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Article

Chris Albertson

[Mule]

(b Montgomery, AL, Feb 14, 1893; d New York, NY, April 20, 1970). American jazz composer, pianist, and singer. He was raised in Atlanta, GA, where he had piano lessons as a child. After leaving home at an early age, he led a nomadic existence as a vaudeville performer and solo pianist before settling in Chicago in 1909 and moving to New York around 1912. He wrote, published, and energetically promoted his own music, but none of his efforts proved as rewarding as a 1920 Okeh Records release of Mamie Smith singing two of his songs, “That Thing Called Love” and “Crazy Blues.” The release resulted from Bradford’s persistent attempts to convince Okeh’s Fred Hagar that there was a market for African American singers. It is generally recognized as the first commercial recording of a blues sung by a black performer. Sales reached a million copies, generated a blues craze that boosted the careers of such singers as Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, and Ida Cox, and awakened the record industry to an untapped potential that ultimately changed the sound and direction of America’s popular music....

Article

John W. Rumble

(b Westmoreland, TN, Oct 21, 1915; d Nashville, TN Jan 7, 1998). American record producer, arranger, and bandleader. Adept at piano and other instruments, he began playing professionally by age 15, following his family’s move to Nashville. By 1940, he was leading his own dance band and broadcasting on local radio, and in 1942, with fellow WSM musicians Marvin Hughes and Beasley Smith, he composed “Night Train to Memphis,” a hit for rising Grand Ole Opry star Roy Acuff. After World War II, Bradley became WSM’s music director.

In 1947, Decca Records country recording chief Paul Cohen tapped Bradley to head the company’s Nashville office and assist in sessions. Bradley recorded for the Bullet, Coral, and Decca labels, and he made his reputation by working with Decca hit makers Ernest Tubb, Red Foley, Kitty Wells, Webb Pierce, Bobby Helms, and Brenda Lee, the last gaining pop stardom before releasing a series of country hits in the 1960s. After assuming Cohen’s position in ...

Article

Patricia Willard

(b St. James Parish, LA, Jan 25, 1891; d Los Angeles, CA, Oct 29, 1966). American double bass player, tuba player, violinist, guitarist, mandolinist, drummer, and trombonist. His principal instrument was violin from the age of seven until he moved in 1911 to New Orleans, where he learned mandolin, switched to double bass to join a string trio at Tom Anderson’s Cabaret, and marched with brass bands playing trombone, his favorite instrument until developing lip problems in 1919. In 1917 he arrived in Chicago as the double bass player with Freddie Keppard, George Baquet, Roy Palmer, and Tubby Hall in the Original Creole Band (known as the Olympia Band in New Orleans). There, he studied double bass with Tony Jackson and worked at the Royal Gardens, Dreamland, the Pekin Inn, and the De Luxe Café. In 1923 he went to England with Will Vodery’s Plantation Orchestra, in which he played both bass and trombone. He subsequently worked with Wilbur Sweatman in New York, played several revues before joining Duke Ellington (...

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Michael Baumgartner

(Delano )

(b Chicago, IL, June 4, 1945). American jazz alto saxophonist, contrabass clarinetist, sopraninoist, flutist, pianist, and composer. He studied clarinet with Jack Gell of the Chicago School of Music from 1959 to 1963 and music for one semester at Wilson Junior College in Chicago. In 1963 he entered the Music Corps of the US Army. After his discharge (1966), he returned to Chicago in order to study philosophy and composition at Roosevelt University (until 1968), with the objective of becoming a philosophy teacher. Following an invitation by Roscoe Mitchell he joined the newly formed musicians’ cooperative the Association for the advancement of creative musicians (AACM) during that time.

In 1967 Braxton founded with the violinist Leroy Jenkins and the trumpeter Leo Smith the trio Creative Construction Company which performed and recorded in New York. Along with other AACM members, the trio traveled to Paris in ...

Article

Barry Kernfeld

(Delano)

(b Chicago, June 4, 1945). American alto saxophonist, contrabass clarinettist and composer. In his teens he pursued the study of jazz and European art music, eventually reading philosophy and composition at Roosevelt University (1966–8). After army service (1963–6) he returned to Chicago, where he joined the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, and in 1967, with Leroy Jenkins and Leo Smith, he formed a trio which performed and recorded in New York as the Creative Construction Company. Along with other AACM members, the trio travelled to Paris in 1969 in an attempt to find steady work, but Braxton himself was not well received. He left Paris for New York in 1970 and joined the Italian improvisation ensemble Musica Elettronica Viva, then played with Chick Corea in the cooperative free-jazz quartet Circle (1970–71). From 1972, following the delayed success of For Alto, the first album for unaccompanied saxophone ever recorded, he was invited to present numerous solo concerts. He also appeared frequently from ...

Article

Jeffrey Holmes

[Randal Edward ]

(b Philadelphia, PA, Nov 27, 1945). American trumpeter, flugelhorn player, composer, arranger, and bandleader, brother of Michael Brecker. After graduating from Indiana University in 1966, he moved to New York, where he played with Clark Terry, Duke Pearson, and the Thad Jones–Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra. A versatile musician, he worked with Blood, Sweat and Tears, performing on their debut album, played hard bop and soul jazz with the Horace Silver Quintet and Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, and helped form the fusion group Dreams, which included his brother Michael, Billy Cobham, and John Abercrombie. During the 1970s he worked with Silver, Larry Coryell, Stevie Wonder, the Plastic Ono Super Band, and Cobham. He and Michael also performed and recorded (six albums) as the Brecker Brothers, garnering much critical acclaim. He continued to lead his own group into the 1980s and also recorded and toured with virtuoso performers Jaco Pastorious and Stanley Clarke. A reunion of the Brecker Brothers in ...

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(b Honolulu, HI, Nov 9, 1909; d Honolulu, HI, April 27, 1992). Hawaiian singer, musician, bandleader, composer, and impresario. Sol Bright was a master entertainer of the old school: an energetic showman, accomplished musician, comic hula dancer, composer, raconteur, and entertainment director during Hawaiian music’s era of greatest international appeal, the 1920s through the 1960s.

His professional experience began as a teenager playing drums with his sister Hannah’s dance band. In 1928 an offer to play rhythm guitar and sing with Sol Ho`opi`i took him to Kaleponi (California), where a large community of Hawaiian musicians had formed. He started his own group, The Hollywood Hawaiians, in 1932. Playing steel guitar and singing, he recorded prolifically for major labels. He also appeared on radio and in four films: South Sea Rose,Charlie Chan’s Greatest Case,Flirtation Walk, and White Woman. Bright composed a number of songs that have become standards, including the jazzy English language “Sophisticated Hula” and “Hawaiian Cowboy,” a show-stopping novelty song in Hawaiian. With rapid-fire verses, reflective of fast ...

Article

Stephanie Conn

(b Glen Ridge, NJ, Dec 11, 1963). American producer, composer, songwriter, drummer, guitarist, pianist, bass player, keyboard player, and vibraphonist. Born into a musical family he left high school early to play music. He performed in Boston in the late 1980s and then moved to Los Angeles, where he worked as a sideman, songwriter and producer with various musicians he knew from Boston including the singer-songwriter Aimee Mann. He became known as an indispensable studio session musician and producer.

Although Brion is a prolific songwriter, he is perhaps best known for his varied projects as a producer and composer, which have spanned pop, rock, jazz, hip hop, and bluegrass. Among the artists that he has produced are Fiona Apple, Beck, Dido, Brad Mehldau, of Montreal, Elliott Smith, Rufus Wainwright, and Kanye West. Brion often plays and co-writes for his productions. He has also written scores for films, including ...

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Jeffrey Holmes

(b Auckland, New Zealand, April 23, 1947). American pianist, composer, and arranger of New Zealand birth. He was classically trained but developed a voracious appetite for jazz as a teenager and enrolled in the Berklee College of Music in 1966 to study composition and arranging. On weekends he traveled to New York for lessons with lennie Tristano. He toured with Woody Herman from 1969 to 1972, which garned him a Best Arranger award from Downbeat and two Grammy writing nominations. After moving to Los Angeles, he spent ten years as Nelson Riddle’s pianist and also worked with David Rose, Johnny Mandel, Henry Mancini, and Irene Kral. From 1987 he has played alongside Charlie Haden in the ensemble Quartet West. His albums as a leader include trio, duo, and solo settings. He has also collaborated with Michael Feinstein and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. Broadbent’s arrangements, and his string writing in particular, are lush and inventive; this work, which has garnered two Grammy awards, has graced projects with prominent artists such as Mel Tormé, Scott Hamilton, Natalie Cole, and Diana Krall....

Article

J. Bradford Robinson

[Robert]

(b Kansas City, MO, Dec 19, 1929; d New London, NH, December 15, 2011). American jazz valve trombonist, arranger, and pianist. He studied at the Kansas City Conservatory and began his career as a pianist in various dance bands. In 1952 he settled on valve trombone and soon became an important figure in the West Coast style of jazz, particularly after replacing Chet Baker in Gerry Mulligan’s “pianoless” quartet, in which he worked from 1953 to 1954. At the same time he continued to perform on piano, notably in a revealing duo album with Bill Evans (1959). In the early 1960s he played with Mulligan and also led a popular group with the trumpeter and flugelhorn player Clark Terry. He was also a founding member of the Thad Jones–Mel Lewis Orchestra (from 1965), for which he wrote several outstanding arrangements. From 1968 to 1978 Brookmeyer worked primarily as a studio musician on the West Coast and frequently played as a sideman with well-known mainstream jazz musicians. In ...