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Margot Lieth-Philipp

(b St Thomas, VI, Nov 4, 1889; d St Thomas, VI, Nov 24, 1987). American bandmaster, composer and educator. He taught himself to play the flute and piccolo, took correspondence courses from several universities, and received the BMus degree from the University Extension Conservatory of Music, Chicago. In 1910 he formed Adams’ Juvenile Band, which was incorporated into the US Navy when it assumed the administrative duties of the US Virgin Islands in 1917. He was editor of the band department of Jacobs’ Band Monthly (1913–17), the Virgin Islands correspondent for the Associated Press, and the author of articles for various music journals, newspapers and magazines. From 1918 to 1931 he supervised the music programme in the Virgin Islands public schools, modelling it after similar programmes on the mainland. After retiring from the navy in 1947 he produced musical ...


Claudius Fergus

was born in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas (now the US Virgin Islands) on 4 November 1889. He was the son of Jacob Henry Adams, a carpenter, and Petrina Dinzey, a tailor, and followed their career trajectory as part of the community’s black artisanal class. He served apprenticeships in the trades of carpentry and shoemaking.

With only a primary education and no formal school of music on the islands, Adams studied in the United States. He enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania as well as Carnegie Hall’s School of Music Theory in New York. Unable to sojourn long enough in the States, Adams completed his study of music by correspondence, a mark of distinction of the self-motivation that shaped his life. He attained a bachelor’s degree in music from the University Extension Conservatory of Chicago in 1931.

Adams organized his first musical band in 1904 and launched his ...


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 ...


Donald James

cornetist, trumpeter, bandleader, composer, arranger, and college educator, was born Nathaniel Adderley in Tampa, Florida, the second of two sons of Julian Adderley Sr. and Jessie Adderley. Julian Sr. was an educator who played trumpet and cornet, thus becoming Nat's first music teacher. Jessie was also a teacher. Nat's only sibling, Julian Adderley Jr., nicknamed “Cannonball” because of his rotund build, was three years older than his brother. The Adderleys moved from Tampa to Tallahassee, Florida, when Nat was a toddler so that Julian Sr. and Jessie could take teaching jobs at Florida A&M College (FAMC), a historically black school. The college changed its name to Florida A&M University (FAMU) in 1953.

Cannonball was the first of the two brothers to play trumpet He later became more interested in the alto saxophone leaving his trumpet to sit idle Nat showed no ...


Jeremy Rich

His father, Benjamin, was an accountant and his mother Molly (née Ekere) was a teacher and a singer, and the family belonged to the Ibibio ethnic group, chiefly resident in Akwa Ibom state in southeastern Nigeria. Akpabot taught himself to play piano when he was young. After he graduated from primary school, he moved to Lagos, where he enrolled at King’s College secondary school, which was known for its classical musical education. Akpabot also sang treble in the choir of the Anglican Cathedral Church of Christ until 1949, and he worked under Thomas Ekundayo Phillip, a skilled educator who ran the choir and taught the singers about Western classical choral music. Once he graduated from King’s College, he worked as a sports reporter for the Lagos Daily Times. During his secondary school days, Akpabot had starred on the soccer field.

In 1949 he left the choir and ...


Philip Herbert

Nigeriancomposer, organist, and ethnomusicologist born in Uyo, Akwa Ibom state, Nigeria, in 1932. In his early education at King's College, Lagos, and as a chorister at Christchurch Cathedral, in that city, he was exposed to European classical music, Mendelssohn being his favourite composer. His musical outlook was eclectic, and he was involved in dance bands such as the Chocolate Dandies and the Akpabot Players (his own band), formed in 1949, as well as being organist at St Saviour's Anglican Church in Lagos.

Akpabot studied the trumpet and organ in London at the Royal College of Music in 1954, with teachers such as John Addison, Osborn Pisgow, and Herbert Howells. Study at the University of Chicago yielded a Master's degree in Musicology, and he also received a Ph.D. from Michigan State University. He was a broadcaster for the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation (1959 ...


Rebecca M. Bodenheimer

was born on 22 November 1948 in Havana, while his mother, Rosa Zayas, was in the capital for a visit. Of Afro-Cuban descent, he grew up in the central Cuban province of Camagüey. His father, Enrique Fortunato Álvarez, was the arranger and bandleader for a youth band called Avance Juvenil, in which the nine-year-old made his debut performance playing the timbales (a pair of metal drums mounted on a stand). Between 1966 and 1972 he studied solfege, music theory, harmony, and bassoon at the National School of the Arts (Escuela Nacional de Arte, or ENA) in Havana. His first composition, “Con un besito mi amor” (With a Kiss My Love), was popularized in 1971 by one of Cuba s most prominent bands at the time Conjunto Rumbavana After graduating from the ENA Álvarez returned to his home province of Camagüey to carry out his mandatory civil service as a ...


Barry Kernfeld

jazz tenor saxophonist, was born Eugene Ammons in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Albert Ammons, a boogie-woogie pianist; his mother's name is unknown. Like several other prominent jazzmen, Gene studied music at Du Sable High School under Captain Walter Dyett. Initially he idolized Lester Young's improvising and even imitated Young's manner of playing with head and horn at a grotesquely tilted angle. During his third year in high school Gene began playing locally with the trumpeter King Kolax's band. At the semester's end he embarked on a cross-country tour with Kolax that included performances at the Savoy Ballroom in New York.

In 1944 the singer Billy Eckstine formed a big band that included the tenor saxophonist Charlie Rouse and the alto saxophonist Charlie Parker. According to the group's pianist, John Malachi Rouse was so smitten by Parker s playing that he was unable to concentrate ...


Emily Callaci

Fela Anikulapo Kuti was a pioneer of the musical genre of Afrobeat and a choreographer of spectacular and irreverent acts of political protest. Growing up in the context of late colonial and postcolonial Nigeria, he saw a world in which many African people struggled to get by, while imperial nations, foreign corporations, and postcolonial political regimes grew wealthier and more powerful at their expense. In the politically and economically turbulent context of postcolonial urban Africa, Fela advocated the idea of African authenticity as a guiding principle of creative expression and political activism.

Fela was born in 1938 in Abeokuta, Nigeria, as Fela Ransome Kuti. His father was a minister, and his mother was a prominent feminist and anticolonial activist. In 1958, Fela’s parents sent him to London for medical training, but he instead registered at the Trinity School of Music. In 1961 he started his first jazz band ...


was born on 4 April 1928 in Santa Clara, Cuba, in the province of Las Villas, located north of Cienfuegos and near the island’s center. His family included several talented musicians; his father was a trombonist, and his first cousin Benny Moré was one of Cuba’s most popular singers. Armenteros began performing before the age of 20 with the vocalist and bandleader René Álvarez and his group Conjunto Los Astros. In 1949 in Havana, Arsenio Rodríguez asked Armenteros to join his ensemble, a group known for pioneering the celebration of previously disparaged Afro-Cuban elements of Cuban music. Armenteros contributed compositions as well as performances, developing an improvisational language that draws on both Afro-Cuban vocal styles and jazz phrasing and harmony. His prolific compositional portfolio and formidable improvisational skills garnered him singular fame among audiences and his peers.

One of the most prolific musicians in twentieth century Latin music Armenteros performed ...


of Afro-Uruguayan culture, was born in Montevideo on 26 December 1942. His parents were Fausto Arrascaeta, a recognized candombe dancer and gramillero, and María Estela Tabárez. He completed primary school and three years at the Escuela de Artes Aplicadas (today known as Escuela de Artes y Artesanías Dr. Pedro Figari). He was accepted to study for a business license at the Universidad del Trabajo del Uruguay (UTU). His training as a percussionist started at a very young age, under the influence of family members and neighbors. He married María Dolores García (who died in 2001), and they had three children: Adriana, Alejandro, and Rosana. In 2003 he met Irma Pereyra, with whom he began a relationship.

Arrascaeta was raised in the “Charrúa” tenement, a house where many Afro-Uruguayan families lived. Located in the Barrio Cordón Sur, this tenement at Calle Charrúa 2026 maintained the candombe tradition ...


Carlos Vázquez Cruz

was born Álvaro José Arroyo González on 1 November 1955 in the coastal city of Cartagena de Indias Colombia various iconic the son of Guillermo Arroyo and Ángela González El Joe as he is also known grew up in a humble family in a marginal neighborhood of Cartagena where he started singing at the age of 8 in the school choir At the same time he accepted a proposal from the saxophonist and bandleader Michi Sarmiento to start singing with orchestras in the bars and brothels of Tesca one of Cartagena s red light districts to earn money to support his household Cartagena was an important port and the city s nightlife scene catered to lots of international visitors with live entertainment With his rare voice and musical creativity Arroyo soon found this job opening up opportunities for him to join several groups He began his professional singing career ...


Curtis Jacobs

was born in Woodbrook, Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, on 6 May 1935, into a black family with a long tradition of producing masquerade bands. He would come to be regarded as the greatest bandleader in the modern history of Carnival, the annual festival of masquerade and music. His first influences came from his father, Aldwyn “Sonny” Bailey, who led his own band from 1932 to 1940, as well as other bandleaders like Ormand Hackshaw, Leonard Carty, and Ken Morris. His family seems to have been influenced by the ideas of Marcus Garvey who had a large following in Trinidad and Tobago While a student at Tranquility Government School Bailey s interest in fine art was enhanced under the guidance of Mohammed Farouk M P Alladin one of Trinidad s foremost visual artists Bailey excelled in track and field and basketball and in fact became a member of the national ...


Born in New York of Puerto Rican heritage, Barreto joined Tito Puente's big band in the 1950s. In the 1960s, he established the Ray Barreto Orchestra, which recorded under the Fania label. In 1992 he established the Jazz band, New World Spirit.

See also Salsa Music.


was born in Trinidad in the West Indies on 7 February 1914. His father’s work in the oil industry resulted in the family moving to Maracaibo, Venezuela, when he was quite young. It was while he was in Venezuela that Barriteau first heard the clarinet and expressed a desire to play music. After his father’s death, Barriteau returned to Trinidad before his tenth birthday and was sent to an orphanage when he was 12.

At the home, Barriteau first began seriously playing music. He originally performed on the tenor horn with the Belmont Orphanage Band, also learning the E-flat clarinet. During 1933–1936 he turned professional working with the Trinidad Constabulary Band where he switched to the more conventional B flat clarinet and the alto sax Barriteau gained local acclaim performing with the popular police band in particular for his clarinet playing He also worked during the same period ...


Zachary J. Lechner

bandleader, songwriter, producer, and arranger, was born Dave Louis Bartholomew in Edgard, Louisiana, to Louis Bartholomew, a musician, and Marie Rousell, a housekeeper. Louis played Dixieland tuba in Kid Harrison's and Willie Humphrey's jazz bands. He moved the family to New Orleans while Dave was in high school. Young Dave became interested in performing music after watching his father play. He first took up the tuba but switched to the trumpet because it would allow him a place in the popular marching bands of New Orleans. As a high school student he enjoyed the tutelage of Peter Davis, Louis Armstrong's teacher. Bartholomew honed his skills on the New Orleans scene in the late 1930s. He moved in and out of various jazz and brass bands in Louisiana, including Marshall Lawrence's Brass Band, Toots Johnson's Band, and Claiborne Williams's Band. The pianist Fats Pinchon ...


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 ...


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 ...


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 ...


Scott Yanow

was born on 28 April 1911 in Havana, Cuba. Bauzá, whose musical talent was immediately obvious, began studying music at the age of 5. Four years later, when he was 9, he played clarinet with the Havana Philharmonic as a guest soloist. At 13 he officially joined the philharmonic on bass clarinet.

Adding the alto sax and bassoon to his repertoire, Bauzá quickly gained a strong reputation as a versatile and technically skilled musician. In 1925, at the age of 14, he traveled to New York, where he made his first recording, performing Cuban music with Antonio María Romeu’s Charanga band. He also had the opportunity to hear American jazz performed live for the first time. In 1927 Bauzá graduated from Havana s Municipal Conservatory He worked during the late 1920s with Los Jóvenes Redención a group that also included the singer Machito Frank Grillo whom he had ...