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Gerard Béhague

[Vianna Filho, Alfredo da Rocha ]

(b Rio de Janeiro, April 23, 1897/8; d Rio de Janeiro, Feb 17, 1973). Brazilian composer, flautist, saxophonist, arranger and bandleader. His father was an amateur flute player and cultivator of the old choro. Around the age of ten Pixinguinha played the cavaquinho and accompanied his father, who also taught him the flute. He participated in carnival band parades (1911–12), played in night clubs and in the orchestra of the Rio Branco cinema, specializing in musical comedies and operettas. His talents as a flautist were widely recognized and through this he formed his first significant group, Os Oito Batutas, with other important musicians of the period, such as Donga, China and Nelson Alves. Originally including flute, three guitars, singer, cavaquinho, mandoline, tambourine, reco-reco and ganzá, they were presented at the Cinema Palais in 1919 with a typically national repertory that included waltzes, polkas, tangos, maxixes...

Article

Lise Waxer

[Prado, Pérez]

(b Matanzas, Dec 11, 1916; d Mexico City, Sept 14, 1989). Cuban pianist, bandleader, composer and arranger. After a formal musical training in Matanzas he moved to Havana in the early 1940s, where he played the piano and arranged for the orchestra of Paulina Alvarez (1942) and the well-known Orquesta Casino de la Playa (1943–6). His growing incorporation of big band jazz influences was not well received, and he left Cuba in 1947, settling in Mexico City the following year. Establishing a mambo big band, he made several recordings through the next decade, including his famous Mambo No.5 and Qué rico el mambo. While often criticized for falsely claiming to have invented the mambo, his popularization of this genre in mainstream North America is undisputable, and his recordings of Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White (1955) and Patricia (1958) made it to the top of the US charts for several weeks....

Article

Lise Waxer

(b New York City, April 20, 1923; d New York City, May 31, 2000). American percussionist, bandleader, composer and arranger. He began performing with Los Happy Boys and other local bands as a child prodigy, and as a teenager played with Noro Morales and Machito. Following wartime service in the US Navy (...

Article

Simon Collier

(b Buenos Aires, Dec 2, 1905; d Buenos Aires, July 24, 1995). Argentine tango pianist, bandleader and composer. Trained at a private conservatory in Buenos Aires, he started as a cinema pianist but soon found a place in tango bands, including those of Roberto Firpo, Pedro Maffia, and Pedro Laurenz. After 1929 he jointly led the Vardaro-Pugliese Sextet, one of the most distinguished ensembles of the 1930s, and only in late 1939 did he form his own first band, which made the first of its more than 600 recordings in 1943. His own virtuosic piano skills contributed much to his band, whose sophisticated arrangements pushed the ‘evolutionist’ trend in tango music to its limits: Pugliese has been aptly described as the Wagner of the tango. The band toured to the Soviet Union and China (1960), to Mexico and Cuba (1981) and to Japan (...

Article

Lise Waxer

(b New York City, Feb 28, 1938; d New York City, June 6, 1993). American vibraphone player, percussionist, composer, arranger, bandleader and producer. He trained at the Juilliard School of Music and launched his career in 1957, recording with Joe Loco. In 1960 he contributed to Johnny Pacheco’s first charanga album, El güiro de macorina and launched his own band in 1963, recording Introducing Louie Ramírez. Through the 1960s he performed with Joe Cuba and was a member of the Alegre All-Stars and, with the vocalist Pete Bonet, led the house band at New York City’s Corso Club in the late 1960s. Through the 70s and 80s he was a staff producer for Fania Records and its subsidiary labels Vaya, Inca, Cotique and Tico, and was also acting president of Alegre Records. As a producer, arranger and composer, he influenced the growing sophistication of New York salsa during this time, evident on his own tunes ...

Article

Ken Rattenbury

revised by Alyn Shipton

(b London, Jan 12, 1900; d London, Feb 1, 1971). English bandleader, clarinettist, singer and composer. From 1919 he organized dance bands with his brother Syd, including Syd Roy’s Lyricals; they performed in London at Oddenino’s, Rector’s, the Hammersmith Palais and the Café de Paris, and at Rector’s in Paris. In 1928 the brothers toured South Africa and Australia (1929), then returned to England to play in variety theatres before touring Germany. In 1931 Harry formed his own band and, after touring (1933), held residencies at the Café Anglais and the Mayfair Hotel in London. He continued to tour extensively in theatres until 1939 and throughout World War II but after 1945 never regained his former status in London’s clubland. Roy was essentially a show-band leader, an energetic front man, a light, sometimes comic, singer, and a clarinettist in the style of Ted Lewis. Although hardly a jazz musician himself he employed as sidemen a number of players who later became prominent in jazz. His signature tune, ...

Article

Lise Waxer

[Ramón]

(b Havana, April 7, 1927; d Miami, Feb 1, 2003). Cuban percussionist, bandleader, composer and arranger. He first began to learn the violin, but switched to percussion as a child. He left Cuba in 1948, moving to Mexico with his cousin, the bongo player Armando Peraza. They played in Pérez Prado’s mambo band, then moved to New York City in 1950, where they were known as the Black Cuban Diamonds. Santamaría soon found work with Tito Puente, working in the band for seven years alongside percussionist Willie Bobo. During this time he recorded various albums of authentic Cuban religious and secular drumming, both with Puente and under his own name. With Bobo he left to join Cal Tjader’s Latin jazz group in 1958. In 1961 Santamaría put together a charanga ensemble, and recorded with the Cuban vocalist La Lupe in 1963, helping to launch her US career. By the mid-1960s he turned to the Latin crossover vein, with widely popular hits such as ...

Article

Andrew Lamb

(b London, July 25, 1855; d London, Jan 22, 1895). English composer, conductor and pianist. A member of a family of theatre musicians, he began his career as a pianist at the Middlesex Music Hall in London; he was later the musical director at the New Royalty, Globe, Her Majesty’s and other theatres in London and New York. He wrote numerous parlour pieces for the piano and comic songs, and as a composer of comic operas he was one of the most accomplished contemporaries of Sullivan. Solomon’s melodies are usually in an English ballad or a march style with repeated melodic phrases and simple rhythms. His comic operas, many of which echo Sullivan’s, were all performed in London and include Billee Taylor (Imperial, 30 October 1880), Claude Duval (Olympic, 24 August 1881), The Vicar of Bray (Globe, 22 July 1882), Polly (Novelty, 4 October 1882...

Article

Alyn Shipton

[Louis]

(b London, May 28, 1898; d London, Feb 12, 1969). English bandleader, arranger and pianist. He wrote scores for Bert Ralton's band and rapidly became known as one of the most inventive arrangers of his time, blending elements of jazz, symphonic and commercial music within single arrangements. From 1927 he provided several outstanding arrangements for Ambrose's band, introducing a rhythm string section. He joined Roy Fox in 1931. He first led a band in 1932, at the Monseigneur Restaurant, and later formed his own band there with exceptionally good players and the singer Al Bowlly. The band recorded and broadcast regularly. Stone was musical director for British and Dominion Films (1931–5) and the British National Film Company (1936–9), appearing with his band in several films including Bitter Sweet and The Little Damozel. He also played in clubs, theatres, restaurants etc., made recordings and broadcast, latterly with a sextet (...

Article

[jr]

(b St Louis, July 16, 1925; d Manila, Philippines, May 5, 1982). American vibraphone player, percussionist, bandleader, composer and arranger of Swedish descent. Based in San Francisco’s Bay Area throughout his career, he began as a jazz player, playing the drums with the Dave Brubeck Trio (1949–51). In 1953 he joined George Shearing’s jazz quintet as a vibraphone player and percussionist, and the following year left to form his own jazz ensemble with such players as pianist Vince Guaraldi. His virtuosity and infallible sense of phrasing marked him as the greatest jazz vibraphone player since Lionel Hampton. He turned to Latin jazz in the late 1950s, working with percussionists such as Mongo Santamaría, Armando Peraza and Willie Bobo. Tjader became the most famous non-Latino Latin jazz musician and bandleader of the 1950s and 60s, with such hits as Soul Sauce and Mamblues in addition to memorable versions of Dizzy Gillespie’s ...