Biographies
Jazz Music

Biographies


  • John Wolf Brennan

    John Wolf BrennanPianist and composer John Wolf Brennan, born February 13, 1954 in Dublin, Ireland, has been widely acclaimed as an outstanding musician. His distinctive style, marked by a deep interest in contemporary archeology, a very personal quest for an adventurous avantgarde, an ongoing research of his Celtic roots and his "Swiss watchmaker exactness" ("The Wire") sets him apart. His compositions cover a wide spectrum of musical concepts and methods, ranging from piano pieces ("inside and outside" - prepared and unprepared) to vocal scores ("Night.Shift" - an opera after a libretto by Rudolph Straub, based on W.H.Auden's "The Age of Anxiety"; "Sculpted Sound", "Euratorium", "Bestiarium", "PaniConversations", works for choir), from chamber ("Epithalamium" after James Joyce's "Chamber Music"; "Alef Bet - an Ori-ental Peace Piece" for Israeli oboist Ori Meiraz; "A Golly Gal's Way to Galway Bay" for James Galway, "Nearly Charming") to orchestral works, both for classical and jazz ensembles, creating music rich in (a)tonal textures.

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  • Chick Webb

    Чик Уэбб Chick WebbThe Chick Webb orchestra was the house band at the Savoy Ballroom, a famous club in New York. Considered by many as a drum virtuoso, Chick Webb was "King of Swing" and became an icon of the new "swing style". There were frequent "big band battles" at the Savoy, where the greatest bands in town competed with one another (Benny Goodman, Count Basie, Duke Ellington). Ella Fitzgerald made her debut with the Chick Webb orchestra.
    William Henry Webb bought his first set of drums with his earnings as a newsboy, and he began playing in bands on pleasure boats. After moving to New York in 1925, he led bands in various clubs before settling in for long regular runs at the Savoy beginning in 1931. Although Benny Carter and Johnny Hodges played with the band early on, the Webb band was oddly short on major soloists during its heyday from the mid-'30s onward; the young alto sax player Louis Jordan made the biggest impression after leaving the band.

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  • Paul Anka

    Paul AnkaPaul Anka was born July 30, 1941, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. His parents were immigrants from Lebanon who owned a successful restaurant frequented by Ottawa’s show people. As a small child, Anka delighted in imitating popular singers and performing for neighborhood housewives, paperboys, and sanitation workers. He soon learned a little piano and taught himself how to play the guitar. Anka was generally uninspired by school, except for writing classes, and once intended to become either an actor or a writer, but the allure of music gradually swayed him from these early ambitions. When rock and roll began to flood the music world, Anka was only in his teens but nonetheless was convinced that he could create songs just as good, if not better, than the ones he was hearing on the radio. He began to compose, taking inspiration from Arabic chant melodies that his parents had brought with them from Lebanon and from the rhyming schemes of poet and playwright William Shakespeare.

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  • Henry Threadgill

    Henry Threadgill"Threadgill’s way to the forefront of contemporary creative music has always been oblique and circuitous; he’s a collector of musical styles," appraised Kevin Lynch in Down Beat, "and an explorer who constantly stops to observe the surrounding world." Mandel conjectured, "Threadgill’s originality of sound seems to render him" too contemporary "for regular employment in taverns that showcase jazz, though his music is based in gospel, the blues, and parade marches, as well as his serious research into what’s beyond." The unconventional composer, who includes funeral dirges in his repertoire, envisions a workplace in any of life’s settings. He told Gene Santoro in The Nation, "I’d like to put a band in a funeral parlor and work there."

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  • Machito

    Machito

    Machito played a huge role in the history of Latin jazz, for his bands of the 1940s were probably the first to achieve a fusion of powerful Afro-Cuban rhythms and jazz improvisation. At its roaring best, the band had a hard-charging sound, loaded with jostling, hyperactive bongos and congas and razor-edged riffing brass.

    Machito was the front man, singing, conducting, shaking maracas, while his brother-in-law Mario Bauza was the innovator behind the scenes, getting Machito to hire jazz-oriented arrangers. The son of a cigar manufacturer, Machito became a professional musician in Cuba in his teens before he emigrated to America in 1937 as a vocalist with La Estrella Habanera. He worked with several Latin artists and orchestras in the late '30s, recording with the then-dominant Latin bandleader Xavier Cugat.

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  • Buddy DeFranco

    Buddy DeFrancoBorn Boniface Ferdinand Leonardo DeFranco on February 17, 1923, in Camden, New Jersey, "Buddy" spent his formative years in nearby Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, after relocating to the city with his parents and siblings at the age of three. He was one of five children; the youngest, however, died at a year old. DeFranco’s father, Leonardo, was a remarkable man, yet his life was plagued with unfortunate circumstances. The son of immigrants from central Italy, Leonardo DeFranco, a native of Philadelphia, lost his sight because of a mistreated infection before DeFranco was born. Determined to learn a trade in spite of his disability, he attended the Overbrook School for the blind, where he learned how to tune pianos, but continued to struggle to support his family.

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  • Gary Burton

    Gary BurtonBorn January 23, 1943, in Anderson, Indiana, Gary Burton began music lessons at an early age upon the insistence of his parents, who wanted all of their children to study an instrument. Intrigued by one particular instrument's size and method of play — namely, the use of mallets to create its rich sound — the six-year-old Burton chose the marimba. However, his venture into music seemed ill-fated when he refused to budge from his seat at his first lesson. Upon returning home with his mother, he begged her to let him try again and within a short time mastered both the marimba and the more modern vibraharp.

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  • David Murray

    David MurrayDavid Murray was born in Oakland, California, USA. He was initially influenced by free jazz musicians such as Albert Ayler and Archie Shepp. He gradually evolved a more diverse style in his playing and compositions. Murray set himself apart from most tenor players of his generation by not taking John Coltrane as his model, choosing instead to incorporate elements of mainstream players Coleman Hawkins, Ben Webster and Paul Gonsalves into his mature style.

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  • Donald Byrd

    Donald ByrdDonald Byrd was considered one of the finest hard bop trumpeters of the post-Clifford Brown era. He recorded prolifically as both a leader and sideman from the mid-'50s into the mid-'60s, most often for Blue Note, where he established a reputation as a solid stylist with a clean tone, clear articulation, and a knack for melodicism. Toward the end of the '60s, Byrd became fascinated with Miles Davis' move into fusion, and started recording his own forays into the field. In the early '70s, with the help of brothers Larry and Fonce Mizell, Byrd perfected a bright, breezy, commercially potent take on fusion that was distinct from Davis, incorporating tighter arrangements and more of a smooth soul influence. Opinions on this phase of Byrd's career diverge wildly -- jazz purists utterly despised it, branding Byrd a sellout and the records a betrayal of talent, but enraptured jazz-funk fans regard it as some of the most innovative, enduring work of its kind. In fact, proportionately speaking, Byrd was held in even higher esteem by that audience than by straight-ahead jazz fans who enjoyed his hard bop output.

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  • Jaco Pastorius

    Jaco PastoriusThe “Jaco growl” is obtained by using the bridge pickup exclusively and plucking the strings close to it. Additionally, Jaco used the “Variamp” EQ (equalization) controls on his two Acoustic 360 amplifiers (made by the Acoustic Control Corporation of Van Nuys, California) to boost the midrange frequencies, thus accentuating the natural growling tone of his fretless passive Fender Jazz Bass and roundwound string combination. His tone was also colored by the use of a rackmount chorus effect (an offboard sound modification device similar to a phase shifter) which gave a slight doubling effect, and his use of the original Acoustic brand bass amplifier. He would often use the fuzz control built in on the Acoustic 361. Other effects he used live were his octaver (an offboard effect pedal which provides a second tone an octave lower) and his MXR sampler pedal which can be heard on his live solo spot with Weather Report, Slang (Jaco loops a short extract of playing, and then solos over it).

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