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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

Samuel S. Brylawski

[Robert] (Waltrip)

(b Danville, IL, Sept 15, 1926; d New York, March 21, 2005). American popular singer and pianist. He taught himself to play piano as a child, and was sometimes referred to as ‘the miniature Fats Waller’. He began recording in 1954 but the turning-point in his career came in 1968, when the recording of a highly successful joint concert with Mabel Mercer in Town Hall, New York, was well received; in the same year he began what was to become a longstanding engagement at the Café Carlyle in New York. In the early 1970s he recorded a series of albums, each one with music by a different composer; most notable was one devoted to songs by Cole Porter, which contributed to a resurgence of interest in the composer and did much to broaden Short’s following. He continued his association with Mercer; they gave their third concert together at Carnegie Hall in ...

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...

Article

Alyn Shipton

[Louis]

(b London, May 28, 1898; d London, Feb 12, 1969). English bandleader, arranger and pianist. He wrote scores for Bert Ralton's band and rapidly became known as one of the most inventive arrangers of his time, blending elements of jazz, symphonic and commercial music within single arrangements. From 1927 he provided several outstanding arrangements for Ambrose's band, introducing a rhythm string section. He joined Roy Fox in 1931. He first led a band in 1932, at the Monseigneur Restaurant, and later formed his own band there with exceptionally good players and the singer Al Bowlly. The band recorded and broadcast regularly. Stone was musical director for British and Dominion Films (1931–5) and the British National Film Company (1936–9), appearing with his band in several films including Bitter Sweet and The Little Damozel. He also played in clubs, theatres, restaurants etc., made recordings and broadcast, latterly with a sextet (...

Article

Ann Sears

(b Kansas City, MO, Dec 3, 1909; d New York, Oct 16, 1987). American pianist and composer. A child prodigy, Suesse studied with Liszt pupil Alexander Ziloti (1927) and composer Rubin Goldmark, and later Nadia Boulanger (1947–50). Her first hit, Syncopated Love Song, was recorded in 1929. She was nicknamed ‘Girl Gershwin’ because of her popular and classical compositions and her pianistic ability. Paul Whiteman featured her Concerto in Three Rhythms at Carnegie Hall in 1932, subsequently introducing her Eight Waltzes for Piano and Orchestra at the Metropolitan Opera House in 1933, and in 1934 Suesse appeared on Gershwin’s radio show. During the 1930s she was a staff writer at various times for Harms, Famous Music Corporation and Robbins Music. She also composed some significant orchestral music. Several American orchestras played her works and recorded a few compositions from 1929 to 1942; some works have been revived during the last decade. She wrote the music for Billy Rose’s revues, ...

Article

Edward Jablonski and Mark Steyn

(b New York, April 19, 1897; d Southington, CT, Jan 28, 1993). American composer, lyricist, author and pianist. Born into a musical family (her father was the music critic Samuel Swift), she began music lessons at the age of seven. She studied the piano with Bertha Tapper and composition with A.E. Johnstone at the Institute of Musical Art (now the Juilliard School), then continued with Charles Loeffler (composition) and Heinrich Gebhard (piano) at the New England Conservatory. She also studied counterpoint and orchestration with Percy Goetschius. On graduation she became a pianist, accompanying singers and instrumentalists, and a member of a trio which toured the northeastern USA.

Swift has two claims to a place in American musical history: first, in the 1920s, among the massed ranks of Tin Pan Alleymen, she (along with the lyricist Dorothy Fields and a few others) was a rare female songwriter; second, as an intimate friend and a fellow composer, she was among George Gershwin’s closest musical confidants apart from his brother Ira. Swift had classical credentials; Gershwin was best known as a song-plugger who had graduated to musical comedy. At one stage, she was writing a fugue a week; he was writing a song a day. She assisted his transition to the concert hall; he led her to Broadway and popular music....

Article

Andrew Lamb

(b Wolverhampton, July 30, 1875; d Stoke-on-Trent, Feb 5, 1922). English composer and accompanist, elder brother of the soprano Maggie Teyte. He gained varied theatrical experience as an actor, in management, and as musical director for the Carl Rosa Opera Company and at Wyndham's Theatre. In 1902 he married the music hall singer Lottie [Charlotte Louisa] Collins (1865–1910) for whom he conducted; in 1912 he married another singer, Clarice Mayne (Clarice Mabel Dulley, 1886–1966), with whom he formed a highly successful music-hall act. He wrote many songs for pantomimes, the music hall and revues, among them I was a good little girl till I met you, A Broken Doll (for André Charlot's revue Samples, 1915) and Give me a little cosy corner. His additional numbers for Fraser-Simson's musical play The Maid of the Mountains (1915), in which his step-daughter José [Josephine] Collins (...

Article

Deane L. Root

(Austin )

(b Perth Amboy, NJ, May 21, 1890; d New York, March 22, 1965). American songwriter and pianist . He studied at the Virgil School of Music, New York, and in 1911–13 toured the USA as a concert pianist. In 1915 he was in London as a staff pianist and composer for the music publisher Francis, Day & Hunter, and returned to the USA the following year in the same position for Remick. From 1913 to 1930 he wrote songs for revues and musical comedies, including The Passing Show of 1916, Irene (1919, with the songs ‘Castle of Dreams’, based on Chopin’s ‘Minute Waltz’, and ‘Alice Blue Gown’), The Broadway Whirl (1921), Up She Goes (1922), Kid Boots (1923), and four editions of Ziegfeld’s Follies (1916–24, including the spelling song ‘M-i-s-s-i-s-s-i-p-p-i’, 1916). Rio Rita (1927, with ‘Ranger’s Song’) was one of the first musicals to be adapted to film (...