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Susan Richardson-Sanabria

musician, composer, educator, priest, and artist, was born James Hawthorne in Yamassee, South Carolina, to Mary Hugee and Roland Hawthorne. When he was still a boy he and his family moved to New Jersey, then to New York City—first to Brooklyn and later to Harlem. In Brooklyn James and his parents lived with his grandparents, and his grandfather encouraged him to join the church choir.

His musical talents became more evident after his move to Harlem, when he began to study dance and percussion with Isame Andrews, a specialist in African music and dance and a student of Asadata Dafora. Attracting notice with his vocal skills, Hawthorne was admitted to both the Eva Jessye and the Francis Hall Johnson choirs In the mid to late 1930s he studied African drum making and performance especially the ashiko drum with Moses Miannes Mianns a Nigerian who had come to ...

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Suzanne Cloud

jazz trumpeter, composer, arranger, and educator, was born Cecil Vernon Bridgewater in Urbana, Illinois, into a family of musicians. His mother, Erma Pauline Scott Bridgewater, was the daughter of Ramon Mack Scott, who sang, played saxophone, piano, and drums, and led a band called Mack Scott and the Foot Warmers, in which Erma played piano for a time. Bridgewater's father, Cecil Bernard Bridgewater, played trumpet in the U.S. Navy band during World War II, and he was stationed at Great Lakes Naval Base with other African American musicians such as Clark Terry, Marshall Royal, Jerome Richardson, and others. Bridgewater's grandfather, Preston Bridgewater, played trumpet and cornet professionally with the circus.

When Cecil Bridgewater was a student at Marquette Grade School in Champaign Illinois the school s band director noticed his potential and encouraged his parents to find a private trumpet teacher for ...

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Shennette Garrett-Scott

Revolutionary War soldier and fifer, was born in Africa and brought to work in the British colonies as a slave. Some sources assert that he was a free man when he enlisted in the Continental Army, but it is more likely that he secured his freedom in exchange for enlistment. His name does not appear on the list of enslaved recruits to the First Rhode Island Regiment compiled by historian Lorenzo Greene in his seminal 1952Journal of Negro History article Some Observations on the Black Regiment of Rhode Island in the American Revolution which may explain why historians and writers consider Cozzens a free person Greene admits that the primary source records are incomplete In addition like other enslaved recruits Cozzens would be emancipated if he passed muster and then served through the end of the war Cozzens may have been enslaved by members of the distinguished ...

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Baptiste Bonnefoy

was born Juan Ramón Gil Ibáñez in 1780 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, to Bermundo Gil, bassist for that city’s Coliseum Theater orchestra, and María Ibáñez. Ramón Gil’s baptismal record describes him as a pardo, a designation commonly applied in the eighteenth-century Viceroyalty of Río de la Plata to free persons of color. By 1804 Gil was hired as a cellist in the Coliseum Theater orchestra, becoming a close friend of its director, the Spanish composer Blas Parera (1776–1840), under whom his father also worked.

In 1793 the cathedral in Santiago, Chile, hired José Campderrós (1742–1812), a Catalonian composer then active in Lima, Peru, to reorganize its chapel music. As part of this project, Campderrós traveled to Buenos Aires in the early 1800s in search of talented musicians. He found and hired Gil as well as the pardo violinist Teodoro Guzmán At the time Santiago ...

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Suzanne Cloud

pianist, arranger, and composer, was born Clifton Edward Green Jr. in Abington, Pennsylvania, the son of Clifton Edward Green Sr., a paper hanger and carpenter, and Carrie Townes, who worked as a domestic. Self taught, Eddie Green began playing piano at five years of age and became active in music in public school. His formal secondary education ended at Abington High School when he was in the tenth grade. At age sixteen he came under the tutelage of the hard bop pianist Richie Powell and his brother, the bebop legend Bud Powell. During this time, Green learned the essentials of jazz by listening to and absorbing the lessons of his mentors. Green also formed a band and regularly played a local African American venue in Willow Grove called the Three C s Like many African American communities that supported young musicians and vocalists the ...

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John Harris-Behling

jazz saxophonist, pianist, and composer, was born in Chicago, Illinois, to Walter Harris and Alice Harris. When his parents moved to the city in 1913, his father, originally from Cuba, worked in the stockyards, while his mother, a native of New Orleans, worked as a laundress. Harris lost his father when he was young and was raised by his mother. He began singing with South Side church choirs when he was five and also began taking piano lessons from his cousin, Bernice Benson.

Like many African American musicians in Chicago, Harris attended DuSable High School. He studied with the band director Walter Dyette, whose students included jazz musicians like Johnny Griffin and Gene Ammons as well as Harris's classmates the bassist Richard Davis and the saxophonist John Gilmore Dyette first taught Harris the marimba and the vibraphone and later the clarinet But ...

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Kofi Natambu

pianist and composer, was born Hampton B. Hawes Jr. in Los Angeles, California, the son of Hampton B. Hawes Sr., a Presbyterian minister. The name of his mother, who played piano in her husband's church, is unknown. When Hampton was eight, he learned how to play piano by watching his sister, who was training to become a concert pianist, and by listening to records by his favorite jazz musicians. His intense study of such prominent jazz pianists as Fats Waller and Earl “Fatha” Hines during the 1930s and early 1940s had a profound influence on him during his youth. He began playing regularly while attending Polytechnic High School. He later recalled going straight from his high school graduation ceremony to a jazz gig with the Cecil James McNeely Big Jay McNeely band Throughout the 1940s Hawes played at a wide range of clubs on black Los Angeles ...

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Zachary J. Lechner

musician, was born Johnnie Clyde Johnson in Fairmont, West Virginia, to Priscilla Banks Johnson and Johnnie “Buddy” Johnson, a coalminer. After Priscilla's death, Buddy's sister Cora and her husband Ernest Williams took in the infant Johnnie. Cora later purchased an upright piano, and a young Johnnie took to the instrument immediately. He quickly learned big band, R&B, and country tunes by listening to late-night radio broadcasts. One of Johnson's favorite artists was Meade “Lux” Lewis. Lewis's boogie-woogie style, in which the left hand plays a heavy, steady rhythm, would influence Johnson's piano technique. Johnson moved to Detroit at seventeen and there found work on a Ford Motor Company assembly line. Johnson served in the Marines in the South Pacific in World War II. He joined the Barracudas, a twenty-two piece orchestra that included servicemen from such bands as Count Basie, Tommy Dorsey, and Glenn Miller ...

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Mark Steven Maulucci

singer, guitarist, and songwriter, was born in Greenwood, Mississippi. His mother died when he was five years old, and he moved to the L. C. Haves plantation in Hollindale, in southern Mississippi, to be reared by his grandmother. He never knew his father. Jones was interested in music and sang in the church choir. He made his living working in the cotton fields and visited the local juke joints to sing and dance with the bands passing through. His accomplished dancing skills would serve him well as he developed his stage act. Jones began working with fellow Greenwood native Willie Warren's band and started playing guitar at Warren's encouragement. He was deeply moved by the slide guitar playing of Robert Nighthawk. Jones met his first wife, Virginia Dumas when he was eighteen years old but the marriage was short lived as he spent time in ...

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T. Dennis Brown

jazz drummer, was born Joseph Rudolph Jones in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Amelia J. Abbott, a piano teacher and church organist. His father, whose name is unknown, died shortly after he was born. During his early childhood Joseph was featured as a tap dancer on a local Philadelphia radio program, The Kiddie Show. Interestingly, several other important jazz drummers, including Jo Jones and Buddy Rich, were also tap dancers. Joseph's sisters studied violin and piano, and his first organized musical experience began in grade school, where he played drums. In 1941 he left high school and enlisted in the U.S. Army, where he served as a military policeman until his release in 1943. His wife's name was Eloise (maiden name and marriage date unknown), and they had one child.

After being discharged from the army Jones played in local Philadelphia bands before moving in ...

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Barry Kernfeld

jazz pianist, was born Kenneth Lyons Kersey in Harrow, Ontario, Canada. His parents' names are unknown, but Kersey's father was a cellist, and as a child Kersey studied with his mother, who taught piano. During further studies at the Detroit Institute of Musical Art, he took up the trumpet.

Kersey went to New York to work as a trumpeter and pianist in 1936, but physical problems made him give up the brass instrument. He replaced the pianist Billy Kyle in Lucky Millinder's big band in February 1938; later that year he was a member of Billy Hicks and His Sizzling Six. By the year's end he had left Hicks for a brief stay with the singer Billie Holiday for the opening of a second Café Society in Greenwich Village. While continuing to work there with the trumpeter Frankie Newton's band in 1939 he made ...

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Paul Devlin

professional musician and soldier in the French and Indian War and War of Independence, was the freeborn progenitor of a large Groton, Massachusetts, family. The family later spent time in Dracut and Pepperell, where they owned land. His father, Primus Lew, was a skilled artisan (a cooper, or barrel maker) and it is unclear if he was ever a slave and later freed, or was himself freeborn. The historian Benjamin Quarles claimed that Barzillai Lew was also a cooper, and it has been claimed that Primus was also a musician. His mother was named Margret; nothing else about her is known. Father and son both served in the French and Indian War, with Barzillai (also known as “Zeal”) serving for thirty-eight weeks in 1760 under the command of Thomas Farrington. In 1768 he married Dinah Bowman whose freedom he bought for $400 They later had at ...

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Barry Kernfeld

jazz alto saxophonist, was born in Jersey City, New Jersey, the son of a shipyard worker. Reference works and the usually reliable Cadence magazine give his birth year as 1933, but the writer Stanley Crouch claims 1931 in his obituary of Lyons in the Village Voice. Lyons's parents, whose names are unknown, separated when he was a child, and from around 1941 he was raised by his grandmother, who owned the Chicken Shack restaurant franchise at the Hotel Woodside in Harlem, where Count Basie and many other jazz musicians often stayed.

From around 1945 or 1946 Lyons was once again living with his mother, an amateur pianist, in the Bronx, where he attended parochial school. His uncle, a drummer, showed him some basic percussion techniques that he practiced by playing along with the tenor saxophonist Lester Young's recordings. He also met the pianists Elmo Hope ...

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Caryn E. Neumann

jazz drummer and bandleader, was born in Cynthia, Kentucky. As a teenager, he began playing drums. McKinney later served in the U.S. Army during World War I and picked up the drumsticks again after being demobilized in 1919. He toured with the Sells-Floto Circus Band, but then settled in Springfield, Ohio, where he found work with O'Neill's Orchestra led by the saxophonist Don O'Neill.

Springfield in the 1920s was a thriving city of fifty thousand people and only a few bands. Sensing a good opportunity, McKinney joined the pianist Todd Rhodes and the saxophonist/clarinetist Milton Senior in forming the Synco Trio in about 1921. Senior served as the musical director, responsible for rehearsals. When another musician joined, it became the Synco Quartet, then the Synco Quintet, and, eventually, the Synco Jazz Band. By 1924 the band was known as both McKinney s Synco and the ...

Article

David Sanjek

pianist and singer, was born in Houston, Texas, one of thirteen children of Amos Milburn Sr., a laborer for a general contractor, and Amelia, a homemaker. Milburn exhibited a precocious musical talent and began to play piano at the age of five. Eager to serve in the military, Milburn lied about his age and entered the U.S. Navy when only fifteen years old. He served in the Pacific Theater and was wounded in engagements at Guadalcanal and the Philippines. In his off-hours, he played at military clubs, and when he returned home to Houston at the age of eighteen, he possessed sufficient skill and organizational wherewithal to form a band.

In 1946, during a performance in San Antonio, Lola Anne Cullum the wife of a Houston dentist approached Milburn and solicited him for her booking and management agency She recorded some work by Milburn and ...

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Jack Sohmer

jazz clarinetist and saxophonist, also known as “Nick,” was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. Although his parents' names and occupations are unknown, it is known that Nicholas was the nephew of the New Orleans clarinetist and trumpeter Wooden Joe Nicholas, from whom he received his first training on the clarinet in 1910. At age thirteen he began studying with the famed soloist and teacher Lorenzo Tio Jr. By age fifteen Albert was playing with the cornetists Manuel Perez, King Oliver, and Buddy Petit, as well as working with Oak Gaspard's Maple Leaf Orchestra. In November 1916 he enlisted in the navy, and while based in Cuba and Gibraltar aboard the convoy ship USS Olympia he played clarinet in the ship's otherwise all-white band.

Shortly after his discharge in December 1919 Nicholas resumed his professional career in New Orleans by joining first Petit and ...

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David E. Spies

composer and musician, was born Herbert Horatio Nichols in New York City, the son of Joel Nichols, a building supervisor, and Ida (maiden name unknown). His parents, originally from Trinidad and St. Kitts, had moved to New York in 1910. Nichols first lived at Sixty-first Street and Eleventh Avenue, in the area known at the time as San Juan Hill. The family moved to Harlem when Nichols was seven. When he was not practicing or winning at chess, checkers, or marbles, the young Nichols spent much time in the public library. From age seven to age fourteen he took lessons in classical piano and general music instruction with Charles L. Beck. An intelligent and motivated youngster, Nichols attended DeWitt Clinton High School and began study at City College of New York at age fifteen.

While still in high school Nichols who was introduced to jazz piano ...

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Dan Shope

drummer, grew up next to the French Quarter in the predominantly African American Treme District in New Orleans. Palmer's mother, Thelma, was a dancer, who at one point became a member of a traveling vaudeville show called Ida Cox's “Darktown Scoundrels.” Palmer never knew his father. As a child, he was told that his father was once a cook on a whaling ship that sailed out of Newfoundland when he was killed in an accident. Palmer grew up learning to tap, while also learning to play the drums. He felt his tap dancing background was advantageous in developing his drumming style.

In 1943 Palmer joined the racially segregated U S Army He attained the rank of staff sergeant in the 642nd Ordnance Ammunition Company but he was later reduced in rank for arming himself and other African American infantrymen with live ammunition Palmer was then shipped ...

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Mark Steven Maulucci

singer, musician, and songwriter, was born Mathis James Reed in Dunleith, Mississippi, the son of Joseph Reed and Virginia Ross Reed in Dunleith, Mississippi. The Reeds were sharecroppers, moving from plantation to plantation, and Jimmy was the youngest of their ten children. Virginia sang in church, and Joseph played harmonica and encouraged his youngest son in music. Jimmy was a childhood friend of Eddie Taylor, who was two and a half years older and tutored Jimmy on guitar after they worked all day in the fields. Taylor was a more advanced player and already steeped in the Delta blues, having followed master bluesmen like Charlie Patton, Son House, Robert Johnson, and Howlin' Wolf around the area. He also knew the young Muddy Waters.

Jimmy Reed worked at sharecropping until he was sixteen years old then he relocated to Chicago to live with ...

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Assumed name of Joseph de Bologne (or Boulogne) (c.1740–1799), international composer and violinist and one of the best fencers in Europe. He was born in Guadeloupe as Joseph, the son of George de Bologne, a wealthy plantation owner. His mother, Nanon, was an African slave. He and his mother were taken to France in 1753. He received a gentleman's education at the fencing school La Boëssière's Royal Academy of Arms. Its focus was on academic study, music, dance, and languages. His fame at fencing was such that he was called le Chevalier de Saint‐Georges.

François‐Joseph Gossec (1734–1829) invited him to be leader of the Concerts des Amateurs orchestra in 1769, and later, its musical director. Between 1772 and 1777 he composed premiered and published violin concertos some of the earliest string quartets in France violin sonatas and symphonies concertantes ...