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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 ...


Richard Zimmerman

(b Providence, RI, Feb 9, 1884; d West Palm Beach, FL, Feb 16, 1953). American pianist and composer. He began composing in his teens and had at least three pieces published in 1904 (two songs and a march); between 1904 and 1918 he issued some 17 rags and ragtime blues. Having moved to New York, he played piano in theatre and dance orchestras and was engaged for solo cabaret appearances. In the 1920s, while playing in dance orchestras in New York and West Palm Beach, Florida, he also wrote background music for films, spending part of 1930 in Hollywood writing film music.

Lodge is best remembered for his rags and especially for Temptation Rag (1909). One of the most successful works in the genre, it was recorded more than any other rag in the years preceding 1920. Lodge’s earlier rags were sophisticated danceable pieces which lent themselves well to orchestral treatment, but his later ragtime blues were more sombre and increasingly adventurous in harmony and structure. More than any other rag composer, Lodge explored and developed the use of minor tonalities. Among his more than 100 published works are pieces of all types including songs, waltzes and various pieces of instrumental dance music. His biggest song hit was ...


John Snelson

(b Birmingham, AL, Aug 11, 1914; d Encinitas, CA, March 11, 2011). American composer, lyricist, vocal arranger and pianist. He began his professional career as a rehearsal pianist and vocal arranger for such productions as Hooray for What? (1937), One for the Money (1939) and Streets of Paris (1939); he has subsequently been the vocal arranger for many leading Broadway shows by composers including Kern, Porter and Rodgers, and a coach to singers including Lena Horne and Judy Garland. He met Ralph Blane (b Broken Arrow, OK, 26 July 1914; d Broken Arrow, OK, 13 Nov 1995) when they both performed with the singing quartet the Martins, and subsequently they collaborated on the successful stage musical Best Foot Forward (1941; film, 1943). They went on to contribute songs to films, including the classic MGM musical Meet Me in St Louis...


Wayne J. Schneider

[May, William E. ]

(b Pittsburgh, Nov 10, 1916; d San Juan Capistrano, Jan 22, 2004). American arranger, composer and trumpeter. He played with and wrote arrangements for Charlie Barnet (1938–40), Glenn Miller (1940–42) and Les Brown (1942). In the early 1940s he also worked in studios and as an arranger for NBC; later in the decade he settled in Hollywood, where he provided arrangements for bands led by Phil Harris, Ozzie Nelson and others, and for Capitol studio orchestras. From 1951 to 1954 he made recordings with his own studio band. He also wrote music for television (notably the series ‘Naked City’), advertisements, films (such as Nightmare, 1956, in which he also acted), and recordings (including several albums for Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald). Manuscript scores of his works are in the holdings of the BMI Archives in New York.

May is probably best known for his arrangements for Charlie Barnet, which were characterized by wailing, ‘scooping’ saxophones voiced in thirds. His version of Ray Noble’s ...


Peter Dickinson

(b London, May 31, 1902; d Beaconsfield, March 25, 1959). English pianist and composer. His family was musical on both sides: his father, an Austrian citizen, was a violinist and his mother, who came from the Netherlands, was the daughter of a clarinettist. Mayerl studied in the junior department of Trinity College of Music from 1911 to 1914, working as a pianist for silent films and in hotel bands, exploring American popular music, and playing Grieg’s Piano Concerto in the Queen’s Hall as a child. His first known composition, Egyptian Suite, was published in 1919. In 1921 he was heard by the American saxophonist and bandleader Bert Ralton, whose band he subsequently joined. This became the Savoy Havana Band, which broadcast regularly in the early years of the BBC, so that Mayerl’s solos, such as The Jazz Master, instantly reached a vast audience. He was admired for his effortless playing at high speed, and gave the British première of ...


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 ...


Lise Waxer


(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 ...


Nevil Skrimshire

revised by Alyn Shipton


(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 ...


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...


Ioannis Tsioulakis

(b Athens, Oct 12, 1924). Greek composer and pianist. He studied physics and mathematics at the University of Athens, before moving to New York where he completed a doctorate in chemistry at Cornell University. While in the United States, Plessas pursued a career as a piano player specialising in jazz, and in 1951 he received a music award for a performance at the University of Minnesota. Upon his return to Greece in the mid-1950s Plessas became more active as a composer, and in 1959 he started his career as a film composer which made him hugely popular during the 1960s and 1970s. He has composed music for over 100 films but it was especially his songs for musicals produced by Finos Films, performed on screen by prominent singers such as Giannis Poulopoulos, Marinella, and Tzeni Vanou, and actors including Rena Vlachopoulou and Mairi Chronopoulou, that rendered him one of the most celebrated popular musicians of that period. From the 1980s onwards, Plessas focused more on jazz and art music, recording music with his jazz quartet and composing operas and instrumental pieces. His ‘folk opera’ ...