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Born in the Las Villas province of Cuba, Alfredo “Chocolate” Armenteros became a master of the island's distinctive, horn-led musical musical styles. As a horn-player, composer, and arranger, he contributed to the development of modern Afro-Latin popular music.

Armenteros is a virtuoso player of the trumpet and the flügelhorn. He is also the last surviving master of Cuban septeto music, which is performed by a small ensemble featuring a trumpet backed by stringed instruments and percussion. He has played in many Latin American musical genres, including Afro-Latin Jazz big bands, small-group Cuban Descargas (jam sessions), and Salsa Music. On the 1979 album Knockdown Calypsoes. Armenteros convincingly re-created the sound of the Calypso bands of Trinidad in the 1930s and 1940s. Armenteros's trumpet-playing is instantly recognizable. Rather than seeking harmonic complexity or intricate rapid-fire melodies, typical of jazz trumpet playing since the Bebop era he projects a ...

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Barry Kernfeld

jazz trumpeter and cornetist, was born in Louisville, Kentucky. His widowed mother, whose name is unknown, worked as a maid. Nothing is known of his father. When Mitchell was about twelve years old he became interested in music through a friend, Leonard Fields, who had a cornet (or, by another account, an alto horn). Mitchell began taking lessons from Fields's father, a member of the Louisville Musical Club Brass Band, the leading African American ensemble in the city. A year later his mother bought him a trumpet. By 1912 or 1913 Mitchell was a member of the congregational marching brass band of St. Augustine Church, and soon thereafter he joined the Louisville Music Club Brass Band, playing concert band music and ragtime. He learned to improvise while working with this ensemble and with dance and theater orchestras drawn from within the club's ranks and led by Wilbur Winstead ...

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David E. Spies

jazz musician and composer, was born Henry Mobley in Eastman, Georgia; his parents (names unknown) moved to Elizabeth, New Jersey, in 1932. After his parents separated, Mobley's father moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and young Hank remained with his mother in New Jersey. An uncle, Danny Mobley, a pianist and bandleader, helped to inspire his musical endeavors and provided him with early instruction in jazz. Mobley learned to play alto saxophone on his own at age sixteen; he worked at a bowling alley to earn enough money to buy an instrument. According to the noted jazz critic and historian John Litweiler, it was a shop teacher who encouraged Mobley to abandon machinist training and devote himself to music.

The rhythm and blues bandleader Paul Gayten selected Mobley in 1949 for his orchestra In addition to playing alto tenor and baritone saxophone Mobley also wrote for ...

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Barry Kernfeld

jazz pianist, was born Phineas Newborn Jr. in Whiteville, Tennessee, the son of Phineas Newborn Sr., a drummer, and Rosie Lee Murphy. While Newborn Sr. led a band at the Flamingo Club on Beale Street in Memphis, the six-year-old Phineas began jazz and classical studies with Georgia Woodruff, his first-grade teacher. He later studied arrangement with Onzie Horne and learned to play trumpet, baritone horn, French horn, and tuba in high school. He began his professional career in 1945 as a pianist. Prodigiously gifted, he was inspired by the great jazz pianists of the 1930s, above all the virtuoso Art Tatum. Yet he also spent years accompanying rhythm and blues and urban blues musicians, with whom he toured the South during school vacations. Newborn began playing with his father's band by the age of fifteen and was a regular member from 1948 to 1950 ...

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Barry Kernfeld

French horn player, was born in Detroit, Michigan. Details of his family, including the names and occupations of his parents are unknown. He began to play French horn in 1930 and developed a lifelong love for the instrument and a desire to be a soloist on the strength of having heard his teacher, Francis Hellstein, a member of the Detroit Symphony. He chose jazz, explaining that insufficient opportunities existed for soloing in the classical repertoire. No doubt a second reason was the racist barrier against African Americans in the classical music profession.

Watkins toured with Ernie Field's big band as a trumpeter in 1943 and left three years later to resume playing French horn. Moving from Detroit to Denver, he found work in a jazz sextet. After returning to Detroit, he joined the pianist Milt Buckner's big band in 1949. Buckner required ...

Article

Jack Sohmer

jazz trombonist, was born William C. Wells in Centerville, Tennessee, the son of George Washington Wells and Florence (maiden name unknown). Around 1917 Wells's family moved to Louisville, Kentucky, where he began studying music; at age thirteen he was playing baritone horn in the Booker T. Washington Community Center band.

In 1923 Wells switched to trombone. He worked locally with Lucius Brown and Ferman Tapp until 1926, when he was hired by Lloyd Scott to join his Symphonic Syncopators in Springfield, Ohio. After some touring, the band went to New York in 1927 and worked at the Capitol Palace, the Savoy Ballroom, and other venues both in and out of New York through June 1929, when Lloyd's brother, the saxophonist Cecil Scott, took over as the band's leader. After leaving Scott in mid-1930, Wells jobbed around New York, replacing J. C. Higginbotham in Luis ...