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Mark Clague and John H. Zimmerman

flutist, composer, bandmaster, music educator, journalist, and hotelier, was born in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, Danish West Indies (later U.S. Virgin Islands) and is remembered as the U.S. Navy's first African American bandmaster. Adams was the son of Jacob Henry Adams, a carpenter, and Petrina Evangeline Dinzey, a tailor; both his parents were members of the black artisan class centered around St. Thomas's port. This culture celebrated music and literature and instilled the young Adams with values of hard work and self-education. Although professional musicians were unknown in the Virgin Islands in his youth, Adams dreamt of a musical career inspired by his deeply held belief that music was not just entertainment, but vital to community health.

Adams attended elementary school and apprenticed as a carpenter and then a shoemaker choosing his trade based on the musical abilities of his master ...

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Editor The

jazz musician, was born Eric Allan Dolphy Jr, in Los Angeles, California, the son of Eric Dolphy Sr. and Sadie Gillings. He showed a strong interest in music during his preschool years and began playing clarinet in the first grade. He participated in musical activities throughout his grade school years, and he studied privately with Lloyd Reese, a well-known Los Angeles music teacher who also taught the jazz musicians Buddy Collette, Dexter Gordon, and Charles Mingus. After graduating from high school Dolphy enrolled in music classes at Los Angeles City College. By this time he also was playing alto saxophone with local bands, and he made his first recordings with a big band led by the drummer Roy Porter. After serving in the army during the early 1950s he returned to Los Angeles and reentered the music profession. Early in 1958 ...

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Thaddeus Russell

jazz saxophonist, flutist, and composer, was born in Pensacola, Florida, and grew up in Hartford, Connecticut. The names and occupations of his parents are not known. Gryce was the product of a highly musical family: his brother and four sisters were classically trained on a variety of instruments. In his youth Gryce attended music school in Hartford, developing his skills on flute, alto saxophone, clarinet, and piano. In 1946 he began performing in and around Hartford, both as a sideman and as the leader of his own twenty-three-piece group. In 1948 Gryce moved to Boston to attend the Boston Conservatory, where he studied composition and instrumentation with Daniel Pinkham and Alan Hovahness. In 1952 he won a Fulbright scholarship to study music in Paris, where he continued his instruction in composition with the famed composer Arthur Honegger.

Gryce returned to the United States in 1953 ...

Article

Thomas Owens

jazz musician, was born Ronald Theodore Kirk in Columbus, Ohio, the son of Theodore Kirk and Gertrude Broadus Kirk was blind from infancy He first demonstrated an interest in music when he was a small boy Anxious to become the bugler at summer camp he began blowing the notes of the overtone series on a water hose Soon his parents gave him a bugle which he played for a few years before switching to trumpet He gave up that instrument however when his eye doctor decided that the continuous force required to blow the instrument was hard on Kirk s eyes When Kirk was about twelve he began playing clarinet in the band at Columbus s Ohio State School for the Blind learning by listening to the teacher play his parts on the piano At home he began to practice on the C melody saxophone he picked up ...

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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 ...

Article

Scott Yanow

jazz tenor saxophonist and flutist, was born in Memphis, Tennessee. His father was a pharmacist. Because his parents’ marriage was difficult, Lloyd often lived with different relatives while growing up. When he was nine years old he heard Charlie Parker on the radio. Soon he persuaded his uncle to get him an alto saxophone sax. Lloyd also was exposed to country blues, gospel music from the Baptist church, and Native American songs sung by his grandmother.

As a youth Lloyd studied with the pianist Phineas Newborn, who became his mentor. He had his first musical job at age twelve with Rosco Gordon's blues band (which featured the vocalist Bobby “Blue” Bland), and he also worked with blues groups led by Willie Mitchell, Howlin’ Wolf, B. B. King, Roosevelt Sykes, and Johnny Ace While in high school he learned bebop and became close friends ...

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Barry Kernfeld

jazz and soul tenor saxophonist, was born Harold Edward Vick in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, to Alice (maiden name unknown). Other details about his parents, including the name of his father, are unknown. Vick took piano lessons at age eight for a few months but without serious interest. He began clarinet lessons at age twelve, and the following year he was given a good instrument by his uncle, the renowned jazz clarinetist and tenor saxophonist Prince Robinson. Two or three years later Vick began playing tenor saxophone while continuing his clarinet studies with Charles Woods at Booker T. Washington High School in Rocky Mount. During this period he was raised by his grandparents.

Vick studied sociology and psychology and played on the varsity basketball team at Howard University while working mainly in rhythm and blues bands During his third year at Howard he commenced what amounted to a ...

Article

Scott Yanow

jazz alto and tenor saxophonist, flutist, and arranger, was born in Kansas City, Missouri. He moved with his family to Sapulpa, Oklahoma, in 1930 and Washington, D.C., in 1935. He began on the alto saxophone when he was ten years old. Wess studied music at Howard University in the 1937–1938 academic year.

After gaining experience playing in swing and dance bands from 1937 to 1941 (including one led by Blanche Calloway), Wess served in the U.S. Army, playing tenor and clarinet in an army band in North Africa throughout the rest of the war. He also led the band that accompanied Josephine Baker in her concerts for the Allied troops.

Wess was discharged from the army in 1945 and from 1946 to 1947 was a key player with the Billy Eckstine Orchestra, mostly playing alto. He also worked with the Eddie Heywood Sextet (1947 ...