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Mark Berresford

(Coleman )

(b Brunswick, MO, Feb 7, 1882; d New York, NY, March 9, 1961). American clarinetist, bandleader, composer, and music publisher. His first professional engagement (c1897–8) was with a “pickaninny” band led by Nathaniel Clark Smith. In 1902 he was assistant leader of P.G. Lowery’s band with Forepaugh and Sells Circus and later that year joined Mahara’s Minstrels band under the leadership of W.C. Handy. In 1903 he formed his own band in Minneapolis, where he made the first recordings by an African American band. Sweatman moved to Chicago in 1908, where he led trios at the Grand and Monogram theaters. In 1911 he made his first vaudeville appearance, and in late 1916 made the first records recognizable as jazz performances. In 1918 Sweatman’s band was signed to an exclusive recording contract with Columbia, their records rivalling those by the Original Dixieland Jazz Band. He continued to work through the 1920s and early 1930s in vaudeville, and in ...

Article

Noal Cohen

[Thompson, Jr., Eli ]

(b Columbia, SC, June 16, 1923; d Seattle, WA, July 30, 2005). American jazz tenor and soprano saxophonist, composer, and arranger. Thompson developed an original tenor saxophone style that transcended eras and genres by layering the rhythmic and harmonic innovations of bebop upon the more traditional models of Coleman Hawkins, Ben Webster, and Don Byas. Thompson was raised in Detroit, Michigan, where he received his first musical training. By the age of 20, he was playing with Lionel Hampton’s orchestra and soon after that the bands of Billy Eckstine, Boyd Raeburn, and Count Basie. Throughout his three-decade career, Thompson worked and recorded with key jazz innovators such as Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie, Stan Kenton, Charlie Parker, Charles Mingus, and Thelonious Monk. A prolific yet under-appreciated composer, he left a legacy of more than 150 pieces, many of which are unusual and challenging. As a leader, he favored an octet ensemble that was often called “Lucky Thompson and His Lucky Seven.” His bravura performance of the ballad “Just One More Chance” (RCA Victor, ...

Article

Michael Baumgartner

(b Chicago, IL, Feb 15, 1944). American alto saxophonist, composer, and leader. At the age of nine he started taking piano lessons and picked up first the tenor, later the alto, saxophone when he entered high school, playing in polka, mariachi, and blues bands as well as in college ensembles. He continued his formal musical training at Wilson Junior College, where he met Anthony Braxton, Jack DeJohnette, Joseph Jarman, and Muhal Richard Abrams. After he briefly played in Abrams’s Experimental Band, he continued his affiliation with an Evangelist camp orchestra, playing saxophone in gospel services. During his army service in Vietnam (...

Article

Ian Mikyska

(b Bratislava, 16 Oct 1981). Slovak composer, saxophonist, and improviser. Studied composition at the University of Performing arts in Bratislava (VŠMU) (with Jevgenij Iršai and Vladimír Godár) and at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague (with Michal Rataj), as well as musicology at the Comenius University in Bratislava.

He is unusual in the Czecho-Slovak context for the breadth of his musical and cultural interests – eclecticism and a Schnittkean polystylism are the only unifying elements of his work, perhaps together with relentless demands on the listener’s emotions (in one direction or another). His earlier works betray the influence of Schnittke in their rapid changes and distressed emotiveness interspersed with moments of (ironic?) grandeur, while at other times, his use of explosive improvisation and a range of stylistic contexts brings John Zorn to mind.

He has a close relationship with theatre, both in his operas and video-operas – often made in collaboration with the actor, director, and librettist Marek Kundlák – and in his instrumental music, which doesn’t shy away from theatricality and make-believe. He often treats musics as cultural phenomena, mindful of their history and current position, unafraid to appropriate and explore what he calls the emptied-out or sketched-out worlds that remain in music after the 20th century....

Article

Barry Jean Ancelet

(b Crowley, LA, Oct 2, 1958). Cajun accordionist, vocalist, and songwriter. He is arguably the most influential Cajun musician of the current generation. He was one of the new generation of young musicians that emerged in the 1970s, just when many were predicting that Cajun music would die out. He honed his vocal and accordion skills by sitting in with bands at house dances and dance halls. He began recording as a backup musician for established musicians such as Camey Doucet and eventually formed his own group to perform and record his first album for Sonet Records. He continued to experiment with styles and instrumentation, leading to the development of what he called zydecajun: a fusion of Cajun music and zydeco, influenced by Southern rock and country as well as old masters within the tradition, especially Iry Lejeune, Aldus Roger, Belton Richard, and Lawrence Walker. He recorded a number of albums for J.D. Miller’s Master Trak studios in Crowley and eventually for Mercury and Polygram, featuring songs with English as well as French lyrics, such as “Mon ami,” “Soigne mes enfants,” “Take my hand,” and a locally popular cover of “Tupelo Honey.” He has taken his zydecajun music on tour throughout the United States and on a few State Department–sponsored USIA tours abroad. His modernization of Cajun music and zydeco has been especially popular among younger generations, influencing not only a new generation of young musicians but also a new generation of young fans. He has been featured in several documentaries, including Les Blank and Chris Strachwitz’s ...

Article

Ian Mikyska

(b Boskovice, 19 Jan 1984).Czech composer and performer (voice, accordion, and tap dance). She studied the accordion (2004–10) and composition (2007–8) at the Brno Conservatory, and composition at the Janáček Academy of Music and Performing Arts (with martin smolka and Peter Graham[1]). She also studied as an exchange student at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague, the California Institute of the Arts (with michael pisaro), the Universität der Künste Berlin (with Marc Sabat), and Columbia University (with george e. lewis).

While she often works with elements outside of music, there is almost always an intense engagement with direct listening, often arrived at through intense focus on very limited material. Sources for her work include Morse code, maps of garments which she turns into scores (Shirt for Harp, Oboe, and Accordion; Jacket for Ensemble), field recordings which she notates descriptively and then asks musicians to interpret the notation (...

Article

Jason S. Bergman

(b Missoula, MT, Sept 13, 1952). American trumpeter, educator, and composer. Vizzutti studied at the Eastman School of Music where he received the only Artist’s Diploma ever awarded to a wind player in the institution’s history. He is widely known for his exceptional versatility and virtuosic technique that have set him apart from other performers of his era. His career has included performances with Chick Corea, Doc Severinsen, the NBC Tonight Show Band, Chuck Mangione, Woody Herman, and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. His numerous recordings, featuring many motion picture and video game soundtracks, include Back To The Future and Star Trek. As an educator he has taught at the University of Washington and been an Artist in Residence at the Eastman School of Music, the University of South Carolina, the Banff Center for the Performing Arts, Kansas State University, the Ohio State University, and the Trompeten Akademie in Bremen, Germany. As a composer, his works have received premieres from the Los Angeles Philharmonic....