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Howard Rye

[Charles; the Man with the Moves]

(b Birmingham, AL, Sept 30, 1913; d Las Vegas, NV, April 19, 2003). American dancer. His parents moved to Buffalo when he was four, and he later began his professional career in the area as a singing waiter. In 1933 he met the dancer Bill (William) Porter, and the two men formed an act, the Rhythm Pals; in 1935 they went to New York, after which they toured widely until 1939, incorporating a residency at Sebastian’s New Cotton Club in Los Angeles in 1938. In 1939 Atkins returned to New York and began dancing with and choreographing for the Cotton Club Boys, appearing with them in the show The Hot Mikado. Soon afterwards he produced a show in Atlantic City, New Jersey, in which he met the singer Dotty (Dorothy) Saulter, with whom he formed a professional and personal partnership, touring with Cab Calloway. In September 1943 Atkins joined the army. On his return to civilian life he formed another partnership, Coles & Atkins, with Honi Coles (for details ...

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Howard Rye

(b New Orleans, July 31, 1949). American singer and dancer. He majored in theater studies at Xavier University and then studied drama in Europe. On his return to New Orleans he founded the New Experience Theatre and became involved in jazz by conceiving the show One Mo’ Time, which sought to re-create an evening at the city’s Lyric Theater in 1927. The show received its première at the Toulouse Theater, where it eventually ran for six and a half years. In 1979 a One Mo’ Time company opened in New York at the Village Gate Downstairs, where the show ran for 1300 performances. A road company was formed in 1980, and troupes later toured to Britain and Australia. Bagneris himself sang and danced with each of these companies at various times. With choreography by Pepsi Bethel and music by Orange Kellin and the pianist Lars Edegran, the show featured the New Orleans Blue Serenaders, which included Walter Payton on tuba, the drummers John Robichaux and Herlin Riley, and a starring trumpeter, a role played at various times by Jabbo Smith, Bill Dillard, and Franc Williams. Among featured singers were Lillian Boutté, Sandra Reaves Phillips, and Sylvia “Kuumba” Williams. The Village Gate cast with Smith and Williams is heard on the original cast album ...

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Barry Kernfeld

(b ?New York, 1923). American dancer. As a child he was influenced by Bill Robinson. By 1931 he was working in private houses in New York with Luckey Roberts and his Society Entertainers. Later he sang with Lucky Millinder’s band, was the featured dancer with Erskine Hawkins, and performed with Baby Laurence, who was another influence on his dancing. Around 1943 Briggs spent three weeks dancing for Earl Hines, whose sidemen Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker helped him to adapt his style to bop. He also developed his own version of the paddle and roll dancing technique, to which he added elements of pantomime. Briggs left Hines to work with Count Basie, then sang and danced for Charlie Barnet, with whom he recorded in 1947–9 and 1958. In 1950 he was filmed with Nat “King” Cole’s “trio” (actually a quartet at the time) and Benny Carter’s orchestra in the short ...

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Howard Rye

[Charles (Lester); Honey]

(b Philadelphia, April 2, 1911; d New York, Nov 12, 1992). American dancer. His full name appears in his application for social security. He began his career as one of the Three Millers, who appeared at the Lafayette Theatre, New York, in 1931, but this act was not financially successful and Coles went back to Philadelphia. He was again in New York in 1932; during the 1930s he worked with the Lucky Seven Trio, and in 1938–9 he was in a song and dance act with Bert Howell. He met his future partner Cholly Atkins while working with Cab Calloway in 1940; however, from 1943 he was in the army, and so their act was not formed until 1946. Coles and Atkins performed with the bands of Lionel Hampton, Calloway, Count Basie, Billy Eckstine, and Louis Armstrong, and in 1948 they visited England. From 1949 to 1951 they were featured in the show ...

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Barry Kernfeld

(b Smithville, VA, July 18, 1900; d Nov 1967). American clarinetist, singer, and dancer. In his social security application he gave his place of birth as Smithville (not Smithfield, as it has been published elsewhere). At the age of ten he learned clarinet from his father. When his family moved to Philadelphia he formed a band with his brother Jimmy, who played clarinet and saxophone. During the 1920s and 1930s he enjoyed much success with his own variety act; he appeared at the Sunset Café in Chicago and, around 1928, in the show Blackbirds. His best-known recordings are those he made in 1929 and 1930 as the leader of a group which included Jelly Roll Morton. These and his earlier recordings (1927–8), some of which involved Eddie Lang, display a repetitive but striking improvisatory style on clarinet, characterized by conventional blues formulas (sometimes played with a timbre that resembles that of Bubber Miley’s muted trumpet), extended passages of deliberately paced slap-tonguing, and an extraordinary cackling sound. His playing may be heard in all its variety on ...

Article

Rainer E. Lotz

(Winston )

(b Philadelphia, May 14, 1889; d New York, May 19, 1939). American dancer, choreographer, and impresario. He went to Ireland in 1903 as a member of a juvenile “piccaninny” group, then toured Europe with Belle Davis (1903–8); his dancing during this period may be seen in the film Die schöne Davis mit ihren drei Negern (1906). Thereafter he worked as an eccentric solo act, and from 1910 into the 1930s was featured as a step dancer in revues in London, Paris, and Berlin; he also toured South America in 1923. In 1925 he starred in La revue nègre, with music provided by Claude Hopkins’s Charleston Jazz Band. He then organized his own revue, Black People (1926), which toured Europe and North Africa with members of Sam Wooding’s band. He organized further revues in Berlin (1926) and New York (1927...

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Howard Rye

[Leslie ]

(b Waycross, GA, Feb 12, 1913; d New York, June 30, 1997). American tap-dancer. His birthdate appears in his application for social security; the place of his birth and details of his death are in the New York Times obituary. Gaines started dancing in 1932 as a member of the Three Dukes (comprising Gaines, James Hudson, and Arthur Russell), with whom he may be seen in the short film Mills Blue Rhythm Band (1933) performing I would do anything for you and The Peanut Vendor. They also worked with Duke Ellington. In 1934 the Three Dukes toured Britain and Europe with Cab Calloway. They returned to Britain in 1936 for a variety tour and remained in Europe until 1939, during which time they held an extended residency at the Casino de Paris. Gaines took part in many USO tours from 1951 to 1971, when he retired. In ...

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Howard Rye

[Royce Edward ]

(b Baltimore, April 6, 1928). American tap-dancer. He grew up in Detroit, where in an amateur show he won a prize of a job at the Flame Club, which he held for 13 weeks. In the 1950s he worked with Lionel Hampton and Cab Calloway’s Cotton Club Show (1957), among others, and also undertook tours nationwide and with the USO; a later USO tour brought him to Europe in 1962. In 1963 Gaines traveled to London to perform at the Pigalle nightclub; he then settled in Britain and resided for many years in Rotherham, Yorkshire. Initially he worked alternately in Britain and in Germany. In Britain he was active both as a swing dancer with Alex Welsh and Humphrey Lyttelton and also in bop or free improvisation contexts with Ronnie Scott, Stan Tracey, Derek Bailey, John Stevens, and many others. In 1995, with Bailey, he made the video ...

Article

Howard Rye

[Samuel Christopher ]

(b Fitzgerald, GA, Nov 6, 1918; d Oakland, CA, March 6, 1997). American tap-dancer. His given name and birthdate are found in the California death index. He began his dancing career on the sidewalks of Atlanta and before the age of nine had formed the act Chuck & Chuckles with James Walker. After they moved to New York in 1931, Green became a protégé of John Bubbles. Chuck & Chuckles toured widely, working in theaters with several leading big bands, including that of Chick Webb, and dancing at clubs through the 1940s. They broke up in the late 1940s, and Green continued with a solo act. In the 1960s he appeared at the Newport Jazz Festival and at the Village Vanguard accompanied by Jo Jones (1964). From 1969 he was a moving force in the Hoofers Club. He performed at the Riverside Studios in London in ...

Article

Barry Kernfeld

[Edgar ]

(b Pittsburgh, Aug 3, 1918; d Detroit, May 9, 1979). American singer, lyricist, and dancer. For many years he worked principally as a tap-dancer while also learning to play tuba, guitar, and drums. In the 1940s, with his dancing partner Irv Taylor, he created what came to be called (misleadingly) jazz vocalese (see Vocalese) by setting lyrics to improvisations on Panassié Stomp and Taxi War Dance by Lester Young with Count Basie’s orchestra and Body and Soul by Coleman Hawkins; a decade later this type of piece became an important element in the success of Lambert, Hendricks, and Ross. From 1952, following King Pleasure’s popular recording of Jefferson’s Moody’s Mood for Love (based on a saxophone solo by James Moody), Jefferson was able to record his own gritty-voiced vocalese; among the four titles from his first session were a different Body and Soul (based on an uncelebrated recording of the piece by Moody) and ...

Article

Howard Rye

(fl Los Angeles, mid-1930s–1954). American drummer, singer, and dancer. He began his musical career in Dallas in the early 1930s in the Sharps and Flats, a band led by his elder brother Bert Johnson, a trombonist. While he was primarily a dancing frontman with this group, he was also featured on tom-toms. Both brothers moved to Los Angeles in the mid-1930s, where Cee Pee joined the band of the alto saxophonist Emerson Scott at the Onyx Club, Hollywood. He took over leadership of the group during a residency at the Paradise Club, and during a succession of engagements at such venues as the Del Mar Club (1940), the Rhumboogie, Sugar Hill (1942), and Billy Berg’s Swing Club he led one of the most prominent West Coast big bands of the era; among his sidemen were Teddy Buckner, Karl George, Buddy Banks (i), Marshal Royal, Jack McVea, Johnny Miller, and Buddy Collette. Alton Redd was the band’s second drummer, filling in when Johnson was featured on tom-toms or engaged in showmanship. The band made many visits to the film studios, some of which probably remain to be identified. Johnson continued to lead bands until at least ...

Article

John Cowley, Jeffrey Green and Howard Rye

[Hymans-Johnson [Hijmans-Johnson], Kendrick Reginald ]

(b Georgetown, British Guiana [now Guyana], Sept 10, 1914; d London, March 8, 1941). British Guiana bandleader and dancer. The birthdate of 22 June 1917 given in the first edition of this dictionary derives from an error in the registers of his British school. He had little musical training, but was featured in a comb-and-paper band at Queens College, Georgetown. From 1929 he attended school in England. His interest in dancing developed from his contact with the African-American choreographer Clarence “Buddy” Bradley, and he began working as a dancer and choreographer in 1933; he assisted Bradley with film choreography, and he may be seen dancing in the film Oh Daddy (1934). A tour of the Caribbean in 1935 was interrupted by work in American film studios in April and May, and Johnson allegedly danced for Fletcher Henderson and made two film shorts. He returned to England in ...

Article

Rainer E. Lotz

[Jackson, Laurence ]

(b Baltimore, Feb 23, 1921; d May 1974). American singer and tap-dancer. He first sang professionally at the age of 11, touring with Don Redman. During a period at Dickie Wells’s club in New York he learned to tap-dance, and from the mid-1930s he performed with several dance groups. He worked steadily through the 1940s, appearing with the bands of Count Basie, Woody Herman, Duke Ellington, Art Tatum, and others; during a tenure as a tap-dancer at the Spotlite Club, New York, he traded fours with Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, and Bud Powell (c1947). Laurence emphasized footwork, performing tap-dances almost as if they were drum solos, and he was one of the few jazz dancers who felt comfortable with the rhythms of bop. Illness prevented him from working for many years, but he later recorded as a leader the album Dancemaster (c1958–60, CJ 30), accompanied by such all-star musicians as Paul Quinichette, Bobby Jaspar, and Roland Hanna. He visited London about ...

Article

Howard Rye

[Marion Joseph ]

(b Indianapolis, July 22, 1915). American trumpeter, singer, and dancer. From 1932 he was featured as a singer and dancer in New York shows, notably Blackbirds of 1939. In 1941 he was a master of ceremonies at Kelly’s Stable and took part in jam sessions as a drummer at Monroe’s Uptown House. He recorded as a singer with Count Basie in May 1942, and he may be seen in the soundie A Song and Dance Man (1943). In 1944–5 he toured North Africa and Asia as a member of a USO unit led by Alberta Hunter; this tour included a month’s residency in Casablanca. In the late 1940s and early 1950s Miller worked around New York; he recorded again as a singer with Basie in 1947 and 1949. In 1953, as a member of Mezz Mezzrow’s band, he traveled to France, Switzerland, Italy, Morocco, and Belgium, where he recorded under his own name with a band in which Buck Clayton and Kansas Fields were sidemen; on ...

Article

Barry Kernfeld

[Willis ]

(b Chicago, Dec 10, 1913; d New York, Jan 28, 1976). American trumpeter, cornetist, violinist, singer, and dancer. He learned piano from the age of six, initially taking lessons from his mother. Later he took up violin, taught himself trumpet, and marched as a drum master in high school. From 1932 to 1937 he led a sextet in Chicago, then worked, principally as a trumpeter, with Earl Hines (February 1937 – December 1938) and Horace Henderson (January 1939 – March 1940). In 1940, after spending eight months performing as a solo act – singing, dancing, and playing both trumpet and violin – he joined Duke Ellington, with whom he remained until 1963 apart from a few periods, including nine months’ leave in 1944 to lead his own quartet. While with Ellington, Nance continued to make use of all his talents. He often performed as a singer and dancer, and the full and penetrating tone he obtained on violin was the highlight of many of the band’s recordings, including ...

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Howard Rye

[Sonnie ]

(b Youngstown, OH, May 5, 1925; d New York, Feb 7, 1957). American singer, dancer, and drummer. He was brought up in Chicago by the vaudeville duo Butterbeans and Susie (Joe and Susie Edwards). In 1948 he was the drummer and leader of the band at the Cincinnati Cotton Club; among his sidemen was King Kolax, with whom he first recorded in December in Los Angeles. In 1949 he joined Lionel Hampton, in whose band he worked for the remainder of his professional career. He can be seen performing Hamp’s Gumbo in the short film Lionel Hampton and his Orchestra (1949), and his passionate blues shouting is heard to good effect in Money Ain’t Everything/Worried Life Blues (1952, Peacock 1595) with a small group nominally led by Gladys Hampton. Parker toured Europe with Hampton in late 1953 and again in 1954–5. He suffered a cerebral haemorrhage during a concert at Valenciennes, France, in ...

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John Storm Roberts

[Pozo Gonzales, Luciano ]

(b Havana, Cuba, Jan 7, 1915; d New York, NY, Dec 2, 1948). Cuban drummer, singer, and dancer. His drumming and singing were rooted in Santeria, the lucumí faith derived from West African rituals. On 29 September 1947 he and the bongo player Chiquitico performed in a concert at Carnegie Hall with trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie—a landmark event in the history of fusing elements of jazz and Latin music. Pozo was murdered before he could fully develop his ideas with Gillespie, but during his brief career in the United States he provided the starting point for much popular music of the late 1940s and the 50s. The collaboration between the two men, which produced the infectious “Manteca” (1947), supplied the initiative for American musicians, and some of the listening public, to appreciate fully the tradition of Latin music.

D. Gillespie and A. Fraser: To Be, or Not … to Bop: Memoirs...

Article

Howard Rye

[Godbolt, Jimmy ]

(b Atlanta, Oct 2, 1927; d Hanson, MA, May 16, 2008). American tap-dancer. His family moved to Boston while he was still a baby. He received dance tuition from 1939 and later studied violin at the New England Conservatory. In 1949 he made his professional début with the tap-dancer Jimmy Mitchell, known as Sir Slyde; they called themselves the Slyde Brothers, and it was at this point that he adopted the stage name Jimmy Slyde. In the 1950s he toured seaside resorts along the East Coast with various shows and worked in California with Teddy Edwards and Hampton Hawes. He visited Europe in 1966 and toured South America with the Legends of Jazz in the show 1000 Years of Jazz in the early 1970s. In 1972 he returned to Europe with Milt Buckner and Jo Jones and settled in France, where he recorded Just You, Just Me (...

Article

John L. Clark Jr.

(b Chattanooga, TN, 2 June ?1900; d New York, NY, May 30, 1956). American singer, trumpeter, and dancer. Daughter of a mixed-race couple who were both entertainers and musicians, she learned several instruments before deciding to concentrate on trumpet. By the 1920s she was touring the T.O.B.A. circuit with various revues, and in 1926 she visited Shanghai. In 1935, her performance in Blackbirds of 1934 brought her to England, where she began making records that showed her chief instrumental and vocal influence to be Louis Armstrong. After a brief return in 1936 to the United States, where she performed with Earl Hines in Chicago and made films in Hollywood, Snow moved to Europe, where she made more films and recordings. She was incarcerated in a Nazi concentration camp in Denmark in 1940 and was badly injured before being exchanged in 1943. After a recuperation period she continued touring and recording until her death during a comeback appearance at the Palace Theatre. Snow stands out from other women performers of her time in that she was known as much as an instrumentalist as a singer. Her extensive touring probably cost her the name recognition that professional stability might have brought, but her recordings show her to have been a fine, swing-influenced trumpeter and vocalist....

Article

Rainer E. Lotz

[Henry ]

(b Atlanta, July 14, 1907; d New York, Oct 17, 1962). American singer and dancer. He began his career in Atlanta at an early age and first worked on the Theater Owners' Booking Association circuit in 1920. During the 1920s and 1930s he toured the USA, performing in nightclubs and theaters for vaudeville and minstrel shows, and became particularly well known for his song Bring it on home. He also appeared in several revues, notably Blackbirds of 1933–4. Williams’s nickname “Rubberlegs” describes his “legomania” dancing, which combined high kicks, wriggles, shimmies, and other steps; the short film Smash your Baggage (1933) clearly demonstrates his style of tap-dancing. Williams performed with Fletcher Henderson, Chick Webb, and Dicky Wells; he sang his own composition That’s the Blues on a recording with Clyde Hart (1945, Contl 6013), and recorded under his own name accompanied by Herbie Fields’s band (...