Home>The Final Curtain
Passings - jazz (and jazz influenced) artists who have passed on.
David "Fathead" Newman
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| Donald Byrd|
Jazz musician Donald Byrd was a leading hard-bop trumpeter of the 1950s who collaborated on dozens of albums with top artists of his time and later enjoyed commercial success with hit jazz-funk fusion records such as "Black Byrd”.
The trumpeter, who was born Donaldson Toussaint L'Ouverture Byrd II in Detroit on Dec. 9, 1932, played in military bands in the Air Force before moving to New York in 1955. He rose to national prominence when he joined Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers later that year, filling the seat in the bebop group held by his idol Clifford Brown.
He soon became one of the most in-demand trumpeters on the New York scene, playing with Max Roach, Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane and Thelonious Monk. He also began his recording career by leading sessions for Savoy and other labels.
In 1958, Byrd signed an exclusive recording contract with the Blue Note label and formed a band with a fellow Detroit native, baritone saxophonist Pepper Adams, making their label debut with the 1959 album "Off to the Races." The band became one of the leading exponents of the hard-bop style, which evolved from bebop and blended in elements of R&B, soul and gospel music. A 1961 recording, "Free Form," brought attention to a promising young pianist, Herbie Hancock.
In the 1960s, Byrd, who had received a master's degree from the Manhattan School of Music, turned his attention to jazz education. He studied in Paris with composer Nadia Boulanger, became the first person to teach jazz at Rutgers University in New Jersey, and started the jazz studies department at Howard University in Washington, D.C.
Byrd began moving toward a more commercial sound with the funk-jazz fusion album "Fancy Free" in 1969, taking a path followed by fellow trumpeters Miles Davis and Freddie Hubbard. He teamed up with the Mizell brothers to release "Black Byrd" in 1973, a blend of jazz, R&B and funk that became Blue Note's highest-selling album at the time.
Jazz critics panned Byrd for deviating from the jazz mainstream, but he was unperturbed.
"I'm creative; I'm not re-creative," Byrd told the Detroit Free Press in a 1999 interview. "I don't follow what everybody else does."
Byrd invited several of his best students at Howard to join a jazz-fusion group called the Blackbyrds that reached a mainstream audience with a sound heavy on R&B and rock influences. The band landed in the Top 10 on the R&B charts with the mid-1970s albums "Street Lady," "Stepping Into Tomorrow" and "Place and Spaces."
In the late '80s and early '90s, Byrd returned to playing hard-bop on several albums for the Landmark label, which also featured saxophonists Kenny Garrett and Joe Henderson.
He performed on Guru's 1993 jazz-rap album, "Jazzmatazz, Vol. 1," and his recordings were sampled on more than 100 hip-hop songs by such performers as Black Moon, Nas, Ludacris and A Tribe Called Quest.
In 2000, the National Endowment for the Arts recognized Byrd as a Jazz Master, the nation's highest jazz honor.
Donald Byrd passed away on February 4th – 2013 in Delaware. He was 80 years of age.
The above information was taken from the LA Times on-line site.
The photograph of Donald Byrd is Tom Copi/Getty
| Dave Brubeck|
In the strait-laced Eisenhower 1950s, Dave Brubeck seemed, on one hand, deeply conventional. He didn't drink, smoke or take drugs. He favored expressions like "baloney!" and "you bet" over ruder alternatives. He had a prodigious work ethic that had been ground into him by his cowboy father on the family's California cattle ranch.
But rebellion was in Brubeck's soul. Schooled in piano by his musically gifted mother, he became a jazz man — outwardly square but quintessentially cool — whose genius at marrying spontaneity and unorthodox rhythms with classical forms became an enduring legacy.
Brubeck, the pianist and composer who pushed the boundaries of jazz for six decades and became one of the genre's most popular artists, died Wednesday, December 5th - 2012 a day before his 92nd birthday.
The jazz maestro, who had a history of heart trouble, became unresponsive on his way to a medical appointment, said his longtime manager and producer Russell Gloyd. Brubeck's son, who was in the car with him, rushed him to a hospital in Norwalk, Conn., where he was pronounced dead.
Jazz guitarist Kenny Burrell called Brubeck "a true musical giant. He helped to keep jazz at a truly high level and he was very consistent in both his performance and composition."
He was best known for his work with his classic Dave Brubeck Quartet, which included longtime musical partner Paul Desmond on alto saxophone, Eugene Wright on bass and Joe Morello on drums. Brubeck's innovative ideas generated an enthusiastic response from a new audience of young listeners — as well as the players most directly connected with his music.
"When Dave is playing his best, it's a profoundly moving thing to experience, emotionally and intellectually," Desmond said in 1952 in the jazz publication Down Beat. "It's completely free, live improvisation ... the vigor and force of simple jazz, the harmonic complexities of Bartok and Milhaud, the form [and much of the dignity] of Bach and, at times, the lyrical romanticism of Rachmaninoff."
In the late 1950s, the group began exploring unusual rhythmic meters. By the end of the decade, the album "Time Out" had reached No. 2 on the pop music album charts, and a single off the album — with "Take Five" on one side and "Blue Rondo a la Turk" on the other — became the first jazz recording to sell more than a million copies.
Written by Desmond, "Take Five" became a universally recognized jazz classic despite the offbeat 5/4 meter.
The group's popularity began to climb in the mid-1950s when a series of live college recordings — "Jazz Goes to College," "Jazz Goes to Junior College" and "Jazz Goes to Oberlin" — was released. Brubeck appeared on the cover of Time magazine in 1954, only the second such honor for a jazz artist. (Louis Armstrong was first.)
The New Yorker described the quartet as "the world's best-paid, most widely traveled, most highly publicized, and most popular small group now playing improvised syncopated music."
But Brubeck's fascination with groundbreaking elements not generally included in the jazz styles of the '50s also made his music a target of widespread disparagement from jazz critics, who often referred to a "heavy-handed, bombastic approach" to piano improvising. The words directly contradicted another critical view, which identified the music of Brubeck and Desmond as another example of the "effete, laid-back, West Coast cool jazz" style."
Most of the criticism failed to recognize the complex range of elements — from stride piano to a Bach canon — that could course through a single piece. Brubeck often cited the positive response his music received from legendary jazz figures including Duke Ellington, Miles Davis and Charles Mingus, among others.
David Warren Brubeck was born Dec. 6, 1920, in Concord, northeast of Oakland. His father, Howard "Pete" Brubeck, was a cattle rancher, his mother, Elizabeth Ivey Brubeck, a pianist and music teacher. When he was 11, the family moved to a 45,000-acre ranch near Ione, in the Sierra foothills.
His older brothers Howard and Henry became classical musicians, but Dave preferred ranching and improvising pop songs on the piano. As a teenager, he played at dances on weekends.
Brubeck started out studying veterinary medicine at what is now the University of the Pacific in Stockton but switched to music at the suggestion of his science advisor. He managed to earn a bachelor's degree without learning to properly read music.
He was drafted into the Army after graduation in 1942, marrying his college sweetheart, Iola Marie Whitlock, just before he was sent to France in 1944.
His wife, who frequently wrote lyrics for his projects, survives him along with his daughter Catherine, his sons Darius, Chris, Dan and Matthew, 10 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Another son, Michael, died several years ago.
Discharged from the military in 1946, Brubeck went to Mills College in Oakland, studying with French composer Darius Milhaud and forming the Brubeck Octet, a musically adventurous group with an imaginative and avant-garde repertoire. Brubeck's trio, which he led from 1949 to 1951, provided a different, more intimate forum for his far-reaching ideas. The group, which included bassist Ron Crotty and drummer/vibist Cal Tjader, played standards and Brubeck's originals.
In 1951, Brubeck added Desmond to his trio. It was the beginning of a journey into national visibility that established Brubeck and Desmond as significant jazz figures. The quartet, which remained together until 1967 and was briefly reunited in 1976, a year before Desmond died, became the most important vehicle for Brubeck's playing and innovative musical ideas.
By Don Heckman
Copyright © 2012, Los Angeles Times
| Ed Gaston|
|October - 2012
Some musicians are like actors who cloak themselves in the music they play. Others cannot help but let the real them shine through every note. Ed Gaston was undoubtedly in the latter camp. He was universally regarded as good company and a gentleman, and his bass playing was buoyant, elegant and swinging.
This made him prized by band leaders. In a career divided between the US and Australia, his list of credits includes Dizzy Gillespie, Sarah Vaughan, Stephane Grappelli, Milt Jackson, Mark Murphy, Johnny Griffin, Sonny Stitt, Don Burrows, Bob Barnard and Marie Wilson. He was the first-choice bassist for many overseas acts touring Australia.
Edwin Gaston was, in fact, a southern gentleman, born in 1929 in the tiny town of Rhodhiss, North Carolina, where his father worked in a hydro-electric plant. (Rhodiss's other claim to fame is weaving the flag that Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin planted on the moon in 1969.)
The third of three children, Gaston lived an idyllic Huckleberry Finn childhood of swimming and fishing, before his interests congealed on two paths: sport and music.
His high school football and baseball dovetailed with playing clarinet (Benny Goodman being his hero). His talent as a pitcher led to a baseball scholarship to the University of North Carolina, during which time he continued playing gigs, although his priorities were clear when he swapped from a music major to physical education.
After graduating, he pursued the baseball dream in the minor league, but decided this was the limit of his talent, and entered the army during the Korean War.
It was in the army band that Gaston first took up double bass, which gradually came to replace the clarinet as his primary instrument.
After his discharge, it was as a bassist that he joined the Australian Jazz Quintet. Formed by Erroll Buddle, Bryce Rohde and Jack Brokensha, this enjoyed remarkable notoriety for an Australian jazz band in the US.
At the conclusion of its final US tour, the quintet returned to Australia and disbanded, the Point Piper farewell party being the scene of Gaston's meeting his soon-to-be wife, Dianne, the daughter of another bassist, Arthur Dewar. They were married in 1959.
Gaston played and taught, with the eminent bassist Bruce Cale taking some lessons.
Cale has emphasised the importance for the Sydney jazz musicians of routinely being able to hear a bassist steeped in the American tradition, Gaston's loping style contrasting with a relative stiffness in the playing of local contemporaries. Something of the lyricism of having been a clarinettist may have also coloured his bass playing.
Gaston toured the US again in the Bryce Rohde Quartet, and when this ensemble disbanded he moved between Sydney and Los Angeles, before settling in Sydney. In 1966, he joined the Don Burrows Quartet, staying on until the mid-'70s.
Burrows was then the best-known face in Australian jazz, and work was plentiful, including a six-year residency at the Wentworth Hotel, and engagements at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1972 and later the Newport Jazz Festival.
After quitting Burrows, Gaston freelanced until he determined to challenge himself with another stint in Los Angeles and the family moved there in 1977 for three years. ''The competition in LA keeps you on your toes,'' he told Jazz magazine in 1983.
Back in Sydney, Gaston found work easily, including in recording studios (he was an expert sight-reader), and he and Dianne were active Jazz Action Society members. The breadth of the repertoire he knew by heart was legendary, with any standard in any key at any tempo instantly at his fingertips.
In the late 1990s, Dianne developed Alzheimer's disease, and Gaston cared for her until the final phase before her death in 2004. He subsequently enjoyed a relationship with the jazz singer Di Bird.
His last gig was on September 9 -2012.
Ed Gaston is survived by his children Victoria and Jonathan, and five grandchildren.
The above taken from the Sydney Morning Herald
| Graeme Bell|
Generally acknowledged as “the father of Australian jazz” Graeme Bell not only pioneered jazz in Australia, he also brought leading international jazz artists to the country long before jazz music had substantial audience in Australia.
The cherished “Bell Awards”, given annually to Australia’s leading jazz artists, are named after him.
Melbourne-born Bell, who years ago relocated to Sydney, attended every Bell awards ceremony until 2010.
He appeared on video at the June 2012 awards which were presented at the Regent Ballroom in Collins Street, Melbourne.
He was an influential instrumentalist and composer was inducted in to the Australian Recording Industry Association Hall of Fame in 1997 alongside the Bee Gees.
Bell was born in Richmond a suburb of Melbourne and showed talent as an artist and cricketer at Scotch College before committing himself to the piano.
His dad had performed in music hall; his mother was a singer. His younger brother Roger learned drums and introduced Graeme to the music that would change their lives and alter the course of Australian popular music.
Bell was not only Member of the British Empire (M.B.E.) for "valuable service to jazz music", but he was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (O.A.) 12 years later for "service to music, particularly jazz".
Early on the adventurous band-leader took an Australian ensemble not just to Europe, but to China, one of the very first western jazz band to tour there.
Bell truly was the “father of Australian jazz” and will be fondly remembered not just by the hundreds of thousands who saw him perform over the many decades, but also by the younger players he nurtured in his bands or that he advised while playing for others.
Graeme Bell, passed away on Wednesday, June 13-2012 at the Prince of Wales Hospital in Sydney. He was 97.
The above information including the picture of Graeme Bell was taken from the Herald – Sun (Melbourne) on-line service.
| Paul Motian|
In his nearly six-decade career, Paul Motian spent substantial time with two of the best jazz pianists: Bill Evans and Keith Jarrett. He also played with Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane and Stan Getz.
Paul Motian ,an influential and much-admired jazz drummer first gained renown in the late 1950s as part of the Bill Evans Trio and later became a composer and the leader of his own groups.
During his nearly six-decade career, Motian (pronounced like "motion") spent a substantial amount of time with two of the finest jazz pianists: Evans and Keith Jarrett.
"Paul was one of a kind: a musicians' drummer who thought about the music, not just the rhythm, and cast his own sound on everything he played," Jarrett said in an emailed statement.
Motian was still new to the New York City jazz scene when he first met Evans in 1955. Four years later, they teamed with bassist Scott LaFaro to form the Bill Evans Trio.
The trio's live 1961 album "Sunday at the Village Vanguard" is considered a jazz classic.
"In terms of influence, the trio had a powerful effect on the styles of virtually every jazz piano trio that followed for the next few decades," said jazz critic Don Heckman. "The balance between all three elements was something that at the time was unique and required almost virtuosic skill on the part of each of the players."
As a drummer, Heckman said, Motian "was not a guy who tried to dominate what was happening. He was completely participatory in what happened between the players."
Observed jazz critic Nat Hentoff: "Anybody who was the drummer for pianist Bill Evans was absolutely someone who did more than keep the jazz time, which means keeping the pulse of the music.
"Bill Evans was a master melodist and Paul Motian was a very inventive, subtle, lyrical melodist — and both were masters at harmonic inventiveness."
In a 1990 interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, Motian said of the Bill Evans Trio: "We were the best and we knew it.
"We knew we had something different and original that no one had done before. It was a different way of playing in the context of a trio. It wasn't piano, bass and drums; it was music made by three people."
In a 2006 interview with NPR's "Fresh Air," Motian said he was "not a showpiece drummer."
"I'm an accompanist," he said. "It's my sort of thing to make the other people sound good, as good as they can be."
After leaving Evans in 1964, Motian played for a time with pianist Paul Bley. In 1967, he joined Jarrett's group and remained with him for about a decade. During that time, Motian began to compose music and release albums under his own name.
The son of Armenian parents who emigrated from Turkey, Stephen Paul Motian was born March 25, 1931, in Philadelphia and grew up in Providence, R.I. He began playing drums at 12 and toured with a big band in the late '40s.
After a stint in the Navy from 1950 to '54, Motian moved to Manhattan's East Village and began playing in jam sessions.
Over the years, he played with acclaimed jazz musicians such as Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane, Coleman Hawkins, Roy Eldridge, Stan Getz and Gil Evans.
"There was a long period from the mid-'50s to the late '60s when I played every single day, man," he said in a 2003 interview with the New York Times. "Three months at the Half Note, nine weeks at the Vanguard. Two weeks at Birdland, back down to the Vanguard. Every day!"
Motian, who gave up touring in 2004, continued to play regularly at the Village Vanguard.
He is survived by his sister, Sarah McGuirl.
Paul Motian passed away onTuesday, November 22nrd -2011 at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City of complications from myelodysplastic syndrome, a bone marrow disorder. He was 80 years of age.
(The above 2005 picture of Paul Motion is by Fred R. Conrad, New York Times Nov.09-2005)
Copyright © 2011, Los Angeles Times
| Teddy Charles|
Teddy Charles was the jazz vibraphonist who performed with Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Charles Mingus and other bebop-era jazz greats before becoming a charter boat captain in the Caribbean.
Although he was grouped with Milt Jackson and Terry Gibbs as a premier vibraphonist of the bebop years reaching from the late 1940s through the '50s, Charles was also well-regarded as a pianist and composer whose cutting-edge recordings of the mid-1950s were forerunners of the avant-garde jazz of the following decade.
Drummer Ed Shaughnessy, who played with Charles during that period, described him as "a world-class jazz vibist, a completely original composer, and a visionary for the musical future."
In addition to his own writing, Charles was closely associated with other cutting-edge musical figures. Composer/arrangers George Russell, Gil Evans and Charles Mingus contributed to his extraordinary 1956 album, "The Teddy Charles Tentet." Charles was also one of the original members of bassist Mingus' influential Jazz Workshop.
"Charles was concerned with the interaction of improvisation and composition in jazz," wrote Max Harrison and Barry Kernfeld in Oxford Music Online. "The written and improvised contrapuntal textures of his own works [of the '50s] looked forward to the collective extemporization in the jazz of the 1960s."
Throughout the '50s, Charles was also an active record producer, most notably with the Prestige New Directions albums featuring artists such as Donald Byrd, Kenny Burrell, John Coltrane and Mal Waldron.
When the '60s arrived and the jazz world began to change, Charles already owned a charter sailboat and was working occasionally as a salvage diver. After performing with Mingus in his 1960 alternative Newport Festival at Cliff Walk, he reduced his jazz activities, eventually devoting full time to his charter boating interests in the Caribbean. Sailing the Golden Eagle, a yacht once owned by the DuPont family, he eventually established himself as one of the premier American charter boat skippers in the area and an experienced owner-operator of commercial sailing charters on the East Coast.
Charles revived his playing career in recent years, while living in Riverhead, where he sailed the skipjack Pilgrim in tours of Peconic Bay. But his extended departure from the jazz community may well have diminished the visibility that his considerable skills could have generated.
Born Theodore Charles Cohen in Chicopee Falls, Mass., on April 13, 1928, he was the youngest of four siblings. After taking some piano direction from his older brother George, he decided to concentrate on the drums. In 1946 he auditioned for Juilliard, was accepted and moved to New York City. Hanging out on the 52nd Street jazz scene, he jammed with the likes of Stan Getz, Brew Moore and Shaughnessy — who eventually became one of his closest friends. But Charles soon felt that the drums were not the right instrument for him and switched to the vibes, quickly gaining skills via his piano background.
Soon joining the young cadre of players in the burgeoning new bebop jazz movement, he became an in-demand vibraphonist by the time he was in his early 20s. In addition to performing as a sideman with the likes of Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, Coltrane, Bill Evans and Aretha Franklin, Charles also recorded more than 20 albums as a leader. And his work as a producer resulted in a series of influential, cutting-edge jazz performances by important young artists.
Charles' own earliest performances and recordings identified him by his birth name, Teddy Cohen. Taking Mingus' advice, he changed it, using his middle name as a surname, before his career reached full speed.
When he moved to the Caribbean to begin his decade-long career as a charter boat skipper, he did not make an overnight transition.
"It was like playing piano the first time," he told Newsday in 2009. "I didn't know beans about chartering, but I learned."
And he did so quickly enough to establish his identity as Capt. Ted Charles, while living on the island of Martinique. But he never completely abandoned his passion for jazz.
Returning to New York in 1980, he rekindled his playing and recording career, and spent the rest of his life blending his two primary interests. As recently as 2009, his album "Dances With Bulls" — his first studio recording in 40 years — received widespread critical acclaim.
The above item by Don Heckman, Special to The Times
April 19, 2012
Los Angeles Times
The picture of Teddy courtesy Charles Barbara Ellen Koch / The Riverhead News-Review / April 20, 2012.
| Mike Melvoin|
Mike Melvoin was a pianist/composer/arranger whose credits reached from Stan Getz and Frank Sinatra to Michael Jackson and the Beach Boys.
Michael Melvoin was born May 10, 1937, in Oshkosh, Wis. He began to play piano at the age of 3, and was an active performing musician as a teenager.
In 1959 after graduating from college with a bachelor's degree in English, he moved to New York, focusing on a career as a professional musician. He relocated to Los Angeles in 1961.
Mike Melvoin was the first active musician to serve as national president of the Recording Academy.
Pianist/composer Michael Lang, also a busy member of the Los Angeles community of jazz and studio musicians, expressed high praise for Melvoin's many accomplishments, noting his "unique, significant contributions to jazz and popular music as a pianist, arranger and songwriter as well as a composer of film music."
As a busy studio musician for a good part of his career, Melvoin was always quick to defend the skills and the versatility of the players who performed, as he did, on recordings, films, television shows and beyond, bringing life to every style and genre of music.
In addition to his studio work, Melvoin remained strongly linked to jazz, his first musical love, performing on a regular basis in local clubs, frequently touring internationally and releasing numerous recordings of his own groups.
Alto saxophonist Phil Woods, who performed with Melvoin was equally enthusiastic about another area of Melvoin's skills — his songwriting. "They're not just your regular Tin Pan Alley," Woods said. "It's the American song form raised a notch. Mike was like fine wine."
Mike Melvoin passed away Wednesday, February 22nd 2012 due to cancer. He was 74
By Don Heckman, the Los Angeles Times
Copyright © 2012, Los Angeles Times
The above photograph of Mike Melvoin by Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times
| Clare Fischer|
Clare Fischer was a Grammy-winning pianist, composer and arranger who crossed freely from jazz to Latin and pop music, working with such names as Dizzy Gillespie, George Shearing and Natalie Cole as well as Paul McCartney, Prince and Michael Jackson.
Although he entered professional music through jazz, his expansive creative perspective quickly grew to embrace many other musical areas.
"I relate to everything," he explained in 1987 in The Times. "I'm not just jazz, Latin or classical. I really am a fusion of all of those." He went on to describe his fascination with Stravinsky, Schoenberg and Bartok, as well as Duke Ellington, Bud Powell, Lee Konitz, Tito Puente and boogie-woogie pianist Meade Lux Lewis.
Regardless of genre, Fischer's arranging and composing invariably possessed a rich harmonic palette, one that attracted and influenced other musicians.
"Clare Fischer was a major influence on my harmonic concept," Herbie Hancock said in a statement on Fischer's website. Hancock credited Fischer's arrangements for the 1950s vocal group the Hi-Lo's with significantly influencing his 1968 recording "Speak Like a Child."
Pop and rock artists especially valued Fischer's arranging for the lush, classical qualities of the textures he created, particularly for string ensembles. He worked closely with his son, Brent Fischer, also an arranger and conductor, to provide arrangements and orchestrations for McCartney, Chaka Khan, Carlos Santana, Rufus, Brandy and many others. Fischer's first music credit in film was for Prince's "Under the Cherry Moon."
Fischer was also in demand as a studio keyboardist, performing, composing or arranging for commercials, film and television scores, and for more than 100 albums for other artists.
He released more than 50 albums under his own name in a recording career that began in 1962 with the album "First Time Out." His diverse ensembles included the Latin group Salsa Picante; the vocal group 2 + 2; his Clarinet Choir; and the 30-piece band Clare Fischer's Jazz Corps. He also performed solo on piano and paired with Donald Byrd, Gary Foster, Jerry Coker and others.
Fischer's first classical recording, 2001's "After the Rain," was a collection of his symphonic works.
He won two Grammy awards, in 1981 for "Clare Fischer and Salsa Picante Present 2+2" and in 1986 for "Freefall."
Douglas Clare Fischer was born Oct. 22, 1928, in Durand, Mich., the third of four children. His first instruments were violin and piano; but during high school he added cello, clarinet and saxophone. As a teenager in Grand Rapids, he composed and arranged for big bands.
At Michigan State University, he majored in composition and theory, earning a bachelor's degree in music in 1951. After serving in the Army, Fischer received a master's in music from the school in 1955.
His professional career escalated in the late 1950s during his five-year association as pianist/arranger/conductor with the musically adventurous Hi-Lo's. But his arrangements for Dizzy Gillespie's 1960 album, "A Portrait of Duke Ellington," brought him the full attention of the jazz community. Albums for pianist George Shearing, vibraphonist Cal Tjader, alto saxophonist Bud Shank and guitarist Joe Pass followed.
A mid-1970s reunion with Tjader revived Fischer's fascination with Latin music, via his Salsa Picante group. He was fond of Brazilian music in general and bossa nova in particular.
In 1988, Fischer had a freeway encounter with another driver that escalated into a roadside physical confrontation. Fischer, then 60, was assaulted, suffering a hairline skull fracture and a concussion. It took nearly a year for him to recover and return to music.
"If I discovered anything in that strange, 10-month period of recovery," Fischer later told The Times, "it's that music is the one thing that makes me sane."
He is survived by his wife, Donna; his children, Lee, Brent and Tahlia; two stepchildren, Lisa and Bill Bachman; three grandchildren; and a brother, Stewart.
Clare Fischer died Thursday, January 26th 2012 at Providence St. Joseph's Medical enter in Burbank, California of complications from a heart attack he had two weeks earlier. He was 83.
The above picture of Clare Fischer was taken in 1987 (Los Angeles Times)
By Don Heckman, Special to The Los Angeles Times
January 28, 2012
| Frank Foster|
Frank Foster was a jazz saxophonist who played with the Count Basie Orchestra and composed the band's hit "Shiny Stockings,".
Foster was recognized in 2002 by the National Endowment for the Arts as a Jazz Master, the nation's highest jazz honor. His many compositions and arrangements include material for Sarah Vaughan and Frank Sinatra, and a commissioned piece written for jazz orchestra for the 1980 Winter Olympics: "Lake Placid Suite."
Born in Cincinnati on Sept. 23, 1928, Foster "had an ear for music" from an early age, he said in an NEA interview in 2008. Jazz big bands caught his attention when he was 12. Foster's first instrument was clarinet, but at age 13 he took up the sax. He played in a dance band at Wilberforce University and went on to join Basie's band in 1953.
During his 11-year tenure with Basie, Foster not only played tenor saxophone and other woodwinds but also contributed numerous arrangements and compositions for the band, including the jazz standard "Shiny Stockings," Down for the Count" and "Back to the Apple."
Two years after Basie's death in 1984, Foster returned to assume leadership of the Count Basie Orchestra from Thad Jones. He led the band until 1995, winning two Grammy Awards during his tenure.
Foster also led his own big band, Frank Foster's Loud Minority, in addition to playing as a sideman in drummer Elvin Jones' combo and co-leading a quintet with a fellow Basie veteran, saxophonist-flutist Frank Wess.
Foster also served as a musical consultant in the New York City public schools and taught at Queens College and the State University of New York at Buffalo.
In the NEA interview, Foster said: "I had always had as much fun writing as playing.... But when you play something, if you mess up, you can't make it right. But you can write something, and if it's not right, you can change it. And I always had as much pleasure writing as playing because the thrill of hearing your music played back to you is almost indescribable."
Frank Foster died Tuesday, July 26th 2011 at his home in Chesapeake, Va., of complications from kidney failure, according to his wife, Cecilia. He was 82.
Los Angeles Times staff and wire reports
Copyright © 2011, Los Angeles Times
| Ray Bryant|
Ray Bryant played with such greats as Charlie Parker, Miles Davis and Sonny Rollins at the Blue Note club in Philadelphia. He had a long recording career and was known for his blues style.
Ray Bryant, a pianist and composer whose long career took off after he accompanied a variety of jazz greats during the 1950s at the Blue Note club in Philadelphia, has
As house pianist at the Blue Note, Bryant played with Charlie Parker, Miles Davis and Sonny Rollins, among others. "The Blue Note was a real jumping off point for me," he told the Morning Call of Allentown, Pa., in 1994. Bryant played with a trio that sometimes included his older brother, Tommy, a bassist who died in 1982.
Bryant became "a powerful blues player known for his versatility," Leonard Feather and Ira Gitler wrote in the Biographical Encyclopedia of Jazz.
"I grew up with the blues," Bryant told The Times in 1995. "I played with some great bluesmen, and it rubbed off on me. No matter what you play you retain some of what you have been around."
Raphael Homer Bryant was born into a musical family on Dec. 24, 1931, in Philadelphia. His mother played the piano and organ, as does his sister, Vera Eubanks.
"He was kind of the patriarch of the jazz side of our family," trombonist Robin Eubanks, Bryant's nephew, told The Times. "He was like the mentor, paving the way."
Eubanks' brother Kevin, a guitarist, is the former bandleader of "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," and another brother, Duane, is a trumpeter.
After working at the Blue Note, Bryant toured with singer Carmen McRae in 1956-57, played with saxophonist Coleman Hawkins at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1957 and recorded with Dizzy Gillespie.
He moved to New York in the late 1950s and had his first hit in 1960 with his composition "Little Susie." His composition "Cubano Chant" was recorded by such jazz notables as Art Blakey and Oscar Peterson, and "Changes" was recorded by Davis.
Bryant recorded steadily through the years and toured in Europe and Japan beginning in the 1970s.
His first solo album was 1958's "Alone With the Blues," and his most recent release was 2008's "In the Back Room."
Ray Bryant died June 2 - 2011 at New York Hospital Queens. He was 79.
In addition to his sister, Bryant's survivors include his wife, Claude; son Raphael Jr.; daughter Gina; grandchildren; and brothers Leonard and Lynwood.
By Keith Thursby, Los Angeles Times
Copyright © 2011, Los Angeles Times
| Joe Morello|
Joe Morello, the jazz drummer was best known for his work with the influential Dave Brubeck Quartet on such classic recordings as "Take Five," passed away at the age of 82.
The quartet, with Brubeck on piano, Paul Desmond on alto saxophone, Eugene Wright on bass and Morello on drums, became successful beginning in the late 1950s exploring unusual time signatures. The album "Time Out," which included "Take Five" with Morello's memorable solo and "Blue Rondo á la Turk," became one of the most popular jazz albums ever.
"Drummers worldwide remember Joe as one of the greatest drummers we have known. He was a good friend," Brubeck said in a statement "Many people consider the rhythm section of Eugene Wright and Joe Morello in my quartet as being one of the most consistent, swinging rhythm sections in jazz.... His drum solo on 'Take Five' is still being heard around the world."
Morello told Canada's Kingston Whig-Standard newspaper in 2007: "Someone said that drum solo changed the way people drummed because it was more of an abstract solo. We'd use that to close the concert and always get a standing ovation."
Morello was born July 17, 1928, in Springfield, Mass. His vision impaired since birth, he studied the violin before switching to drums in high school. He moved to New York in the early 1950s and worked briefly with Stan Kenton, among others, before becoming a member of pianist Marian McPartland's trio.
Morello joined Brubeck's quartet in the mid-1950s, turning down offers from the Benny Goodman and Tommy Dorsey bands.
"Joe was a drummer's drummer. You could talk to almost any drummer and he'd probably be on their list of the drummers they admire most," jazz critic Don Heckman said "He played with such sensitivity and accuracy, and he was always a support for what was happening while keeping the rhythm alive."
Heckman called Morello's "Take Five" solo "pretty extraordinary" for its sense of momentum and emotional intensity. Desmond wrote "Take Five" in a then-unusual 5/4 rhythmic meter.
Ed Shaughnessy, a longtime friend who played drums in the "Tonight Show" band for 29 years, told The Times that Morello "developed a style of his own and never played in anything but good taste. He was an ardent practicer. And he got great results."
After Brubeck disbanded the group in 1967, Morello continued to play but primarily was a teacher. His students over the years included Max Weinberg, who gained fame playing with Bruce Springsteen and leading talk-show host Conan O'Brien's band.
Weinberg, in an interview with The Times on Sunday, said he started studying with Morello in the late 1970s. "I sought Joe out. He was a drum guru," Weinberg said. "He took me from a very talented amateur to a pro who could field any kind of musical question asked of me."
Morello appeared on more than 120 recordings, according to a biography on his website.
"For us, the guys in the original classic quartet were like our uncles," one of Brubeck's sons, composer and musician Chris Brubeck, told The Times on Sunday. "Joe was able to master all the odd-time signatures that Dave wanted to explore. Just an amazing player."
Morello died Saturday, March 13th 2011 at Trinitas Regional Medical Center in Elizabeth, N.J., said his wife, Jean. No cause was given.
Morello's wife was his only immediate survivor.
By Keith Thursby, Los Angeles Times
March 14, 2011
Copyright © 2011, Los Angeles Times
Pictured above Joe Morello, seen in 1966, was "a drummer’s drummer. You could talk to almost any drummer and he’d probably be on their list of the drummers they admire most,” says jazz critic Don Heckman. (Associated Press / March 12, 2011)
| George Shearing|
George Shearing was the elegant pianist who expanded the boundaries of jazz by adding an orchestral sensibility and a mellow aesthetic to the music.,
A prolific songwriter, he wrote "Lullaby of Birdland," written in 1952 in celebration of the fabled New York City nightspot and its radio show.
Born in 1919 in the Battersea district of London to working-class Cockney parents, Shearing was one of nine children and was blind from birth. He started playing piano and accordion at age 5 but didn't receive formal musical education until he spent four of his teenage years at the Linden Lodge, a school for the blind.
It was there that he learned Bach, Liszt and music theory. It was also during that time that he became interested in jazz by listening to recordings by American pianists Earl Hines, Art Tatum and Fats Waller.
At Linden Lodge, Shearing showed enough potential to earn a number of scholarship offers from universities. But after graduating, he went to work in a local pub where he earned about $5 a week and tips for his playing.
Within a year, he had joined Claude Bampton's big band, a 15-piece unit made up of blind musicians who played compositions by Jimmie Lunceford and Duke Ellington.
In 1937, Leonard Feather, the jazz critic, composer and producer, discovered Shearing playing as a swing accordionist in a London jam session. He quickly arranged for Shearing to record for English Decca and, although that recording date was not Shearing's first, it was the one that set his career in motion.
With Feather's help, Shearing got a regular radio program on the BBC. He had his own Dixieland band and was also his country's leading boogie-woogie pianist. Soon he was being called Britain's answer to the great American pianist Teddy Wilson, and for seven consecutive years he was chosen his country's most popular jazz pianist by Melody Maker magazine.
During World War II, Shearing toured military bases in Britain, playing for the troops, and worked frequently in groups led by French violinist Stephane Grappelli, who spent the war years in London.
Shearing met his first wife, Beatrice Bayes, known to friends as Trixie, while playing in an air-raid shelter. They married in 1941 and had one daughter, Wendy Ann, before divorcing in the early 1970s. He later married Eleanor Geffert, who survives him as well as his daughter.
Encouraged to go to America after the war, Shearing first visited New York City in 1946 and moved there permanently the next year. He became a naturalized American citizen in 1956.
Shearing's career in the United States, where he was unknown, started slowly. His first job was intermission pianist at a New York club during a Sarah Vaughan engagement. He filled the same role at another club during an Ella Fitzgerald engagement and sometimes filled in for her pianist, Hank Jones.
He continued as a struggling, scale-earning unknown until early 1949, when — again with Feather's help — he hit on a jazz formula that would establish his musical identity and make him one of the leading jazz artists over the next half a century.
Feather suggested that Shearing add a guitarist and a vibraphonist to the standard rhythm section to make up a quintet. The personnel in that first group was diverse both in race and gender and included John Levy on bass, Denzil Best on drums, Marjorie Hyams on vibraphone and Chuck Wayne on guitar.
The group went into the recording studio and came out with "September in the Rain," which sold nearly a million records. Their first New York engagement came in April 1949 at the Café Society Downtown. They then went out on a national tour, and by the end of the year, Shearing's group was voted the No. 1 combo in Down Beat magazine's reader poll.
With this group, Shearing developed what came to be known as "the Shearing Sound," which involved not only the makeup of the band — vibes and guitar generally were not both found in quintets — but also the style in which he played the piano. He used the "block-chords" technique to create a big, lush, orchestral sound. In his book "The Jazz Years: Earwitness to an Era," Feather wrote that Shearing "developed a new and unprecedented blend for his instrumentation."
In that technique, a New York Times writer noted some years ago, "both hands play melodies in parallel octaves with a shifting cloud of chords in between."
Shearing worked primarily with his quintet for much of the next three decades. The personnel shifted but over the years included some of the finest names in jazz including Cal Tjader and Gary Burton on vibes and Joe Pass and Toots Thielemans on guitar (though Thielemans was better known as a harmonica player).
From the early 1950s on, Shearing had steady work in the recording studios, first with MGM, where he was under contract from 1950 to 1955, and then Capitol Records for 14 years. With Capitol, he recorded albums with some of the best singers of the day, including Peggy Lee, Nancy Wilson and Nat King Cole, and achieved substantial chart success in the late 1950s and early '60s.
Though his bread and butter was with the commercially successful quintet, Shearing in time began to feel limited by it and grew tired of life on the road. At one point, he told New Yorker jazz critic Whitney Balliett, his quintet did 56 concerts in 63 days.
"George drives himself harder than you notice," bassist Al McKibbon once told Feather. "One night in Oklahoma City, I saw him literally fall asleep in the middle of a chorus of 'Tenderly.' He woke up with a start and carried right on."
Shearing disbanded the group in 1978. For most of the rest of his career, Shearing appeared mainly in solo, duo or trio settings.
His work in duos and recording contracts with Concord Records and then Telarc in the 1980s seemed to revitalize him. He recorded five albums with singer Mel Torme that were critically and commercially successful. He and Torme won Grammy Awards in 1982 and 1983.
His autobiography, "Lullaby of Birdland," was released in 2004.
Over the years, he played for three U.S. presidents — Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan — and Queen Elizabeth II. An anecdote he related to Feather about his brush with royalty said much about his sharp wit.
"When we were preparing to be received [by the queen], I was told that the directive is: Do not extend your hand until the queen extends hers. I said, well, either somebody's going to have to cue me or she'll have to wear a bell. But somebody did cue me," Shearing said.
Shearing died Monday, February 14-2011 of congestive heart failure at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, said his manager, Dale Sheets. Shearing had been inactive since taking a fall at his New York City apartment in 2004, according to Sheets.
George Shearing was 91 years of age.
The above information and photograph of Mr. Shearing was taken from the Los Angeles Times on line obituary page.
Copyright © 2011, Los Angeles Times
| Billy Taylor|
Billy Taylor; jazz pianist, composer and educator was one of the genre's most ardent advocates, he founded the landmark Jazzmobile arts venture, was the host of popular jazz shows on NPR and profiled musicians for CBS' 'Sunday Morning' show.
Taylor died of a heart attack Tuesday, December 28th in Manhattan, said his wife, Theodora.
"He enjoyed his life," she said. "Music was his love."
Though he had a noteworthy career as a musician and composer that spanned decades, and played with luminaries such as Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker, Taylor probably was best known as a tireless jazz booster, educator and broadcaster.
He led the studio orchestra of the NBC show "The Subject Is Jazz" in 1958 and was musical director for David Frost's talk show from 1962 to 1972. He founded Jazzmobile in the 1960s — a mobile, outdoor stage begun on a parade float that would take free music to inner-city neighborhoods. He was the host of popular jazz shows on National Public Radio starting in the late 1970s.
And, in what he later called one of his more significant accomplishments, he profiled musicians for CBS' "Sunday Morning" show — winning an Emmy Award in 1983 for a piece on Quincy Jones.
When asked by an interviewer in 2007 how he would talk to a jazz newbie, he said it depended on the "quality of the music."
"When it's well-played, there's not a lot you have to say, because if you play it right, then people get that melody, the rhythm, or whatever the aspect of the music is that is attractive to them. But one of the things that we have not done is to put jazz in the position that it deserves in our society," he said.
For Taylor, jazz was a central musical form for telling the story of America.
"If you really listen to that, study that, everything you need to know about America is right there, and it's up to us who've experienced much of that to be able to share that," he said.
William Taylor was born July 24, 1921, in Greenville, N.C., but grew up mostly in Washington, D.C. After graduating from Virginia State College, where he studied sociology and music in the 1940s, he moved to New York City to forge a career as a jazz pianist.
He lucked out, landing a gig playing with Big Sid Catlett, Charlie Drayton and Ben Webster opposite the Art Tatum Trio, he told an interviewer in 1994.
He went on to lead the Billy Taylor Trio, and composed dozens of pieces for ensembles as well as more than 300 songs, including the popular "I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free."
Taylor, who earned a doctorate in music education from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, lectured at numerous colleges and universities.
In addition to his wife, he is survived by a daughter, Kim Taylor-Thompson, a law professor at New York University. A son, Duane, died in 1988.
He was 89.
The above came form the Los Angeles Times on-line site.
The above picture of Billy Taylor by Helayne Seidman was taken from The Washington Post on-line site
| James Moody|
James Moody, the saxophonist and flutist whose improvised solo on a recording of the song "I'm in the Mood for Love" became a jazz classic.
The recording, made in Stockholm in 1949, became a rare jazz hit as an instrumental. When singer King Pleasure wrote and recorded lyrics for Moody's improvisation in 1952, it became a cross-genre hit, subsequently recorded by singers ranging from Van Morrison, George Benson and Aretha Franklin to Tito Puente and Amy Winehouse. Moody, himself, frequently sang the version with lyrics in his live performances.
The original improvisation was recorded on alto saxophone, an instrument Moody had not been playing at the time.
"Up to this point, I had been playing strictly tenor saxophone," he told Times jazz writer Leonard Feather in 1988. "At one session, I noticed that Lars Gullin, the Swedish saxophonist, had an alto sax lying around. I said, 'Do you mind if I try it out?' "
Moody did not initially expect to record with the alto, however, and the song came to life only as a spontaneous, last-minute addition to the session.
"The producer decided we needed an extra tune," he recalled. "But [he] didn't have any music prepared. I suggested making 'I'm in the Mood for Love,' and we went ahead and did it, in one take, with me playing this beat-up alto saxophone. Well, you know what happened."
Universally called by his last name by friends and fans alike, Moody was warm and amiable, invariably greeting acquaintances with a hug and a kiss on the cheek. The same qualities were present in his instrumental playing, as well, which matured in sync with the arrival of bebop in the mid-'40s. Quickly grasping the complexities of the new style, with its extended harmonies and shifting rhythms, Moody added an appealing melodic flow to his improvised solos, expressed in instrumental timbres approaching the qualities of the human voice.
"Over the years, Moody has become so free — not in a random fashion, but a scientific freedom — that he can do anything he wants with the saxophone," Moody's contemporary, saxophonist Jimmy Heath, told Down Beat magazine's Ted Panken. "He has true knowledge. He is in complete control."
Feather, reviewing a Moody performance for The Times in 1972, agreed. "Moody brings to his tenor saxophone an immense sound," he wrote. "Relying on the natural tone quality....he offers hard-hitting, stimulating jazz, rooted in the idiom fathered by [ Charlie] Parker and [ Dizzy] Gillespie."
Like his lifelong friend and mentor, trumpeter Gillespie, Moody was able to find a convincing balance between entertainment and art — a balance that eluded many of his contemporaries. In any given set, he would frequently juxtapose long, inventive improvisations against his witty vocal renderings of "Moody's Mood For Love," then switch to a humorous paraphrase of "Pennies From Heaven" titled "Benny's From Heaven," topped off with another briskly exploratory solo.
Moody's easygoing manner, wry humor and musical versatility served him well in a career in which he moved deftly from alto and tenor saxophones to clarinet and flute. His rich resume included — in addition to his continuing jazz performances with small groups and big bands — stints in which he backed the likes of Elvis Presley, Redd Foxx, Liberace and the Osmonds.
In 2005, he added an unusual sidebar to his busy career when he made a cameo appearance in the Clint Eastwood-directed film, "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil," as a porter in a law office who walks an imaginary dog. Moody frequently joked about the fact that he only had one line to say: "Yessir. Patrick do like his morning walk."
The affection with which Moody was viewed by musicians, celebrities and fans was on full display in several musical parties celebrating his milestone birthdays. His 75th anniversary, which took place at New York City's Blue Note jazz club, was released as a live recording titled "Moody's Birthday."
"I think you're looking at a man who knows love and knows how to accept it and give it without hiding, without treating it as if it was some sort of weakness," Bill Cosby, who hosted Moody's 80th birthday celebration concert at Walt Disney Concert Hall, said in an interview with the Copley News Service. Moody "has taught me integrity, how to express love for your fellow human beings, and how to combine and contain manhood and maturity."
James Moody was born March 26, 1925, in Savannah, Ga., and was raised in Reading, Pa., and Newark, N.J. His father was a trumpeter, his mother a dedicated jazz fan.
"My mother loved jazz," he told Calvin Wilson in the St. Louis Post Dispatch. "She had records by Chick Webb, Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie and Jimmy Lunceford, and I heard those records playing at home. I'm thankful for that, because she could've been a doo-wop person, and that would have been a drag."
Moody was born with a hearing defect in his left ear. Initially undiagnosed, it made it difficult for him to hear questions in class. Because of his poor grades, he was sent to a school for retarded children. The malady was properly treated when he entered high school in Newark, where his grades improved and he began to play the alto saxophone, a gift from an uncle.
After serving in the Army Air Forces from 1943 to '46, Moody joined Gillespie's band and made his own first recording, "James Moody and His Bebop Men." He moved to Europe in the late '40s, remaining there until 1951, performing with Miles Davis and others, and recording "I'm in the Mood for Love."
Settling in New York City in the early '50s, he led various ensembles — including a septet that played jazz-influenced rhythm & blues — made a series of recordings for Argo, and worked with Gillespie, an association that would continue intermittently until Gillespie's death in 1993. A brief period working with Las Vegas show bands in the '70s was followed by a return to jazz and the leadership of his numerous ensembles. In the late '80s, he was a founding member of Dizzy Gillespie's United Nation Orchestra.
Moody, a multiple Grammy nominee, was chosen an NEA Jazz Master in 1998.
James Moody died Thursday, December 9 - 2010 in San Diego, where he had lived in recent years. He was 85 and had pancreatic cancer.
Survivors include his wife of 21 years, Linda.
Copyright © 2010, Los Angeles Times
| Buddy Collette|
Buddy Collette was a Grammy-nominated jazz saxophonist, flautist, bandleader and educator who played important roles in Los Angeles jazz as a musician and an advocate for the rights of African American musicians.,
Collette's virtuosic skills on saxophones, flute and clarinet allowed him to move easily from studio work in films, television and recording to small jazz groups and big bands. He was, in addition, one of the activists instrumental in the 1953 merging of the then all-African American musicians union Local 767 and the all-white Local 47.
"I knew that was something that had to be done," Collette told writer Bill Kohlhaase for a Times story in 2000. "I had been in the service, where our band was integrated. My high school had been fully integrated. I really didn't know anything about racism, but I knew it wasn't right. Musicians should be judged on how they play, not the color of their skin."
Collette had already crossed the color bar before that in 1949 and 1950 by performing as the only African American musician in the orchestra for Groucho Marx's "You Bet Your Life" radio and television shows.
"We integrated the Academy Awards too," Collette said. "It was 1963, when Sidney Poitier won. We were going to picket that thing. But I was in the band, with saxophonist Bill Green and harpist Toni Robinson-Bogart."
Along the way, Collette, not satisfied with having established his own career in the studios, continually laid the foundation for other African American players.
"One of the things we jazz musicians are proud of is the fact that music to us has no color, no religious, no sexual, no other kinds of barriers," says composer/bandleader John Clayton, "but it wasn't that way in the studios of Los Angeles. And the thing about Buddy was that when he got his foot in the door, he kept opening it up for other musicians. That's the kind of person he was."
Collette came to national jazz prominence in 1955 as a founding member of drummer Chico Hamilton's influential quintet. The combination of Collette's woodwinds and, especially, his flute playing with the cello of Fred Katz and guitar of Jim Hall created a timbre that remains one of the jazz world's most uniquely appealing sounds.
Although West Coast musicians with Collette's skills commonly moved to New York in search of wider visibility, Collette chose to remain in Los Angeles, where he worked for more than four decades as a first-call saxophone and woodwind specialist. Performing and recording with Frank Sinatra, Nat "King" Cole, Nelson Riddle, Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Charlie Parker, Sarah Vaughan and dozens of others, his resume encompasses a virtual history of jazz and traditional pop music in the second half of the 20th century.
"If one has to choose a local hero whose story is emblematic of the West Coast musical heritage with all its underrated brilliance, originality and traditions," novelist and journalist Emory Holmes II wrote in The Times in 2000, "one could hardly do better than the amazing true life of Buddy Collette."
As an educator, Collette served on the faculties of Loyola Marymount University, Cal Poly Pomona, Cal State Long Beach and Cal State Dominguez Hills. His students included Eric Dolphy, Frank Morgan, Charles Lloyd and James Newton among others.
Collette's many non-performing activities included urging the development of the UCLA Oral History project, "Central Avenue Sounds" the co-founding of JazzAmerica, a nonprofit organization working to provide education to gifted high school musicians; and the direction and production of a series of 1999 concerts celebrating Duke Ellington's 100th birthday.
"Buddy was totally about sharing and helping other people," said Michael O'Daniel, who worked with Collette on the concert series "Jazz at the Music Center" and in the co-founding of American Jazz Masters Day. "That's the way he was raised and it was his philosophy throughout life. He was always extending a helping hand, regardless of whether it was a well-known musician or someone who was just starting out."
In 1998, a stroke brought Collette's playing career to an end. But he continued to be an inspiration to young musicians and a vital participant in the city's jazz world.
William Marcel Collette was born Aug. 6, 1921, in Los Angeles. His father, Willie Collette, a pianist, was from Knoxville, Tenn., and his mother, Goldie Marie, a singer, was from Kansas City. Collette was raised in Watts, and was a childhood friend and contemporary of former L.A. Mayor Tom Bradley and close musical associate of bassist/composer Charles Mingus, whom Collette persuaded, at the age of 13, to switch from cello to bass.
While still in his teens, Collette was an active participant in the rich musical environment taking place around Central Avenue during the pre- World War II years. After serving in the U.S. Navy during the war, he began his long career as a mainstay of the Southland music scene.
In 1998, Mayor Richard J. Riordan designated Collette "A Living Los Angeles Cultural Treasure." Collette's autobiography, "Jazz Generations: A Life in American Music and Society," written with Steven Iosardi, was published in 2000.
Collette died Sunday, September 19-2010 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles after suffering shortness of breath a day earlier, according to his daughter Cheryl Collette-White. He was 89.
Collette is survived by daughters Cheryl, Veda and Crystal, son Zan, eight grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.
Copyright © 2010, Los Angeles Times
| Abby Lincoln|
Abbey Lincoln, an acclaimed jazz singer, songwriter and actress who evolved from a supper-club singer into a strong voice for civil rights, has died at the age of 80.
Lincoln built a career as an actress and singer in the late 1950s through the turbulent 1960s, then stepped away during the 1970s and, years later, returned to prominence as a singer praised for her songwriting abilities.
There was a passion to what she did," said jazz critic Don Heckman, who noted that Lincoln's songwriting made her a rarity among jazz singers. "She was not someone who was just singing a song. She had an agenda, and a lot of it had to do with civil rights.... She expressed herself in dramatic and impressive fashion in what she said and how she sang."
Her voice was a "special instrument, producing a sound that is parched rather than pure or perfect," wrote the New York Times' Peter Watrous in 1996. "But her limitations infuse her singing with honesty. More important, she understands the words she sings, declaiming them with a flare of memory that seems to illuminate all the lost love and sadness people experience."
She was often compared with Billie Holiday, one of her early influences. Times jazz writer Leonard Feather, writing after a Lincoln performance in 1986, said he could see glimpses of Holiday. "Not so much vocally as visually — a slight toss of the head, a jutting of the jaw," he wrote. "As Lincoln said, 'We all stand on the shoulders of those who preceded us.' "
And Lincoln made an impact on the next generation.
"She opened up doors, not just in the sense of career possibilities but as empowerment to be myself when I sang," singer Cassandra Wilson told the Wall Street Journal in 2007.
Lincoln was born Anna Marie Wooldridge on Aug. 6, 1930, in Chicago, the 10th of 12 children. The family soon moved to rural Michigan.
She moved to California in 1951 and performed in local clubs, then spent two years singing in Honolulu before coming back to Los Angeles. And she became Abbey Lincoln, inspired by Westminster Abbey and Abraham Lincoln. Her manager, songwriter Bob Russell, thought of the name.
Lincoln had a role in the 1956 film "The Girl Can't Help It" in which she wore a dress once worn by Marilyn Monroe. The appearance, coupled with her first album, "Abbey Lincoln's Affair: A Story of a Girl in Love," gave her a glamorous image. That changed when she started working with jazz drummer Max Roach, whose music would reflect the coming civil rights struggle. They married in 1962.
"I started out being a sexy young thing in a Marilyn Monroe dress," she told The Times in 2000, "And Max Roach freed me from that."
The 1960 release "We Insist! Freedom Now Suite" included Lincoln's wordless, sometimes screaming duet with Roach and was a landmark musical statement of the civil rights movement.
Lincoln "was like an OK supper singer," critic and producer Nat Hentoff told The Times in 1993. "Then I went down to the Village Gate here in New York where Max and she were doing the 'Freedom Now Suite.' It was just extraordinary, the power of it."
Critics were divided. "We all paid a price, but it was important to say something," she told the Wall Street Journal in 2007. "It still is."
Movie roles followed, including "Nothing But a Man" in 1964 and "For Love of Ivy" in 1968, in which she starred with Sidney Poitier.
Lincoln "was a really gifted person and a truly wonderful actress. She was the kind of person you expected to live forever," Poitier told The Times on Saturday.
"She was gifted in so many ways. She was quite productive, and it was quite rewarding for those of us who heard her sing and watched her act."
Lincoln and Roach divorced in 1970, and she returned to California to "cleanse her spirit," she told The Times in 1993. She taught at what is now Cal State Northridge, did some television work and performed only occasionally.
Her career took off again in the late 1980s, with works including two 1987 albums paying tribute to Holiday. Living in New York, she moved to the Verve Music Group and had commercial and artistic success with "The World Is Falling Down" in 1990 and "You Gotta Pay the Band" in 1991, in which she performed with saxophone great Stan Getz. Her final new release was "Abbey Sings Abbey" in 2007.
Lincoln died Saturday, August 15-2010 at her home said Evelyn Mason, her niece. No cause was given, but she had been in failing health
Abby Lincoln is survived by brothers David and Kenneth Wooldridge and a sister, Juanita Baker.
Copyright © 2010, Los Angeles Times
| Herman Leonard|
Herman Leonard, a photographer best known for his iconic images of such jazz greats as Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington and Miles Davis, has died. He was 87.
Leonard became famous for the smoky, backlighted black-and-white photos he took in dark jazz clubs beginning in the late 1940s.
I took advantage of being a photographer to get myself into the clubs so I could sit in front of Charlie Parker," he told The Times in March before the opening of an exhibit on jazz photography at the Fahey/Klein Gallery in Los Angeles. "I got to listen to music in person. That enriched me. The money didn't. And I tried to make images that would satisfy me."
The images did much more than that. They documented a musical era and cemented Leonard's status.
"He knows how to capture, and to make, the natural beauty, artistry and individuality of musicians shine through — shine through the paper and the chemicals and the book and the gallery and the years," John Edward Hasse, of the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History, told the Morning Call in Allentown, Pa., in 1999. "He's an artist."
He was born in Allentown in 1923 and became interested in photography early on thanks to his older brother. He attended Ohio University to study photography but that was interrupted by a stint in the Army from 1943 to 1945. Leonard returned to college and graduated with a bachelor's degree in 1947.
After working as an apprentice for famed portrait photographer Yousuf Karsh, Leonard moved to New York in 1948 and started becoming immersed in the jazz scene. Using a 4-by-5 Speed Graphic camera, he shot Art Tatum, Dizzy Gillespie, Sarah Vaughan and countless other jazz greats.
Ellington watching Ella Fitzgerald sing in 1948. Dexter Gordon sitting, holding a cigarette and balancing his saxophone on a knee. There was music, amazing access and plenty of smoke.
"The smoke was part of the atmosphere of those days and dramatized the photographs a lot, maybe over-stylized them a bit," he told The Times in 1990.
He spent 1956 as a personal photographer for actor Marlon Brando on a trip to the Far East. Then he moved to Paris and did commercial work, including for Playboy magazine, and kept shooting jazz.
"Ninety-nine percent of everything I shot was off the cuff," he said in 2001. "I wanted to capture what was really there untainted by anything I would do. My whole principle was to capture the mood and atmosphere of the moment."
The negatives of his jazz photos had been put away when he left the United States; but beginning in the 1980s he rediscovered them, and his first book, "The Eye of Jazz," was published in 1985. The first exhibition of Leonard's jazz photos was held in London in 1988.
More exhibitions and praise followed.
Leonard's work showed an intimacy that "comes from a true insider whose genuine friendship with the musicians allowed him to capture moments that are personal and insightful," David Houston, chief curator of the Ogden Museum of Southern Art in New Orleans, told the Morning Call in 2005. "You could teach the personal and musical evolution of jazz in the '50s through his work."
Leonard moved to New Orleans in 1992. His home was flooded by Hurricane Katrina and he lost thousands of prints. But his 60,000 negatives were safe, having been sent before the hurricane to the Ogden Museum. His return to New Orleans was chronicled in the 2006 documentary "Saving Jazz."
"When I was photographing Miles or Dizzy in the early days, I knew these were good and important musicians, but not as important as they turned out to be," he told the Chicago Tribune in 1999. "I had no idea. If I had any inkling, I would have shot 10 times as many pictures."
Herman Leonard died Saturday, August 21-2010 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles at the age of 87. He had been living in Los Angeles since Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans in 2005, flooding his home and destroying thousands of prints
Leonard is survived by children Valerie, Shana, Michael and David; and six grandchildren.
Copyright © 2010, Los Angeles Times
Click on "The PictureGallery" to see the incredible jazz photographs of Herman Leonard.
| Hank Jones|
Hank Jones, whose self-effacing nature belied his stature as one of the most respected jazz pianists of the postwar era.
He died at Calvary Hospital Hospice. Mr. Jones lived on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and also had a home in Hartwick, N.Y.
Mr. Jones spent much of his career in the background. For three and a half decades he was primarily a sideman, most notably with Ella Fitzgerald; for much of that time he also worked as a studio musician on radio and television.
His fellow musicians admired his imagination, his versatility and his distinctive style, which blended the urbanity and rhythmic drive of the Harlem stride pianists, the dexterity of Art Tatum and the harmonic daring of bebop. (The pianist, composer and conductor André Previn once called Mr. Jones his favorite pianist, “regardless of idiom.”)
But unlike his younger brothers Thad, who played trumpet with Count Basie and was later a co-leader of a celebrated big band, and Elvin, an influential drummer who formed a successful combo after six years with John Coltrane’s innovative quartet, Hank Jones seemed content for many years to keep a low profile.
That started changing around the time he turned 60. Riding a wave of renewed interest in jazz piano that also transformed his close friend and occasional duet partner Tommy Flanagan from a perpetual sideman to a popular nightclub headliner, Mr. Jones began working and recording regularly under his own name.
Reviewing a nightclub appearance in 1989, Peter Watrous of The New York Times praised Mr. Jones as “an extraordinary musician” whose playing “resonates with jazz history” and who “embodies the idea of grace under pressure, where assurance and relaxation mask nearly impossible improvisations.”
Mr. Jones further enhanced his reputation in the 1990s with a striking series of recordings that placed his piano in a range of contexts — including an album with a string quartet, a collaboration with a group of West African musicians and a duet recital with the bassist Charlie Haden devoted to spirituals and hymns.
Henry W. Jones Jr. was born in Vicksburg, Miss., on July 31, 1918. One of 10 children, he grew up in Pontiac, Mich., near Detroit, where he started studying piano at an early age and first performed professionally at 13. He began playing jazz even though his father, a Baptist deacon, disapproved.
Mr. Jones worked with regional bands, mostly in Michigan and Ohio, before moving to New York in 1944 to join the trumpeter and singer Hot Lips Page’s group at the Onyx Club on 52nd Street.
He was soon in great demand, working for well-known performers like the saxophonist Coleman Hawkins and the singer Billy Eckstine. “People heard me and said, ‘Well, this is not just a boy from the country — maybe he knows a few chords,’ ” he told Ben Waltzer in a 2001 interview for The Times.
He abandoned the freelance life in late 1947 to become Ella Fitzgerald’s accompanist and held that job until 1953, occasionally taking time out to record with Charlie Parker and others.
He kept busy after leaving Fitzgerald. Among other activities, he began an association with Benny Goodman that would last into the 1970s, and he was a member of the last group Goodman’s swing-era rival Artie Shaw led before retiring in 1954. But financial security beckoned, and in 1959 he became a staff musician at CBS.
He also participated in a celebrated moment in presidential history when he accompanied Marilyn Monroe as she sang “Happy Birthday” to President John F. Kennedy, who was about to turn 45, during a Democratic Party fund-raiser at Madison Square Garden in May 1962.
Mr. Jones remained intermittently involved in jazz during his long tenure at CBS, which ended when the network disbanded its music department in the mid-’70s. He was a charter member of the big band formed by his brother Thad and the drummer Mel Lewis in 1966, and he recorded a few albums as a leader. More often, however, he was heard but not seen on “The Ed Sullivan Show” and other television and radio programs.
“Most of the time during those 15 or so years, I wasn’t playing the kind of music I’d prefer to play,” Mr. Jones told Howard Mandel of Down Beat magazine in 1994. “It may have slowed me down a bit. I would have been a lot further down the road to where I want to be musically had I not worked at CBS.”
But, he explained, the work gave him “an economic base for trying to build something.”
Once free of his CBS obligations, Mr. Jones began quietly making a place for himself in the jazz limelight. He teamed with the bassist Ron Carter and the drummer Tony Williams, alumni of the Miles Davis Quintet, to form the Great Jazz Trio in 1976. (The uncharacteristically immodest name of the group, which changed bassists and drummers frequently over the years, was not Mr. Jones’s idea.)
Two years later he began a long run as the musical director and onstage pianist for “Ain’t Misbehavin’,” the Broadway revue built around the music of Fats Waller, while also playing late-night solo sets at the Cafe Ziegfeld in Midtown Manhattan.
By the 1980s, Mr. Jones’s late-blooming career as a band leader was in full swing. While he had always recorded prolifically — by one estimate he can be heard on more than a thousand albums — for the first time he concentrated on recording under his own name, which he continued to do well into the 21st century.
He is survived by his wife, Theodosia.
Mr. Jones was named a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master in 1989. He received the National Medal of Arts in 2008 and a lifetime achievement Grammy Award in 2009. And he continued working almost to the end. Laurel Gross, a close friend, said he had toured Japan in February and had plans for a European tour this spring until doctors advised against it.
Reaching for superlatives, critics often wrote that Mr. Jones had an exceptional touch. He himself was not so sure.
“I never tried consciously to develop a ‘touch,’ ” he told The Detroit Free Press in 1997. “What I tried to do was make whatever lines I played flow evenly and fully and as smoothly as possible.
“I think the way you practice has a lot to do with it,” he explained. “If you practice scales religiously and practice each note firmly with equal strength, certainly you’ll develop a certain smoothness. I used to practice a lot. I still do when I’m at home.” Mr. Jones was 78 years old at the time.
Hank Jones died on Sunday, May 16-2010 in the Bronx. He was 91.
The above article was compiled by Peter Keepnews and was taken from the New York Times on-line obituary page.
The picture is also from the New. York Times and shows Mr. Jones performing “Willow weep for Me” (www.youtube.com)
| Teo Macero|
Born in Glen Falls, New York on October 30th – 1925 jazz producer Teo Macero worked with Miles Davis and other big names from the world of jazz.
His innovative work as a producer of jazz albums in the 1960s and '70s helped define the recorded sound of artists such as Miles Davis and redefine the meaning of studio production
Macero helped make some of the most enduring jazz recordings of the era. He was musical editor for Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk and Charles Mingus.
For many years he produced Davis, including albums such as "Bitches Brew," "In a Silent Way" and "Sketches of Spain." Although Davis had the final say, Macero was given wide latitude -- and he used all the space given him to express his creativity.
In an interview posted on Perfect Sound Forever, an online music magazine, Macero said, "in 25 or 30 years he was there maybe four or five times. So I had carte blanche to maneuver, do things with his music that I couldn't do with other people's. Teo’s parents owned a restaurant, said his sister, Lydia Edwards. Early in his life, he took up the saxophone, and music became his passion.
After serving in the Navy in the mid-1940s, Macero earned a bachelor's degree in 1951 and a master's degree in 1953 from Juilliard School of Music. He received Guggenheim Fellowships twice in the 1950s and played saxophone with Mingus and many others.
The list of artists he worked with as producer includes Dave Brubeck, Mahalia Jackson and Leonard Bernstein. After more than 20 years at Columbia, Macero left and continued to work as a producer. He also composed for several ballet companies and was a composer and conductor with several symphony orchestras.
Teo Macero passed away at a hospital in Riverhead, New York on February 10th -2008 at the age of 82.
The above is was taken form The Los Angeles Times and compiled by Jocelyn Stewart.
| Wilfred Middlebrooks|
Wilfred Middlebrooks, the double bassist whose elegant, understated sound was heard in the band that backed jazz great Ella Fitzgerald and in the Paul Smith Trio, has died of heart attack.
Middlebrooks was born July 17, 1933, in Chattanooga, Tenn., into a family of musicians. By age 11, he was studying with the principal bassist for the Chattanooga Symphony.
Wilfred landed a gig with Ella Fitzgerald, who was playing a Las Vegas show. In the audience that day were Nat "King" Cole, Sammy Davis Jr., Pearl Bailey and Jane Russell.
"I was so scared," Middlebrooks said in a 2001 article in the Chattanooga Times Free Press. "I thought if I can just make it through this one show, that'll be it."
Wilfred's longevity with somebody of Ella's talent had a lot to do with his impeccable intonation, sensitivity and just sympathetic nature," said fellow bassist Richard Simon.
"He loved Ella," Middlebrooks' wife said. "He called her Fitz. She called him Junior. He was her youngest bass player."
In 1960, while playing with Fitzgerald, Middlebrooks met pianist Paul Smith. They later played together for 13 years at the Velvet Turtle in Redondo Beach, California.
Offstage, Middlebrooks was a family man, who helped raise two of his grandchildren. For a time, he taught free music at the Chattanooga African American Museum.
Bass player Wilfred Middlebrooks always remained passionate about his instrument.
He passed away on March 13th 2008 at Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena, California. He was 74.
The above was compiled by Jocelyn Y. Stewart Los Angeles Times Staff Writer.
| Humphrey Lyttleton|
A longtime jazz fanatic, trumpeter and BBC Radio host Humphrey was born into a prominent British family and educated at the elite Eton College.
A self taught musician he was an accomplished trumpet player, who Louis Armstrong once said was Britain’s best trumpeter.
Lyttleton’s varied experiences included service in the Grenadier Guards during World War II, a cartoonist with Britain’s “Daily Mirror” and author of several books on music.
Lyttleton hosted the radio show “I’m Sorry, I haven’t a Clue” which was launched in 1972. The game show format which attracted a dedicated audience was filled light heated silliness and innuendo. Lyttleton was a master of double- entendres and ribald lines all delivered in his upper class British accent.
Humphrey Lyttleton passed away on April 25 - 2008 at the age of 86.
| Jack Varney|
Born on January, 15 -1918 in Port Melbourne, Victoria Jack was one of Australia’s most versatile and respected musicians, who played the banjo, guitar, piano and the vibraphone.
His music career was interrupted during the war years when he saw service as a pilot with the RAAF.
Jack Varney was a member of the internationally acclaimed Graeme Bell Australian Jazz Band which toured Europe, and appeared on the BBC and a several European radio networks.. He played both banjo and guitar with the band as well as doubling on piano for Graeme Bell.
During his two years in Europe Jack shared billings with such jazz legends as Erroll Garner, Louis Armstrong, Coleman Hawkins, Humphrey Lyttleton and The Dutch Swing College Band.
At the time Jack was named as one of the top four banjo players in the world.
On his return to Australia he played in orchestras and bands that accompanied such star artists that included Frank Sinatra and drummer Gene Krupa.
Jack’s extensive music career included 17 years as A and R Manger with Australia’s W and G Records, during which time he produced scores of recordings for some of the biggest names in the early days of the Australian recording industry. Included were two very successful groups that he formed - “The City Slickers” and “Happy Jack and the Bar Room Boys”- winners of four Gold Albums. He was also involved in writing commercial jingles.
Outside the recording studio Jack played in television studio orchestras, and also in various groups at Melbourne’s top night spots
Jack Varney was a life member of the Musicians’ Union of Australia, and also a former President and Trustee of the Melbourne branch.
Jack Varney was married to Glen an accomplished pianist and music teacher, who also has several albums to her credit.
The couple can be heard together on a “cocktail style” album with Jack on vibes and Glen on both piano and organ.
Together they also formed a Keyboard Academy in Melbourne which was won a National award in 1981 and ’82.
After a long battle with Parkinson’s disease Jack Varney passed away in his 91st year on May 19th - 2008.
| Bob Florence|
A native of Southern California, Bob was born on May, 20th- 1932 in Los Angeles. His mother played the piano for silent movies during the 1920s.
Florence had his first piano lesson before he was 4 years of age. His teacher discovered that the youngster had perfect pitch, the immediate ability to discern the pitch of any given note. At 7 he gave his first recital and was on a course for a career in classical music when he attended Los Angeles City College and joined the jazz band.
After leaving college Bob wrote arrangements and played with Les Brown going on to write for Harry James, Louie Bellson and Sy Zentner.
Bob Florence’s extensive career included television scoring and musical direction, writing, arranging and accompaniment with Julie Andrews, Jack Jones and Vicki Jones. In the late ‘60s he worked simultaneously on television variety shows of Red Skelton, Andy Williams, Dean Martin and “The Tonight Show”.
As an arranger Bob Florence’s ingenious harmonic imagination transformed the original thematic material into virtually new compositions.
Up until the start of his illness he led the Bob Florence Limited Edition Big Band..
Bob passed away on May 15th -2008 at Barlow Respiratory Hospital in Los Angeles after a lengthy bout of pneumonia. He was 75.
The above information written by Don Heckman, Special to the Times along with the picture of Bob Florence came from The Los Angeles Times.
| Gerald Wiggins|
Pianist Gerald Wiggins was born May 12, 1922, in New York City. Although he studied classical piano from the age of 4, he did so reluctantly.
Gerald’s long career embraced numerous recordings with his trio and performances with Louis Armstrong, Benny Carter, Roy Eldridge, Zoot Sims and other high profile jazz musicians.
He also accompanied Lena Horne and Nat "King" Cole, and gave vocal coaching to Marilyn Monroe. The actress once gave Gerald a photo autographed with, "For Gerry. I can't make a sound without you. Love you, Marilyn."
Wiggins was very often called upon for television, film and recording studio work.
Versatility was Gerald Wiggins's stock in trade, but the foundation of his playing was his work with a variety of trios -- especially with a unit that included bassist Andy Simpkins and drummer Paul Humphrey.
A performance by the trio in 1998 was described in a Time Magazine review as "a set that defined the manner in which jazz can be simultaneously imaginative, elegant and swinging."
The above information is by Don Heckman and taken from The Los Angeles Times.
The photograph (above) by Ken Hively of the Los Angeles Times was taken at the Central Avenue (L..A.) Jazz Festival and shows Bob Maize on bazz and Gerald Wiggins at the piano.
| Bobby Durham|
Bobby Durham, a jazz drummer of impeccable taste and versatility who teamed with Oscar Peterson and Ella Fitzgerald and became a fixture of the Jazz at the Philharmonic touring concert series, died July 7 at a hospital in Genoa, Italy. He was 71 and had lung cancer and emphysema.
His death was confirmed by Sandra Fuller, a family friend.
Durham's personality on drums ranged from exuberant to unobtrusive.
John S. Wilson, the late New York Times jazz critic, noted Durham's "remarkable displays of technical virtuosity" in a 1968 concert with Peterson, a pianist known for his understated swing.
Norman Granz, the impresario behind Jazz at the Philharmonic, became an admirer of Durham's skills and used him frequently as a supporting studio and stage musician for a wide variety of star performers from the 1960s to the '80s.
In the '70s, Durham also spent several years in small groups fronted by singer Fitzgerald and pianists Monty Alexander and Tommy Flanagan, as well as one led by trombonist Al Grey and saxophonist Jimmy Forrest.
Robert Joseph Durham was born Feb. 3, 1937, in Philadelphia, the son of tap dancers.
He learned trombone, bass and vibraphone before concentrating on a drumming career in rhythm and blues groups after serving in the Marine Corps in the late '50s. In later years, he developed a talent for improvised singing known as scat.
After settling in New York in 1960, Durham accompanied jazz, R&B and soul entertainers, including Marvin Gaye and James Brown. In 1967, he began working in Duke Ellington's band but quickly become a part of Peterson's trio.
Starting in the '80s, Durham performed with organist Shirley Scott, among other jazz stars as a freelancer. He also reunited with Peterson in the late '80s, playing in a trio with the pianist and bassist Ray Brown that received high praise.
Durham made many trips to Europe, leading trios and recording several albums for an independent Italian music label, Azzurra. He spent the final years of his life dividing his time between homes in Basel, Switzerland, and Isola del Cantone, near Genoa.
Survivors include two daughters and four grandchildren.
The above was taken from the Los Angeles Times. It was compiled by Adam Bernstein, Washington Post. The photograph (above) of Bobby Durham is by Marco Bizzotte.
| Lee Young|
Drummer Lee Young was the young brother of tenor saxophonist Lester Young.
Lee was a very successful musician, who played on scores of recordings with some of the who’s who of jazz. He also led his own band. Lee Young made his first recordings with the great piano player Fats Waller
In the late 1930s he worked for MGM Studios where he taught Mickey Rooney how to play drums for the film “Strike up the Band”.
In 1946 Lee Young was the first African American hired for a staff position with a Hollywood studio orchestra. However he found the work unchallenging and left after two years.
Lee who was born on March14th – 1914 grew up in a musical family, which included his famous brother Lester Young and his sister Irma who was also a saxophonist.
His father Willis who was often referred to as Professor, was a multifaceted musician who player several instruments and was a very successful music teacher.
Lee and his brother Lester Young were like “night and Day” The former was a leader, an extrovert, a consummate business man, dependable, organized, health conscious, a terrific golfer and a great drummer.
In 1952 Lee started an association with Nat King Cole, serving as the singer’s musical director and drummer until 1962.
On July 31st Lee passed away at his home in Los Angeles at the ripe old age of 94.
Lee survived his brother Lester by nearly half a century. Lester Young died on March 15th – 1959 at the age of 50.
The above information was in part compiled by Jon Thurber, staff writer with The Los Angeles Times. The photograph of Lee Young also came from the L.A. Times.
| Danny Moss|
Britain has produced a number of world-class tenor saxophonists, and Danny Moss was in the top three or four. He was happy to acknowledge the many American players on whose playing his style was founded. He would have been aware of the sagacity of Steve Race's remark of 70 years ago: "There is no such thing as British jazz. There is only American jazz played by British musicians."
"I'm part of the Coleman Hawkins and Ben Webster school," said Moss, "but there are so many others that influenced me, like Don Byas, Lucky Thompson, Zoot Sims, Bud Freeman or Eddie Miller. My conception of jazz improvisation is based on three principles: melodic lines, swing and sound."
In his younger years, Moss was constantly in demand as a sideman and the eclectic selection of bands he worked in included those led by Ted Heath, Humphrey Lyttelton, Johnny Dankworth and Geraldo.
In 1945 Danny was called into the RAF for three years. In 1950-51, Moss had a well-paid but musically frustrating year in the dance band of Oscar Rabin and then learned about really hard drinking with eight months in the Squadronaires.
In May 1952 he joined Ted Heath, the most prestigious although not necessarily the most jazz-oriented job a musician could get. Moss earned five times as much as he had done before.
Moss was dismayed to find that he was expected to play the same solo, note for note, on every number: "Horrific. This was death to an improvising musician.
After three years, Moss left and joined Geraldo, whose band he regarded as far superior to Heath's. He stayed for two years until March 1957 when he was asked into the Johnny Dankworth big band where he instantly became one of the most featured soloists.
Moss found a new fan in Count Basie. "I wish the young guys would play that way," Basie said of Moss's playing. "That's a real Texas tenor. That's the way it should sound."
Moss was appointed MBE in 1990. Danny Moss married singer Jeannie Lamb
in 1964 and they worked together for the rest of Moss's life.
During the Seventies he recorded with Tony Bennett, Ella Fitzgerald, Bing Crosby, Sarah Vaughan and Rosemary Clooney, and also played in various symphony orchestras.
He first toured Australia in 1983 with Jeannie Lamb and was a member of the occasional big band formed by the drummer Charlie Watts in 1985.
He and his wife loved Australia and in 1989 settled in Perth. From there they toured annually in the United States and Britain, eventually giving up the US trips and settling for long visits to Britain every year.
In 2005 Moss was diagnosed with cancer, but he continued working and touring with his wife and their bassist son Danny Moss Jnr.
To help pay for the expensive treatment he required, benefit concerts led by musicians like John Dankworth and Acker Bilk were held in England and Australia.
Dennis "Danny" Moss, tenor saxophonist and clarinettist: born Redhill, Surrey 16 August 1927 died Perth, Western Australia 29 May 2008.
The above article by Steve Voce was from the British paper “The Independent
Pictured above is the album “Steam Power” which was released in 2002 on the Nagel Hever label. Danny Moss, tenor sax; Roy Williams, trombone; John Pearce, piano; Len Skeat, bass; Charly Antolini, drums.
| Arne Domnérus|
Arne Domnérus was a jazz pioneer in post-war Europe and a leading figure in Scandinavian jazz throughout his career.
(Right photograph – AP)
Arne Domnérus, who died in Stockholm was a jazz pioneer in post-war Europe and a leading figure in Scandinavian jazz throughout his career; like his British counterpart, John Dankworth, he played the alto saxophone in a clear, lucid style, led a successful band and served as a model for aspiring musicians of several generations.
Born in the Stockholm suburb of Nalen on December 20 1924 hetook up the clarinet at the age of 11. His sole ambition, he later claimed, was to get into his school’s marching band because he liked the look of the uniform. Within a few years, as a member of an amateur orchestra, he was winning prizes as an outstanding clarinet soloist.
Arne took up the saxophone and, on leaving school, became a professional musician, notably with the bands of Simon Brehm and Thore Ehrling.
The Paris Jazz Fair of 1949 marked the debut of European modern jazz on the world stage. For the first time young local players were able to meet and play informally alongside great figures such as Charlie Parker, Miles Davis and Max Roach. Domnérus and his band scored a great success, putting Sweden firmly on the jazz map.
If Paris was the European capital of jazz in the 1950s, Stockholm quickly became its Second City. Virtually every prominent American soloist stopped off there to play and to record.
From 1956 to 1965 Domnérus was a featured soloist with the Swedish Radio Big Band, taking over the leadership when it was reformed as Radiojazzgruppen in 1966 and remaining until 1978. At the same time he led many temporary bands of his own and branched out into theatre and ballet music, appearing as both saxophone and clarinet soloist with choirs and even symphony orchestras. He gave a concert in London in 1999, as part of Swedish Jazz Week.
Among Arne’s many later recordings special mention must be made of the albums Downtown Meeting (1977), with the trumpeter Clark Terry; Skyline Drive (1992), with his early hero, Benny Carter; Happy Together (1995) with the clarinettist Putte Wickman, and several duet recordings with Bengt Hallberg, his contemporary, whose gentle, lyrical piano promptings always brought out the best in him.
Arne passed away on Tuesday, September 3-2008 at the age of 83.
The above information is from the London Telegraph.
| Neal Hefti|
Neal Hefti was the former big band trumpeter, arranger and composer who worked with Count Basie and Woody Herman and later composed the memorable themes for the movie "The Odd Couple" and the campy hit TV series "Batman," has died. He was 85.
Described as "one of the most influential big band arrangers of the 1940s and '50s" in "The Encyclopedia of Popular Music," Hefti turned his attention to composing for film and television in the 1960s.
Among his credits as a film composer are "Sex and the Single Girl," "Harlow" (one of his most famous tunes, “Girl Talk” came out of the score), "How to Murder Your Wife," "Boeing Boeing," "Duel at Diablo," "Barefoot in the Park," "A New Leaf," "Last of the Red Hot Lovers" and “The Odd Couple” whose theme he reprised for the 1970s TV series.
Hefti also gained wide notice for composing the energetic title theme for “Batman” the over-the-top 1966-68 superhero series that became an overnight sensation.
It was, Hefti later said, the hardest piece of music he ever wrote.
Hefti's "Batman" tune became a Top 40 hit -- for both the Hefti and the Marketts' versions -- and won a 1966 Grammy Award for best instrumental theme.
In 1945, Hefti married the Woody Herman band's lead female vocalist, Frances Wayne. They remained married until her death in 1978.
As a composer and arranger for Basie in the 1950s, Hefti composed numerous tunes that were featured on various Basie albums.
That included the Grammy Award-winning album "Basie," which Hefti produced. Known as "Atomic Basie" because of the atomic explosion pictured on the cover, the album featured 11 songs composed and arranged by Hefti, including "Splanky," "Kid From Red Bank" and “Lil’ Darlin’” which Hefti wrote for his daughter.
"If it weren't for Neal Hefti," legendary trumpeter Miles Davis said in a 1955 interview, "the Basie band wouldn't sound as good as it does."
In the early '60s, Hefti arranged and conducted "Sinatra and Basie: A Historical Musical First" and "Sinatra and Swingin' Brass."
He retired in 1976.
Neal Hefti passed away on Saturday, October 11 – 2008 at the age of 85.
The above was written by Dennis McLellan, staff writer at the Los Angeles Times.
| Pat Crumley|
A close friend of the late Ronnie Scott and a fellow saxophonist, Pat Crumly was the man whom Scott always asked to deputise for him at his jazz club when he was indisposed. After Scott’s death, from 1997 until 2003, and again earlier this year, Crumly and the pianist John Critchinson co-led the Ronnie Scott Legacy Band, to keep his memory alive.
Patrick John Crumly was born in Oxford and grew up there, taking up the clarinet at 14 and the saxophone two years later. In the 1960s the city had an active university jazz club.
By the start of the 1970s Crumly was well established locally and wrote a jazz column for the Oxford Times and presented a weekly programme on BBC Radio Oxford.
In 1973 he deputised for Don Rendell in the John Dankworth Orchestra where he formed a long association with Dankworth and his wife Cleo Laine, frequently returning to play in the big band or sextet, but also becoming involved in teaching from the mid-1970s at the Dankworths’ regular summer schools.
Crumly had a big, warm tone on the tenor sax, and an agility that allowed him to tackle most parts of the modern jazz repertoire with ease. From now on his career was a balancing act between his first love of playing jazz, mainly in his own quartet, nine-piece group and occasional big band, and the more lucrative world of playing rock or rhythm ’n’ blues. He backed vocalist Jimmy Witherspoon and also Jack Jones, Salena Jones and Trini Lopez.
Pat Crumly died unexpectedly of heart failure while visiting Italy. He was 66. He is survived by his third wife, Hannah Jackson, and two sons.
| Derek Wadsworth|
Derek Wadsworth, who died aged 69, was among the most gifted and versatile composers for film and television of his generation. He was also a superb jazz trombonist.
Derek Wadsworth was born at Cleckheaton, Yorkshire, on February 5, 1939, and began playing the trombone at the age of 11. As a teenager he was a member of the celebrated Brighouse and Rastrick Brass Band, and at 19 he joined Keith Smith's Jazz Cardinals in Huddersfield.
His introduction to film music was as an arranger, beginning in 1970 with Spring and Port Wine. This was followed by Alfie Darling (1975), starring Alan Price, and the television series Space:1999 (1976), in which Wadsworth attempted to predict what the music of the future might sound like. This series later acquired the status of a cult classic, making the composer something of a celebrity among science fiction fans.
Among his many film credits are The Man Who Fell To Earth (directed by Nicholas Roeg, 1976), Britannia Hospital (Lindsay Anderson, 1983) and the Woody Allen documentary Wild Man Blues (1997).
Wadsworth was working not only as a composer, arranger and conductor, but also as an instrumentalist.
Among those with whom he recorded as a player were George Harrison, Diana Ross, Tom Jones, Dionne Warwick and Tony Bennett.
He arranged and conducted for Judy Garland, Kate Bush, Nina Simone, Shirley Bassey, Randy Crawford and Cat Stevens, and had a particularly close working relationship with Alan Price, for whom he arranged the album Between Today And Yesterday (1974). This contained The Jarrow Song, a brilliant marriage of pop and brass-band idioms.
Among the 200-odd television commercials for which he provided the music, his favourite was one for Imodium-Plus. "There I was, conducting a whole symphony orchestra in Methodist Central Hall – all very dignified and proper. And the voice-over says: 'One of these musicians had diarrhoea half an hour ago. Get Imodium-Plus today!” He was also quite proud of Pick It Up!, the jolly little song he composed to accompany Ken Livingstone's anti-litter campaign.
Derek Wadsworth was working at full stretch until his sudden death on December 3. His wife, Betty, died in 1987 and he is survived by his partner, Patsy Halliday, and a son and a daughter of his marriage.
Pictured is Derek Wadsworth at the 100 Club in London, 1982.
| Freddie Hubbard|
Freddie Hubbard was widely regarded as the most gifted jazz trumpeter of the post-bebop 1960s and '70s.
Hubbard's playing was characterized by its strength and assurance, its capacity to roam confidently across the trumpet's entire range, and his gift for spontaneous melodic invention.
He was barely out of his teens in the late 1950s and working with such established jazz figures as drummer Philly Joe Jones, trombonist Slide Hampton, saxophonist Sonny Rollins and composer/arranger Quincy Jones. His identification as an important new arrival gained him a Down Beat Critics Poll Award when he was in his early 20s.
Hubbard was capable of quickly grasping the subtleties as well as the specific elements of a startlingly wide range of stylistic areas, from the hard bop of his work with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers to the most avant-garde music of the decade.
Freddie was born Frederick DeWayne Hubbard in Indianapolis on April 7, 1938. He was the youngest of six children in a musical household that included his sister who played classical piano and sang spirituals. His mother played the piano by ear, and his brother played the bass and tenor. Freddie once said ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œyou'd hear somebody singing, somebody playing the piano, and always a record playing."
He took up the trumpet in junior high school, and also played fluegelhorn, piano, French horn, sousaphone and tuba.
Moving to New York City in 1958, when he was 20, Hubbard quickly became known as one of the important new jazz arrivals. In the early '70s, his career well-established, he moved to Los Angeles, settling in the San Fernando Valley.
Freddie Hubbard died at Sherman Oaks Hospital in Los Angeles. He was 70.
The cause of death was attributed to complications from a heart attack he suffered Nov. 26, according to Dave Weiss, his longtime manager.
The above information is by Don Heckmen and came from the Los Angeles Times. The photograph of Freddie Hubbard is by Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times.
| David "Fathead" Newman|
David "Fathead" Newman, a jazz saxophonist who was a key member of Ray Charles' band for a dozen years and later became a high-profile session player..
Newman's saxophone can be heard on many of Charles' landmark hits, including "I Got a Woman," "What'd I Say" and "Lonely Avenue." And it was Charles who helped Newman get his first album as a leader with the 1958 Atlantic Records release "Fathead: Ray Charles Presents David Newman."
Newman was born in Corsicana, Texas, on Feb. 24, 1933, but grew up in Dallas, where he studied first the piano and then the saxophone.
He earned the nickname "Fathead" from his high school band teacher because he stubbornly refused to learn to read music, preferring instead to take it in by ear.
He went off to Jarvis Christian College on a music and theology scholarship but quit school after three years and began playing professionally, mostly jazz and blues, with a number of musicians, including Buster Smith, Lloyd Glenn, Lowell Fulson and T-Bone Walker.
"I was brought up a bebop musician but it wasn't so acceptable, especially in Dallas," Newman told the Dallas Morning News some years ago. "You couldn't make a living doing that, so I had to play rhythm and blues. I adapted to it easily, being from an area where blues was prevalent."
"Fathead" was playing in Smith's band in the early 1950s when he met Charles, who was then a piano-playing sideman for Fulson. The two hit it off immediately. Charles loved Newman's sound for its lyricism and sweetness and vowed to bring him aboard when he started his own band, which he did in 1954. The multifaceted Newman first played baritone saxophone for Charles but switched to tenor and became a star soloist.
"He really extended my music because he was into so many different types of music," Newman told the Canadian newspaper Ottawa Citizen in 2007. "I didn't really appreciate anything except bebop before I met Ray."
"In 1960 he started having a big band, an orchestra," Newman told the Tennessean newspaper some years ago. "Ray did all the arranging. He wouldn't even touch the piano, and he never wrote anything in Braille. He had perfect pitch. He would dictate a part and all you had to do was take notation and you'd have the arrangement. Ray Charles was a phenomenal musician."
After leaving Charles' band, Newman moved on to play with Herbie Mann's band in 1970-71 and recorded several more albums for Atlantic as well as Warner Bros., Fantasy Records and Muse.
Newman's versatility on reed instruments made him a first-call session player, and he worked with a wide variety of A-list players, including Aretha Franklin, B.B. King, Joe Cocker, and Dr. John, and with Natalie Cole on her "Unforgettable" album.
He orchestrated music for scores of films and played and appeared in the Robert Altman film "Kansas City." He later did a national tour with the band from that 1996 film for Verve records.
Newman himself became a character in "Ray," the 2004 biopic of Charles' life that starred Jamie Foxx. And while Newman thought that Foxx did a remarkable job capturing the life of a legend, he wasn't pleased with the way he was portrayed in the Taylor Hackford film.
In the movie, the character called Fathead is depicted as a brash young musician who turned Charles on to hard drugs. The soft-spoken Newman had said Charles had been using drugs for several years before they met.
"Drug use was prevalent at the time, even fashionable," Newman told the Columbia Daily Tribune. The movie, he added, "didn't really say that."
Newman died on Tuesday, January, 20 - 2009 of pancreatic cancer at a hospital in Kingston, N.Y., according to his wife and manager, Karen Newman.
He is survived by his wife, four sons, seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
The above is from the Los Angels Times and compiled by John Thurber.
The photograph of "Fathead" Newman is also from the L.A.
| Hank Crawford|
Hank Crawford was the bluesy alto saxophonist who was a mainstay of Ray Charles' band in the late 1950s and early '60s.
Crawford, who also wrote arrangements for Charles and served as his musical director before forging his own career as a band leader,
He was the third leading saxophonist from Charles' groups to die in the early weeks of 2009. Leroy Cooper died of heart failure on Jan. 15 at 80 and David "Fathead" Newman died of pancreatic cancer on Jan. 20 at 75.
Crawford was a college senior majoring in music theory and playing baritone saxophone at Tennessee State University when Charles came to Memphis on tour in 1958. Cooper had just left the band, and Crawford was recommended to Charles as a replacement for the one-night gig. Three months later, Charles asked him to join the band permanently and Crawford left school.
Hank Crawford quickly emerged as an arranger and musical director for Charles when the entertainer decided to turn to a big-band format in the early 1960s. Crawford later said he was the first stand-up band leader that Charles employed.
By the early 1960s, he had switched to alto saxophone and begun recording what was to be a series of albums for Atlantic Records. The first one, "The Art of Hank Crawford," featured the full Ray Charles band.
He was born Bennie Ross Crawford Jr. in Memphis on Dec. 21, 1934. One of seven children, he learned piano as a child and was soon playing for the church choir.
Crawford grew up playing bebop, blues and country music. He was given the name Hank because his sound resembled that of Hank O'Day, a local musician.
After leaving Charles in 1963 to form his own sextet, Crawford forged a significant recording career with scores of albums for the Atlantic, Kudu and Milestone labels.
Crawford once told The Times that he played for "the average listener, rather than the jazz die-hard."
Hank Crawford died Jan. 29 - 2009 at his home in Memphis, Tenn. His sister, Delores, told the Commercial Appeal newspaper that Crawford had been in declining health for much of the past year with complications from a stroke in 2000.He was 74.
The above was compiled by Jon Thurber of the Los Angeles Times.
Pictured is Hank Crawford taken from the Los Angeles Times website.
| Blossom Dearie|
Blossom Dearie was the singer and songwriter whose sweet soprano voice, harmonically innovative piano stylings and sophisticated performances made her a popular attraction in jazz and cabaret for nearly half a century.
Critic Leonard Feather once described Dearie as "chic, sleek and squeaky clean, a voice in a million" and while she was clearly classified as a jazz vocalist, she found that description incomplete.
"I don't want to be called a jazz singer," she told Feather some years ago, "though I certainly have some roots there. I'm not a cult singer either . . . and after being called a legend, that sounds too much like an epitaph. I think of myself as a songwriter's singer. All the great Broadway and Hollywood teams are in my repertoire, along with contemporary people like Dave Frishberg. . . . Writers bring their songs to me because they rely on me to define their work with respect. That's very flattering."
Marguerite Blossom Dearie was born in East Durham, N.Y., on April 19, 1926. She got her unusual middle name from a neighbor who delivered peach blossoms to her house the day she was born.
Dearie studied classical music as a child, switched to jazz as a teenager and played with her high school dance band.
She moved to New York in the 1940s to pursue a serious musical career and was hired by Woody Herman to sing with his Blue Flames, a vocal group within his big band. She later had a similar gig in Alvino Rey's band.
In the early 1950s, she moved to Paris and formed an eight-member vocal group, the Blue Stars.
They had a hit in Paris and the United States with a French version of "Lullaby of Birdland." Dearie contributed several of the group's popular arrangements.
While in Paris, she worked with singer Annie Ross and was later signed to a contract with Verve Records by producer Norman Granz. She made six solo albums for Verve, including the highly regarded "My Gentleman Friend."
After returning to New York in the mid-1950s Dearie came to prominence leading trios with guitarist Herb Ellis and bassist Ray Brown. She started to make her mark on television as a guest on shows hosted by Jack Paar, Dave Garroway and Merv Griffin.
But by the early 1970s, major record labels were switching to rock 'n' roll and showed little interest in her work. She started her own company, Daffodil Records, and one of her early albums, "My New Celebrity Is You," included eight of her own compositions. The album's title number was written by Johnny Mercer and is believed to be one of his last compositions before his death in 1976.
As a songwriter, Dearie was best known for her collaborations on "I'm Shadowing You," again with lyrics by Mercer; "I Like You, You're Nice," "Sweet Georgie Fame," "Inside a Silent Tear" and "Hey John."
In the 1970s, she lent her voice to the children's educational program "Schoolhouse Rock!" on songs, including "Mother Necessity," "Figure Eight" and "Unpack Your Adjectives."
Dearie was also known for performing several songs by Frishberg, including "Peel Me a Grape," "I'm Hip" and "My Attorney Bernie."
Survivors include her older brother, Barney.
Dearie died on Saturday February, 7 – 2009 at her home in New York City, her manager Donald Schaffer told The Times. He said she had been in failing health for several years and died of natural causes. She was 82.
The above was taken from The Los Angeles Times and compiled by Jon Thurber. The photograph of Blossom Dearie is also from the L.A. Times.
| Louie Bellson|
Louie Bellson was best known as a superlative big band drummer as a result of his work in the 1940s and '50s with Tommy Dorsey, Count Basie, Benny Goodman, Harry James, Duke Ellington and others, Bellson was also an adept small group player. His more than 200 recorded appearances as leader and sideman encompass sessions with Jazz at the Philharmonic, Woody Herman, Stan Getz, Dizzy Gillespie, Louis Armstrong, James Brown and dozens of others, including Ellington's Big Four alongside guitarist Joe Pass and bassist Ray Brown.
Bellson often said that he regarded his tenure with Ellington as one of the significant points in his career. Performing with the orchestra in the early '50s triggered a forward leap in his development as an instrumentalist and his confidence as a composer.
A pair of his best-known big band works, "The Hawk Talks" and "Skin Deep" became popular staples of the Ellington repertoire -- but not without some initial reservations from Bellson.
In a 2006 interview he said he had written "The Hawk Talks" with Harry James in mind.
"Harry was called 'The Hawk,' " Bellson recalled. "But I wrote it when I was with Duke, and it took a lot of coaxing from [trombonist] Juan Tizol to make me bring it to Duke. I told Juan, 'Are you crazy? You want me to bring music in to a place with Duke and Billy Strayhorn? Geniuses like that? No way.' I brought it in anyhow and lo and behold, Duke recorded it right away.
"But it was Duke who taught me how to write. How to be original. How to know what to do with the rhythm section, with the horns."
Ellington returned Bellson's high regard, noting, "Not only is Louie Bellson the world's greatest drummer . . . he's the world's greatest musician!"
Other artists concurred. Oscar Peterson described Bellson as "the epitome of musical talent. . . . I consider him one of the musical giants of our age."
Bellson was born Luigi Paulino Alfredo Francesco Antonio Balassoni, on July 6, 1924, in Rock Falls, Ill. Drawn to percussion as early as age 3, he was urged by his father, who owned a music store, to study keyboards, harmony and theory.
After serving in the Army for three years, Bellson returned to the Goodman band in 1946 for a year before moving on to play with Dorsey and James. The arrival of bebop, however, shifted the jazz world's orientation toward smaller groups and a different style of rhythm playing. He was an instrumentalist and percussionist, more than simply a drummer, and immediately sought ways to adapt his own technique to the newly emerging styles.
While performing with Ellington from 1951 to 1953, Bellson met and married singer Pearl Bailey. Their interracial marriage, rare for the early '50s, coincided with Bellson's presence as the only white member of the Duke Ellington Orchestra. Pictured is an early photograph of Louie with Pearl Bailey.
He spent the next few decades alternating between leading his own small groups and big bands, serving as Bailey's music director and occasionally returning to work as a stellar sideman. A stint with Basie in 1961 was followed by a return to Ellington, performing the Concert of Sacred Music that Ellington described as "the most important thing I've ever done."
After Bailey's death in 1990, Bellson continued his growing activities as a jazz educator while leading various-sized ensembles, including a pair of on-call big bands available for performances on both coasts.
Bellson wrote more than 1,000 compositions and arrangements, including ballet music, sacred music. In addition to his numerous big band charts and small ensemble pieces. He wrote more than a dozen books and booklets on drums and percussion.
He received a Jazz Masters Award from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1994; a Living Jazz Legends Award from the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in 2007; a Jazz Living Legend Award from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers; and an American Drummers Achievement Award from the Avedis Zildjian Co.
Louie Bellson died Saturday, February 14th - 2009 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles of complications of Parkinson's disease following a broken hip in November. He was 84.
The above information was compiled by Don Heckman and taken from the Los Angeles Times. The pictures of Louie Bellson with Peal Bailey and Louie at the drums also came from The L.A. Times.
| Ian Carr|
Trumpeter, composer, bandleader and author Ian Carr, was a champion of British jazz independence at a time when few believed that a creative offshoot of the music could grow in any soil but America's. He was a freethinker, a self-taught trumpeter who became an accomplished soloist, biographer, campaigner, journalist and dedicated teacher - and one of a handful, alongside Humphrey Lyttelton, John Dankworth, Michael Garrick, Stan Tracey, Courtney Pine and a few others, who changed the course of jazz in the UK.
Carr's sound, on both trumpet and flugelhorn, seemed like a strikingly elegant and unhurried adaptation of the legacies of early Miles Davis and Clifford Brown, but with his own slightly melancholy fire, applied in the late 1960s to the pianist/composer Garrick's subtle and engaging home-grown repertoire.
In perhaps the biggest decision of his career, he founded the pioneering jazz-rock band Nucleus in 1969 (to the consternation of some conservative acoustic jazz fans). Carr (and his co-writer Karl Jenkins, later to become a classical composer) had managed to make their repertoire a balance of shapely, long-lined, and rather English romantic lyricism with the new rock-driven electric sounds beginning to be adopted by Davis.
Carr could not help making jazz news. He took Nucleus to the Montreux jazz festival (where it won the European Broadcasting Union prize) and then to the Newport jazz festival in the US in 1970, where it became one of the few British bands to make a big impact. But he also found time to research and write a book, Music Outside (1973, republished last year) about the playing and the politics of the contemporary British scene. He also played in fusion bands, big bands and occasionally even free-improv groups, though he was never convinced by the latter idiom.
In 1982 Carr wrote the much-acclaimed Miles Davis: A Critical Biography, and became an associate professor at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London. In 1991 he published Keith Jarrett: The Man and his Music, a rich profile of the pianist, and collaborated with Digby Fairweather and Brian Priestley on the reference book Jazz: The Rough Guide. He also ran workshops for the younger generation, including the pianists Julian Joseph and Nikki Yeoh, the vocalist Cleveland Watkiss, and the Mondesir brothers.
Carr was born in Dumfries, Scotland, and grew up in the north-east of England. Although first inspired by Louis Armstrong, Harry James and Lyttelton, through his years studying English at Newcastle University and subsequent military service with the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers, his interest in the trumpet remained peripheral.
After two years of European travels, he returned to Tyneside in 1960 to find his younger brother, Mike, an organist, running a local hard-bop band, the EmCee Five, with John McLaughlin as the occasional guitarist and a superb saxophonist, Gary Cox. Carr then studied the trumpet devotedly for a year while he made a living as a teacher. By late 1961 he was recording with the EmCee Five for Columbia, and though shortlived, the group came to acquire cult status among the cognoscenti.
Arriving in London in 1962, he worked with the saxophonist Don Rendell. The Rendell-Carr Quintet, which played from 1963 to 1969, consistently figured in Melody Maker's jazz polls, both for the quality of its improvisation and the distinctiveness of its unflinching, standards-averse repertoire, particularly after Garrick joined in 1965.
But by the end of the decade, he was growing restless and became increasingly attracted to electric jazz-rock possibilities. A personal catastrophe lent momentum to his desire for a new start. In 1967 his wife, Margaret, died in childbirth. Only his responsibilities to his baby daughter, Selina, and his work helped him recover from the shock, though depression stalked him in those years.
Carr was a consultant for television films about Davis and Jarrett, and fronted a six-part Radio 3 Jazz File on Davis's life in 2006. The same year, the writer and broadcaster Alyn Shipton published a biography of Carr, Out of the Long Dark. A succession of mini-strokes prevented him from playing in Nucleus reunions, but he received citations from both the BBC jazz awards and the Parliamentary jazz awards in 2006. However, Alzheimer's disease had by then turned him into a spectator at other people's celebrations of his achievements.
He divorced his second wife, Sandy Major, in the late 1980s and is survived by Selina.
Ian Henry Randall Carr, jazz trumpeter, composer, writer and broadcaster, born 21 April 1933; died 25 February 2009
The above has been taken from London’s “Gaurdian” and was compiled by John Fordham.
| Victor Lewis|
Frequently described as the British Stan Kenton, Vic Lewis formed a close friendship with the American bandleader he so admired and played a large part in keeping his music alive after Kenton’s death in 1979. Between them the two bandleaders helped to bring about a change of heart in the Musicians Union on both sides of the Atlantic, resulting in the first exchange of bands between Britain and America.
Originally planned to be between Stan Kenton and Vic Lewis, it was decided Ted Heath would mean more to American audiences and in 1956 Heath played at Carnegie Hall, New York, while Kenton played at the Royal Albert Hall, London.
Victor Joseph Lewis was born in London in 1919 and learnt to play guitar, cornet and eventually trombone, becoming a force to be reckoned with on the British music scene after the Second World War. No other British bandleader changed style quite as often, ranging from Dixieland to big-band jazz.
His first six-piece band, in the mid-1930s, included three blind musicians, one of whom was George Shearing. In 1938 Lewis went to New York, where he recorded with Bobby Hackett, Eddie Condon and other American jazzmen.
The Vic Lewis Band went on to record Stan Kenton arrangements. Not everyone took to the new music, including the BBC, which after the first broadcast threatened that it could be the last. In spite of the opposition, the band played to full houses.
Another change for the band came in 1950 with a 20-piece line-up, attracting huge crowds to the Hammersmith Palais on Monday nights where no one danced, just listened. But other ballroom managers were not interested, and within six months Lewis dropped the curtain on “Music for Moderns”, going back to playing variety theatres, often with visiting Americans such as Frankie Laine, Johnny Ray and Nat “King” Cole.
Touring US bases in Europe, Lewis was backstage for a Stan Kenton concert in Paris when the trombonist Bob Fitzpatrick was taken ill. Persuaded by Kenton to borrow a trombone, he found himself alongside Carl Fontana in the section about to play Concerto to End All Concertos. “I looked at the part and thought, ‘Oh my God’ and the fellas said to me, ‘What you don’t know don’t play’!”
By the 1960s Lewis had become involved in management, working closely with Brian Epstein on the Beatles tour of Japan in 1966.
He was fanatical about cricket, forming the Vic Lewis Cricket Club in 1957 which, until it was disbanded in 1984, raised more than £3 million for charity. Players included such luminaries as Sir Garfield Sobers, Sir Viv Richards, Ken Barrington and Freddie Truman playing alongside many showbusiness stars.
A member of the Lord’s Taverners, Lewis had a collection of 5,000 cricket club ties. He was appointed MBE in 2007. His wife, Jill, predeceased him, and he is survived by a daughter.
Vic Lewis, MBE, bandleader, was born on July 29, 1919. He died on February 9, 2009, aged 89
The above information and photograph of Vic Lewis came from the London Times.
| Bud Shank|
Bud Shank, the alto saxophonist was a key figure in the West Coast jazz scene of the 1950s..
A versatile musician with an adventurous nature, Shank also played flute and -- during a productive period of studio work -- had pivotal solos on the popular 1960s pop tunes "California Dreamin' " by the Mamas and the Papas and "Windy" by the Association. He had an early interest in music without borders, playing and recording with Brazilian guitarist Laurindo Almeida several years before the Bossa Nova craze. In 1962, he recorded an album with Indian sitarist Ravi Shankar.
Born Clifford Everett Shank Jr. in Dayton, Ohio, on May 27, 1926, Shank was raised on a farm. He started playing clarinet at 10 and tenor saxophone at 12. He was a music major at the University of North Carolina but quit school to go on the road with a band that broke up after just a few weeks.
He decided to try his luck in Los Angeles instead of returning to the classroom. While rooming with a couple of other young musicians, he added flute to his repertoire, picking up lessons from a roommate who was learning from a professional instructor.
Shank was in bands led by Charlie Barnet and Alvino Rey before joining Kenton's new Innovations in Modern Music Orchestra in the early 1950s. Kenton's group featured a who's who of West Coast jazz talent, including Art Pepper, Shelly Manne, Bob Cooper, Shorty Rogers and Almeida.
Despite the talent, however, the end result was far less than it could have been. Author Ted Gioia wrote in "West Coast Jazz: Modern Jazz in California, 1945-1960" that the band "often sagged under the weight of Kenton's Wagnerian ambitions."
Shank also expressed mixed feelings about the group.
Shank joined the Lighthouse All-Stars in Calfornia, in August 1953 and stayed with them until early January 1956.
According to jazz writer Doug Ramsey, who wrote an essay that became the booklet for the Mosaic label boxed set "The Pacific Jazz Bud Shank Studio Sessions," Shank's major contribution to the All-Stars was as a "first-rank alto player."
"But he also played flute to Bob Cooper's oboe," Ramsey said. "He and Cooper did an album playing flute and oboe, and from that point on the flute became a substantial part of his arsenal."
Shank led his own quartet from 1956 until 1963 and recorded a number of albums for the World Pacific and Pacific Jazz labels from the mid-1950s to the late '60s. He spent much of the '60s working as a studio musician for a diverse array of recordings and film scores, including the original version of "The Thomas Crown Affair," "The Sandpiper" and "The Summer of '42." He also scored the Bruce Brown surfing movies "Slippery When Wet" and "Barefoot Adventure."
In the 1970s, he, bassist Ray Brown, Almeida and a revolving cast of drummers played in the L.A. Four, which fused "cool-toned bop, Brazilian-oriented music and ballads," jazz writer Scott Yanow wrote in the "All Music Guide to Jazz." Some critics didn't know what to think of the sound and dismissed it as bland. The group recorded eight albums for Concord Records before disbanding in the early 1980s.
For much of his career, Shank believed that the musical accomplishments of the West Coast jazz era -- his own and his colleagues' -- were underappreciated. His playing over the last 30 years took on a harder-edged, more powerful sound more reminiscent of Phil Woods than Lee Konitz. He also dropped the flute and concentrated primarily on the alto sax.
His last gig in the Los Angeles area was at the Jazz Bakery in January, 2009.
Bud Shank died Thursday, April 2nd - 2009 at his home in Tucson of pulmonary failure, friends said. He was 82.
The above is from the L.A.Times and compiled by Jon Thurber - email@example.com
| Buddy Montgomery|
Charles "Buddy" Montgomery, the pianist and vibraphonist was one of the jazz-playing Montgomery brothers that included the legendary guitarist Wes Montgomery.
.Buddy was the youngest of the three brothers who made their names in music. In addition to Wes and Buddy, Monk Montgomery was one of the first significant electric bassists in jazz. Buddy, Wes and Monk played together in the Montgomery-Johnson Quintet and as part of the Montgomery Brothers. Buddy and Monk were also in a group called the “Mastersounds”
Montgomery was born in Indianapolis on Jan. 30, 1930. His musical family also included a brother, Thomas, who played the drums but died of pneumonia at 19, and a sister, Ervena, who played piano.
Buddy started out on piano and by 18 was touring with blues singer Big Joe Turner. He later played with trombonist and arranger Slide Hampton.
After a stint in the Army during the Korean War, Buddy led the Montgomery-Johnson Quintet from 1955 to 1957 with his brothers Wes on guitar and Monk on bass. Alonzo "Pookie" Johnson played alto saxophone and Sonny Johnson was on drums.
By 1956, Buddy had switched to the vibraphone, an instrument he became interested in as a teenager after seeing Lionel Hampton. In 1957, Buddy and Monk formed the Mastersounds, with Benny Barth on drums and Richie Crabtree on piano. Richard Bock, the owner of Pacific Jazz Records, released several albums of their work, and the group found steady gigs in San Francisco. On Buddy's suggestion, one of their albums, "The King and I: A Modern Jazz Interpretation by the Mastersounds," featured music from the hit Broadway show. Two of their other albums were thematic excursions through Broadway productions, "Kismet: An Interpretation by the Mastersounds" and "Flower Drum Song: A Modern Jazz Interpretation by the Mastersounds."
In 1959, the group recorded its only live album at what was then Pasadena Junior College before disbanding late in the year.
Through much of the '60s, the three Montgomery brothers played together and recorded albums including "Groove Brothers" and "Groove Yard" as the Montgomery Brothers.
After Wes Montgomery's death from a heart attack in 1968, Buddy moved to Milwaukee and worked the hotel circuit there for much of the next decade. In the early 1980s, he lived in the Bay Area recording for Landmark and Riverside. Monk died in 1982.
Montgomery was active in jazz education, organizing the Milwaukee Jazz Alliance and later the Oakland Jazz Alliance, which brought jazz into the public schools in each city.
Montgomery died May 14 of heart failure at his home in Palmdale, according to his family
Montgomery's survivors include his wife, Ann; a son, David; a daughter, Charla; and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He is also survived by his
The above is by Jon Thurber of the Los Angeles Times - the photograph of Buddy Montgomery is also from the L.A. Times.
| Jack Nimitz|
Jack Nimitz was a jazz baritone saxophonist who played in the Woody Herman and Stan Kenton big bands and in the group "Supersax."
Born in Washington, D.C., in 1930 Nimitz began playing clarinet at an early age and alto saxophone at 14. He was still a teenager when he began playing professional gigs at Howard Theatre in Washington.
He soon fell in love with the baritone saxophone. "It sounded so warm and nice and dark and rich," he told The Times some years ago. "The bottom notes are the best notes in the whole orchestra, because if you don't have a good bottom, nothing really works."
He bought his first baritone saxophone at the age of 20 and three years later was playing baritone in Herman's band. Through the 1950s, he played with Herman, Kenton and, later, Herbie Mann.
On the advice of colleagues in Kenton's band, he came to Los Angeles in the early 1960s and established himself as a first-rank studio musician for scores of film soundtracks and recording sessions. He worked frequently for songwriter Johnny Mandel. He also played with such jazz luminaries as Benny Carter, Gerald Wilson and the Lighthouse All-Stars.
In the early 1970s, he added his baritone to the Charlie Parker tribute band "Supersax."
His first album as a leader was the 1995 session on Fresh Sound records called "Confirmation," which focused heavily on bebop tunes.
"Bebop is the most sophisticated form of jazz," he told The Times. "It's very challenging but also rewarding because it feels so good when it happens."
A memorial service will be held Saturday at 3 p.m. at Chapel of the Hills, Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills.
Jack Nimitz died Wednesday, June 10-2009 of complications from emphysema at his home in Studio City. He was 79.
The above information and photograph were taken from the L.A.Times on-line obituary page.
| Chris Connor|
Chris Connor, was the smoky-voiced jazz vocalist who gained renown for her recording of "All About Ronnie" and other singles with the Stan Kenton Orchestra before going solo in 1953 and having success with songs such as "Trust in Me" and "About the Blues,"
In a more than 50-year singing career that began in the late 1940s with the Claude Thornhill Orchestra, Connor recorded with bandleader Herbie Fields and sang with Jerry Wald's big band before joining Kenton in early 1953.
Known for what has been described as her "warm, cello-like tones" and using little or no vibrato, she achieved her greatest acclaim beginning in the mid-1950s singing with small groups made up of established jazz musicians.
"She, along with Carmen McRae, really pioneered jazz trio singing where they'd stand in front of a mike and, supported by piano, bass and drums, created enormous intimacy," said jazz historian and journalist Marc Myers.
Connor's first album, recorded in 1954, was "Chris Connor Sings Lullabys of Birdland," with the Ellis Larkins Trio.
"What you begin to hear with Chris are breathy vocals and a slick-chick delivery that was both sexy and savvy," he said. "You never got the feeling with Chris that she was a helpless female, but you never got the feeling that she was bossy, either. And, as a result, almost everyone who heard her fell in love with her."
The interesting thing about Connor, said jazz critic Don Heckman, was that "she came along at a time when there was a concept of coolness coming into jazz -- the Miles Davis 'Birth of the Cool' recordings and the general sense of coolness that was associated with West Coast jazz, which was becoming very popular.
"The clear sound of her vibrato-less vocals and her cool onstage manner always reminded me of the detachment of the [Alfred] Hitchcock heroines of the time."
Connor was born Mary Loutsenhizer in Kansas City, Mo., on Nov. 8, 1927. Although she studied clarinet for eight years, she later said that she always wanted to be a singer.
"I never took lessons," she told the Buffalo News in 1996. "I like a natural singer better."
While working as a secretary after graduating from high school, she spent weekends singing with a Kenton-influenced college jazz band at the University of Missouri.
In 1949, after moving to New York City, she joined the Claude Thornhill Orchestra as a member of the four Snowflakes, Thornhill's singing group.
Connor was singing with Jerry Wald's band when former Kenton vocalist June Christy heard her on a radio broadcast from a New Orleans hotel and recommended her to Kenton.
As a singer, Connor was often compared to Christy and Anita O'Day, who preceded them in the Kenton band. But, Myers said, "she didn't set out to be like them. It so happened her voice had similar characteristics."
In a 1986 interview with the San Diego Union-Tribune, Connor acknowledged that she "went to school" on O'Day but also studied the style of Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and Christy.
"I may have spent more time studying Anita and June because I made up my mind early on I wanted to sing with the Kenton band," she said.
Connor's recording of the ballad "All About Ronnie" and other recordings with Kenton brought her national acclaim. But tired of the grind of performing on the road, she left Kenton in mid-1953 and soon launched her solo career.
After a year and a half with Bethlehem Records, Connor signed with Atlantic Records, where she recorded from 1956 to 1962.
Although her career took a downturn after leaving Atlantic, she continued recording for other labels until 2003. Her last appearance was at the Iridium Jazz Club in New York City in 2004.
Connor died of cancer on Saturday, August 30-2009 at Community Medical Center in Toms River, N.J. U.S.A. She was 80 years of age.
The above was compiled by Dennis McLellan of the Los Angels Times and came from the L.A. Times on-line obituary page. The photograph of Chris Connor is also from the same website page.
| Ed Thigpen|
Jazz drummer Ed Thigpen was often described as "Mr. Taste" for his sensitive accompaniment of instrumentalists and singers such as Ella Fitzgerald, Oscar Peterson, Bud Powell and Billy Taylor and many others.
In addition to the "Mr. Taste" label, Thigpen also was identified as a musician's drummer, a player who set a standard for blending subtle, propulsive swing with an adaptability that allowed him to function in a wide range of musical settings.
"Even though he seldom ever wanted to show all of the skills that he had -- which was a matter of his good taste and selectivity," said drummer and friend Ed Shaughnessy, "he had a great deal of ability on the drum set. He wasn't a dogmatic player. He could be as perfect as he was with Oscar Peterson, and then he could be completely different in another context."
Universally admired for the subtle range of timbres he extracted from his drum kit, Thigpen was adept with the use of brushes -- a technique that he believed had been largely abandoned by a younger generation of drummers.
"Since the emergence of rock, which for the most part has always required heavy drumming," he told Leonard Feather in The Times in 1986, "the brushes were set aside, or, for most of the young players who began during this period, have never been used at all. My father and many others -- Jo Jones, Art Blakey, Buddy Rich, Max Roach, Shelly Manne, Elvin Jones -- all had a great influence on my use of the brushes, which I still believe must remain an important part of any drummer's performance."
Born in Chicago on Dec. 28, 1930, Edmund Leonard Thigpen moved to St. Louis with his parents, Ben and Mary, while still an infant. When his parents separated, he was taken to Los Angeles by his mother, who died when he was a teenager.
After attending Jefferson High School -- an educational launching pad for such other well-known jazz artists as drummer Chico Hamilton, trumpeter Art Farmer and saxophonist Dexter Gordon -- he attended Los Angeles City College, then moved back to St. Louis with his father, a drummer with the Andy Kirk Orchestra. Working with Peanuts Whalum's Orchestra, he occasionally jammed with Miles Davis, a St. Louis native.
In 1951, Thigpen made the move to New York City that was vital for any ambitious young jazz player of the period. After performing with Cootie Williams' band, he was drafted into the Army, serving during the Korean War from 1951 to 1953. Returning to New York, he soon established himself as one of the up-and-coming jazz drummers. His ability to play a creative supportive role made him the drummer of choice in a wide range of musical settings.
In the mid-'50s, his performances and recordings reached from singer Dinah Washington, saxophonists Johnny Hodges and Paul Quinichette to such cutting-edge artists as Lennie Tristano and Gil Melle. From 1959 to 1966, he joined with bassist Ray Brown as the rhythm team for Oscar Peterson, forming one of the classic jazz trios, recording dozens of albums with the high-powered pianist.
"When you're in a band like Oscar Peterson's," said drummer Bobby Colomby, "it's as much supporting as it is getting out of the way, which, for a drummer, is quite a talent. And Thigpen added something that was perfect for the context of that situation, and for whatever music he was playing."
After his relocation to Copenhagen in 1972, Thigpen became the drummer of choice for touring American jazz artists while balancing his performance schedule with an active career as an educator and clinician. Teaching in the conservatories of Copenhagen and other European cities, he sometimes included seminars at U.S. universities during his occasional American tours. Articulate, and soft-spoken, he was an imaginative teacher whose insights enlightened his student musicians with a mixture of practical advice and metaphoric insights.
"The role of a drummer," he told Mike Zwerin in the International Herald Tribune in 2000, "is like that of a chariot driver who 'has to hold all those horses in rein. Your ears have to be open to everybody.' "
He supported his quest for a revival of brush technique with the instruction book, "The Sound of Brushes." He also wrote extensively about other aspects of jazz drumming in the books "Talking Drums," "Rhythm Analysis and Basic Coordination" and "Rhythm Brought to Life."
Thigpen recorded dozens of performances with other artists. His own albums include "Out of the Storm," "The Element of Swing," "It's Entertainment" and "Mr. Taste."
Thigpen passed away on Wednesday ,13, 2010 at Hvidovre Hospital in Copenhagen, Denmark at the age of 79.
Ed Thigpen, who suffered from Parkinson's disease, was hospitalized before Christmas 2009 with heart and lung problems. His son, Michel, noted on Thigpen’s website that his father "passed away very peacefully . . . in the company of his friends and family."
In addition to his son, he is survived by a daughter, Denise; and a granddaughter, Nikita.
The above information compiled by Don Heckman was taken from the Los Angeles Times. Don Heckman is a freelance jazz writer.
The above photograph of Ed Thigpen by Mel Melcon also came for the L.A.Times
| Sir John Dankworth|
Sir John Dankworth, the British jazz composer, saxophonist and bandleader was the husband of jazz singer Dame Cleo Laine.
John Phillip William Dankworth was born Sept. 20, 1927, in London. He studied at the Royal Academy of Music from 1944 to 1946.
According to "The Biographical Encyclopedia of Jazz" by Leonard Feather and Ira Gitler, Dankworth from 1947 to 1948 played with ships' bands making transatlantic crossings and visited clubs to "reinforce his interest in modern jazz and Charlie Parker's strong influence."
Dankworth explained on the CBS show "Sunday Morning" in 1990 how those trips influenced jazz in postwar England.
"We used to go back and remember all the licks we could and take them back," he said. "Very lucky to be there at the right place and the right time."
He led the John Dankworth Seven from 1950 to 1953, then formed a big band that played regularly, including at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1959. According to "The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz," his large jazz orchestra featured a three-piece saxophone section and Laine as the featured singer.
Dankworth, who worked with such jazz greats as Nat "King" Cole and Ella Fitzgerald, became musical director for Cleo Laine in 1971 and scaled down the band's size. During the 1980s, he toured with his own quintet. In the early 1990s, he and his son, Alec, formed the Dankworth Generation Band.
Dankworth, who also played the clarinet, might be best known for his appearances touring with Laine, but he also was a composer and conductor.
The films he scored include "Modesty Blaise," and he wrote the theme of the television show "The Avengers.”
In 1969, Dankworth and Laine founded the Wavendon Allmusic Plan, a musical education charity, and established a theater in the old stable block on their property about 50 miles north of London.
Laine was made a dame in 1997, and Dankworth was knighted in 2006 by Queen Elizabeth II for service to music.
Along with Laine, whom he married in 1958, and their son, his survivors include their daughter, Jacqui.
Alec and Jacqui both performed during the anniversary concert.
Laine announced Dankworth's death before the finale of an anniversary concert at the Stables, the theater they founded together.
Monica Ferguson, the theater's chief executive, said that Laine had told the artists before the concert, " 'I'll go on and I'll have a lump in my throat, and I might crack.' But she didn't crack."
Sir John Dankworth died Saturday, February 6- 2010 at a London hospital after a long illness. He was 82.
The above information was taken from the Los Angeles Times on-line obituary page. The photo of Sir John Dankworth is by the Associated Press. firstname.lastname@example.org
| Jake Hanna|
Drummer Jake Hanna, known for his unerring sense of time, was at home playing with big bands and small groups. He performed with Woody Herman, Maynard Ferguson, Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Marian Mc Partland among others.
Jake Hanna, a versatile drummer who was a longtime member of the band on Merv Griffin's television show
In 1957 he performed with Woody Herman in 1957 and the early 1960s, then joined Merve Griffin's band, in which he played until 1975. Hanna moved to the West Coast when the show relocated from New York to Los Angeles.
Jake Hanna was "highly regarded for his unerring sense of time, his ability to control a band at any tempo and his refined musical taste."
He also led a group with trombonist Carl Fontana and worked regularly with the group Supersax.
John Edwin Hanna was born April 4, 1931, in Dorchester, Mass.
He started playing drums as a teenager. "My father played all the early records. Benny Goodman, when Gene [Krupa] was with the band. It was easy for me," he told the Sacramento Bee in 2002.
Hanna served in the Air Force from 1951 to 1953.
In 1977, he met his future wife while he was playing in a quartet accompanying Bing Crosby.
Jake Hanna passed away on Friday February 12-2010 at Kaiser Permanente West Los Angeles Medical Center of complications from a bone marrow disease, said his wife, Denisa.
Besides his wife, whom he married in 1984, Hanna is survived by his sisters, Mary Howard and Eleanor Judge.
Copyright © 2010, The Los Angeles Times
The photograph of Jake Hanna came from www.drummerworld.com
| Herb Ellis|
Herb Ellis was born in McKinley, Texas on August 4th – 1921.
During the 1950s Herb was a member of the Oscar Peterson trio, which served as the house recording band for Verve Records. He accompanied the who's-who of jazz greats, including Louis Armstrong, Roy Eldridge, Harry "Sweets" Edison and Ben Webster.
It has been said that in Herb Ellis, virtuoso jazz pianist Peterson found his truest musical peer.
In his youth, Herb Ellis played with big bands including the Caso Loma Orchestra and the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra.
After a five-year stint with Oscar Peterson's trio in the 1950s, Herb toured with Ella Fitzgerald and then settled in southern California, where he worked in movie and television studios before launching his own small jazz groups.
One of his most memorable ventures was creating the Great Guitars with fellow jazz guitarists Barney Kessel and Charlie Byrd. At every show, these three peers challenged each other's dexterity in musical conversation.
Perhaps the greatest tribute to Ellis are these words from guitarist Les Paul, who said - "If you're not swinging, he's gonna make you swing. Of the whole bunch of guys who . play hollow-body guitar... I think Herb Ellis has got the most drive."
Herb had been suffering from Alzheimer’s disease – He passed away at his home in Los Angeles on Sunday, March 28 into his 89th year.
The above by Terence McArdie was taken from the Washington Post website.
Pictured is the photograph on th album cover "Oscar Peterson Hello Herbie"
MPS 821 846-2 CD Recorded Villingen, Germany `Nov. 5th and 6th 1969.
From left, Bobby Durham, drums; Herb Ellis, guitar; Oscar Peterson, piano; Sam Jones, bass. The photograph was taken by Atelier F. Hugel.
| John Bunch|
Jazz pianist John Bunch speculated that one reason why Benny Goodman liked his playing was because he "knew what to leave out."
"I suppose if he'd heard me say it, he'd probably deny it, but I think it was true," Mr. Bunch said.
John Bunch whose spare, elegant style kept him busy throughout a career that spanned more than 70 years. Mr. Bunch was still performing in Manhattan clubs a month before his death.
In a 2009 interview, Mr. Bunch listed his piano influences, and they included Bud Powell, Hank Jones and even Thomas "Fats" Waller. But he said "his greatest inspiration" was Teddy Wilson, another Goodman sideman.
In addition to playing with Goodman, Mr. Bunch was singer Tony Bennett's musical director for six years.
They met in Los Angeles in 1966 when Mr. Bunch was playing with Buddy Rich's band. Rich asked Bennett to come onstage and sing, and Mr. Bunch accompanied him on the piano.
A few weeks later, Mr. Bunch got a call from Bennett's manager asking him to join him.
"I guess Tony must have liked something he heard," Mr. Bunch said.
John Bunch was born in Tipton, Ind., a small farming community north of Indianapolis.
His family knew the 8-year-old boy had a gift when he sat at a piano and repeated the melody crackling over the radio. His first teacher was the local barber.
"His advertising went, 'Learn how to play the piano in 10 easy lessons,' and that's what I did," Mr. Bunch said.
It wasn't long before he was making good money ("two, three dollars a week," he said) performing with "grown-ups" at a black night club in nearby Anderson.
Mr. Bunch was well into his career as a musician when World War II started. He ended up serving as a bombardier. He was shot down, taken prisoner and held at Stalag Luft III, famous for "The Great Escape," which had taken place earlier.
After the war, he attended Indiana University to pursue a speech communications degree. But he kept his hand in music, playing in a dance band headed by Med Flory, who later formed Grammy-award-winning Supersax.
After graduating, Mr. Bunch moved to Indianapolis, where he jammed with Leroy Vinnegar, Benny Barth, Lee Katzman and the gifted African-American guitarist Wes Montgomery.
Despite the segregation still in force throughout the country in the mid '50s, Mr. Bunch said, black and white jazz musicians felt comfortable performing together in Indianapolis.
"Back when it was dangerous for a mixed band to go down south, they were good friends up north," he said.
"Jazz musicians were way ahead of the game as far as that goes."
In 1956, he headed to Los Angeles and started playing with Woody Herman, Maynard Ferguson, Georgie Auld and Rich, Bennett's friend.
In 1962, Mr. Bunch was part of the Goodman band that made the State Department-sponsored tour of the Soviet Union.
"I think maybe one thing he liked about me other than my piano playing was I wasn't afraid of him," Mr. Bunch said. "I'd heard all the other stories way before I went with him, so nothing shocked me. I wouldn't let him shock me."
John Bunch died of cancer of cancer in New York City on Tuesday in New York. He was 88.
The above information was taken from the Chicago Sun -Times on-line publication on April 4 -2010.
The writer was Bonnie Layton
The photograph of John Bunch is by Alan Nahigian and was taken from the on-line service of the New York Times.
| Gene Lees|
Gene Lees, a jazz historian and critic was known for his pugnacious, highly personal essays and biographies of such jazz greats as Oscar Peterson, Woody Herman and Johnny Merce.r,
Lees had struggled for many years with heart disease, said family friend Leslie A. Westbrook.
A Canadian by birth who moved to Ojai more than 30 years ago, Lees was also a lyricist and composer who wrote the words for a number of classics, including the English lyrics for Brazilian composer Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars." As a collaborator, Lees also wrote "Waltz for Debby" with pianist Bill Evans and "The Right to Love" with composer Lalo Schifrin.
Lees also had the distinction of collaborating with a pope: He translated poems written by Pope John Paul II when the latter was a Polish priest named Karol Wojtyla. The result was a cycle of songs recorded in 1985 called "One World, One Peace." Sarah Vaughan was the vocalist.
A former editor of Downbeat, the influential jazz magazine, Lees was most prolific as a critic and historian, writing essays on jazz and other topics for the Gene Lees Jazzletter, a private monthly newsletter he founded in 1981 that had more than 1,000 subscribers, including many musicians.
Former New Yorker editor Robert Gottlieb, who excerpted two Lees pieces in his 1996 anthology "Reading Jazz," described Lees as "a strong presence in jazz" who was "equally fierce as advocate and enemy —outspoken, passionate, even polemical."
Gottlieb said Lees was "at his formidable best" in the appreciations he wrote on musicians he knew intimately, such as Evans, the influential pianist whose heroin habit contributed to an early death in 1980 at 51. Lees, as critic Nat Hentoff once wrote, was "one of the relatively few chroniclers left who has known the musicians he writes about long and well."
Among Lees' 18 books are "The Modern Rhyming Dictionary: How to Write Lyrics" (1981), "Oscar Peterson: The Will to Swing" ( 1988), "Waiting for Dizzy" (1991), "Cats of Any Color: Jazz Black and White" (1994), "Leader of the Band: The Life of Woody Herman" (1995) and "You Can't Steal a Gift: Dizzy, Clark, Milt and Nat" (2001). He recently completed a biography of band leader Artie Shaw.
Eugene Frederick John "Gene" Lees was born Feb. 8, 1928, in Hamilton, Canada. He attended Ontario College of Art in Toronto and from 1948 to 1955 worked as a journalist at several Canadian newspapers.
In 1955 he moved to Kentucky, and for the next three years he was a critic and editor for the Louisville Times.
In 1959 he became editor of Downbeat but stayed for less than two years. He gave a number of explanations for leaving in 1961, including his refusal to stop putting black musicians on the cover.
After leaving Downbeat he joined a State Department tour of South America with the Paul Winter Sextet. In Brazil he met Jobim. "I told Jobim that his songs could be done in English and I showed him what could be done. . . . I wrote ‘Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars' on a bus going to Belo Horizonte and mailed it back to him in Rio. It was my first professional lyric," he told Harrigan Logan for an article published in 2006 on the website of the Robert Farnon Society.
After "Quiet Nights" became a hit in the United States, Lees had more collaborations with Jobim and other bossa nova artists. Lees "helped take bossa nova into a broader American market by writing English lyrics," said jazz critic Don Heckman.
Lees' love of jazz began when he was 12. While riding his bike near Niagara Falls, he noticed a crowd of people outside a ballroom and sneaked through a side door, where he glimpsed "this amazing scene of these gleaming instruments and these dapper, self-contained men." Those men were members of the Duke Ellington band. "They started out with ‘Take the A Train' and wham! It took my breath away," he recalled in a 1993 Newsday interview. "I got hopelessly strung out on that music from then on."
A couple of decades later, as Downbeat editor, he began to meet the jazz greats whose music he loved and eventually shared a stage with some of them, including Dizzy Gillespie. In his piece "Waiting for Dizzy," he wrote: "There is a gesture he has, a notion that always reminds me of a great batter leaning into a hit. He has a way of throwing one foot forward putting his head down a bit as he silently runs the valves, and then the cheeks bloom out in the way that has mystified his dentist for years, and he hits into the solo. When that foot goes forward like that, you know that John Birks Gillespie is no longer clowning. Stand back."
Lee's wife of 39 years, Janet Suttle Lees, plans to continue publishing the Jazzletter. He is also survived by a son from a previous marriage, Phillippe; a
Gene Less died in his home on Thursday, June 22-2010. He was 82.
The above was compiled by Elaine Woo of the L.A. Times.
The photograph of Mr. Less was also from the L.A. Times
Copyright © 2010, The Los Angeles Times
| Oscar Peterson|
Oscar was born in Montreal, Canada on August 15th – 1925.
Oscar Peterson was one of the jazz world’s most influential and awarded pianists.
The piano player was a master of many jazz styles, from stride piano to swing, bebop and the blues.
During the 1940s he was very popular on Canadian radio and also played in various clubs in the Montreal area.
Oscar’s early trios included the iconic bassist Ray Brown and guitarist Herb Ellis.
He performed with some of jazz’s most iconic figures, including Charlie Parker, Stan Getz, Milt Jackson, Dizzy Gillespie, Count Basie , Duke Ellington, Sonny Stitt, Ella Fitzgerald, Lester Young, Buddy Rich and Harry Edison to name just a handful.
What made Peterson so unique as a piano player was his command of the instrument, his technical virtuosity, very imaginative improvisation and his sense of swing.
Oscar’s six decade career saw him win numerous international awards, among the most significant included eight Grammys, and in 1997 he was honored with a Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Award.
Canada, his country of birth where he lived most of his life made him a Champion of the Order Of Canada, which is the nation’s highest award given to a civilian. Peterson was also the first living Canadian to be depicted on a postage stamp.
Oscar Peterson passed away on December 23rd – 2007 at the age of 82.
Part of the above material on Oscar Peterson was taken from The Los Angeles Times obituary section published on December 25 – 2007.
The picture of Oscar Peterson (above) is from ”The Encyclopedia of Jazz in the Sixties” by Leonard Feather and published by Bonanza Books. (Photograph – Limelight Records)