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David Royko

(b Bowling Green, KY, Apr 13, 1952). American mandolinist, fiddler, vocalist, composer, and bluegrass/newgrass bandleader. Commonly referred to as the “Father of Newgrass Music,” Bush was deeply influenced by Jethro Burns and Bill Monroe. He began playing mandolin at age 11 and fiddle at 13, winning three junior fiddle championships at the National Oldtime Fiddlers’ Contest & Festival in Weiser, Idaho (1967–9). In 1969, Bush recorded Poor Richard’s Almanac (American Heritage) with banjoist Alan Munde and guitarist Wayne Stewart. In 1970, he joined Bluegrass Alliance and, from that band’s personnel, co-founded New Grass Revival in 1971, blending bluegrass instrumentation and techniques with rock, jazz, reggae, pop, and blues, and recording ten albums. In the early 1970s, Bush began an extensive studio career, playing on significant progressive bluegrass and Newgrass albums. A prolific solo artist since the mid-1980s, Bush recorded series of albums on the Rounder and Sugar Hill labels, most notably ...

Article

Ryan D.W. Bruce

(b Worcester, MA, June 15, 1922; d Queens, NY, Feb 11, 1999). American jazz pianist, composer, educator, and bandleader. He was technically proficient at playing rags, stomps, boogie-woogie, swing, bebop, and free jazz, but his performance career never conformed to any specific style or era. He is perhaps best known for his work with the Charles Mingus group (1962–5, 1970), with whom he recorded albums such as Mingus, Mingus, Mingus, Mingus, Mingus (1963, Imp.). He studied classical music from the age of five or six until he was 20 and began playing jazz on the trumpet when he was 16. As a jazz pianist, his early influences included Fats Waller, Art Tatum, Earl Hines, and Count Basie. After working with various groups in the 1950s, including three years with Earl Bostic around 1950, Byard recorded frequently from 1957 to 1962 with leaders such as Herb Pomeroy, Maynard Ferguson, Don Ellis, and Eric Dolphy. At this time he also recorded his first albums as a leader, ...

Article

Sorab Modi

[Carlone, Francis Nunzio ]

(b Providence, RI, March 25, 1903; d Mesa, AZ, March 7, 2001). American pianist, composer, arranger, and bandleader. At the age of seven he appeared as a piano soloist and in 1918 he led his first band. His graceful and relaxed piano improvisations established him with the public and earned him the nickname “the Golden Touch.” In 1933 he joined the band of Mal Hallett, which he left to join the Horace Heidt band in 1939. He formed his own big band in 1944 but abandoned it in the 1950s in favor of a smaller group. At the end of the decade Carle retired, but in 1972 he appeared briefly for a three-month tour with Freddy Martin in the show Big Band Cavalcade.

As a composer Carle has several hits to his credit, including “Sunrise Serenade,” “Carle Boogie,” “Lover’s Lullaby,” “Sunrise in Napoli,” and “Dreamy Lullaby” (co-written with Benny Benjamin and George Weiss). Carle’s arrangements were published in the collections ...

Article

Michael Fitzgerald

(b Detroit, MI, Jan 3, 1969). American jazz saxophonist, bandleader, and composer. He began playing at the age of 11 and soon displayed prodigious technique. He studied with Donald Washington and attended Blue Lake and Interlochen camps as a teenager. In 1990 he moved to New York, where he recorded with Lester Bowie, Frank Lowe, and Julius Hemphill. He formed his own quartet in 1993 with Craig Taborn, Jaribu Shahid, and Tani Tabbal and made his first recordings as a leader for DIW, issued by Columbia. He joined the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra the following year. Subsequently, Carter was signed by Atlantic and received considerable promotion. He appeared in the Robert Altman film Kansas City (1995).

Early in his career Carter won the endorsement of both Wynton Marsalis and Lester Bowie and attracted attention as a young artist who unsually, rather than focusing on 1950s and 60s models, was interested in the style and repertoire of both the avant garde and 1930s swing musicians such as Don Byas and John Hardee. Playing saxophones ranging from sopranino to bass as well as various clarinets, he frequently makes use of extended techniques such as multiphonics and the altissimo register. His seemingly effortless virtuosity has led to some criticism that he presents more flash than substance....

Article

Bruce Boyd Raeburn

[Oscar Phillip]

(b Napoleonville, LA, Jan 1, 1884; d New Orleans, LA, Dec 15, 1954). American jazz trumpeter and bandleader. The son of an African American freedman, he migrated to New Orleans and founded the Tuxedo Band, which was named after a dance hall, in 1910. Five years later he joined a vaudeville troupe with Armand Piron, Jimmie Noone, and the trombonist William Ridgley, who became co-leader of the Original Tuxedo Jazz Orchestra (and brass band) with Celestin in 1917. The Tuxedo performed for white and black audiences, attracting society work, such as carnival balls and dances at the Southern Yacht Club, once the band started wearing tuxedos. The group recorded in 1925, but a booking dispute led to a split with Ridgley later that year, after which each leader claimed the name. In 1926 Celestin was instrumental in organizing a black local of the American Federation of Musicians (Local 496) to facilitate riverboat work, and he became its first president. From that year to ...

Article

Mark F. DeWitt

[Wilson Anthony]

(b Church Point, LA, Oct 23, 1930; d Austin, TX, May 5, 2001). American button accordionist, bandleader, songwriter, and singer of zydeco music. Son of a black Creole la-la accordionist, as a young man living near Lake Charles, Louisiana, Chavis played house dances and in clubs owned by his wife Leona’s family. Originally he played with just a washboard player or by himself using a single-row or triple-row button accordion, developing a metrical style of dropping or adding beats that did not disturb social dancing but made it difficult for other musicians to follow.

He recorded his first single, “Paper in My Shoe,” for Eddie Shuler’s Folk Star label in Lake Charles in 1954, and the bilingual rendition in French and English was a hit. In 1960 Chavis and Shuler parted ways in disagreement over business arrangements. Chavis stopped playing music and devoted himself to training race horses and maintaining a small farm known as Dog Hill....

Article

David Chevan

[Adolphus Anthony]

(b Nashville, TN, June 13, 1905; d Washington, DC, June 2, 1997). American jazz trumpeter, singer, and bandleader. Although most famous for his trumpet playing, he also played both soprano and tenor saxophone during his early days in black vaudeville. Despite his parents’ wishes that he become a pharmacist (hence the nickname Doc), he began touring as an accompanist in blues bands. After moving to Chicago, he met the bandleader King Oliver and later on Louis Armstrong, for whom Cheatham occasionally substituted and who remained a musical influence on Cheatham for years. After a short period in Philadelphia in 1927, Cheatham moved to New York where he worked briefly with Chick Webb before joining Sam Wooding’s band for three years of touring in Europe. He subsequently found himself typecast as a first-trumpet player, thus preventing him from improvising as much as he wanted. Until the 1970s he performed primarily with large ensembles, including those of Cab Calloway, Teddy Wilson, Benny Carter, and Benny Goodman, as well as many Latin jazz bands during the 1950s and 1960s. The 1970s saw Cheatham critically re-evaluating his playing, and until his death in ...

Article

Catherine Collins

(b Philadelphia, June 30, 1951). American jazz fusion bass guitarist and bandleader. He first played the accordion, but quickly changed to the violin, then the cello and the double bass, before taking up the bass guitar, which he played in rhythm and blues and rock bands at school. In 1971 he played the double bass and the bass guitar with Pharoah Sanders and Joe Henderson. While touring and recording with Stan Getz the following year, he became a founder-member of Chick Corea’s group Return to Forever; from this time he concentrated on playing the electric instrument, and recorded eight albums with the band, as well as his own disc, School Days (1976, Nemperor). After leaving in 1977, Clarke initiated several projects as a leader, playing with both jazz musicians and rock groups. His single Sweet Baby (1981, Epic), made with the keyboard player George Duke, reached the US top 20, and in ...

Article

Marc Rice

[Wilbur Dorsey]

(b Parsons, KS, Nov 12, 1911; d New York, NY, Dec 8, 1991). American jazz trumpeter, bandleader, composer, and arranger. He grew up in a musical family, picking up trumpet at the age of 16. After playing in several ensembles in California, he took a band to Shanghai, China, in 1934 and in doing so became one of the first jazz musicians to visit Asia. There he worked with the composer Li Jinhui. After returning to the United States in 1936, Clayton traveled to Kansas City, where he joined the Count Basie Orchestra during its now-famous run at the Reno that year. Following service in the army (1943–6), Clayton performed for 32 years, maintaining New York as a base and playing at the Café Society, the Savoy Ballroom (with Jimmy Rushing), and the Newport Jazz Festival. In addition he toured Europe in the 1950s, Japan and Australia in ...

Article

Matthew D. Clayton II

(b Chicago, IL, Sept 20, 1956). American alto saxophonist and bandleader. Raised on the South Side of Chicago, he started playing saxophone at the age of 14. He was initially attracted to the funk and soul music of his youth, especially the alto saxophone of Maceo Parker playing with James Brown. Through his father’s jazz record collection and the sound of Charlie Parker, Coleman had developed an ear for jazz by his late teens. As he became proficient as a saxophonist, he gravitated towards the Chicago saxophonists Bunky Green and Von Freeman for first-hand guidance and inspiration.

In 1978, while practicing his saxophone in the park, Coleman had an epiphany. He was interrupted by buzzing bees, noticed their hovering and jerky motion, and tried to mimic their motion in music. This approach has dictated the shape of his music ever since. Rather than playing in sweeping linear motions, he instead developed a theory that he called Symmetry, which involves producing symmetrical motions around tones based on the 12 intervals of the chromatic scale. Symmetry is a fundamental concept in his music, and he combines it with more traditional means of composing and improvising in the jazz idiom....