(b Wayne County, IN, Sept 27, 1881; d Saugerties, NY, Feb 8, 1947). American cornetist, trumpeter, conductor, composer, and educator. He studied music with his father, and at the age of 16 joined the 158th Indiana Volunteer Infantry as a bandsman. While still in his teens he became bandmaster of the 161st Indiana Volunteer Infantry Regiment. Following his army service he moved to Boston, where he continued his studies, and was cornet soloist with the bands of Liberati, Sousa, Conway, Frederick Innes, and Mace Gay. He also conducted the Boston Cadet Band and the Lakeside Band of Denver, and in 1915–16 made a world tour with his wife Kitty Rankin, a cornetist. From 1917 to 1923 he played first trumpet in the Philadelphia SO under Stokowski. During the summers of 1918–22 he was cornet soloist with the Goldman Band. In 1922 he founded the Ernest Williams School of Music in Brooklyn, which continued until his death; its faculty members included Pryor, Cowell, Grofé, Grainger, Leidzén, Mayhew Lake, and Morton Gould. In ...
Raoul F. Camus
[Stanley R. ]
(b Danville, KY, April 10, 1894; d New York, Dec 17, 1975). American bandleader, clarinetist, and alto saxophonist. He began playing violin, but after 1909 concentrated on clarinet. In 1914 he moved to Cincinnati, where he later worked as a leader (1919–23). After settling in New York (1924) he led his own Royal Flush Orchestra (from 1925), which was resident at the Savoy Ballroom (1926 – January 1928); he made a number of recordings with the band as a singer, clarinetist, and alto saxophonist. Although Williams was capable of intense and effective blues playing, his style was marked by an extensive use of novelty effects. This has tended to obscure the quality of his bands, which recorded some of the finest examples of the Harlem style of the later 1920s, prominently featuring the trumpeter George Temple, the trombonist David “Jelly” James, and the pianist Hank Duncan, among other excellent soloists. Williams’s vocal work includes “talking blues” in the manner of Bert Williams (...
revised by Martin Marks
(b New York, NY, 8 Feb 1932). Composer, arranger, conductor, and pianist.
He learned the piano from the age of eight and after moving to Los Angeles with his family in 1948 studied with the pianist and arranger Bobby Van Eps. He served in the US Air Force (1951–4), orchestrating for and conducting service bands, then moved back to New York, where he studied for a year with Rosina Lhévinne at the Juilliard School and played in jazz clubs and recording studios. After returning to the West Coast he enrolled at UCLA and took up private composition studies with Arthur Olaf Andersen and Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, among others. From 1956 Williams was a studio pianist in Hollywood and two years later began arranging and composing music for television, contributing the main title to Checkmate (1960; see Thomas and Burlingame). Through the mid-1960s he composed for several series and worked for Columbia Records as a pianist, arranger, and conductor; he also made a number of albums with André Previn. During this period Williams began scoring feature films, with many of his earliest scores for comedies, such as ...
Bill C. Malone
[James Robert ]
(b nr Kosse, TX, March 6, 1905; d Fort Worth, May 13, 1975). American fiddler, singer, and bandleader. In 1931 he became one of the founding members of the seminal western-swing band the Light Crust Doughboys (named after the flour company that sponsored it on Fort Worth radio). Three years later he assembled the Texas Playboys, who played on radio station KVOO in Tulsa from 1934 to 1942. The group became very popular in the Southwest through broadcasts, recordings, personal appearances, and nightly dances at Cain’s Ballroom; during the 1940s it took part in films, and throughout the 1950s and 1960s it toured and recorded extensively. As a fiddler Wills combined traditional hoedown music with blues inflections, but as a bandleader he was receptive to musicians who could play jazz or the hot dance tunes that he himself was incapable of producing. The Playboys consequently combined country music string instruments with drums and wind instruments and performed an eclectic repertory that included blues, jazz, popular standards, and country music. Along with Milton Brown, Wills was one of the chief popularizers of ...
(b Mason City, IA, May 18, 1902; d Santa Monica, CA, June 15, 1984). American composer, conductor, flautist and lyricist. Between 1921 and 1923, while still a student at the Institute of Musical Art (later the Juilliard School), he was engaged as principal flautist by Sousa. He then became a member of the New York PO (1924–9), while continuing to study privately with Hadley and Barrère. He worked in radio and television (1929–56), first as the musical director of the Northwest Territory for ABC, and eventually as the musical director, conductor and composer for the western division of NBC. Two of his songs achieved wide radio popularity: You and I (1941), the signature tune for the Maxwell House Coffee programme, and May the Good Lord bless and keep you (1950), the theme song for Tallulah Bankhead’s ‘The Big Show’. Willson composed the scores for such films as ...
Alice Lawson Aber-Count
(b Riga, March 4, 1834; d Wiesbaden, Feb 20, 1911). German composer, pianist and conductor . After attending the Leipzig Conservatory (1851–6), where he studied harmony and counterpoint under Ernst Richter, theory under Moritz Hauptmann, the piano with Plaidy, the organ with Carl Becker and the violin with Felix Dreyschock, he returned to Riga and was appointed second conductor at the municipal theatre. On the advice of Wilhelm von Lenz, and recommended by Adolf Henselt, he went to St Petersburg the following year and became professor of theory and piano at the Imperial Nikolayevsky Institute. In 1875 he retired to Dresden, and in 1878 settled in Wiesbaden, where he devoted himself to composition and also to lyric poetry. Wilm was a prolific composer who was already well-known before he left the Leipzig Conservatory. He wrote over 250 works, many of them published in Germany, including the lyric poem ...
(b Sydney, June 22, 1944). Australian bandleader, trombonist, and arranger. He joined the Waratah Jazzmen in 1959 and during the late 1960s worked in nightclubs, as well as with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and the dance band of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. With Warren Daly, he formed the Daly–Wilson Big Band, which was active from ...
Frederick A. Beck
revised by Barry Kernfeld
(b Shelby, MS, Sept 4, 1918; d Los Angeles, September 8, 2014). American composer, arranger, bandleader, and trumpeter. When he was 14 his family moved to Detroit, and he studied music at high school. From August 1939 to April 1942 he worked with Jimmie Lunceford’s band as a soloist, composer, and arranger. He then moved to Los Angeles, where he performed with Les Hite (1942–3) and Benny Carter (1943). After playing with Clark Terry and Ernie Royal in Willie Smith’s navy band he organized his first big band, which he led from 1944 to 1947; it included such musicians as Snooky Young and Melba Liston and undertook a tour during which it played in New York. Wilson then worked with Count Basie, writing arrangements and performing with the band intermittently (1948–9), and Dizzy Gillespie (for six months, c1949) and wrote arrangements for Duke Ellington: “I’m happy to say that Duke Ellington liked my music so much he put his name on it,” he recalled (Hildebrand, ...
Gary W. Kennedy
(b Knoxville, IL, Sept 27, 1964). American drummer and leader. He began playing drums professionally around the age of 13 and worked regularly during his high school years. He later studied percussion at Wichita State University (BM 1986) and with Ed Soph (1984). In 1987 he moved to Boston, where he performed and recorded with Charlie Kohlhase from 1989 and with the Either/Orchestra between 1989 and 1994. During the same time he recorded with the Mandala Octet and Garrison Fewell. In 1992 Wilson moved to New York, where he has worked regularly with Cecil McBee and Dewey Redman (both from 1994) and Lee Konitz (from 1995); from 1996 he has toured and recorded with his own quartet (with Andrew D’Angelo, the tenor saxophonist Joel Frahm, and Yosuke Inoue). Wilson’s interactive style is a blend of Max Roach’s melodic approach and Ed Blackwell’s sense of rhythmic freedom, and draws from genres other than jazz. His drumming always has a swing feeling and he is equally adept at both straight ahead and free playing. In addition to a conventional drum set and standard percussion he employs a number of unusual instruments, including a string of shells, a tube that whistles when swirled, duck calls, and a slide whistle; he incorporates these into his playing in a manner which is humorous and theatrical, yet consistently musical....
(Theodore, Jr. )
(b Altoona, PA, Aug 31, 1939). American soprano and alto saxophonist and bandleader. While at Northwestern University he formed the Paul Winter Sextet, with which he played alto saxophone. In 1961 this group won the Intercollegiate Jazz Festival, at which Dizzy Gillespie and John Hammond were among the judges; the latter engaged the group to record for Columbia. In the 1960s Winter’s performances and recordings brought him to national and international prominence, and in 1962, sponsored by the US State Department, he undertook an extensive tour of Latin America. At this time he considered establishing a group that departed from the conventional instrumentation of jazz; he performed works inspired by his visit in “Paul Winter Sextet” (1964), an episode of the television series “Jazz Casual.” In 1967 he formed the Paul Winter Consort, which combined Latin American, African, and Western instruments; in the early 1970s the group included the guitarist Ralph Towner, the double bass player Glen Moore, the sitarist and percussionist Collin Walcott, the reed player Paul McCandless, and the cellist David Darling; after Towner, Moore, Walcott, and McCandless formed the cooperative group Oregon in ...