, bass, guitar (younger brother Derwood Brown), twin fiddles, and Brown’s effervescent vocals. Based at Fort Worth’s KTAT, they recorded for Bluebird Records in ...

Article

David Chevan

(b Pittsburgh, PA, Oct 13, 1926; d Indianapolis, IN, July 2, 2002). American jazz double bass player, bandleader, and composer. After playing the piano as a young child, he switched to the bass when he got to high school, reportedly because he saw that there were too many pianists. While still in Pittsburgh, he played with the Jimmy Hinsley Sextet and the Snookum Russel Band, all the while absorbing the influence of key New York bass players, especially that of Jimmy Blanton who was working with the Duke Ellington Orchestra. One can hear this influence in Brown’s insistent rhythmic drive and in the melodicism of his walking bass lines. After high school, Brown moved to New York, where his friendship with the pianist Hank Jones led him to early gigs with Dizzy Gillespie, Art Tatum, and Charlie Parker, all of whom admired his expansive, clear tone. The Gillespie group, which included the pianist John Lewis, the vibraphonist Milt Jackson, and the drummer Kenny Clarke, was the foundation for the Modern Jazz Quartet. As he made an impression in bebop circles, Brown also became involved with Norman Granz’s Jazz at the Philharmonic concerts, through which he met the pianist Oscar Peterson—in whose trio he played from ...

Article

[Alexander ]

(b Izatnagar, nr Bareilly, India, Feb 25, 1929; d London, March 15, 1975). Scottish clarinetist and bandleader. The son of a Scottish railway engineer, he returned with his family from India to Edinburgh in the early 1930s. He was self-taught, and from 1946 led his own band in Scotland, playing traditional jazz and swing. In autumn 1954 he moved to London, where he played occasionally with Humphrey Lyttelton, Ken Colyer, and Chris Barber. He formed his own band, which included Al Fairweather, who took over its leadership in 1957; the two men served as co-leaders from autumn 1958 to autumn 1966, when Fairweather joined Acker Bilk and Brown assumed sole leadership. A Fairweather–Brown reunion band performed in 1975. Brown recorded frequently as a leader (1949–73) as well as under the name of his trumpeter Fairweather (1955–6, 1959–62), and with Sammy Price (1969), Brian Lemon (...

Article

Adrian Jackson

(Vincent )

(b Deniliquin, Australia, July 28, 1944). Australian drummer and bandleader. He began playing traditional jazz with the Red Onions Jazz Band (1960–c1975), which was popular in Melbourne, and toured Europe in 1967 and 1970. From 1970 he explored modern jazz styles, working with the saxophonist Ken Schroder, Vince Jones, and Paul Grabowsky, among others. He also performed with Phil Woods, Milt Jackson, Mal Waldron, Johnny Griffin, Art Hodes, Jay McShann, Wild Bill Davison, and Jimmy Witherspoon. In 1980 Browne formed the quartet Onaje in order to develop an original repertory; the group recorded three albums and performed at the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal in 1992. From the mid-1980s he led bands in both contemporary and traditional genres, the latter including his New Orleans Rascals and the Red Onions, which was reunited occasionally between 1983 and 1996 (notably for a tour of Europe in ...

Article

Richard Wang

[David Warren]

(b Concord, CA, Dec 6, 1920; d Norwalk, CT, Dec 5, 2012). American jazz composer, pianist and bandleader. He received early training in classical music from his mother, a pianist, and by the age of 13 he was performing professionally with local jazz groups. He was a music major at the College of the Pacific in Stockton, California, studied compositon with Milhaud (1946) and, with fellow students, founded the experimental Jazz Workshop Ensemble, which recorded in 1949 as the Dave Brubeck Octet. Also in 1949, he organized the Dave Brubeck Trio. With the addition of the alto saxophonist Paul Desmond (1951), Brubeck thereafter led a quartet. In 1967 Brubeck disbanded, ostensibly to concentrate on composing, but he soon formed a new quartet that included Gerry Mulligan (until 1972).

The Brubeck quartet was immensely popular on college campuses in the 1950s; the album Jazz at Oberlin...

Article

[William Steven ]

(b New Orleans, Aug 30, 1908; d Los Angeles, Feb 9, 1964). American bandleader and singer. He began his career as a soft-shoe dancer in 1926 and toured extensively as a dancer and singer until 1933. From 1934 to 1938 and again from 1945 to 1948 he led his own big band, which at times in the mid-1930s included Benny Carter, Teddy Wilson (both of whom contributed arrangements), Ben Webster, Cozy Cole, Edgar Battle, Taft Jordan, and Glyn Paque. The band’s compelling swing may be heard on A Viper’s Moan and Bryant’s sentimental style of singing on his own composition It’s over because we’re through (both 1935, Vic. 24858). Bryant later worked as master of ceremonies for radio broadcasts from the Apollo Theatre in New York, and as a disc jockey, an actor, and a radio announcer; he may be seen in two episodes of the television series “Showtime at the Apollo” (...

Article

[Jensen, Arne Bue ]

(b Copenhagen, May 8, 1930). Danish trombonist and bandleader. In the mid-1950s he performed and recorded with the Bonanza Jazz Band, Chris Barber, the pianist Adrian Bentzon, and the clarinetist Henrik Johansen. From 1956 he led the New Orleans Jazz Band, a septet based in Copenhagen, which in 1958 he renamed the Viking Jazz Band. The group remained in existence, with only infrequent changes of personnel, through the 1990s; among those who recorded with it were George Lewis (i) (1959), the pianist Champion Jack Dupree (1962), Art Hodes (1970), and Wild Bill Davison (1970, 1974). Papa Bue appeared with the group at the Newport Jazz Festival New York in 1972 and later made a video, Papa Bue’s Viking Jazzband: the 40 Years Jubilee Concert (c1998 [filmed 1996]). His playing is well represented on his albums Papa Bue’s Viking Jazz Band with Wingy Manone and Edmond Hall...

Article

Harold Rosenthal

(b Melbourne, Jan 28, 1883; d St Albans, Jan 25, 1970). Australian conductor . He studied in London with August Wilhelmj and in Leipzig with Arthur Nikisch. After engagements in Breslau and Görlitz he settled in England and was engaged by the Moody-Manners Opera Company (1914–16) and the Beecham Opera Company (1916–17 and 1919–20). When the latter went into liquidation in 1920, Buesst was one of the prime movers in establishing the British National Opera Company, which he conducted from 1922 to 1928; at Covent Garden in January 1923 he conducted the company’s performance of Hänsel und Gretel, one of the first opera broadcasts. He also conducted the first London performance of Boughton’s Alkestis in 1924. In 1933 he was appointed assistant music director of the BBC and he later taught at the three main London music colleges. He wrote the excellent analysis Richard Wagner: the Nibelung’s Ring: an Act by Act Guide to the Plot and Music...

Article

Adeodatas Tauragis

(b Vilnius, April 16, 1869; d Vilnius, March 7, 1953). Lithuanian conductor and composer . He studied the piano, composition and conducting at the St Petersburg conservatory with Rimsky-Korsakov, Lyadov and Glazunov, graduating in 1900. His début as an opera conductor took place in Gor’kiy (now Nizhny-Novgorod) in 1899...

Article

Roger T. Dean

(b Sydney, May 26, 1942). Australian trumpeter, singer, and bandleader. In 1959 he participated in Sydney Jazz Club workshops. After playing in 1961 with the Melbourne New Orleans Jazz Band, the following year he formed his Olympia Jazz Band in Sydney, which included the guitarist and banjoist Geoff Holden (who had introduced him to jazz), the clarinetist Peter Neubauer, and the double bass player Dick Edser, and which often played at the Brooklyn and Orient hotels. In 1966-7 he performed overseas, among other places in New Orleans and Europe, and recorded with Alton Purnell, Barry Martyn, and Capt. John Handy. Back in Sydney he returned to the Orient Hotel. He recorded Geoff Bull's Olympia Jazz Band (1969, Swaggie 1261) and continued to lead a number of versions of the Olympia Jazz Band. In 1974 he revisited New Orleans, and thereafter he traveled frequently between the two cities; he recorded in New Orleans with several veteran musicians and he organized Australian tours for Purnell and Sammy Price. Bull briefly ran a restaurant in ...

Article

Yoko Suzuki

[Mary Jane]

(b Toronto, Oct 22, 1955). Canadian jazz soprano saxophonist, flutist, bandleader, and composer. Her first instrument was the clarinet. Starting around the age of 17, she took intensive classical piano lessons for three years, leading to her developing tendonitis. While taking some time off, she went to San Francisco and heard the music of Charles Mingus’s band, which inspired her to play jazz. After returning to Toronto, she took up flute and saxophone and studied jazz at a local music school. She also enrolled in the music program at York University where she played alto saxophone and flute. After listening to Steve(n Norman) Lacy, Bunnett decided to play soprano saxophone. With an Artist’s Council grant, she went to Paris to study with Lacy in the early 1990s. Although she plays a range of saxophones, her main instruments are soprano saxophone and flute. She made her first recording in ...

Article

[Joseph Francis ]

(b Scranton, PA, March 22, 1914; d Santa Monica, CA, May 31, 1980). American arranger and bandleader. He learned violin and piano from the age of five and while studying music at Duke University (to 1937) played in various bands. After moving to New York he assumed leadership in 1938 of Sam Donahue’s band, with which he made several recordings; his arrangement of Jimmie Meets the Count (1940, OK 5813) demonstrates his admiration for the bands of Jimmie Lunceford and Count Basie. Burke then wrote arrangements for Charlie Spivak (1940–42) and Jimmy Dorsey (1942–c1945); among his pieces for the latter band is Sunset Strip (1944, V-disc 326A). From the late 1940s into the 1970s he directed recording sessions for Decca, Reprise, Warner Bros., and his own company, Daybreak. For Decca he recorded an album of mambos (1951); his orchestra accompanied such musicians as Ella Fitzgerald (...