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Noal Cohen

[Cohen, Theodore Charles]

(b Chicopee Falls, MA, April 13, 1928, d Riverhead, NY, April 16, 2012). American jazz vibraphonist, composer, arranger, and record producer. Although initially a drummer, he found his true calling as a vibraphonist and by the late 1940s had emerged as one of a handful of musicians capable of adapting that instrument to bebop. While studying percussion at the Juilliard School, he met the composer Hall Overton who was an important influence in the development of Charles’s distinctive approach to jazz performance. His first significant recordings took place between 1952 and 1955 for Prestige, which resulted in a series of albums called New Directions. Strikingly fresh and innovative, this music was based upon the integration of the written and improvised portions of a jazz piece in a manner that afforded new challenges and opportunities for the artists involved. The culmination of these efforts came in 1956 with the formation of the Teddy Charles Tentet; this group’s landmark recordings for Atlantic drew critical acclaim. In addition to the leader, other notable writers including Gil Evans, George Russell, and Jimmy Giuffre contributed to the ensemble’s unique repertoire. Always in search of ways to expand the jazz vocabulary, Charles established associations with like-minded individuals including the bass player Charles Mingus, the pianist Mal Waldron, and the saxophonist Teo Macero. In addition, he often participated in studio sessions led by pop and rhythm-and-blues artists and produced recordings for Prestige, Bethlehem, and Warwick. In the late 1960s he left music to concentrate on his other life passion, sailing. From the 1980s until his death in ...

Article

Olivia Carter Mather

(b Memphis, TN, Dec 28, 1950; d New Orleans, LA, March 17, 2010). American rock singer and producer. Best known as a founder of the power-pop band Big Star, he began his career while a teenager singing lead for the Memphis-based group the Box Tops. The band had several blue-eyed soul hits, notably “The Letter” (Mala, 1967), which reached number one. With Big Star, Chilton recorded three albums at Ardent Studios in the early 1970s. His songwriting and singing style during this period moved toward a melodic pop sound influenced by the British Invasion.

In 1975 he recorded his first solo EP, Singer not the Song (Ork, 1977), in Memphis, which was later released as Bach’s Bottom (Line, 1981). He moved to New York in 1977 where he recorded his influential single “Bangkok” (Fun, 1978) and played at CBGB & OMFUG; that year he took the psychobilly band the Cramps to Memphis to produce their first EP. In ...

Article

Chuck D  

Margaret Jackson

[Ridenhour, Carlton Douglas]

(b Roosevelt, Long Island, NY, Aug 1, 1960). American rapper, author, and producer. While studying graphic design at Adelphi University on Long Island, he began rapping at the college radio station WBAU. In the 1980s he played a key role in two of rap music’s seminal groups, the influential production team the Bomb Squad, the and the rap group Public Enemy. As the main rapper for Public Enemy, Chuck D achieved worldwide fame. His deep, resonant voice has been credited with lending the group’s songs both power and dramatic energy on key albums such as Yo! Bum Rush the Show (1987), It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold us Back (1988), Fear of a Black Planet (1990), and Apocalypse 91 … The Enemy Strikes Black (1991). Public Enemy gained notoriety for their overtly political, militant lyrics and for their dense, often chaotic musical tracks, most of which were produced by the Bomb Squad. Chuck D’s success led to collaborations with such prominent musical artists as Janet Jackson, Kool Moe Dee, Run-D.M.C., Ice Cube, Rage Against the Machine, and Anthrax....

Article

Roben Jones

[John Henderson ]

(b Whitehaven, TN, April 8, 1931). American singer-songwriter, producer, publisher, and entrepreneur. He began playing bluegrass while in the military and after his discharge in 1952, played at radio stations in Wheeling, West Virginia, and Boston. While enrolled in Memphis State University (from 1954), he worked nights and weekends at the Eagle’s Nest club. After working briefly for Fernwood Records, he was hired by Sun Records, where he recorded Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Johnny Cash, among others. He wrote hits for several of Sun’s artists, including Johnny Cash’s singles “Ballad of a Teenage Queen” and “Guess things happen that way” (both Sun, 1958).

Clement left Sun in 1960 to became a staff producer for RCA in Nashville. In 1963 he moved to Texas, started a publishing company, and produced Dickey Lee’s hit “Patches” (Smash, 1963). After returning to Nashville in 1965, he discovered and produced Charlie Pride and wrote songs for a variety of country artists, including Pride (“Just between you and me,” RCA Victor, ...

Article

Rob Bowman

(b Kannapolis, NC, July 22, 1941). American funk singer, songwriter and producer. He was leader of Funkadelic, Parliament and the P-Funk All-Stars. By the age of 11 his family had moved to Newark, New Jersey. When he was 14 he formed a doo wop group which he named the Parliaments after a popular American cigarette brand. The Parliaments recorded singles in the 1950s for the New York-based Hull and Flipp labels. During the 1960s they recorded in the vocal group mode of the Temptations: for Detroit's Golden World and Revilot labels. They had a hit in the summer of 1967, with (I Wanna) Testify (Revilot).

In 1969 Clinton lost the rights to the name ‘The Parliaments’ and consequently signed their backing instrumentalists to Westbound records, as Funkadelic. When he regained the rights in 1971 he signed the vocal group to Invictus records under the name Parliament. However, in reality the same musicians appeared on recordings made by both groups. Clinton continued this arrangement and signed a number of associated groups to a variety of labels. He wrote and produced for Bootsy's Rubber Band, Fred Wesley and the Horny Horns, the Brides of Funkenstein and Parlet among many others. In essence the Funk Mob, as the ever-growing retinue of musicians was informally known, performed on all the records by these groups. Among its members were Eddie Hazel (guitar) and Bernie Worrell (keyboards) and former JBs Bootsy Collins (bass guitar), Maceo Parker (alto saxophone) and Fred Wesley (trombone)....

Article

Athena Elafros

(John) [Diddy; P. Diddy; Puff Daddy; Puffy; Sean John]

(b New York, NY, Nov 4, 1969). American record producer, rapper, record executive, artist manager, and actor. His sample-heavy approach to production and R&B-infused sound contributed to the mainstreaming and resurgence of East Coast hip hop in the mid-1990s. As an entrepreneur and business executive, Combs parlayed his career in music into the multi-million dollar Bad boy entertainment empire, consisting of Bad Boy Records, the clothing lines Sean Jean and Sean by Sean Combs, a movie production company, and several restaurants. Often criticized for commercializing and watering down hip hop, Combs’s career, and the controversy surrounding it, exemplify fundamental tensions related to hip hop’s massive cultural influence and complicated relationship to global capitalism. Significantly, his wholesale recycling of popular hooks such as the Police’s “Every Breath You Take,“ Diana Ross’s “I’m Coming Out” and David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance,” to name only a few, have resulted in his music being heavily criticized (and heavily sold) both within and outside of hip hop circles....

Article

William Kenney

[Albert Edwin]

(b Goodland, IN, Nov 16, 1905; d New York, Aug 4, 1973). American jazz banjoist and guitarist and impresario. He first played the ukulele, then the tenor banjo, plectrum banjo, tenor lute and four-string guitar. He worked with the Austin High School Gang in Chicago, and promoted and organized many important sessions, beginning with the McKenzie-Condon Chicagoans in 1927 and culminating in a series of albums for Columbia (1953–7), notably Jam Session Coast to Coast (1953). After making a reputation as a hard-hitting rhythm banjoist and guitarist Condon went on to specialize in organizing jam sessions which matched the early jazz repertory with the most accomplished instrumentalists on the New York scene. He also organized a series of jazz concerts at Town Hall and Carnegie Hall (1942–6) and presented one of the earliest jazz programmes on television (1942). He broadcast four jazz concert shows in ...

Article

Rob Bowman

(b Willow Spring, MO, Oct 21, 1941). American electric guitarist, producer and songwriter. He initially achieved fame as the guitarist in two Memphis-based instrumental groups, the Mar-Keys and Booker T. and the MGs. Having left the Mar-Keys in the summer of 1961, he began working for Jim Stewart at Stax Records in a number of capacities: as a member of the house band (the MGs), a songwriter, engineer and promoter. In this way he was involved in most of the records issued by Stax in the 1960s. In 1970 he left Stax and founded the Trans-Maximus Inc. (TMI) studio and record label with Jerry Williams, and embarked on a freelance career. He produced and played on albums recorded at TMI or Ardent Studios by such artists as Poco, Jeff Beck, José Feliciano, Yvonne Elliman, John Prine and Mitch Ryder. Later production successes included Tower of Power's We came to play...

Article

Thomas Goldsmith

(b Houston, TX, Aug 7, 1950). American singer-songwriter and producer. Cut from nearly the same cloth as his friends and Lone Star songwriting heroes Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt, he achieved stardom by writing straight-talking country hits touched by his pop sensibility. He also showed broad-ranging abilities as a performer, arranger, and producer. During a period of genuine major-label country stardom, he set a record by producing, singing, and writing five consecutive number-one country singles beginning in 1988.

After spending his teens playing with the Houston-based rock band the Arbitrators, Crowell arrived in the freewheeling Nashville songwriting scene in 1972, and within a few years found success as a songwriter and gained attention as a member of Emmylou Harris’s Hot Band. Following Harris’s recording of Crowell’s “Til I can gain control again” and “Bluebird Wine” (both Rep., 1975), there have been several hundred recordings of his songs made by various artists including Waylon Jennings, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Crystal Gayle, Andy Williams, and the Grateful Dead. Perhaps his most fertile period and highest public profile came during his romantic and musical partnership with Rosanne Cash. Married from ...

Article

Travis D. Stimeling

[Charles Edward ]

(b Wilmington, NC, Oct 28, 1936). American session guitarist and fiddler, record producer, and Southern rock bandleader. After taking up the guitar at the age of 15, he was working as a professional rock musician by his early 20s, touring North Carolina, Virginia, and Washington, DC, with the Rockets and, after the band changed its name to the Jaguars, recording two sides for Epic Records in 1959 with the producer Bob Johnston. In 1962 Daniels and Johnston co-wrote “It hurts me,” which RCA Victor released as the B-side of Elvis Presley’s “Kissin’ Cousins” (RCA, 1964). Encouraged by Johnston, he moved to Nashville to become a session musician for CBS in 1967, in which capacity he recorded with Bob Dylan, Al Kooper, Leonard Cohen, and Flatt and Scruggs, among others. In 1969 he produced the Youngbloods’ album Elephant Mountain (RCA, 1969) and joined Leonard Cohen’s touring band. Daniels signed with Capitol Records in ...