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Article

Brian Priestley

revised by Alyn Shipton

[Edward]

(b London, March 30, 1900; d Virginia Water, nr Egham, Nov 18, 1969). English trombonist and bandleader. He studied the tenor horn with his father before taking up the trombone. After a period as a street musician (until 1922), he became a regular sideman with several prominent British dance bands, notably those of Bert Ambrose (1928–36), Sydney Lipton (1936–9), Geraldo (1939–44) and Jack Hylton. Though not a strong jazz soloist, Heath seized the chance in 1944 to form his own band, which made regular broadcasts, gave the ‘Swing Sessions’ concerts at the London Palladium and soon began to tour frequently. Employing the very best section players, Heath successfully emulated the precision and versatility of such American bandleaders as Tommy Dorsey and Woody Herman (American musicians were banned from performing in Britain from 1935 to 1956). The many jazzmen who worked with him included Kenny Baker, Jack Parnell, and (consecutively) Ronnie Scott, Tommy Whittle, Danny Moss and Don Rendell; he also commissioned such enterprising arrangers as John Dankworth, Tadd Dameron (briefly in ...

Article

Steven Ledbetter

(August)

(b Dublin, Feb 1, 1859; d New York, May 26, 1924). American composer, conductor and cellist of Irish birth. He was the most talented and successful American operetta composer and important also as an advocate of copyright and performance-rights protection for composers.

Herbert’s father died when the boy was an infant, and he grew up in London with his maternal grandfather, the celebrated Irish novelist, poet and composer Samuel Lover (1798–1868). In 1866 Fanny Lover Herbert married a German physician; the family settled in Stuttgart, where Victor received musical training as well as a strong liberal education. He retained a lasting pride in his Irish (Protestant) heritage, reflected in many of his operettas.

He turned to music when financial difficulties prevented him from pursuing medicine, studied the cello with Bernhard Cossmann (1874–6), then entered the Stuttgart Conservatory, where he studied with Max Seifritz. He spent a year in the orchestra of the wealthy Russian Baron Paul von Derwies and another year in Vienna as soloist with the orchestra of Eduard Strauss, who had succeeded his brother Johann. In the light of his operetta work, the time in Vienna must be regarded as a significant formative experience. In ...

Article

Digby Fairweather

revised by Alyn Shipton

(b Great Lever, nr Bolton, July 2, 1892; d London, Jan 29, 1965). English bandleader, pianist and impresario. He worked as the director of a touring pantomime company (1909), as a cinema organist in London (1913) and as a freelance musician in various clubs. After military service he was appointed relief pianist for the dance band of the Queen’s Hall Roof; later he became this group’s arranger and director. Hylton made a number of recordings for HMV (from 1921), of which the early example Wang-Wang Blues (1921) is representative. He performed at various venues, including the Grafton Galleries, Piccadilly Hotel (1922–3), before enlarging his band to full orchestra size for a highly successful residency at the Alhambra Theatre (1924). In 1925 he set up a booking agency. During the late 1920s his orchestra became the English equivalent of Paul Whiteman’s show band and achieved huge commercial success. Between ...

Article

Andrew Lamb

(Karl)

(b Oberdorf, nr Treffen, April 9, 1895; d Klagenfurt, Sept 2, 1955). Austrian composer, conductor and pianist. The son of a doctor, he was educated in Villach and then studied law at Graz University. After serving as an artillery officer during World War I he studied at the Vienna Music Academy under Joseph Marx, Ferdinand Löwe, Eusebius Mandyczewski and Clemens Krauss. In 1923 he became the conductor of the opera school there, and from 1928 to 1934 was the musical director at the Innsbruck music school. His early compositions were mostly orchestral and chamber works; from 1934 he lived in Germany and Switzerland, and after his marriage to the operetta singer Trude Kollin began composing operettas, through which he gained his widest fame. In 1939 he returned to Austria, devoting himself to composition and performing his music as conductor and pianist. His operettas are traditional in style, reflecting in their effective vocal writing and classical orchestral writing Kattnigg's thorough musical training. His other compositions include two symphonies, a piano concerto, chamber and vocal works....

Article

Andrew Lamb

(b Schönfeld [now Krásno], July 3, 1802; d Karlsbad [now Karlovy Vary], Aug 19, 1881). Bohemian violinist, conductor and composer. He was the son of a weaver, who in 1800 moved from Kampern in Prussian Silesia to Schönfeld and in 1802 to Petschau (now Bečov nad Teplou). He studied with Karl Veit and at the age of 14 joined a travelling orchestra in Petschau. In 1820 he obtained a position as violinist in the spa orchestra at Marienbad (now Mariánské Lázně), taking other jobs during the winter months. He played in Munich (1823–4), where he took further violin lessons, and undertook a concert tour of southern Germany, visiting Regensburg, Augsburg, Ulm, Stuttgart, Würzburg and Nuremberg. In 1825 he founded his own orchestra, visiting Vienna in the winter of 1825–6 and Warsaw in 1829–30. In 1835 he became conductor of the spa orchestra at Karlsbad, where he rapidly built up a reputation for himself and his orchestra. His dance compositions began to have widespread popularity, particularly the ...

Article

Daniele Buccio

(Henry )

(b Canton, OH, Aug 18, 1905; d West Redding, CT, July 31, 1978). American composer, violinist, bandleader, recording engineer, and producer. After graduating from Johns Hopkins University, he performed as a light classical violinist in the United States and Europe. During the 1930s he studied conducting with Maurice Frigara in Paris. After a near-fatal car accident in 1940, he organized his own dance band, the Light Brigade, which recorded for RCA and Columbia. After he disbanded it at the turn of the decade, Light devoted himself to management, working for several record companies before becoming president of Waldorf Music Hall Records in 1954. He founded his own label, Grand Award, in 1956 and had success with Dixieland and honky-tonk piano albums. In 1959, he founded Command Records on which he released Persuasive Percussion, the first in a successful series of high-fidelity albums that used stereo technology to great advantage. Over the next two decades, he continued to produce hit albums drawing on the latest technological savvy and packaged with covers usually designed by Josef Albers. Musicians who appeared on Light’s albums include the Free Design, Doc Severinsen, Dick Hyman, Bobby Byrne, and Bobby Hackett. In ...

Article

Oldřich Pukl

(b Tábor, March 26, 1874; d Zagreb, Dec 24, 1930). Czech composer, conductor and viola player. He studied the violin with the regens chori Endler in Tábor and then with Bennewitz at the Prague Conservatory (1885–92), where he was also a pupil of Filip Bláha (trumpet and percussion) and Dvořák (composition). With Vitezslav Novák and Suk he was one of Dvořák’s most successful pupils. He played the viola in the Czech Quartet (1891–1906), in which Suk was the second violinist, and was often also heard as the group’s pianist. This ensemble raised the standards of Czech chamber playing to an international level and appeared all over Europe in a repertory based, during Nedbal’s time, on Beethoven, Schumann, Brahms, Smetana and Dvořák.

Nedbal was equally successful as a conductor. With the Czech PO, which he conducted from 1896 to 1906, he undertook his first major tour outside Austro-Hungary, to England in ...

Article

Lise Waxer

[Edward]

(b East Harlem, New York, Dec 15, 1936). American pianist, percussionist, bandleader, composer and arranger. Following his older brother Charlie, he took up the piano when he was eight, but at 13 he began playing the timbales in his uncle’s band, Chino y sus Almas Tropicales. Returning to the piano in 1951, he formed a nine-piece band with timbalero Joey Quijano. He replaced his brother Charlie in Johnny Segui’s band in 1955, then joined Tito Rodríguez in 1958. In 1961 he formed the ensemble La Perfecta. Modifying the flute-and-violin charanga format popular at the time, Palmieri used trombones in place of violins and coined the ‘trombanga’ sound that became his trademark and influenced later salsa bands. In his band were such leading musicians as the timbalero Manny Oquendo, the trombonist Barry Rogers and the vocalist Ismael Quintana. Complementing the group’s dynamic swing, Palmieri forged a percussive piano style, incorporating modal jazz influences from contemporary pianist McCoy Tyner. Among his representative tunes from this period are ...

Article

Alyn Shipton

(b Leamington Spa, Aug 22, 1899; d Tonbridge, Dec 4, 1969). English pianist and dance bandleader. He formed his first band during his World War I service in the Royal Flying Corps, and subsequently led his own small jazz group, in which he played piano. He worked in various Birmingham bands until moving to London in 1925, where he took over the band at the Hotel Cecil. He broadcast with this group from 1925, and recorded from 1927, ultimately enlarging it to ten players, and becoming conductor and singer himself, with Bob Busby as pianist. In 1928, as Director of Dance Music, he took over the BBC Dance Orchestra, with whom he broadcast almost daily, and made numerous recordings for Columbia. The orchestra also undertook theatrical bookings after appearing at the London Palladium in 1930, changing its name in the process to Jack Payne and His Orchestra. Like Jack Hylton, Payne was one of the first bandleaders to acquire popularity through broadcasting, and on leaving the BBC in ...

Article

Nevil Skrimshire

revised by Alyn Shipton

[Simon]

(b London, June 14, 1907; d Chertsey, May 23, 1973). English jazz clarinettist, bandleader and arranger. He studied the violin and piano as a child and taught himself theory and harmony. In his late teens he began playing the saxophone and the clarinet and performed with his brothers’ band in Europe. He worked as a staff arranger for a music publisher and as a music director for the Edison-Bell Gramophone Co. From 1930 he wrote arrangements for Bert Ambrose and led his own quintet. Later he joined Ambrose’s band (1933), with which he recorded on clarinet and alto and baritone saxophones (1933–7). In 1937 Phillips visited the USA, where he broadcast and recorded with American musicians. After serving in the RAF he formed another quintet (1946) and composed several symphonic works for the BBC SO (as Simon Phillips). From 1949 until his death he led his own dixieland band; among his sidemen were George Shearing, Colin Bailey, Tommy Whittle and Kenny Ball. Phillips made several recordings as a leader from ...