(b Philadelphia, PA, June 8, 1956). American classical and jazz pianist and composer. Born and raised in Philadelphia, Caine began playing piano at the age of seven. At age 12 he commenced studies with French jazz pianist Bernard Peiffer. He later studied composition with ...
revised by Brad Linde
[Jones, Frederick Russell ]
(b Pittsburgh, PA, July 2, 1930). American jazz pianist and composer. He studied with the singer mary cardwell Dawson and the pianist james Miller in Pittsburgh where he began playing professionally at the age of 11. After attending Westinghouse High School, he left in the late 1940s to join the George Hudson Orchestra. In 1951 he formed his first trio, the Three Strings, and after an extended engagement at the Blue Note club in Chicago, he appeared at the Embers in New York, where he attracted the critical support of John Hammond. He changed his name on his conversion to Islam in the early 1950s. In 1958, with the bass player Israel Crosby and the drummer Vernel Fournier, Jamal recorded his most popular and influential album, Ahmad Jamal at the Pershing, which included influential versions of “But not for me” and “Poinciana.” Miles Davis admired the album’s lean style, use of space, and simple embellishments, all of which characterized Davis’s own bands and recordings in the 1950s. Jamal’s trio disbanded in ...
(b Jamaica, Dec 2, 1931; d Toronto, ON, April 12, 1971). American jazz pianist. His family moved to the United States when he was four years old and settled in Brooklyn. As a youth he played professionally in rhythm-and-blues bands. By fusing earthy blues elements with those of the bop style as exemplified by Bud Powell, he developed a highly accessible and personal approach to jazz piano playing which influenced many subsequent performers. After working with the saxophonist Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis and the singer Dinah Washington, Kelly gained attention as a soloist while performing with Lester Young and Dizzy Gillespie. He continued to work for Washington and Gillespie in the mid-1950s and also played with Benny Carter and Charles Mingus. Although he frequently led his own trio from 1957 until his death, he was best known as a member of Miles Davis’s sextets and quintets from 1959. A consistent and sometimes brilliant improviser, he had exceptional skill as an accompanist, although this often overshadowed his rhythmically infectious solo style. His influence can be heard in the early work of Victor Feldman, Herbie Hancock, McCoy Tyner, and other pianists who emerged the 1960s....
[Stephen Lewis ]
(b New York, NY, March 24, 1938). American jazz pianist and composer. A pianist with a distinctive voice, he started classical piano lessons at five and at 17 began studies with Madame Chaloff in Boston, where he led a trio and accompanied such visiting greats as Coleman Hawkins, Chet Baker, and Vic Dickenson. After graduating from Harvard University in 1959, he returned to New York where he worked with Kenny Dorham, John Coltrane (in the saxophonist’s first quartet), Stan Getz (alongside the bass player Scott LaFaro, who influenced his playing significantly), and Charles Lloyd. He then worked in Art Farmer’s quartet with Steve Swallow and Pete La Roca, appearing on the trumpeter’s album Sing Me Softly of the Blues (1965, Atlantic). The rhythm section also recorded together on La Roca’s album Basra (1965, BN, with the saxophonist Joe Henderson) and on Kuhn’s first trio date as a leader, ...
(b Chicago, IL, May 27, 1935). American pianist and composer. His earliest exposure to jazz was as a child listening with his father to recordings of Duke Ellington, Art Tatum, and Meade “Lux” Lewis. At 15 he joined a jazz band that included fellow church musicians, the bass player Eldee Young and the drummer Redd Holt. He went on to study music at Chicago Musical College and De Paul University. In 1956 he reunited with Young and Redd to form the Ramsey Lewis Trio; their first album was entitled Ramsey Lewis and the Gentleman of Swing. The band reached its apex with The In Crowd (1965, Argo), an album which sold a million copies and earned the trio a Grammy Award for best jazz recording by a small group in 1965; Lewis has since been awarded two other Grammy Awards. Throughout his career, his work has showcased an eclectic fusion of gospel, jazz and Western European elements. He later began composing large-scale works, including the music for the ballet ...
[David J. ]
(b Woonsocket, RI, May 30, 1930; d State College, PA, Oct 18, 2008). American jazz pianist. He took piano lessons as a child, but learned to play jazz chiefly from listening to the radio and recordings. At the age of 12 he began to play with pickup groups at weddings and other events, and at 15 joined the musicians’ union. By 1947 he was performing in and around Boston with a group led by the saxophonist Boots Mussulli. He joined Charlie Ventura’s band (1949), then played with Woody Herman (1950–51) before serving two years in the US Army. He worked again in Ventura’s band for 18 months from 1953, but thereafter worked mostly with smaller groups, playing with Gene Krupa, Stan Getz, Zoot Sims, Al Cohn, and Bobby Hackett, among others. In 1967 he moved from New York to South Yarmouth on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and from around ...
[James Columbus; Hootie]
(b Muskogee, OK, Jan 12, 1916; d Kansas City, MO, Dec 7, 2006). American jazz and blues pianist and bandleader. He was self-taught and learned by listening to other players and radio broadcasts, in particular, those of the Earl Hines Orchestra. He briefly attended the Tuskegee Institute, but left around 1934 to perform in Oklahoma and Arkansas. In 1936 he took a bus ostensibly for Omaha, but during a layover in Kansas City, he discovered the Reno Club, where a band led by Buster Moten introduced him to the music and lifestyle of Kansas City jazz. Here he also encountered the boogie-woogie piano playing of Pete Johnson with Joe Turner. He remained in Kansas City, working with Buster Smith, among others, formed a sextet in 1937, and a big band in 1939 which featured Charlie Parker in one of his first professional jobs.
McShann took his band to the Savoy Ballroom in ...
William Kirk Bares
(b Jacksonville, FL, Aug 23, 1970). American jazz pianist and composer. An avid classical and jazz pianist from an early age, he starred in Hartford’s Hall High School jazz band, won the Berklee College of Music’s Best All-Around Musician award, and studied at the New School in New York and with Kenny Werner, fred Hersch , and jimmy Cobb . He gained widespread attention as a member of the Joshua Redman Quartet before striking out on his own with his debut album, Introducing Brad Mehldau (1995, WB). With the producer Matt Pierson, he began recording the Art of the Trio series in 1996. Comprising five albums (two studio and three live) and spanning nearly a decade, it documented the development of a trio with Larry Grenadier on bass and Jorge Rossy on drums. In 2007 Jeff Ballard replaced Rossy, and the trio has continued to evolve following Mehldau’s move to the Nonesuch label the same year....
(b Chicago, IL, Jan 5, 1957). American jazz pianist and composer. She studied music at the Cornish Institute in Seattle under Art Lande and gary Peacock . She moved to the East Coast in 1982 and eventually setted in New York, where she studied with such luminaries as ran Blake and jaki Byard . She worked with Leroy Jenkins and Butch Morris and developed her own sound influenced by the percussive approach of Don Pullen. She played small clubs at first, frequently with the flute player Marion Brandis, with whom she also recorded. Melford then put together a trio which included Lindsey Horner (bass) and Reggie Nicholson (drums); the group recorded two spirited, sharp-edged, infectious albums, Jump (1990, Enemy) and Now & Now (1991, Enemy). Melford went on to other projects later in the decade, including the band The Same River, Twice. She played in the trio Equal Interest in the late 1990s and continued to play with other ensembles, including Be Bread, into the next century. Although she originally played mostly piano, Melford eventually included harmonium in her performances, reflecting her interest in the music of India. A Fulbright grant in ...
Megan E. Hill
(b Osaka, Japan, 1957). Jazz and blues pianist, singer, and composer of Japanese birth. She took piano lessons briefly as a child and was exposed to the blues while growing up in Osaka in the 1960s and 1970s. As a high school student, she formed the Yoko Blues Band with classmates. The band earned some success, winning first prize and a recording contract in a television-sponsored contest. In 1984 she moved to the United States to pursue a jazz and blues career in Chicago. Initially a singer, she studied piano with boogie, blues, and jazz pianist Erwin Helfer. In the early 1990s Noge established the Jazz Me Blues Band, which has played regularly in Chicago since its formation. In addition to Noge on piano and vocals, the ensemble has included Noge’s husband, Clark Dean, on soprano saxophone, saxophonist Jimmy Ellis, trombonist Bill McFarland, and bassist Tatsu Aoki. In addition to playing more conventional jazz and blues, Noge has made a name for herself through the unique compositions she has written for the group, which meld Japanese folk music styles with Chicago blues. Active in the broader Asian American community, she cofounded the Chicago Asian American Jazz Festival in ...
(b Pittsburgh, PA, Jan 19, 1931). American pianist. He began piano study at the age of eight as a therapeutic device to counteract the effects of polio, which he had contracted at age five. He developed his own technique that accommodated the permanent partial paralysis of his right hand. Briefly a law student at the University of Pittsburgh, Parlan established himself on that city’s jazz scene in the early 1950s. In 1957 he moved to New York, where he recorded with Charles Mingus (appearing on albums such as Mingus Ah Um, 1959, Col.), Lou Donaldson, and Tommy Turrentine before making a series of recordings as a leader between 1960 and 1963 for the Blue Note label. The first of these albums was Movin’ & Groovin’ (1960, BN). He also recorded as a sideman with Stanley Turrentine, Dexter Gordon, Grant Green, Tubby Hayes, Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis, and Slide Hampton during the 1960s. Parlan left the United States for Denmark in the early 1970s; he has cited crime, stress, and the decreasing popularity of jazz as the reasons for his relocation, and since then nearly all of his recordings have been made in Europe. These include albums with Archie Shepp (...
(b New York, NY, May 29, 1928). American jazz pianist and composer. He began playing piano and composing while in the army in 1946. Largely self-taught, he was inspired by the music of Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie and counted Bud Powell and Thelonious Monk as influences. Beginning in 1953 he performed with Cootie Williams, Joe Roland, Art Blakey, Art Farmer, Gigi Gryce, and Gene Ammons. In 1956 he traveled to Sweden with Rolf Ericson and then went on a West Coast tour with Charles Mingus. In 1959 Redd composed the score for Jack Gelber’s The Connection, a Living Theatre production about drug addiction. He joined the cast with alto saxophonist Jackie McLean and recorded the score for Blue Note, along with two additional albums that featured McLean and tenor saxophonist Tina Brooks (McLean’s understudy).
From the 1960s he lived in various locations including Guadalajara, Paris, Amsterdam, San Francisco, Washington, DC, and Los Angeles. While in London, he appeared as the organist on singer-songwriter James Taylor’s first album. Redd recorded his last studio album in ...
William Kirk Bares
(b Jacksonville, FL, Aug 7, 1963). American pianist and composer. Blind since age five, Roberts was exposed from an early age to gospel music before taking up jazz in his teens. He studied classical piano at Florida State University and won the Great American Piano Competition in 1983 before earning wider acclaim as the pianist in the Wynton Marsalis Quartet. Nicknamed “J-Master” by the band for his profound swing and philosophical insight, Roberts developed an identity as a soulful jazz accompanist with a drummer’s flair for polyrhythm and a Monk-like knack for thematic improvisation. These assets are on full display on the double album, Wynton Marsalis: Live at Blues Alley (1988, CBS 461109 2). During his period of apprenticeship with Marsalis, Roberts won the first Thelonious Monk International Piano Competition (1987) and signed a record contract with BMG/Novus (1988), which allowed him to pursue a simultaneous career as a repertoire pianist, composer, and trio leader....
(b Oakland, CA, March 19, 1953). American pianist and composer. Before moving to New York in 1978, she studied with Ed Kelly, explored Cuban and Haitian folklore, and performed with Oliver Lake, Julius Hemphill, and her own ensembles in the San Francisco Bay Area. She received an NEA grant to form New Yor-Uba, a 14-piece big-band ensemble that debuted in late 1983; the group featured the Cuban drummer and vocalist Orlando “Puntilla” Rios and included Bob Stewart, Gary Thomas, David Sanchez, and Steve Berrios among its members. Her music offers a distinctive mix of Afro-Cuban, avant-garde, funk, and fusion elements, which are displayed in her recordings with her group Quintessence. This small ensemble, formed in 1986, has been her main creative vehicle, with which she has received three Chamber Music America grants. Rosewoman has also recorded on dates led by Lake, Greg Osby, Billy Bang, and Ralph Peterson. Her piano style is distinctive, muscular, and pointed and harbors a Monk-like spirit....
Daniel John Carroll
[Irene Louise ]
(b Regina, SK, March 24, 1962). Canadian jazz pianist. She began studying classical piano at the age of three and jazz piano during her high school years. In 1986 she moved to New York and a few years later began playing with Wayne Shorter and J.J. Johnson. She has performed with numerous others, including Jon Faddis, the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band, and James Moody, and released many albums as a leader, including Spiral Staircase (1989, BN), Without Words (1992, BN), Ancestors (1995, BN), and As we are now (1997, BN). From 2004 to 2009 she was the pianist for the San Francisco Jazz Collective and wrote six compositions and prepared several arrangements of jazz masterworks for the ensemble. Subsequent activities include the release of Black Narcissus (2008), the Japanese release of Manhattan Rain (2010), and performances with both the Ron Carter Quartet and her own ensemble, the Renee Rosnes Quartet. Rosnes has also hosted “The Jazz Profiles,” a radio program featuring interviews with Canada’s notable jazz musicians, and performed to great acclaim in a jazz piano duo with her husband, Bill Charlap. Her solo style often incorporates scalar passages as well as alternating melodic statements with sequential variations on their shorter motifs....
Matthew Alan Thomas
(b New Brunswick, NJ). American guitarist and composer. He began his musical career in the 1970s as a copyist for Leroy Jenkins and played in Archie Shepp’s large ensemble. In the 1980s he formed his own trio with the violinist Terry Jenoure and the drummer Kamal Sabir, played with the TenRenRen quartet, and performed as a sideman for many other groups. While working as Cassandra Wilson’s music director (1993–6) he produced arrangements for her first two Blue Note albums. In the 1990s he performed in the quartet Treasured Stranger and in Henry Threadgill’s band Make a Move. Ross then formed a collective trio called Harriet Tubman with the bass player Melvin Gibbs and the drummer J.T. Lewis. The group released a live album titled Ascension (2011, Sunnyside) as a tribute to John Coltrane. Ross also formed a band called Blazing Beauty (2004) to explore acoustic string- and percussion-based folk music. It released two albums: ...
[Jimmie; Hunter, James George]
(b Spokane, WA, Aug 19, 1918; d Burbank, CA, May 28, 1996). American pianist and singer. A refined keyboard player and an occasional vocalist, he possessed a style that in some ways recalled Cole Porter’s. Initially self-taught, Rowles then studied at Gonzaga University in Spokane. His professional career began in the 1940s in California, where he performed with Lester Young, Billie Holiday, Charlie Parker, Ben Webster, Woody Herman, and Dexter Gordon, among others. The following decade he spent more time accompanying singers, including Peggy Lee, Anita O’Day, Jimmy Witherspoon, and Mel Tormé, and such instrumental soloists as Buddy Rich, Stan Getz, Shorty Rogers, Jimmy Giuffre, and Ray Brown. He recorded as a leader for Liberty, Pacific Jazz, Clef, and Verve and also worked as a studio musician for film and television. His later years included additional performing, touring (with Ella Fitzgerald), festival performances, and recording for Atlantic and Columbia, among other labels. One of his best known compositions, “The Peacocks,” has been covered by many interpreters and was featured in the film ...
[Julio Gonzales Fonseca ]
(b Havana, Cuba, May 27, 1963). Cuban pianist. He has been known for his powerhouse technique, although he has been criticized at times for using it with too little restraint. Born into a musical family, he took up piano and drums at an early age. He began classical piano lessons at the Manuel Saumell Conservatory at age nine and then moved to the Amadeo Roldan Conservatory, before eventually graduating from the Instituto Superior de Arte in Havana in 1983 with a degree in composition. In 1980 he toured France and Africa with the Cuban dance band Orquesta Aragón. In 1984 he formed a fusion band, Grupo Proyecto, with which he toured internationally.
In 1985 he met Dizzy Gillespie at the Jazz Plaza Festival in Havana and subsequently recorded with the trumpeter and appeared with him in the video A Night in Havana: Dizzy Gillespie in Cuba (1987...
Bruce Boyd Raeburn
(b Careening Cay, nr Bocas del Toro, Gran Colombia [now Panama], Aug 6, 1902; d New York, NY, Dec 11, 1963). American jazz bandleader, arranger, and pianist. His father taught music, and Russell was a teenaged multi-instrumentalist before replacing a theater pianist caused him to concentrate on piano. He learned about jazz by performing for American servicemen in the Panama Canal Zone. After his family won a lottery in 1919, he moved to New Orleans to pursue a career as a jazz musician, establishing himself with Albert Nicholas’s band at Anderson’s Annex in 1922. When King Oliver was organizing his Dixie Syncopators in 1924, he sent for Russell, Nicholas, and Barney Bigard, after which Russell became Oliver’s chief arranger. While in Chicago he also pursued various side projects, including the Chicago Hottentot recordings with Nicholas, Bigard, Johnny St. Cyr, and George Mitchell. After Oliver’s relocation to New York in ...
(b Philadelphia, PA, March 14, 1934; d Philadelphia, PA, March 10, 2002). American jazz organist and pianist. As a young girl, Scott learned to play both the trumpet and the piano, and soon began playing in small Philadelphia clubs, where she had the opportunity to work with John Coltrane. She was introduced to the Hammond organ at some point during the mid-1950s, and quickly made it her own. Upon hearing her play, Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis invited her to join his band. The result was an impressive series of concerts and recordings on the Prestige label; their output between 1956 and 1958 included the Davis “Cookbook” albums. She then pursued a solo career for a time, starting with the album Shirley’s Sounds (1958, Prestige) and continuing with many well-received records into the next decade, 23 of which were for Prestige (1958–64), ten for Impulse (1963–68...