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Article

John Snelson

(Ashwell)

(b Folkestone, March 23, 1906; d Worplesdon, nr Guildford, April 24, 1976). English composer, lyricist and pianist. He studied law at Cambridge then attended the RAM, and in 1929 became a professional composer, also writing his own song lyrics. He contributed to radio revues, particularly in collaboration with the lyricist Eric Maschwitz (editor of the Radio Times and later director of Variety at the BBC), both achieving success with their radio operetta Good-Night Vienna (1931, broadcast 7 January 1932). Through its subsequent association with Jack Buchanan, who starred in the film of the show (1932), the title song remains one of Posford’s few lasting works. A further planned radio operetta with the author Herbert Farjeon, One Day in Summer, was abandoned in May 1934. Posford also appeared on radio as a guest pianist between 1930 and 1945, playing his own works in programmes such as ‘Vaudeville’ and ‘Keyboard Cavalcade’....

Article

Lise Waxer

[Prado, Pérez]

(b Matanzas, Dec 11, 1916; d Mexico City, Sept 14, 1989). Cuban pianist, bandleader, composer and arranger. After a formal musical training in Matanzas he moved to Havana in the early 1940s, where he played the piano and arranged for the orchestra of Paulina Alvarez (1942) and the well-known Orquesta Casino de la Playa (1943–6). His growing incorporation of big band jazz influences was not well received, and he left Cuba in 1947, settling in Mexico City the following year. Establishing a mambo big band, he made several recordings through the next decade, including his famous Mambo No.5 and Qué rico el mambo. While often criticized for falsely claiming to have invented the mambo, his popularization of this genre in mainstream North America is undisputable, and his recordings of Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White (1955) and Patricia (1958) made it to the top of the US charts for several weeks....

Article

Lise Waxer

(b New York City, April 20, 1923; d New York City, May 31, 2000). American percussionist, bandleader, composer and arranger. He began performing with Los Happy Boys and other local bands as a child prodigy, and as a teenager played with Noro Morales and Machito. Following wartime service in the US Navy (...

Article

Simon Collier

(b Buenos Aires, Dec 2, 1905; d Buenos Aires, July 24, 1995). Argentine tango pianist, bandleader and composer. Trained at a private conservatory in Buenos Aires, he started as a cinema pianist but soon found a place in tango bands, including those of Roberto Firpo, Pedro Maffia, and Pedro Laurenz. After 1929 he jointly led the Vardaro-Pugliese Sextet, one of the most distinguished ensembles of the 1930s, and only in late 1939 did he form his own first band, which made the first of its more than 600 recordings in 1943. His own virtuosic piano skills contributed much to his band, whose sophisticated arrangements pushed the ‘evolutionist’ trend in tango music to its limits: Pugliese has been aptly described as the Wagner of the tango. The band toured to the Soviet Union and China (1960), to Mexico and Cuba (1981) and to Japan (...

Article

(b New York, Oct 7, 1901; d nr Palm Springs, CA, Oct 23, 1942). American composer and pianist. He studied music at the Damrosch Institute, where his teachers included Gallico and Clarence Adler, and law at Brown University. He began a career as a lawyer, but in 1926 became a pianist for Broadway musicals and also toured as a vaudeville accompanist and arranger. While playing in a piano duo with Adam Carroll in Arthur Schwartz’s The Little Show (1929), he composed ‘Moanin’ Low’, which was the most successful song of the production. He then went to Hollywood as a rehearsal pianist. From 1930 until his death in an aeroplane crash he composed songs for over 50 films for Paramount (1930–38) and 20th Century-Fox (1938–42), mostly with the lyricist Leo Robin. Many were for Bing Crosby, others for Betty Grable; ‘Thanks for the Memory’, introduced by Bob Hope in ...

Article

Lise Waxer

(b New York City, Feb 28, 1938; d New York City, June 6, 1993). American vibraphone player, percussionist, composer, arranger, bandleader and producer. He trained at the Juilliard School of Music and launched his career in 1957, recording with Joe Loco. In 1960 he contributed to Johnny Pacheco’s first charanga album, El güiro de macorina and launched his own band in 1963, recording Introducing Louie Ramírez. Through the 1960s he performed with Joe Cuba and was a member of the Alegre All-Stars and, with the vocalist Pete Bonet, led the house band at New York City’s Corso Club in the late 1960s. Through the 70s and 80s he was a staff producer for Fania Records and its subsidiary labels Vaya, Inca, Cotique and Tico, and was also acting president of Alegre Records. As a producer, arranger and composer, he influenced the growing sophistication of New York salsa during this time, evident on his own tunes ...

Article

Ken Rattenbury

revised by Alyn Shipton

(b London, Jan 12, 1900; d London, Feb 1, 1971). English bandleader, clarinettist, singer and composer. From 1919 he organized dance bands with his brother Syd, including Syd Roy’s Lyricals; they performed in London at Oddenino’s, Rector’s, the Hammersmith Palais and the Café de Paris, and at Rector’s in Paris. In 1928 the brothers toured South Africa and Australia (1929), then returned to England to play in variety theatres before touring Germany. In 1931 Harry formed his own band and, after touring (1933), held residencies at the Café Anglais and the Mayfair Hotel in London. He continued to tour extensively in theatres until 1939 and throughout World War II but after 1945 never regained his former status in London’s clubland. Roy was essentially a show-band leader, an energetic front man, a light, sometimes comic, singer, and a clarinettist in the style of Ted Lewis. Although hardly a jazz musician himself he employed as sidemen a number of players who later became prominent in jazz. His signature tune, ...

Article

Lise Waxer

[Ramón]

(b Havana, April 7, 1927; d Miami, Feb 1, 2003). Cuban percussionist, bandleader, composer and arranger. He first began to learn the violin, but switched to percussion as a child. He left Cuba in 1948, moving to Mexico with his cousin, the bongo player Armando Peraza. They played in Pérez Prado’s mambo band, then moved to New York City in 1950, where they were known as the Black Cuban Diamonds. Santamaría soon found work with Tito Puente, working in the band for seven years alongside percussionist Willie Bobo. During this time he recorded various albums of authentic Cuban religious and secular drumming, both with Puente and under his own name. With Bobo he left to join Cal Tjader’s Latin jazz group in 1958. In 1961 Santamaría put together a charanga ensemble, and recorded with the Cuban vocalist La Lupe in 1963, helping to launch her US career. By the mid-1960s he turned to the Latin crossover vein, with widely popular hits such as ...

Article

Andrew Lamb

(b Neulerchenfeld, nr Vienna, May 22, 1850; d Vienna, June 17, 1893). Austrian violinist and composer. He studied the violin with Ernst Melzer (first violin at the Carltheater in Vienna) and then with Heissler and Hellmesberger at the Vienna Conservatory (1862–6). He played in the Harmonie and Josephstadt theatre orchestras and, after military service (1866–70), in the salon orchestra of K. Margold. His brother Joseph Schrammel (b Ottakring, nr Vienna, 3 March 1852; d Vienna, 24 Nov 1895), a violinist and composer, was also a pupil of Hellmesberger (1865–7) and became the leader and manager of the Schrammel Trio (later a quartet), founded in 1878 with his brother and the bass guitarist Anton Strohmayer to play at inns and private gatherings. Both brothers composed songs and dances for the ensemble, Joseph's being less successful than those of Johann, whose Wien bleibt Wien...

Article

Andrew Lamb

(b London, July 25, 1855; d London, Jan 22, 1895). English composer, conductor and pianist. A member of a family of theatre musicians, he began his career as a pianist at the Middlesex Music Hall in London; he was later the musical director at the New Royalty, Globe, Her Majesty’s and other theatres in London and New York. He wrote numerous parlour pieces for the piano and comic songs, and as a composer of comic operas he was one of the most accomplished contemporaries of Sullivan. Solomon’s melodies are usually in an English ballad or a march style with repeated melodic phrases and simple rhythms. His comic operas, many of which echo Sullivan’s, were all performed in London and include Billee Taylor (Imperial, 30 October 1880), Claude Duval (Olympic, 24 August 1881), The Vicar of Bray (Globe, 22 July 1882), Polly (Novelty, 4 October 1882...