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Barry Kernfeld

[Benoit, Jean-Louis ]

(b Philadelphia, May 18, 1926; d nr Paris, Feb 10, 1997). American organist and leader. His father was from Martinique. A child prodigy, he grew up in Baltimore, where he was taught by his grandmother; his grandfather was a Baptist minister, and Bennett directed their church choir from the age of 12. After military service (1943–6), during which time he played tuba and thereby developed his ability to invent bass lines, he began his jazz career in Baltimore (1947), leading a piano trio modeled after that of Nat “King” Cole. In 1949, under the influence of Wild Bill Davis, he began to play organ, an instrument he used professionally from 1951. By 1956 he was performing in a style much closer to that of Jimmy Smith rather than Davis, and from 1957 to 1959 he toured the Midwest and the East Coast with his own hard-bop organ trio. The following year he moved to Paris, where he performed at the Blue Note with Jimmy Gourley or René Thomas in Kenny Clarke’s trio, accompanying numerous distinguished guest soloists (until ...

Article

Mark Gilbert and Barry Kernfeld

(b Dortmund, Germany, April 23, 1959). German drummer, bandleader, and record producer. He grew up in a musical family and played trumpet, clarinet, and piano as a youth; he then took up drums and studied classical percussion at the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik in Trossingen (1977–81). After attending the Drummers’ Collective in New York (1981–2) he either performed as a drummer or directed big bands. In the 1980s he concentrated on fusion, but later he became known for his mainstream and big-band work; apart from these activities he was first timpanist in the SWF-Rundfunkorchester from 1981. Between 1986 and 1993 his own big band played with such guest soloists as Art Farmer, Slide Hampton, Bob Mintzer, Jiggs Whigham, Jim Snidero, Barbara Dennerlein, Ack van Rooyen, and Silvia Droste. As a sideman Berg worked with, among others, the quartet of Louis Stewart and the guitarist Heiner Franz (...

Article

Gary W. Kennedy

(b New York, Dec 9, 1954). American record producer, composer, bandleader, and percussionist. He began playing percussion at the age of nine and as a teenager he performed with local Latin bands and with Carla Bley. After studying art at Cooper Union in New York and then independently in the western Sahara, India, Haiti, and Europe, he worked with Chico Freeman. In 1979 he founded the record company and label American Clavé, the first release of which was Jerry Gonzalez’s album Ya yo ma curé; other artists presented by the label include the Argentinian bandoneon player Astor Piazzolla. In 1984 Hanrahan formed the group Conjure, which performs his own compositions and uses lyrics based on the poetry of Ishmael Reed. From the mid-1980s into the 1990s he performed internationally in both small groups and large orchestras, collaborating with, among others, Olu Dara, Lester Bowie, David Murray, Don Pullen, D. D. Jackson, Kenny Kirkland, Billy Bang, Jean-Paul Bourelly, Steve Swallow, Anthony Cox, Jamaaladeen Tacuma, Andy Gonzalez, Jack Bruce, Billy Hart, Ignacio Berroa, Little Jimmy Scott, the Latin percussionist Milton Cardona, the avant-rock guitarist Arto Lindsay, and the blues singer Taj Mahal. Hanrahan usually serves as a conductor, but he also plays guitar and sings. His eclectic style of music blends elements of rock, jazz, blues, and popular song over various rhythmic structures, which are often based on Latin music. He likens his role to that of a film director and has been called “the Jean-Luc Godard of music.”...

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Article

Howard Rye

(b Kansas City, MO, July 7, 1888; d San Francisco, June 25, 1957). American drummer, bandleader, and nightclub owner. In the 1910s he toured with the Tennessee Ten and led his own band in Chicago. Having moved to California, he operated a record store in Oakland around 1921 before going on tour with Mamie Smith’s Jazz Hounds. His presence has been suggested on recordings by Smith made in May 1922, but has not been securely established. Back in California he formed his own band, known from time to time as the Kansas City Blue Blowers or the Dixieland Blue Blowers. In November 1924 the group began a long residency at Solomon’s Dance Pavilion DeLuxe in Los Angeles, during which private recordings were made that have fortuitously survived; in 1927 it moved to the Bronx Palm Gardens and in October it began a series of recordings for Columbia. This band, in which Jake Porter, Les Hite, and Henry Starr were sidemen, was also the house band at the Lincoln Theater. In ...

Article

Gary W. Kennedy

(b Spokane, WA, Jan 6, 1944). American trumpeter, arranger, conductor, and record producer. He began playing piano at the age of four and took up trumpet when he was ten; in his early teens he organized a dixieland ensemble and later he formed a dance band. He studied music at Gonzaga University, Spokane (BA 1967), and trumpet performance at the Manhattan School of Music (MM 1970). After graduation he worked in show bands and with Gene Roland’s rehearsal big band, and from the late 1970s he was a member of Philly Joe Jones’s septet. In the 1980s he played with Jones’s Dameronia, for which he also wrote arrangements and served as music director. Following the drummer’s death in 1985 Sickler led the group, which recorded under his leadership in 1989. For a while each year between 1987 and 1991 he led a quartet for nightclub appearances in Paris. During the same period he toured Japan as a member of Art Blakey’s big band (...

Article

Howard Rye and Alyn Shipton

[Calhoun, Charles E. [Chuck]]

(b Atchison, KS, Nov 16, 1901; d Altamonte Springs, FL, April 1, 1999). American bandleader, singer, pianist, arranger, and record producer. He was brought up in St. Joseph and Kansas City, Missouri, and began his professional career at the age of five as a singer and dancer in a traveling variety act with his parents, who gave him a formal musical education. Having played piano in a trio with the saxophonist Theodore Thyus, he formed his first band, the Blues Serenaders, in 1918, initially a quartet of piano, drums, violin and cello, though it later developed into a larger ensemble with woodwind and brass; Coleman Hawkins played cello and later C-melody saxophone with the band. Stone directed, played piano, and arranged music for the group, which performed a variety act in the St. Joseph area that involved dancing and conjuring tricks; with the help of the agent Frank Rock, he established an early network of venues for touring appearances, and in the early 1920s he pioneered jazz radio broadcasting in St. Joseph. He continued to lead the Blues Serenaders until ...

Article

Ryan D.W. Bruce

[Randolph Edward ]

(b Brooklyn, NY, April 6, 1926). American jazz pianist, bandleader, composer, and club owner. Weston did not identify with his classical music lessons as a youth, choosing instead to explore a percussive piano style under the influence of Duke Ellington. Other early influences include Count Basie, Nat “King” Cole, Art Tatum, and Coleman Hawkins. Weston’s playing was transformed after attending a concert by Hawkins and Thelonious Monk in 1945: Monk became Weston’s mentor from 1947–9, and inspired his heavy attack and improvisatory rhythmic displacements. He was hired by Marshall Stearns in 1949 to provide demonstrations of different jazz styles for university lectures given throughout the United States; their work lasted eight summers and fostered Weston’s interest in African music.

Beginning with his debut in 1954, his early recordings acquired critical recognition and included band members such as Art Blakey, Cecil Payne, Ahmed Abdul-Malik, and Coleman Hawkins. Some of his compositions of the time, especially “Little Niles” and “Hi-Fly,” gained popularity and have been recorded by many others. Weston also worked with arranger ...