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Harry B. Soria

(b Honolulu, HI, Nov 28, 1897; d Honolulu, HI, Oct 9, 1985). Hawaiian singer, musician, composer, and bandleader. Almeida lost his eyesight completely by age ten, and left school after the sixth grade. His father returned to Portugal, and his Hawaiian mother and adoptive Hawaiian father nurtured him, immersing him in the music and culture of the rural community. At age 15, Almeida formed his first musical group, the Waianae Star Glee Club, and soon achieved local fame as “John C. Almeida, Hawaii’s Blind Musician.” Eventually, he replaced his birth middle name of Celestino, with the name of his adoptive father, Kameaaloha, and is remembered today as John Kameaaloha Almeida.

Almeida could not read or write, but shared the poetry of over 200 Hawaiian language compositions, earning him the title of “the Dean of Hawaiian Music.” Almeida also popularized numerous other Hawaiian compositions from the 19th century. Among his most famous recordings are “Ku’u Ipo Pua Rose,” “’A ’Oia,” “Gorgeous Hula,” “Holoholo Ka’a,” “Noho Paipai,” “Kiss Me Love,” “Roselani Blossoms,” and his radio theme song, “’O Ko’u Aloha Ia ’Oe.” Over his 70-year career, Almeida mastered the mandolin, ukulele, guitar, steel guitar, violin, banjo, bass, saxophone, and piano. Almeida was a prolific recordings artist on numerous labels, and a successful radio host on several Hawaii stations. He served as mentor to numerous protégés, including Bill Ali’iloa Lincoln, Joe Keawe, Billy Hew Len, Genoa Keawe, and Almeida’s adopted son, Pua Almeida....

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Matteo Sansone

[Aspri, Orsola]

(b Rome, c1807; d Rome, Sept 30, 1884). Italian composer, singer and conductor. After her father’s death, her mother married the violinist Andrea Aspri and Appignani adopted her stepfather’s surname and used Orsola as her first name. She studied with Valentino Fioravanti. In 1833 she sang Smeton in a performance of Donizetti’s Anna Bolena, given by the Roman Accademia Filarmonica at Palazzo Lancellotti; already a member of that academy, she was offered honorary membership of the Accademia di S Cecilia, Rome, in 1842. As a conductor she was active in Rome and Florence (1839). She was also a singing teacher and had among her pupils the tenor Settimio Malvezzi. She married Count Girolamo Cenci-Bolognetti. Her melodrammi include Le avventure di una giornata (1827), I pirati (1843) and Clara di Clevers (1876); she also wrote a Sinfonia, a cantata La redenzione di Roma...

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(b Memphis, TN, Feb 3, 1898; d Chicago, IL, Aug 27, 1971). American jazz pianist, singer, bandleader, and composer. She studied keyboard privately from an early age and had hopes of becoming a concert pianist. While she was enrolled at Fisk University, her mother and stepfather moved to Chicago, where in 1917 she took a job as a sheet music demonstrator, which led to her joining the Original Creole Jazz Band as its pianist. It was her first job playing jazz and she decided not to return to Fisk. She subsequently worked with several bands, including King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band, with which she performed in San Francisco in 1921 and made her recording debut in 1923. By this time the band included louis Armstrong, whom she married in 1924. Armstrong’s place in jazz history was assured by her participation on Oliver’s Gennett recordings and Louis’ Hot Five sessions for Okeh. She played an important role in Louis’ move into a brighter spotlight before their separation in ...

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Chadwick Jenkins

(b Lisle, IL, Nov 8, 1955). American singer, pianist, composer, and bandleader. Her father played with the Glenn Miller band and her mother was a professional blues singer. After studying psychology and classical piano at the University of Iowa, Barber returned to Chicago and began playing five nights a week at the Gold Star Sardine Bar, where she attracted varying critical attention for her husky voice and the inclusion of pop songs, including “Black Magic Woman” and “A Taste of Honey,” in her repertoire. She recorded her first album, Split (Floyd), in 1989 and her second album, A Distortion of Love (Antilles) in 1991. She subsequently moved to the independent label Premonition, which was bought by Blue Note in 1998. In 2003 Barber became the first songwriter to be awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship. Under its aegis she composed a song cycle based on Ovid’s Metamorphoses. She is the subject of a documentary, ...

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Randolph Love

(b Edgard, LA, Dec 24, 1920). American Trumpeter, arranger, producer, songwriter, bandleader, and singer. He started his career as a trumpeter playing with established bands led by, among others, Papa Celestin, Joe Robichaux, and Claiborne Williams before joining Fats Pichon’s ensemble, considered one of the top groups in New Orleans, in 1939. During World War II he played in the 196th AGF (Army Ground Forces) Band, where he met Abraham Malone, who taught him how to write and arrange. After the war, he formed his own band in New Orleans, which made its debut at the Dew Drop Inn and later performed at Sam Simoneaux’s club Graystone where many of the city’s top instrumental players, including the drummer Earl Palmer and the saxophonists Lee Allen and Red Tyler, were showcased.

Bartholomew is best known for his talents as an arranger and songwriter. In the 1950s and 60s he worked with many of the biggest stars of the day, including Smiley Lewis, Lloyd Price, Shirley and Lee, and Joe Turner. By the 1970s he had associations with some of rock and roll’s most established talents, including Paul McCartney, Elton John, and the Rolling Stones. His most productive association was with fats Domino, whom he met through Lew Chudd, the owner of Imperial Records, where he worked as a house arranger, an A&R man and an in-house bandleader. From ...

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Bruce Johnson

(Emerson )

(b Melbourne, Australia, Jan 4, 1919; d Melbourne, Australia, June 17, 2008). Australian trumpeter, washboard player, composer, singer, and bandleader, brother of Graeme Bell. He first worked as a drummer, then in 1938 began to play cornet. Having worked in Melbourne with his brother at Leonard’s Café, he briefly led the band at Heidelberg Town Hall (1943), where he recorded with a visiting Max Kaminsky, before Graeme Bell returned from Queensland to take over the group’s leadership. He remained in Graeme’s dixieland groups during their European tours (1947–8, 1950–52), after which he worked with Max Collie (1953) and in the house band at the Melbourne Jazz Club (from 1958). Bell was active as a freelance musician and led his own band, the Pagan Pipers (a name he had used first in 1949), which with various personnel (notably Len Barnard and Ade Monsbourgh) performed and recorded for many years; among its recordings were a number of Bell’s own compositions. His playing may be heard to advantage on ...

Article

David Griffioen

(b Năsăud, March 25, 1887; d Cluj, Dec 1, 1968). Romanian composer, singer, director and conductor. He began formal studies in Năsăud and continued in 1906 at the conservatory in Cluj (then Kolozsvár). In 1908 he entered the Vienna Music Academy, where he studied singing with Gustav Geiringer and Julius Meixner. After a temporary disruption he enrolled at the National Hungarian Royal Academy of Music in Budapest, studying this time with József Sík. He graduated in 1912, having also earned his licentiate in law from the University of Cluj in 1910.

Bretan’s professional career began at the Bratislava Opera in 1913, followed by a position at the Oradea Opera. In 1917 he settled permanently in Cluj, fulfilling responsibilities as singer, stage director and even briefly director-general (Romanian Opera, 1944–5) for the various resident Hungarian and Romanian opera companies there, until political circumstances forced his retirement in 1948...

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(b Honolulu, HI, Nov 9, 1909; d Honolulu, HI, April 27, 1992). Hawaiian singer, musician, bandleader, composer, and impresario. Sol Bright was a master entertainer of the old school: an energetic showman, accomplished musician, comic hula dancer, composer, raconteur, and entertainment director during Hawaiian music’s era of greatest international appeal, the 1920s through the 1960s.

His professional experience began as a teenager playing drums with his sister Hannah’s dance band. In 1928 an offer to play rhythm guitar and sing with Sol Ho`opi`i took him to Kaleponi (California), where a large community of Hawaiian musicians had formed. He started his own group, The Hollywood Hawaiians, in 1932. Playing steel guitar and singing, he recorded prolifically for major labels. He also appeared on radio and in four films: South Sea Rose,Charlie Chan’s Greatest Case,Flirtation Walk, and White Woman. Bright composed a number of songs that have become standards, including the jazzy English language “Sophisticated Hula” and “Hawaiian Cowboy,” a show-stopping novelty song in Hawaiian. With rapid-fire verses, reflective of fast ...

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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

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

(b Mantua, late 16th century; d Assisi, Aug 29, 1642). Italian composer, choirmaster, violinist and singer. He was a member of the Franciscan order. His Mantuan origins are apparent from documents at Bergamo. He was first active at the Gonzaga court in Mantua, where he may have worked under Monteverdi. He was perhaps among the musicians accompanying Princess Eleonora Gonzaga to Vienna for her wedding in 1622 to the Emperor Ferdinand II. From at least 1626 to 1629 he was in Vienna as musicista da camera to the emperor and in that post played an active role in the festivities in Prague for the coronation of the emperor's son, Ferdinand III, as King of Bohemia in 1627. It is likely that he remained in the emperor's service until early 1631, as can again be seen from documents at Bergamo.

On 13 July 1631 he was in Bergamo to take part in a Vespers service at S Maria Maggiore as a trial for an appointment there. He was accepted and on 17 July signed a three-year contract to serve as contralto and violinist at an annual salary of 840 lire – a figure surpassed only by the salaries of the ...

Article

David Royko

(b Bowling Green, KY, Apr 13, 1952). American mandolinist, fiddler, vocalist, composer, and bluegrass/newgrass bandleader. Commonly referred to as the “Father of Newgrass Music,” Bush was deeply influenced by Jethro Burns and Bill Monroe. He began playing mandolin at age 11 and fiddle at 13, winning three junior fiddle championships at the National Oldtime Fiddlers’ Contest & Festival in Weiser, Idaho (1967–9). In 1969, Bush recorded Poor Richard’s Almanac (American Heritage) with banjoist Alan Munde and guitarist Wayne Stewart. In 1970, he joined Bluegrass Alliance and, from that band’s personnel, co-founded New Grass Revival in 1971, blending bluegrass instrumentation and techniques with rock, jazz, reggae, pop, and blues, and recording ten albums. In the early 1970s, Bush began an extensive studio career, playing on significant progressive bluegrass and Newgrass albums. A prolific solo artist since the mid-1980s, Bush recorded series of albums on the Rounder and Sugar Hill labels, most notably ...

Article

Lise Waxer

[Colón Román jr, William Anthony; ‘El malo’]

(b South Bronx, New York, April 28, 1950). American bandleader, composer, arranger, trombonist, popular singer, producer and actor. Dubbed ‘El malo’ (the ‘bad boy’) of salsa, he began playing the trumpet in 1963 with the teenage band the Dandees. Switching to trombone, he made his professional début at 17 with the album El malo (Fania, 1967). Both as a bandleader and a member of the Fania All-Stars, he quickly moved to the fore of the burgeoning New York salsa scene, cementing the raw, trombone-heavy ‘New York sound’ inspired by earlier artists such as Eddie Palmieri and Mon Rivera. Between 1967 and 1973 he made a series of important recordings with vocalist Hector Lavoe, which included the albums Asalto Navideño I and II (Fania, 1972 and 1973) with cuatro virtuoso Yomo Toro, where traditional Puerto Rican Christmas aguinaldos were fused with salsa. During his second period (...

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Bruce Johnson

[Francis James ]

(b Emmaville, Australia, Sept 10, 1904; d Sydney, 6 or April 7, 1979). Australian bandleader, trombonist, trumpeter, arranger, and singer. From 1922 he worked in Sydney and Melbourne in the bands, among others, of Bill James (1923), Frank Ellis (1924), Walter Beban (1925), Carol Laughner (1926–7), and Linn Smith (1927–8). In England he worked with Jack Hylton, Fred Elizalde, Al Collins, and Al Starita (all 1928–9). Following his return to Australia he played as a sideman and as a leader in Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne, and during a residency at the Sydney Trocadero (1936–9) he established a reputation as a pre-eminent swing bandleader. He led an army band (1943–5), then played again at the Sydney Trocadero (1946–51, 1954–70), after which he gradually withdrew from musical activities. The finest dance-band and swing musicians in Australia passed through the ranks of Coughlan’s band....

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Dale Cockrell

(b New Haven, CT, April 6, 1834; d Philadelphia, Nov 20, 1903). American composer, singer, and conductor. He first studied music in Saratoga Springs, NY, but it was in Chicago that he built a reputation as a musician. After moving to New York in 1864, he conducted choirs and sang in local churches and on the concert stage. Known during this time primarily as a church musician, he composed many sacred solo and choral pieces; at least twenty published collections of sacred music bear his name. He also composed three operettas, although these achieved little commercial success. Danks’s widest reputation was as a composer of popular songs: “Don’t be Angry with me, Darling” (1870) sold well, and the ballad “Silver Threads among the Gold” (1872; copyrighted in 1873) sold more than three million copies—perhaps more than any other song of its day. Despite his renown, Danks died destitute and alone. He was inducted into the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame in ...

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Robert Paul Kolt

(b Summit, NJ, Nov 18, 1915, d New York, NY, Nov 7, 1998). American conductor, composer, arranger, and vocalist. He attended the State of New Jersey Manual Training School (Bordentown, NJ), the Institute of Musical Arts (now Juilliard), and Columbia University Teachers College. He also studied voice privately with Sergei Radamsky, conducting with pierre Monteux , and composition with Henry Cowell and Hall Johnson. De Paur composed and arranged music as a member of the Hall Johnson Choir, with whom he sang and served as assistant conductor (1932–6). He then became musical director of the Negro Unit of the Federal Theater Project in New York (1936–9), with which he conducted, composed, and arranged music for various Orson Welles productions, including Macbeth. In 1942 he enlisted in the US Army Air Force and became choral director of the play Winged Victory (1943–6). From this emerged the De Paur Infantry Chorus which, under contract with Columbia Artists Management and Columbia Records, toured extensively until ...

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Geoffrey Norris

(b Borisovka, Kursk govt., 1766; d nr Kursk, 23 April/May 5, 1813). Russian composer, conductor and singer. Born into a peasant family on the estate of Count Sheremet′yev, Degtyaryov was admitted at the age of seven into the count’s choir school. At 15 he was taking principal roles in opera, and in 1789 he became Konzertmeister, with responsibility for vocal music. About 1790 he probably visited Italy with Giuseppe Sarti, from whom he had some musical training. There is also evidence to suggest that he undertook a period of musical study with Antonio Sapienze (1755–1829), a leading teacher at the St Petersburg theatre school and the Smolny Institute. On his return to Russia he was made Kapellmeister to Sheremet′yev’s court. In 1803 he was liberated from his serfdom and moved to Moscow. Two years later he published in St Petersburg a translation of the second largest edition of Vincenzo Manfredini’s ...

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Ivan Čavlović

(b Zvornik, Dec 17, 1906; d Sarajevo, 1990). Bosnian-Herzegovinian composer, conductor, and concert singer. He started his musical career as a choirboy in the choir Sveta Cecilija at Sarajevo Cathedral. He studied solo-singing in the class of Nina Mastergazi and Leo Pešek at the Music School in Sarajevo. In 1927 he studied solo-singing in the class of Milan Reizer at the Academy of Music in Zagreb. He was a self-taught conductor and composer. From 1928 he conducted amateur choirs in Sarajevo, with which he performed most of his own compositions. He attained great success with the Croatian choir Trebević. After World War II he was an employee of Zavod za zaštitu malih autorskih prava (the ‘Institute for Protection of Authors’ Rights’) and a conductor of the choir Vaso Miskin Crni.

Demetar set harmonizations of folk tunes and based compositions on Bosnian folklore. His harmonic language is traditional but with a certain freedom in the elaboration of extended tonal harmony. He particularly enriched Bosnian-Herzegovinian choral literature....

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 ...

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[Jacob ]

(b Graz, July 20, 1762; d Djakovar [now Đakovo], March 24, 1826). Austrian composer, singer and choirmaster. He joined Schikaneder’s company at Vienna’s Theater auf der Wieden in or around 1789, acted and sang tenor roles and, from the mid-1790s, supplied the theatre with Singspiele and incidental music. After the death of his first wife in 1806 he left Vienna and went to Djakovar, Slavonia, where he spent the rest of his life as choirmaster at the cathedral. On 7 January 1807 he married Sophie Weber, thereby becoming Mozart’s posthumous brother-in-law. After Haibel’s death, his widow moved to Salzburg and lived with her sister Constanze; Sophie Haibel had been close to Mozart in his last months, as is made clear by the moving report she wrote in 1825 for Constanze’s second husband, G.N. Nissen.

Haibel’s first score for Schikaneder, the ballet Le nozze disturbate, was given no fewer than 39 times in ...