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Article

André Willis

Born Julian Edwin Adderley in Tampa, Florida, Adderley earned the nickname “Cannonball,” a corruption of “cannibal,” for his huge appetite. Adderley was introduced to music by his father, a cornetist, and was performing in bands by the time he was fourteen. He played in local bands as well as in the United States Army (he enlisted in 1950) and taught music before moving to New York to join his brother Nat in 1955. He immediately found success on the New York Jazz scene, joining the bands of bassist Oscar Pettiford.

The recordings Adderley made with Davis, which included John Coltrane on tenor saxophone, Paul Chambers on bass, and Wynton Kelly on piano, are some of the most celebrated of the 1950s. In 1959 Adderley and his brother Nat formed their own quintet and built on the influence of Davis and saxophonist Charlie Parker During ...

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Jerry C. Waters

an interdisciplinary artist and musician, was born Terry Roger Adkins in Washington, D.C., the eldest of five children of Robert Hamilton Adkins, a teacher and a musician, and Doris Jackson Adkins, a homemaker and musician. Adkins was raised in Alexandria, Virginia.

The artistic and musical achievements of Terry Adkins are linked to his formative years. Born in the racially segregated South, he attended a predominantly black primary school in Alexandria, Virginia, and graduated in 1971 from Ascension Academy a mostly white Catholic high school Adkins s parents encouraged his artistic talents and academic pursuits because education was valued within the extended Adkins family His father Robert Hamilton Adkins was a chemistry and science teacher at Parker Gray High School a predominantly black school in Alexandria and performed within the community as an organist and vocalist Adkins s grandfather the Reverend Andrew Warren Adkins pastored Alfred Street Baptist ...

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Caryn E. Neumann

for the famed ska group, the Skatalites, was born in Havana, Cuba, to a Cuban father and Jamaican mother. His birthplace is sometimes given as Clarendon, Jamaica, where the family moved in 1933. When Jamaican authorities deported Alphonso’s father shortly thereafter, Alphonso remained on the island with his mother. He apparently spent some time at Stony Hill Industrial School, a reform institution for destitute youths. While at the Alpha Boys Catholic School in Kingston, Alphonso learned to play marching drums, then progressed to the trumpet. His mother bought him his first saxophone when he was fifteen.

After leaving school, Alphonso earned a living by playing his alto saxophone in hotels for tourists. Ranked as one of the nation’s best saxophonists by the early 1950s, he played with a number of prominent Jamaican jazz bands, including Redvert Cook’s Orchestra and Eric Dean’s Band. He made his first record in 1954 ...

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Jack Sohmer

jazz pianist, composer, and singer, was born Lillian Hardin in Memphis, Tennessee, the daughter of Dempsey Hardin, a strict, churchgoing woman who disapproved of blues music. Nothing is known of her father. At age six Lil began playing organ at home, and at eight she started studying piano. In 1914 she enrolled in the music school of Fisk University in Nashville, taking academic courses and studying piano and music theory. After earning her diploma, around 1917 she joined her mother in Chicago, where she found work demonstrating songs in Jones' Music Store. Prompted by her employer, in 1918 Hardin became house pianist for the clarinetist Lawrence Duhé's band at Bill Bottoms's Dreamland Ballroom, where she played with the cornetists “Sugar Johnny” Smith, Freddie Keppard, and King Oliver; the trombonist Roy Palmer; and other New Orleans musicians Because she was still a minor her mother ...

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Lisa Clayton Robinson

Armstrong's career as a Jazz musician began with a job in a music store in Chicago, Illinois. She met Louis Armstrong while they were both with King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band in Chicago. They married in 1924 and divorced in 1938 Armstrong worked with her husband in the ...

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Lil Hardin Armstrong is one of the great treasures of American jazz. In a day when women in music were the singers, Hardin played the piano, composed, arranged, and managed—both her own career and that of her husband Louis Armstrong. Uncredited for many years, happily she has begun to gain some well-deserved attention.

Born in Memphis, Tennessee, Lillian Beatrice Hardin was the daughter of Dempsey Martin and William Hardin Reports differ on whether Hardin s parents divorced or whether her father died when she was young but it is known that Hardin was raised by her mother and her maternal grandmother in a strictly religious household Hardin was attracted to music almost from birth and began playing the organ when she was very young By the time she was six her mother had arranged that she take additional piano lessons from her schoolteacher and by nine she ...

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Karl Rodabaugh

jazz cornet player, trumpeter, and vocalist. Louis Armstrong's musical style and charismatic personality transformed jazz from a “raucous” and “vulgar” regional form of dance music into an internationally beloved popular art form. Also known as “Satchel-mouth” and “Pops,” Armstrong first gained renown as an innovative cornet player and trumpeter whose creative energy helped bring about the movement of jazz into swing in the 1920s. But he also achieved fame as a vocalist whose distinctive style, including some specific features identified as “Afro-American,” influenced scores of jazz singers and thus played a significant role in shaping popular music of the twentieth century.

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Frank Tirro

jazz trumpeter and singer, known universally as “Satchmo” and later as “Pops,” was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, the son of William Armstrong, a boiler stoker in a turpentine plant, and Mary Est “Mayann” Albert, a laundress. Abandoned by his father shortly after birth, Armstrong was raised by his paternal grandmother, Josephine, until he was returned to his mother's care at age five. Mother and son moved from Jane Alley, in a violence‐torn slum, to an only slightly better area, Franklyn and Perdido streets, where nearby cheap cabarets gave the boy his first introduction to the new kind of music, jazz, that was developing in New Orleans. Although Armstrong claims to have heard the early jazz cornetist Buddy Bolden when he was about age five, this incident may be apocryphal. As a child, he worked odd jobs, sang in a vocal quartet, and around 1911 bought a ...

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More than anyone else, Louis Armstrong was responsible for legitimizing and popularizing jazz for a wider public. A much-admired jazz trumpeter and gravel-voiced vocalist, Armstrong was also a consummate entertainer, steadily expanding his career from instrumentalist to popular singer, to film and television personality, and, ultimately, to cultural icon. He acquired many nicknames throughout his life, including Dippermouth, Pops, and Satchelmouth—the latter often contracted to Satchmo. As Satchmo, he was instantly identifiable around the world, decades before PrinceMadonna, or Sting. The international appeal of his music in effect made Armstrong the American goodwill ambassador to the world.

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Mark Steven Maulucci

guitarist and singer, was born MacHouston Baker in Louisville, Kentucky. He believed his father was a white pianist who was traveling through Louisville. His African American mother, Lillian, was just twelve years old when he was born. She was troubled and not able to properly care for him. He spent much of his youth in an orphanage. Hes felt confined, though, and often ran away, traveling to Chicago, St. Louis, and eventually New York City at age fifteen.

He took different menial jobs to survive and at nineteen wanted to pursue his passion to be a jazz musician His first instrument of choice was a trumpet but upon visiting a pawn shop he discovered he could not afford one so he bought a beat up guitar instead He took lessons from a man named Rector Bailey and learned quickly The absorption and utilization of all that he heard ...

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Burton W. Peretti

jazz pianist, composer, and bandleader, was born William James Basie in Red Bank, New Jersey, the son of African American parents Harvey Lee Basie, an estate groundskeeper, and Lillian Ann Chiles, a laundress. Basie was first exposed to music through his mother's piano playing. He took piano lessons, played the drums, and acted in school skits. An indifferent student, he left school after junior high and began performing. He organized bands with friends and played various jobs in Red Bank, among them working as a movie theater pianist. In his late teens he pursued work in nearby Asbury Park, but he met with little success. Then, in the early 1920s, he moved to Harlem, where he learned from the leading pianists of the New York “stride” style, Willie “The Lion” Smith, James P. Johnson, Luckey Roberts, and especially Fats Waller, his exact contemporary.

Basie ...

Article

William Carney

orchestra leader. William “Count” Basie was born in Red Bank, New Jersey, in 1904. Although he received some formal musical training, much of Basie's skill as a musician was the result of self-teaching and apprenticeship to some of the leading jazz musicians of the early 1920s. After working with Fats Waller in New York City and playing the organ in Harlem movie houses, Basie went on the road with Gonzelle White and her jazz band in 1927. Stranded in Kansas City, Missouri, as a result of poor decisions by White and several promoters, Basie became a mainstay of the local jazz scene there. He played piano for some of Kansas City's leading dance bands before joining the Oklahoma Blue Devils in the early 1930s.

Basie was subsequently recruited by Bennie Moten who gave him the nickname No Count as a joke about Basie s alleged financial ...

Article

Although white clarinetist Benny Goodman was proclaimed the “King of Swing,” by all rights the title belonged to Count Basie. For nearly half a century, with the exception of a brief hiatus between 1949 and 1952, Basie headed one of the finest big bands in Jazz, one that has enjoyed an unrivaled longevity. No other jazz orchestra has continued so long under the same leadership. In fact, Basie led two distinct bands, which some critics designate the Old Testament and New Testament bands. The Old Testament band was Basie's aggregation from the mid-1930s through the 1940s; the New Testament band encompasses the Basie band from the early 1950s on.

The earlier band played hard-swinging, rough-around-the-edges Kansas City jazz and often used head arrangements—arrangements made up in rehearsal and memorized—rather than written charts. It featured brilliant musical stylists, including tenor saxophonist Lester Young, trumpeters Buck Clayton and Harry ...

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Caryn E. Neumann

a bass drummer, vocalist, and leader of the New Orleans-based Treme Brass Band, is perhaps most famous as a New Orleans personality. He grew up as one of sixteen children of a blacksmith. As a child, he worked as a shoeshiner in the French Quarter and often entertained with his tap dancing performances at a whites-only club. He began playing rhythm sticks and bells at the age of eight. He later settled on the snare drum, noting that he wanted to avoid both damaging his lips from playing brass or developing a sore jaw from a reed instrument. Batiste learned his signature slide-and-hop dance from studying drummer Papa Knox. Batiste also played the banjo, piano, violin, washboard, and kazoo.

Throughout his career Batiste performed as a drummer with various bands including the Square Deal Social and Pleasure Club but earned steady income by working as a bricklayer ...

Article

Salim Washington

clarinetist, soprano saxophonist, and composer, was born Sidney Joseph Bechet, the youngest of five sons and two daughters (three other children died in infancy) born to Omar Bechet, a shoemaker, and Josephine Michel in New Orleans, Louisiana. Bechet was raised as a middle-class Creole at the time when state law reclassified Creoles of color as Negro. The adoption of the black codes and de jure segregation had profound repercussions for the first generations of ragtime and jazz musicians in the Crescent City. Although Sidney spoke French in his childhood household and his grandfather, Jean Becher, was free and had owned property since 1817, Sidney Bechet identified himself as African American.

The Bechet family was decidedly musical Sidney s father played the flute and trumpet for relaxation and Sidney s brothers all played music as a hobby and developed skills in various trades for their ...

Article

James Sellman

Although well known to Jazz listeners and critics, Sidney Bechet has never enjoyed the reputation of his only peer, cornet and trumpet player Louis Armstrong. Yet in recent years Bechet has gained greater recognition, at least from jazz scholars and critics. For example, Barry Singer, in a 1997New York Times article, described him as an “intrepid musical pioneer who was not merely Louis Armstrong's contemporary but in every way his creative equal.”

In many respects, the two men shared much: They were near contemporaries, born and raised in New Orleans and both were virtuosos on their chosen instruments Both were known above all as improvisers as soloists rather than bandleaders composers or arrangers Various factors help account for Armstrong s greater renown His clarion like trumpet moved even nonmusicians while Bechet s facility on woodwinds was less visceral in effect Armstrong found his greatest popularity as ...

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Mark Steven Maulucci

guitarist, was born in Sulfer, Oklahoma. His father, DeWitt Bennett, was a chef on the train, El Capitan, which was on the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe line running from Chicago to Los Angeles. The elder Bennett was a major influence on Wayne and strongly emphasized the importance of education. The family moved to Madill, another small Oklahoma town, and when he was thirteen or fourteen, his mother bought him a guitar and he taught himself to play by listening to country and western, big band jazz, and the rhythm and blues orchestras of T-Bone Walker, and Louis Jordan and Lionell Hampton on the radio. Interestingly, that area of the United States gave birth to a good many trailblazing guitarists like Walker, Charlie Christian, Gatemouth Brown, Freddie King, and Albert Collins.

Bennett attended high school in nearby Ardmore Oklahoma where he played ...

Article

Few performers have had a more profound effect on American popular music than Chuck Berry. The staccato guitar cadenzas with which he opened songs such as “Maybellene” (1955) and “Johnny B. Goode” (1958) helped define the new guitar idiom of rock and roll. His lyrics, celebrating teen freedom, music, dancing, and the pleasures of automobiles gave substance to the rock genre. Berry's influence shaped the music of later musicians from the Beatles and the Rolling Stones to artists of the present.

Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Berry was first exposed to music when the choir of his parents' Baptist church gathered to rehearse in the front room of his childhood home. An avid fan of the Blues Berry took up guitar as a hobby at age fourteen He worked in an automobile factory and as a hairdresser before turning to his guitar playing and ...

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John Edwin Mason

singer, songwriter, and guitarist, was born Charles Edward Anderson Berry in St. Louis, Missouri, the fourth of six children of Henry William Berry, a carpenter and handyman, and Martha Bell Banks. The industrious Henry Berry instilled in his son a hunger for material success and a prodigious capacity for hard work, traits that were not entirely apparent in Berry as a youth. Martha Berry, a skilled pianist and accomplished singer, passed on to her son her love for music. By the time he was a teenager, however, Berry preferred jazz, blues, and the “beautiful harmony of country music” to his mother's Baptist hymns (Berry, 14).

In 1944 Berry and two friends hatched an ill considered plan to drive across the country to California They soon ran out of money and committed a series of armed robberies in an attempt to return home All three were ...

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Timothy J. O'Brien

rock-and-roll pioneer. Chuck Berry is truly the father of rock and roll. His vibrant songwriting, innovative guitar playing, and live performances inspired legions of followers, and he was the single most important figure in defining a new genre that mixed country and rhythm and blues.

Charles Edward Anderson Berry was born to Henry William Berry Sr., a carpenter, and Martha Bell Banks, a housewife, in Saint Louis, Missouri, in 1926. The family belonged to a Baptist church, and Berry's earliest memories were of his parents singing gospel songs around the house. His first try at show business, singing “Confessin’ the Blues” to a friend's guitar accompaniment at a high school talent show, inspired him to play guitar.

While still in high school in Saint Louis he left for a trip to California with two friends When their money ran low they robbed a few small businesses and ...