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Article

Nevil Skrimshire

revised by Alyn Shipton

[Simon]

(b London, June 14, 1907; d Chertsey, May 23, 1973). English jazz clarinettist, bandleader and arranger. He studied the violin and piano as a child and taught himself theory and harmony. In his late teens he began playing the saxophone and the clarinet and performed with his brothers’ band in Europe. He worked as a staff arranger for a music publisher and as a music director for the Edison-Bell Gramophone Co. From 1930 he wrote arrangements for Bert Ambrose and led his own quintet. Later he joined Ambrose’s band (1933), with which he recorded on clarinet and alto and baritone saxophones (1933–7). In 1937 Phillips visited the USA, where he broadcast and recorded with American musicians. After serving in the RAF he formed another quintet (1946) and composed several symphonic works for the BBC SO (as Simon Phillips). From 1949 until his death he led his own dixieland band; among his sidemen were George Shearing, Colin Bailey, Tommy Whittle and Kenny Ball. Phillips made several recordings as a leader from ...

Article

Gerard Béhague

[Vianna Filho, Alfredo da Rocha ]

(b Rio de Janeiro, April 23, 1897/8; d Rio de Janeiro, Feb 17, 1973). Brazilian composer, flautist, saxophonist, arranger and bandleader. His father was an amateur flute player and cultivator of the old choro. Around the age of ten Pixinguinha played the cavaquinho and accompanied his father, who also taught him the flute. He participated in carnival band parades (1911–12), played in night clubs and in the orchestra of the Rio Branco cinema, specializing in musical comedies and operettas. His talents as a flautist were widely recognized and through this he formed his first significant group, Os Oito Batutas, with other important musicians of the period, such as Donga, China and Nelson Alves. Originally including flute, three guitars, singer, cavaquinho, mandoline, tambourine, reco-reco and ganzá, they were presented at the Cinema Palais in 1919 with a typically national repertory that included waltzes, polkas, tangos, maxixes...

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

Andrew Lamb

(Whitecross)

(b Prestonpans, Jan 28, 1898; d Midhurst, Sept 7, 1970). Scottish orchestrator, conductor and composer. A violin student of William Waddell, he conducted the Edinburgh University Choral and Orchestral Society and composed and orchestrated music for university revues while graduating in music under Donald Tovey. He became musical director at the Gaiety and other West End theatres, providing orchestrations for musical comedies such as Harold Fraser-Simson's Betty in Mayfair (1925), Vivian Ellis's Streamline (1934), Jill Darling! (1934) and Big Ben (1946), and Noel Coward's Conversation Piece (1934) and Operette (1938). Shows for which he was musical director included Jerome Kern's Blue Eyes (1928), and then in 1932 he became musical director at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, where he conducted and orchestrated Ivor Novello's Glamorous Night (1935), Careless Rapture (1936), ...

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

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

Philip L. Scowcroft

(Charles)

(b Liverpool, Aug 15, 1884; d Bognor Regis, Oct 18, 1969). English composer and conductor. He studied with Humperdinck in Berlin (1904–10) before returning to England to a career in the musical theatre, at that time being reckoned the youngest opera conductor in England. He soon began composing significant incidental music, and took up the post of musical director at Nigel Playfair's Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith (1923–32); he worked in other theatres and for the BBC both before and after World War II. Reynolds was primarily a composer for the theatre. However, he also wrote a handful of independent orchestral and instrumental pieces and some 40 separate songs, ranging from cabaret ditties to Five Centuries of Love. These show his talent for pastiche, something he put to good use in his refurbishments with music of his own of 18th-century stage works by Arne, Dibdin, Linley and others. ...

Article

Mark Tucker

(Smock)

(b Oradell, NJ, June 1, 1921; d Los Angeles, Oct 6, 1985). American popular arranger, composer and conductor. During the 1940s he played the trombone and arranged for a number of big bands, including those of Jerry Wald, Tommy Dorsey, Bob Crosby and Charlie Spivak. After a short period in the army, following which he gave up professional playing, he studied orchestration and composition with Castelnuovo-Tedesco, subsequently joining NBC Radio as a staff arranger and conductor. Both at NBC and Capitol Records, which he joined in 1951, he worked with many prominent popular singers, among them Peggy Lee, Judy Garland, Nat ‘King’ Cole and Ella Fitzgerald. Riddle was also the arranger for many of Frank Sinatra’s film musicals including Guys and Dolls (1955), High Society (1956) and Pal Joey (1957), and the success of Sinatra in the late 1950s owed much to Riddle’s alternately introspective and swinging arrangements....

Article

Lise Waxer

[Pablo]

(b San Juan, Jan 4, 1923; d New York City, Feb 28, 1972). Puerto Rican popular singer, bandleader and composer. Raised in Puerto Rico, he arrived in New York City in 1939, singing in the band of his brother Johnny before moving on to perform in the orchestras of Enric Madriguera, Xavier Cugat and Noro Morales. He recorded the hit song Bim-bam-bum with Cugat in 1942. In 1946 he joined the band of José Curbelo along with another promising young musician, Tito Puente, then left to form a small ensemble of his own in 1947, and by the early 1950s had established one of the leading mambo orchestras in New York. Like fellow ‘Mambo Kings’ Puente and Machito, he performed regularly at the Palladium Ballroom.

One of the most popular vocalists and Latin bandleaders of the 1950s, Rodríguez is best remembered for his romantic songs. His band was notable for its driving rhythm section and tight horns, a perfect complement to his velvety voice and improvisatory skills as a ...