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Gareth Dylan Smith

[Bernard Joseph]

(b Richmond, VA, June 26, 1955). American jazz drummer. He learned to play drums by listening to and imitating recordings and first worked professionally in Dixieland and rock-and-roll bands. He briefly attended the Berklee College of Music before moving to Los Angeles, where he worked as a studio musician and played with, among others, Chet Baker, Stan Getz, Dizzy Gillespie, Carmen McRae, and Helen Merrill. After moving to New York in 1982, he worked with Toshiko Akiyoshi, Fred Hersch, Red Rodney, and Toots Thielmans and began a ten-year working relationship with Bill Frisell, during which he recorded seven albums. In the late 1980s he performed as a soloist and with the band Miniature. Known for his ability to combine music from many traditions, including klezmer, jazz, and blues, Baron played a prominent part in the neo-bop movement of the early 1990s, leading a trio, Baron Down, from 1991...

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Roxanne R. Reed

[Delois Barrett and the Barrett Sisters]

Gospel trio. Its members were Delores [Delois] (soprano), Billie (alto), and Rhodessa (high soprano) Barrett. Hailing from the Southside of Chicago, they grew up with seven other siblings and were members of the Morning Star Baptist Church where they sang in a choir directed by their aunt. As the Barrett–Hudson Singers, Delores and Billie had performed in a group with a cousin, whom Rhodessa later replaced to form the Barrett Sisters. Delores, the eldest and the group’s leader, started singing at the age of six. Her professional career began in earnest after graduating from Englewood High School, when she became the first female to join the Roberta Martin Singers (1944; see martin, Roberta ). Billie and Rhodessa received some formal training, but it was through the Roberta Martin Singers that Delores learned technique and honed her individual style, along with the unique ensemble quality known as the Roberta Martin sound. Delores continued to sing with Martin from time to time, even as the Barrett Sisters took shape. Getting their start as an African American gospel trio, the Barrett Sisters first recorded with the label Savoy (...

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John L. Clark

(b New Orleans, LA, March 25, 1897; d New Orleans, Jan 28, 1983). American pianist, singer, and bandleader. The daughter of the Civil War veteran and Louisiana state senator W.B. Barrett, she learned piano by ear as a child and was playing professionally by her early teens. She never learned to read music and worked almost exclusively in New Orleans. During the 1920s Barrett played with many of the uptown New Orleans groups, including those led by Papa Celestin, Armand Piron, and John Robichaux. In the following decade she worked most often with Bebe Ridgley, with whom she developed a local following that subsequently brought her success at the Happy Landing from 1949 and the Paddock Lounge during the late 1950s. It was at this time that she became known as Sweet Emma the Bell Gal because of her habit of wearing garters with bells attached that created a tambourine-like effect as she played. In ...

Article

Jairo Moreno

(b Brooklyn, NY, April 29, 1929; d Hackensack, NJ, Feb 17, 2006). American conga player, bandleader, and producer of Puerto Rican descent. He began playing percussion informally during time in Germany as part of the US occupation army (1946–9). Returning to New York City in 1949, he participated in the lively jam-session scene in Harlem, playing bongos in sessions with Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie. In 1957, he replaced Mongo Santamaría in Tito Puente’s band. By 1960, he became the house percussionist for various jazz labels (Blue Note, Prestige, Riverside), recording his first album as leader for Riverside in 1961. The Charanga La Moderna was his first full-fledged Latin dance band, beginning in 1962. In 1963, his song El Watusi became the first Latin tune to enter the Billboard Top 20. By 1990, his salsa career stagnant, he formed a small, jazz-influenced sextet, New World Spirit, recording a number of Grammy-nominated albums....

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Randolph Love

(b Edgard, LA, Dec 24, 1920). American Trumpeter, arranger, producer, songwriter, bandleader, and singer. He started his career as a trumpeter playing with established bands led by, among others, Papa Celestin, Joe Robichaux, and Claiborne Williams before joining Fats Pichon’s ensemble, considered one of the top groups in New Orleans, in 1939. During World War II he played in the 196th AGF (Army Ground Forces) Band, where he met Abraham Malone, who taught him how to write and arrange. After the war, he formed his own band in New Orleans, which made its debut at the Dew Drop Inn and later performed at Sam Simoneaux’s club Graystone where many of the city’s top instrumental players, including the drummer Earl Palmer and the saxophonists Lee Allen and Red Tyler, were showcased.

Bartholomew is best known for his talents as an arranger and songwriter. In the 1950s and 60s he worked with many of the biggest stars of the day, including Smiley Lewis, Lloyd Price, Shirley and Lee, and Joe Turner. By the 1970s he had associations with some of rock and roll’s most established talents, including Paul McCartney, Elton John, and the Rolling Stones. His most productive association was with fats Domino, whom he met through Lew Chudd, the owner of Imperial Records, where he worked as a house arranger, an A&R man and an in-house bandleader. From ...

Article

Michael Fitzgerald

(Lee)

(b Baltimore, MD, Sept 26, 1940). American jazz alto and soprano saxophonist, bandleader, composer, and vocalist. He began playing in Baltimore, where his father owned the well-known club the North End Lounge. He attended the Juilliard School between 1957 and 1958 and then studied at the Peabody Conservatory. After moving to New York he worked with Charles Mingus (1962–4) and Max Roach (1964 and 1968–9, when he traveled to Europe and the Middle East). He also performed and recorded with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers (1965–6) and Miles Davis (1970–71). Between 1969 and 1974 Bartz led his own ensemble, Ntu Troop, which recorded six albums blending African music and funk with jazz. In the late 1970s and 1980s, he worked occasionally with Woody Shaw’s group as well as with McCoy Tyner. After playing with Kenny Barron (1990s), Bartz was a member of the ensemble Sphere (...

Article

Wolfram Knauer

[Bill; William]

(b Red Bank, NJ, Aug 21, 1904; d Hollywood, CA, April 26, 1984). American jazz pianist and bandleader. After taking piano lessons as a child, he was soon playing ragtime and show tunes at local dance events and performing for silent movies. In 1924 he worked with the singer and dancer Katy Krippen with whom he also toured. In the mid-1920s he met Fats Waller, who introduced him to the sound of the pipe organ, after which he was always fascinated by the instrument. He played in several bands in New York and in 1926 he embarked on a tour with Gonzelle White, during which he heard Walter Page’s band, the Blue Devils, in the Midwest. Basie left White’s group in Kansas City, worked as a silent movie organist, and was active on the city’s lively music scene. He heard many of the so-called territory bands, played for a while with Page’s Blue Devils, and then became a member of the Bennie Moten Orchestra, first as an arranger and then as a pianist....

Article

Dave Laing

(b Cardiff, Jan 8, 1937). Welsh pop singer. With a booming yet imperious contralto and an arresting stage presence, Shirley Bassey was one of Britain’s most popular singers of show tunes and pop ballads during the 1950s and 60s. Her forte was the melodramatic ballad, usually taken from a successful musical play or popular film. Thus, early in her career Bassey made hit recordings of ‘As long as he needs me’ (from Bart’s Oliver!) and ‘Climb ev’ry mountain’ (from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music). One of the songs most associated with her was a contrasting showstopper, the brassy, up-tempo ‘Big Spender’ from Coleman’s 1966 musical Sweet Charity. In the cinema, Bassey was chosen to perform three of John Barry’s themes from the James Bond film series: Goldfinger (1964; lyrics by L. Bricusse and A. Newley), Diamonds Are Forever (1972; lyrics by D. Black) and ...

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Luca Cerchiari

(b Havana, Cuba, April 28, 1911; d New York, July 11, 1993). Cuban trumpeter. He learned clarinet, oboe, and flute before studying trumpet with Lazaro Herrera and subsequently played with the groups of Antonio Maria Romeu, Domingo Corbacho, and Belisario Lopez, among others. In 1930 he moved to New York, where he performed from 1932 to 1939 with the orchestras of Noble Sissle, Chick Webb, Sam Wooding, and Don Redman. A meeting with John Bartee, Cab Calloway’s arranger, inspired him to develop a synthesis of the cuban clave and the latest jazz, which became known as Afro-Cuban jazz. Bauzá subsequently began working with the percussionist Frank Grillo (later known as Machito) to integrate jazz elements into Cuban dance music. After that collaboration finished, he joined the Cab Calloway orchestra in 1939, brought Dizzy Gillespie into the band, and encouraged him to explore Afro-Cuban music. From 1940 he was music director of Machito’s re-formed Afro-Cubans for nearly 35 years. In ...

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Monica F. Ambalal

(b Mexia, TX, March 14, 1922; d Palm Springs, CA, Jan 15, 1996). American Composer, conductor, and arranger. His family moved to Michigan, where he studied piano at the Detroit Conservatory. They later moved to Los Angeles, where Baxter continued his studies at Pepperdine University. After attempting to become a concert pianist, Baxter decided to focus his career elsewhere in the recording industry and joined Mel Tormé and his Mel-Tones as a vocalist and arranger in 1945. Two years later he collaborated with theremin player Dr. Samuel Hoffman and composer Harry Revel to make his first recording, Music out of the Moon, which established Baxter’s place in the genre of Exotica. By 1950 he had signed a contract with Capitol Records as a conductor and arranger and helped to produce such recordings as Nat “King” Cole’s “Mona Lisa” and “Too Young,” both of which became hits. In the same year he also produced the album ...