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Warren M. Sherk

(b New York, NY, Sept 6, 1889; d Los Angeles, CA, March 26, 1954). American Composer and songwriter, music director, conductor, and pianist. Educated in Brooklyn public schools, he played piano as a youth and performed his own songs in cafes. After a stint as a vaudeville theater pianist he got involved in Broadway musicals. Throughout the 1910s he served as musical director for Gus Edwards’s musical revues and became the general music director of The Song Review Co. By 1916 he was writing music with Jean Havez for musicals at the Palace Theatre and Harlem Opera House. He left Edwards to work on George M. Cohan revues. He was in charge of music for the Friars Club and musical director for the Hasty Pudding Club productions at Harvard University for ten years. In the 1920s he supplied music scores for four films by D.W. Griffith, starting with ...


Howard Rye and Alyn Shipton

[Calhoun, Charles E. [Chuck]]

(b Atchison, KS, Nov 16, 1901; d Altamonte Springs, FL, April 1, 1999). American bandleader, singer, pianist, arranger, and record producer. He was brought up in St. Joseph and Kansas City, Missouri, and began his professional career at the age of five as a singer and dancer in a traveling variety act with his parents, who gave him a formal musical education. Having played piano in a trio with the saxophonist Theodore Thyus, he formed his first band, the Blues Serenaders, in 1918, initially a quartet of piano, drums, violin and cello, though it later developed into a larger ensemble with woodwind and brass; Coleman Hawkins played cello and later C-melody saxophone with the band. Stone directed, played piano, and arranged music for the group, which performed a variety act in the St. Joseph area that involved dancing and conjuring tricks; with the help of the agent Frank Rock, he established an early network of venues for touring appearances, and in the early 1920s he pioneered jazz radio broadcasting in St. Joseph. He continued to lead the Blues Serenaders until ...


Susan Fast

(Wister )

(b Clarksdale, MI, Nov 5, 1931; d San Marcos, CA, Dec 12, 2007). American songwriter, guitarist, pianist, bandleader, talent scout, and record producer. He began playing piano as a boy in Clarksdale, forming the Kings of Rhythm while still in school. His musical education consisted of listening to music and playing with blues musicians such as B.B. King. Turner is often credited with writing and recording the first rock and roll record (according to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame), “Rocket 88,” although the track was released under the name of Jackie Brenston (a member of Turner’s band who sang and played sax on the record). Recorded in 1951 at Sam Phillips’s Sun Studios in Memphis, this uptempo R&B song provided a template for the rock and roll emerging later in the decade. The modified 12-bar blues form, boogie woogie bass line, percussive piano, guitar distortion, and rowdy sax solo became standard features of songs by Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, and others....


Samuel Cottell

(Tommy )

(b Budapest, April 11, 1928; d Sydney, April 4, 2013). Australian pianist, music arranger, composer, music director, and conductor of Hungarian Jewish origin. At a young age Tycho appeared as soloist performing concertos on live radio broadcasts with the Budapest Philharmonic Orchestra. He subsequently enrolled at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music, studying the piano with Egon Petri and harmony with Leon Werner, but formal studies were interrupted due to internment in a forced labor camp. After the war he became the Shah of Iran’s personal pianist.

Tycho emigrated to Australia in 1951, where he began work at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation playing the piano in a series of radio broadcasts entitled A Handful of Keys, and formed his own light music ensemble, The Thomas Tycho Players. In 1956 Tycho commenced television work at ATN7 as a pianist and arranger, and by 1958 was appointed the television station’s music director, a post he held until ...


T. Brown

(b Leicester, Sept 23, 1904; d Toronto, Jan 3, 1966). Canadian conductor, violinist and music administrator . He was the pioneer of music broadcasting in Canada. He began to study the violin at the age of seven in Lethbridge, Alberta, where his family had settled in 1907. In 1921 he toured Canada as a soloist, then studied with Healey Willan, Luigi von Kunitz and Leo Smith at the Toronto Conservatory. From 1922 to 1926 he taught there and was a member of the Toronto SO. In 1925 he was appointed music director of the Toronto radio station CKNC, and in 1933 became music director of the Canadian Radio Broadcasting Commission, forerunner of the CBC. Through hundreds of broadcasts he had become the most widely known conductor in Canada, and from 1936 he pursued a freelance career.

In 1947 he was appointed music adviser to the CBC and organized the CBC Opera Company. As CBC director of music from ...


Ryan D.W. Bruce

[Randolph Edward ]

(b Brooklyn, NY, April 6, 1926). American jazz pianist, bandleader, composer, and club owner. Weston did not identify with his classical music lessons as a youth, choosing instead to explore a percussive piano style under the influence of Duke Ellington. Other early influences include Count Basie, Nat “King” Cole, Art Tatum, and Coleman Hawkins. Weston’s playing was transformed after attending a concert by Hawkins and Thelonious Monk in 1945: Monk became Weston’s mentor from 1947–9, and inspired his heavy attack and improvisatory rhythmic displacements. He was hired by Marshall Stearns in 1949 to provide demonstrations of different jazz styles for university lectures given throughout the United States; their work lasted eight summers and fostered Weston’s interest in African music.

Beginning with his debut in 1954, his early recordings acquired critical recognition and included band members such as Art Blakey, Cecil Payne, Ahmed Abdul-Malik, and Coleman Hawkins. Some of his compositions of the time, especially “Little Niles” and “Hi-Fly,” gained popularity and have been recorded by many others. Weston also worked with arranger ...