(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 ...
revised by Alyn Shipton
Israel J. Katz
(b Orense, Oct 1, 1918). Spanish pianist, composer, conductor, administrator, critic and writer on music. He studied piano and composition with José Cubiles and Conrado del Campo at the Madrid Conservatory, taking diplomas in piano (1935) and composition (1944); later he was a pupil of Marguerite Long, Lazare Lévy and Yves Nat in Paris and of Isidore Philipp in New York, and studied conducting with Luís de Freitas Branco and Louis Fourestier. He has made concert tours of Europe, North Africa and the USA. His professional activities have included the founding (1957) and directing of the Orense Conservatory of Music, giving piano masterclasses and teaching the interpretation of Spanish music at Música en Compostela (from 1958) and organizing the Manuel de Falla seminars and courses at Granada. He created (1962) the Semanas de Música Religiosa at Cuenca and as music adviser to the Instituto de Cultura Hispánica planned music festivals in Spain and the USA in collaboration with the Organization of American States; he has served as secretary-general of the Spanish section of ISCM (whose festivals he organized in ...
Warren M. Sherk
(b St. Augustine, FL, Feb 8, 1898; d St. Augustine, Aug 4, 1966). American composer, conductor, arranger, music director, and pianist. He learned to play the piano from his mother who was a pianist. As a teenager, Jackson played piano for vaudeville shows and at movie theaters. He studied harmony and counterpoint with Rubin Goldmark, a student of Dvořák. He served as conductor and music arranger for Fanchon and Marco, the vaudeville dance troupe that performed elaborate live stage shows before feature films in the mid-1920s. For the Broadway stage he composed music for Earl Carroll’s Vanities, George White’s Scandals, and Ziegfeld Follies. By 1928 he was in California, where he arranged music for two stage productions at the Hollywood Playhouse. He found success with his arrangements of Negro spirituals for Hearts in Dixie (1929) and for other early sound musicals. After a stint at Columbia in the mid-1930s, where his music became associated with a handful of Three Stooges short films, he settled in at Warner Bros. where he worked almost exclusively from ...
(b Corfu, Feb 27, 1864; d London, Feb 25, 1932). Greek composer, pianist, music director, and choir director. He studied in Naples (Conservatorio S Pietro a Majella) and right afterwards he settled in Athens, teaching music and conducting choirs. His exuberant musical activity fertilized the theatre life of the Greek capital. His rivalry with the choir director Lodovico de Mento led the theatre troupes of the era to engage choirs and small orchestras performing live music on stage. Soon he composed incidental music not only for Komeidyllio (a Greek version of the French vaudeville), but also for ancient dramas. He was conductor of the first opera troupe in Athens and also composed choral church music, which, however, elicited strong resistance. He published a music magazine (Mousiki Ephimeris) and he wrote a lot of songs setting to music works of significant Greek poets. He also collaborated with the vaudeville author Dimitrios Kokkos, who was a self-taught composer. In ...
(b Corfu, March 5, 1819; d Zante, 17/Sept 29, 1899). Greek composer, pianist, educator, conductor, and impresario. He was the son of Domenico Liberali, an Italian military bandmaster in British service from Fermo, and his Zakynthian wife Aikaterini Meliorati. Iosif received his early music education from his elder brother, Antonios (1814–42). Between 1825 and 1828 his family stayed in Britain, but eventually they returned to Corfu due to Domenico’s death. It was at this point that Iosif began his apprenticeship with Nikolaos Mantzaros, and it seems that on the latter’s advice he continued his studies in the conservatories of Naples and Milan. After his return he worked as a flutist in Corfu’s opera house; in 1841 he was appointed assistant bandmaster of the Corfu Philharmonic Society; and the next year he succeeded his deceased brother as bandmaster. During the opera seasons 1846–7, 1850–51, and ...
(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 ...
Warren M. Sherk
(b Chicago, June 5, 1892; d Beverly Hills, CA, March 18, 1954). American music executive, music director, conductor, and violinist. He had a lengthy career in Chicago from 1917 to 1939. While considering a career as a physician, he played violin in restaurants and theaters. He studied violin with Harry Diamond at the Metropolitan Conservatory. Beginning in 1917, for Barney Balaban and Sam Katz, he served as orchestral leader at the Central Park Theater for six years, with stints at the Roosevelt, Riviera, and Uptown. In 1925 he became the general music director for the Balaban & Katz theater chain, which merged with Paramount theaters to become Publix Theaters Corporation. By 1930 he headed the production department for Paramount Publix where his duties included supervising area theaters and contracting musicians. His appointment as general music director for Paramount Pictures in 1939 prompted a move to Hollywood and he worked for the studio until his death. In addition to administrative duties, he supervised film scoring and hired composers, arrangers, and songwriters....
(b Niterói, Brazil, Feb 11, 1941). Brazilian pianist, bandleader, arranger, producer and composer, active in the United States. Formally trained in classical music, Mendes turned to jazz, participating in the bossa nova nightclub scene in Rio de Janeiro in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Mendes and his group, the Sexteto Bossa Rio, performed at the pivotal Bossa Nova festival at Carnegie Hall, which contributed significantly to the popularity of bossa nova beyond Brazil.
In 1962, Mendes and the Sexteto Bossa Rio rode the wave of US interest in the genre, recording Do the Bossa Nova with Herbie Mann and Cannonball’s Bossa Nova with Cannonball Adderley. He moved to the United States soon after, adapting bossa nova to the American and international pop, light jazz, and easy listening markets. Mendes arranged, produced, and performed covers of pop hits by the Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, and Joni Mitchell, as well as Brazilian songs by Antonio Carlos Jobim, Jorge Ben, and others. The signature sound of his group was light and upbeat with two female vocalists singing in unison and a bouncy samba-derived rhythm. His groups were named “Brasil” followed by the year they were launched: ’65, ’66, ’77, ’88, ’99, and ...
(b Rochester, NY, July 4, 1911; d New York, NY, July 31, 2010). American record producer, conductor, recording artist, and oboist. Miller attended the Eastman School of Music in Rochester and played oboe in the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra before moving to New York in the mid-1930s. He was a first-call soloist for such conductors as Fritz Reiner and Leopold Stokowski and a member of the Columbia Symphony Orchestra. As a studio musician he recorded in a variety of idioms, including a featured spot on the Charlie Parker with Strings LP, before moving into the role of pop record producer at Mercury Records.
Miller was a pivotal figure in postwar American pop music. Early in his production career, in 1949, he produced a set of Frankie Laine discs, three of which reached number one on the Billboard charts within six months. Each of the records—“That Lucky Old Sun,” “Mule Train,” and “Cry of the Wild Goose”—was a resourceful studio concoction. Mixing styles without regard for idiomatic conventions, inventing one-off ensembles for the song at hand, and employing sound effects and electronic enhancements such as added reverb, these three recordings epitomize Miller’s novel conception of record making. He developed these ideas and techniques in the course of the 1950s, during which his productions for the likes of Johnnie Ray, Tony Bennett, Rosemary Clooney, Doris Day, Guy Mitchell, and Johnny Mathis were perennial public favorites, regularly posting sales in the millions....
[Melvin James ]
(b Battle Creek, MI, Dec 17, 1910; d New York, NY, May 28, 1988). American arranger, composer, producer, bandleader, trumpeter, and singer. Growing up as an African American musician in Zanesville, Ohio, Oliver was self taught as a trumpeter and arranger. After playing in territory bands in and around Zanesville and Columbus, he became a member of Jimmie Lunceford’s orchestra in 1933. His charts for the Lunceford band were distinguished by contrasts, crescendos, and unexpected melodic variations, thereby setting new standards in big band swing and close-harmony singing. His use of two-beat rhythms also set his arrangements apart.
In 1939 Oliver was hired by the trombonist Tommy Dorsey and turned his band into one of the hardest swinging and most sophisticated ensembles of the early 1940s. In 1946 he started his own big band. During the late 1940s and 1950s he mainly did studio work, as a music director for the labels Decca, Bethlehem, and Jubilee. He continued to lead big bands and smaller ensembles, recycling his old Lunceford and Dorsey successes and performing new arrangements. Along with Duke Ellington and Fletcher Henderson, Oliver must be rated one of the top arrangers of the swing era and infused almost every chart with vigor and surprise....