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Frank Tirro

jazz saxophonist, was born Julian Edwin Adderley in Tampa, Florida, the son of Julian Carlyle Adderley, a high school guidance counselor and jazz cornet player, and Jessie Johnson, an elementary school teacher. The family moved to Tallahassee, Florida, where Adderley attended Florida Agricultural and Mechanical College High School from 1941 until 1944. He earned his bachelor's degree from Florida A&M in 1948, having studied reed and brass instruments with the band director Leander Kirksey and forming, with Kirksey, a school jazz ensemble. Adderley then worked as band director at Dillard High School in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and jobbed with his own jazz group.

Adderley served in the army from 1950 until 1953, leading the Thirty-sixth Army Dance Band, to which his younger brother, the cornetist Nathaniel “Nat” Adderley, was also assigned. While stationed in Washington, D.C., in 1952 Adderley continued to play ...

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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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Jack Sohmer

jazz clarinetist and saxophonist, was born William C. Bailey in Memphis, Tennessee. Nothing is known of his parents. He attended the Clay Street School in Memphis, where he began studying clarinet at age thirteen. In 1917 he turned professional after joining the touring band of the famed blues composer W. C. Handy, and it was during a trip to New Orleans with Handy that he first heard authentic jazz. In early 1919 he left Handy to move to Chicago, where he studied with Franz Schoepp, first clarinetist with the Chicago Symphony, and worked in Erskine Tate's Vendome Theatre Orchestra and doubled in Freddie Keppards's small jazz band at the Lorraine Gardens. In late 1923 or early 1924 Bailey replaced Johnny Dodds in King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band for an extensive tour that concluded with its return to the Lincoln Gardens in June 1924. In August ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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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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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 ...

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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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James Sellman

As a drummer and bandleader, Art Blakey had a profound impact on the shape of modern Jazz. During the late 1940s, along with Kenny Clarke and Max Roach, he was one of the creators of modern jazz drumming. His long-standing group, the Jazz Messengers (1955–1990)—together with Miles Davis's quintet with John Coltrane, the Max Roach–Clifford Brown Quintet, and the Horace Silver Quintet—popularized the style known as hard bop. Hard bop draws equally on the harmonic and rhythmic complexity of bebop and on the visceral sounds and simpler rhythms that characterize the Blues and Gospel Music. In an interview published in The Black Perspective in Music, Blakey summed up his approach simply, declaring that he wanted to play music that would “wash away the dust of everyday life.”

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania born Blakey was also one of the great talent scouts of ...

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T. Dennis Brown

jazz drummer and bandleader, was born Art William Blakey in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the son of Burtrum Blakey, a barber, and Marie Roddericker. His father left home shortly after Blakey was born, and his mother died the next year. Consequently, he was raised by a cousin, Sarah Oliver Parran, who worked at the Jones and Laughlin Steel Mill in Pittsburgh. He moved out of the home at age thirteen to work in the steel mills and in 1938 married Clarice Stuart, the first of three wives. His other wives were Diana Bates and Ann Arnold. Blakey had at least ten children (the exact number is unknown), the last of whom was born in 1986.

As a teenager Blakey taught himself to play the piano and performed in local dance bands but he later switched to drums Like many of his contemporaries Blakey initially adapted the ...

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Michael J. Budds

singer, drummer, and bandleader, was born Myron Carlton Bradshaw in Youngstown, Ohio. His parents' names are unknown. He played the drums from the age of ten and soon after was performing professionally as a drummer and vocalist. Early in his career he served as the drummer of the Jump Johnson Band in Buffalo, New York. He attended Wilberforce University in Wilberforce, Ohio, and majored in psychology. Before forming his own big band in 1934, he sang with Horace Henderson's Collegians, and in New York he either drummed or sang with Marion Hardy's Alabamians, the Savoy Bearcats, Mills Blue Rhythm Band (1932–1933), and Luis Russell (1933–1934).

Bradshaw s own band enjoyed long engagements in the ballrooms and nightclubs of Harlem notably the Savoy and the Apollo Philadelphia and Chicago and toured throughout the United States and Europe making its reputation with powerful blues based jazz His ...

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Bill McCulloch and Barry Lee Pearson

blues singer and guitarist, was born William Lee Conley Broonzy in Scott, Bolivar County, Mississippi, the son of Frank Broonzy and Nettie (or Mittie) Belcher, former slaves who became sharecroppers. One of at least sixteen children, including a twin sister, he lived in Mississippi until age eight, when his family moved to Arkansas, near Pine Bluff, to try sharecropping there. As a youngster he made violins out of cornstalks, learning music from an uncle, Jerry Belcher and a local musician known as See See Rider He and a friend began playing homemade instruments to entertain local children though always out of sight of his parents stern Baptists who frowned on secular music The parental disapproval eased however when he graduated to a real instrument supposedly bought for him by a white patron and began earning money as a musician When he was twelve the family moved to Scotts ...

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Steven J. Niven

popular singer and bandleader, was born Cabell Calloway III in Rochester, New York, the third of six children of Cabell Calloway Jr., a lawyer, and Martha Eulalia Reed, a public school teacher. In 1920, two years after the family moved to the Calloways’ hometown of Baltimore, Maryland, Cab's father died. Eulalia later remarried and had two children with John Nelson Fortune, an insurance salesman who became known to the Calloway children as “Papa Jack.”

Although he later enjoyed a warm relationship with his stepfather the teenaged Cab had a rebellious streak that tried the patience of parents attempting to maintain their status as respectable Baltimoreans He often skipped school to go to the nearby Pimlico racetrack where he both earned money selling newspapers and shining shoes and began a lifelong passion for horse racing After his mother caught him playing dice on the steps of the ...

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Karina A. Clarke

was born William Emanuel Cobham in Colón, Panama, on 16 May 1944 to William Cobham, a pianist, and Ivy Cobham, a singer. Cobham also has a younger brother, Wayne, who plays the trumpet. In 1947 when young Billy was a toddler his family relocated to New York City The Cobham family first lived in the Harlem neighborhood in the borough of Manhattan and then the Bedford Stuyvesant neighborhood in the borough of Brooklyn Billy who was born into a family of musicians including a cousin who was a drum maker showed a particular interest in percussion and at the age of 8 and started his musical career as a member of the St Catherine s Queensmen drum and bugle corps in St Albans in the borough of Queens in New York City He later attended and graduated from New York s prestigious High School of Music and Art now ...

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Salim Washington

John Coltrane was born in Hamlet, North Carolina, but his family moved to a lower-middle-class neighborhood in High Point, North Carolina, shortly after John was born. The Coltranes lived within an extended family headed by Reverend William Blair, John's maternal grandfather, and they followed him to High Point when he accepted a pastorate there. John's father was a tailor and an amateur musician who sang and played the ukulele for his own enjoyment. His mother Alice Coltrane not to be confused with Coltrane s second wife of the same name was a seamstress who also sang and played piano in her father s gospel choir and at one point wanted to be a concert pianist Also included in Reverend Blair s household were his daughter Betty her husband Goler and their daughter Mary Cousin Mary who was immortalized by a song with the same title was like ...

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John Runcie

musician, composer, and bandleader, was born in Hamlet, North Carolina, the son of John Robert Coltrane, a tailor and amateur musician, and Alice Gertrude Blair. A few months after John's birth, the Coltranes moved to nearby High Point to live with his maternal grandfather, the Reverend William Blair. Alice, who had studied music at Livingstone College, accompanied her father's choir on piano. The young Coltrane grew up in a secure middle-class environment in which both religion and music were highly valued. At age twelve he began studying alto horn, then the clarinet, and joined the High Point Community Band. From the outset, Coltrane practiced constantly, a pattern that he sustained throughout his life. By 1942 he was playing clarinet and alto saxophone in his high school band.

After graduating from high school in 1943 Coltrane moved to Philadelphia Pennsylvania where he worked as a laborer in ...

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John Szwed

trumpeter, bandleader, and composer, was born Miles Dewey Davis III in Alton, Illinois, the son of Miles Davis II, a dentist, and Cleota H. Henry, both from Arkansas. When Miles was one year old, his family moved to a multiracial neighborhood in East St. Louis, Illinois, where his father prospered, buying a farm in nearby Millstadt. Young Miles first studied trumpet with Elwood C. Buchanan and Joseph Gustat, the principal trumpeter with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, and he soon found work in local dance bands.

Caught up in the new music called bebop Davis left for New York City after graduation and enrolled in the Juilliard School of Music where he was exposed to the music of such composers as Hindemith and Stravinsky and where he studied trumpet with William Vacchiano principal trumpeter with the New York Philharmonic Davis s nights were spent ...