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Patti Jones

(John, Jr.)

(b Tippo, MI, Nov 11, 1927; d Hilton Head, SC, Nov 15, 2016). American jazz and blues pianist, singer, and songwriter. His style was influenced by the blues music he heard on the juke box at his father’s general store. Primarily self taught on piano and trumpet, Allison began playing professionally in Delta roadhouses and attended the University of Mississippi, Oxford. However, he left to enlist in the US Army in 1946, and during his service he played trumpet and piano and wrote arrangements for an army band. After completing a degree in English at Louisiana State University, he moved to New York in 1956 and attracted attention nationally playing piano with such leaders as Chet Baker, Al Cohn, Zoot Sims, Gerry Mulligan, and Stan Getz.

Allison created a hybrid style that integrated country blues with urbane jazz; it can be heard on his first album, Back Country Suite...

Article

Mark Lomanno

(Pastor Gomez )

(b Sincelejo, Colombia, Feb 18, 1949). American saxophonist of Colombian birth. His father was a percussionist who performed traditional Colombian music and Almario began his career playing in this style. Influenced by the Cuban music that was popular along the Caribbean coast of Colombia, Almario studied wind instruments and theory in Barranquilla, where he later moved. After a tour of the United States in 1967, he accepted an invitation to move to Miami and in 1969 was offered a scholarship to the Berklee School of Music. Two years later, while he was still studying, Almario was invited to sit in with Mongo Santamaria, who subesequently hired him as musical director for his ensemble; Almario can be heard on a number of Santamaria’s recordings, including Afro-Indio (1975, Fania). In the following years, Almario worked with Duke Ellington, Machito, Willie Bobo, and Charles Mingus. His group Koinonia, which he formed with Alex Acuña, performed West Coast jazz and promoted Christian spirituality, such as on the album ...

Article

Cathy Ragland

(b Skidmore, TX, July 25, 1911; d Sunnyside, WA, July 8, 1999). American conjunto musician. Santiago Almeida is best known for playing the bajo sexto on some of the earliest and best known recordings of Texas-Mexican conjunto music. Almeida was born into a farmworker family that played music to make ends meet. At 15, he joined the family band, Orquesta Almeida, and played numerous dances in the lower Rio Grande Valley. It was at these dances that he likely encountered accordionist narciso Martínez . The duo performed together at dances before making their first recording in 1936 for Bluebird Records, a low budget sub-label of RCA records marketed to regional and ethnic audiences. It was a 78-rpm disk of a polka, “La Chicharronera” and a schottische, “El Troconal,” which sold well and is now regarded as the first modern conjunto recording. The pairing of these two instruments was significant as it established the musical “core” of the modern Texas-Mexican ...

Article

Terence J. O’Grady

revised by Bryan Proksch

(b Los Angeles, CA, March 31, 1935). American trumpeter, composer, bandleader, and record company executive. He studied trumpet as a child and left college to play in the army for a two-year period. After three years of producing records on his own, he launched A&M Records with Jerry Moss in 1962. A&M’s first issue was also Alpert’s first recording as a trumpeter and bandleader, The Lonely Bull (A&M, 1962). The title track included sounds from the bullring in Tijuana, Mexico, so Alpert dubbed his band the Tijuana Brass. His music exploited a distinctive combination of Mexican mariachi-style brass with jazz rhythms, which was dubbed Ameriachi. A string of hits including “Mexican Shuffle” (A&M, 1964) and “Tijuana Taxi” (A&M, 1965) followed. In 1966 Alpert had five recordings simultaneously listed on the Billboard Top 20. His cover of “This guy’s in love with you” reached no.1 in ...

Article

Peter C. Muir

(b Chicago, IL, Sept 23, 1907; d Chicago, Dec 2, 1949). American jazz pianist. He was one of the most important figures in the popularization of boogie-woogie. Ammons began playing professionally as a teenager and performed in jazz bands and on the rent party circuit in Chicago. By the late 1920s he was working regularly as the pianist in several small bands, including those of Francis Moseley, William Barbee, and Louis D. Banks. It was with the last of these that he first recorded, in 1934. Around the same time Ammons formed his own six-piece band, the Rhythm Kings, with whom he recorded for Decca in 1936. A seminal event in Ammons’ career was his participation in the “From Spirituals to Swing” concert in Carnegie Hall in 1938 as a member of a boogie-woogie piano trio with Pete Johnson and Meade “Lux” Lewis (the latter had been a close friend and musical influence since childhood). There followed a series of successful solo and small band recordings for the fledgling labels Solo Art and Blue Note that consolidated his reputation among the jazz public. Ammons continued to perform and record in the 1940s and made an important series of more than 30 recordings with the Rhythm Kings for Mercury between ...

Article

Kenny Mathieson

[Eugene; Jug]

(b Chicago, IL, April 14, 1925; d Chicago, Aug 6, 1974). American jazz tenor saxophonist and bandleader, son of Albert (C.) Ammons. He studied music under Captain Walter Dyett at Du Sable High School and was influenced by Lester Young and Coleman Hawkins. After touring with the trumpeter King Kolax in 1943, he was a member of Billy Eckstine’s seminal big band from 1944 to 1947—Eckstine is said to have given him the nickname Jug, referring to his hat size—and was also a member of Woody Herman’s Second Herd in 1949. Ammons began leading his own small groups in 1947 and had a hit with “Red Top” (named after his wife) that year. In the early 1950s he co-led a popular two-tenor band with Sonny Stitt and in the early 1960s he took part in successful collaborations in a soul-jazz idiom with several organists, including Jack McDuff and Johnny Smith. He served prison sentences for drug offences (...

Article

Lori Burns and Jada Watson

[Myra Ellen]

(b Newton, NC, Aug 22, 1963). American alternative-rock singer-songwriter, pianist, and record producer. She emerged in the early 1990s amid a resurgence of female singer-songwriters and has been one of the few well known alternative-rock artists to use the piano as her primary instrument. She attended the preparatory division of the prestigious Peabody Conservatory but left the school at the age of 11. She began to play her own music in nightclubs at 14, chaperoned by her father, who was a preacher. After Amos moved to Los Angeles in her late teens to pursue a recording career, her band Y Kant Tori Read released a self-titled album (Atl., 1987). Although this was unsuccessful, Atlantic Records retained her six-album contract.

Amos’s debut solo album, Little Earthquakes (Atl., 1992), earned her critical acclaim for her vocal expressivity, pianistic virtuosity, and fearless exploration of a wide range of personal themes, notably female sexuality, personal relationships, religion, sexual violence, and coming of age. The album ...

Article

John W. Rumble

(b Columbia, SC, Nov 1, 1937). American country music singer-songwriter, recording artist, and television host. He received his journalism degree from the University of Georgia, but turned to music after Ray Price scored a hit with his song “City Lights” in 1958. Anderson signed with Decca Records in 1958 and joined the Grand Ole Opry in 1961. Known as “Whisperin’ Bill” for his distinctive delivery, he composed many of his hits: “Mama Sang a Song” (Decca, 1962), “Still” (Decca, 1963), “For Loving You” (with Jan Howard; Decca, 1967), and “Sometimes” (with Mary Lou Turner; MCA, 1975), among others, all reached the number one position in Billboard’s “Hot Country Singles” chart. He also crafted Lefty Frizzell’s “Saginaw, Michigan” (Columbia, 1964), Connie Smith’s career-making “Once a Day” (RCA Victor, 1964), and Jean Shepard’s “Slippin’ Away” (United Artists, 1973), among many others.

Tall, handsome, and poised, Anderson hosted his self-titled syndicated television series (...

Article

Scott Yanow

[William Alonzo]

(b Greenville, SC, Sept 12, 1916; d Norwalk, CA, April 29, 1981). Americanjazz trumpeter. Orphaned when he was four, he grew up at the Jenkins Orphanage in South Carolina. He took up trombone at the age of seven but switched to trumpet in 1929, and learned music theory as a member of the school’s band. In 1932 Anderson and a group of students left the school and formed the Carolina Cotton Pickers. He was a member of the group until 1935, after which he had stints with the orchestras of Claude Hopkins, Doc Wheeler, Lucky Millinder, Erskine Hawkins, Lionel Hampton, and Sabby Lewis, and joined Duke Ellington in 1944. Although he left Ellington’s group in 1947, he returned to work with him again during the periods 1950–59 and 1961–71. He was subsequently based in Los Angeles, playing in the studios and with big bands led by Bill Berry and Louis Bellson. Anderson was a high note specialist, often hitting pitches in the upper register during the climax of pieces; on a recording of “Satin Doll” he made with Ellington in ...

Article

Chadwick Jenkins

(Irene)

(b Houston, TX, Nov 11, 1928; d Shoreline, WA, March 10, 2016). American jazz and blues singer. At the age of 12, she won a talent contest held at the El Dorado Ballroom in Houston by improvising new melodies to popular songs and in 1941 began performing with Russell Jacquet. In an attempt to remove Anderson from the nightclub scene and improve her academic standing, her family moved to Seattle in 1944. However, this was just as the jazz scene began to thrive there, and Anderson subsequently performed in bands under Bumps Blackwell, Ray Charles, Johnny Otis, and Lionel Hampton. She also recorded with Gigi Gryce (Nica’s Tempo, 1955, Savoy) and toured Scandinavia with Rolf Ericsen (1956). While in Sweden, she recorded her début album Hot Cargo (1956, Met.). This album, coupled with performances championed by Ralph J. Gleason, made Anderson a sensation. However, a legal dispute with Mercury, which prevented her from recording for around five years, then derailed her career. Anderson’s popularity was revived by a celebrated performance at the Concord Jazz Festival in ...