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Melissa Ursula Dawn Goldsmith

[Esquivel! ]

(b Tampico, Mexico, Jan 20, 1918; d Jiutepec, Mexico, Jan 3, 2002). Mexican bandleader, arranger, composer, and pianist. He moved with his family to Mexico City in 1928. He began as a self-taught musician, composer, and arranger, inspired by Stan Kenton and his arranger Pete Rugolo. By 1936 he had become the orchestra bandleader for the Mexican radio station XEW, where he developed his conducting as well as his musical style. His style became known as “space age pop” or “space age bachelor pad music” with Latin inspiration. Special vocal effects included nonsensical mono- and polysyllabic words like “boing,” “zu-zu-zu,” and “pow” as well as one-word references to popular song titles, such as “Sorry” for the song “Who’s Sorry Now.” He typically employed production techniques that took advantage of hi-fi stereo capabilities and contemporary technology—for example, glissandi that traveled from speaker to speaker and clear separation and experimentation with as many channels as available....

Article

Gunther Schuller

[Green, Ian Ernest Gilmore]

(b Toronto, May 13, 1912; d Cuernavaca, Mexico, March 20, 1988). American jazz arranger, composer, pianist and bandleader. A self-taught musician, he led his own band in southern California from 1933 to 1938. When the singer Skinnay Ennis then took over the band, Evans stayed on as arranger. In 1941 he joined Claude Thornhill’s orchestra in the same capacity, contributing in 1946–7 such outstanding arrangements as Donna Lee (1947, Har.), Anthropology, Yardbird Suite and Robbins’ Nest (all 1947, Col.). In these works and others of the period Evans used two french horns and a tuba (in addition to the standard swing era big-band instrumentation); this, along with a restrained vibrato in the saxophones and brass, produced a rich, dark-textured, ‘cool’ orchestral sound, foreshadowed only by Duke Ellington and Eddie Sauter. Emphasizing ensemble over improvised solo, Evans’s scores for Thornhill were far from being straightforward arrangements – they were in essence ‘recompositions’ and ‘orchestral improvisations’ on the original materials (for example, lines borrowed from Charlie Parker, popular songs and classical works such as Musorgsky’s ...

Article

Daniel John Carroll

(b Oakland, CA, July 24, 1953). American jazz trumpeter and bandleader. He began playing trumpet at the age of eight. When he was 15 he met Dizzy Gillespie, whose friendship and guidance influenced his playing. At the age of 18 he moved to New York to perform with the vibraphonist Lionel Hampton. He subsequently became the lead trumpeter for the Thad Jones–Mel Lewis Orchestra while attending the Manhattan School of Music and working with, among others, Charles Mingus and Chuck Mangione. He has continued playing with big bands and jazz orchestras including the Manhattan Jazz Orchestra, the New York Jazz Giants, and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra. He has also directed big bands and founded the United Nation Orchestra, which toured internationally in the late 1980s, and in 1992 the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band. Additional directing engagements have involved the 40th anniversary tour of the Newport Jazz Festival and leading the San Francisco Symphony and Chorus in a performance of Duke Ellington’s sacred music. He has also written a jazz opera, ...

Article

Scott Yanow

(b Verdun, Quebec, May 4, 1928; d Ventura, CA, Aug 23, 2006). Canadian jazz trumpeter and bandleader. He began playing trumpet when he was nine and at 13 was soloing with the Canadian Broadcasting Company Orchestra. Moving to the United States, Ferguson, who was self-taught in hitting high notes, worked with the orchestras of Boyd Raeburn, Jimmy Dorsey and Charlie Barnet during 1949 and was one of the key members of the Stan Kenton Orchestra (1950–53). He spent 1953–5 in Los Angeles as a studio musician. In 1956 he formed the Birdland Dream Band, leading to the Maynard Ferguson Orchestra which lasted a decade. Ferguson freelanced for a few years including spending time in India, came back with a new orchestra in 1970, and had hits with “MacArthur Park,” the Rocky Theme (“Gonna Fly Now”) and the “Theme From Star Wars.” After leading the funk group High Voltage (...

Article

Andrew Lamb

revised by Kate Wells Robson

[Teodorico] (Salvatore)

(b Newark, NJ, Dec 20, 1900; d Scottsdale, AZ, July 22, 1971). American Bandleader, composer, and pianist. He served as a piano accompanist in dance academies, cafés, and movie theaters, and a song plugger for a music publisher in New York. During the 1920s he collaborated with Dan Russo to form the Oriole Terrace Orchestra in Chicago. Fiorito composed a number of successful songs in the contemporary light, romantic dance style. He collaborated with such lyricists as Gus Kahn, Ernie Erdman, and Albert Von Tilzer. His greatest successes as a songwriter emerged during the 1920s, but Fiorito’s accomplished career as a bandleader followed in the 1930s. From 1928 he began receiving national recognition with his own orchestra through network and radio broadcasts, coast-to-coast tours, recordings, and appearances in such films as Twenty Million Sweetheart (1934) and Broadway Gondolier (1935). His orchestra was occasionally fronted by young singers Betty Grable and June Haver in the 1930s. In the 1940s his band’s popularity began to wane. Upon settling in Scottsdale, AZ during the 1960s he became leader of his own dance orchestra, which performed at venues in California and Nevada until his death in ...

Article

Kevin Kehrberg

(Anton Leoš )

(b New York, NY, July 10, 1958). American banjoist, bandleader, and composer. As the world’s leading exponent of the banjo, Fleck has far surpassed the fame of any other player since Earl Scruggs. Named after three of his father’s favorite composers (Bartók, Webern, and Janáček), he was drawn to Scruggs’s playing from the television show The Beverly Hillbillies. At 15 he was playing guitar and attending New York’s High School of Music and Art, where he attempted French horn and later switched to voice when his grandfather brought home a secondhand banjo. The instrument became Fleck’s obsession. He was performing with local groups within months and soon began studies with Tony Trischka, America’s foremost avant-garde banjoist. After high school Fleck joined a rising Boston bluegrass band called Tasty Licks and began studying improvisation with local jazz musicians. While modern stylistic explorations beyond the confines of bluegrass were then uncommon on the instrument, Fleck pursued them from the beginning. He later claimed his chief innovation was not what he did, but that he did it on the banjo....

Article

Charles Fox

(b London, May 28, 1907; d London, Dec 23, 1958). English jazz pianist, composer and bandleader. The son of a West African barrister and a German mother, he was educated in England. During the late 1920s he travelled to the USA, where he wrote arrangements for Earl Hines’s orchestra and was commissioned by Paul Whiteman to compose new works. In 1933 he returned to Britain and formed a band made up of two clarinets, bassoon, three saxophones, piano, double bass and drums – an unconventional instrumentation for jazz and dance music at that time. For this and later ensembles he wrote many short pieces, including Serenade for a Wealthy Widow/Angry Jungle (1933, Col.), The Autocrat before Breakfast (1934, Col.), Dodging a Divorcee (1935, Col.) and Swing for Roundabout (1936, Decca). In 1934 Foresythe returned to the USA to perform with Whiteman, and the following year he recorded in New York with a band that included Benny Goodman, John Kirby and Gene Krupa; apart from this occasion, however, he made little use of improvisation. After World War II he led another band, but his final years were spent in obscurity, playing the piano in small drinking clubs in London around Soho and Kensington....

Article

Michael Fitzgerald

(Dubois)

(b Detroit, MI, Dec 15, 1934). American jazz trombonist, bandleader, and composer. He grew up in an orphanage where he first came in contact with music. He attended Cass Technical High School in Detroit before serving in a US Army band under Cannonball Adderley’s leadership. He subsequently enrolled at Wayne State University before moving to New York in 1957 as a member of Yusef Lateef’s quintet. Fuller was immediately in demand for Prestige and Blue Note recording sessions, both as a leader and as a sideman with Bud Powell and John Coltrane, among others. In 1960 he was featured in the Jazztet, led by Art Farmer and Benny Golson, but left after recording one album. The following year he toured South America and joined the front line of Art Blakey’s new sextet with Freddie Hubbard and Wayne Shorter, staying until 1965. Although influenced by J.J. Johnson’s style, Fuller leans more towards the lyrical and relies less on extremes of the upper range and horizontal density....

Article

J. Bradford Robinson

revised by Barry Kernfeld

(b Philadelphia, Feb 2, 1927; d Malibu, CA, June 6, 1991). American jazz tenor saxophonist and bandleader. At the age of 12 he started on the harmonica and within a year switched to the string bass and then to the alto saxophone. He also played the bassoon in his high school orchestra. He was playing professionally at the age of 15 in New York and a year later made his first recording, having left school to tour as a sideman with Jack Teagarden. He joined several important big bands, including those of Stan Kenton (1944–5) Jimmy Dorsey (1945) and Benny Goodman (1945–6, 1947); while with Kenton he became addicted to heroin. In 1947 he joined Woody Herman’s Second Herd, where with his fellow saxophonists Zoot Sims, Serge Chaloff and Ray Steward (soon replaced by Al Cohn) he formed the famous reed section known as the Four Brothers. In ...

Article

Michael Fitzgerald

[Gubenko, Julius]

(b New York, NY, Oct 13, 1924). American jazz vibraphonist, bandleader, and composer. He grew up in Brooklyn, befriending future drummer Tiny Kahn at age six. He showed an early aptitude for music, touring with the Major Bowes Amateur Hour in 1936 and meeting many jazz musicians in his neighborhood as a teenager. He entered the army in 1943 and around this time was introduced to bebop by Kahn. Following his discharge he played with guitarist Bill DeArango in New York before traveling to Europe in 1947 with Chubby Jackson.

After a brief stay in the big band of Buddy Rich, Gibbs came to national attention as a member of Woody Herman’s Second Herd (1948–9) and then played with Benny Goodman’s sextet in 1950–51. In the mid-1950s and 1960s he toured with his own quartets and recorded for a variety of labels. In 1957 Gibbs moved to California, where he led his own big band from ...