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Jazz Music

Biographies


  • Dee Dee Bridgewater

    Dee Dee BridgewaterDee Dee Bridgewater’s lives, personal and professional, have taken a lot of unexpected turns since she first emerged as a top jazz diva in the early 1970s. Her quest to create a life satisfying on both levels has included stops on both coasts of the U.S., a return to her childhood hometown in Flint, Michigan, and finally a flight across the ocean to Paris, where she has lived for the last several years. Along the way, Bridgewater has established herself as one of the best and most versatile vocalists of her generation, as well as a skilled actress. Her career entered as new phase in the 1990s, as she took over creative and financial control of her own work. The result has been a couple of Grammy Award nominations and a degree of international recognition that had eluded her in the past.

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  • Gary Peacock

    Gary PeacockBassist Gary Peacock has built a career on being a daring performer who can easily adapt to any instrumentation. His understated musicianship has contributed an essential ingredient to the work of saxophonist Albert Ayler, pianists Paul Bley and Keith Jarrett and others.

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  • Gonzalo Rubalcaba

    Gonzalo RubalcabaOne of the most important figures to emerge from Afro-Cuban jazz in the '90s, Gonzalo Rubalcaba is an extraordinarily versatile pianist able to blend disparate strands of Cuban and American jazz tradition into a fresh, modern whole. Born into a musical family in Havana on May 27, 1963, Rubalcaba began studying classical piano at age eight, honing his technique in that area for the next 12 years while playing around Havana by night. In 1983, he toured France and Africa with Cuba's longstanding Orquesta Aragon, and formed his own band, Grupo Proyecto, in 1985, the same year he was discovered by Dizzy Gillespie. In 1986, Rubalcaba played the Havana Jazz Festival with the American rhythm section of Charlie Haden and Paul Motian, and with Haden's support soon appeared at major international festivals like Montreal and Montreux.

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  • Marcus Belgrave

    Marcus BelgraveIf you trace the careers of many of today's jazz artists, you'll discover that they all converge around one man — trumpeter Marcus Belgrave. He gave Karriem Riggins his very first drum set. Ray Parker, Jr. got his first gig thanks to him. He even took a then 15- year-old James Carter to Europe for the first time. And throughout the years, Belgrave has continued to give so much to jazz because he himself learned from many of the originators of this music — trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie, saxophonist Cecil Payne, even one of Belgrave's primary mentors, trumpeter Clifford Brown.

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  • Miles Davis

    Davis MilesThroughout a professional career lasting 50 years, Miles Davis played the trumpet in a lyrical, introspective, and melodic style, often employing a stemless Harmon mute to make his sound more personal and intimate. But if his approach to his instrument was constant, his approach to jazz was dazzlingly protean. To examine his career is to examine the history of jazz from the mid-'40s to the early '90s, since he was in the thick of almost every important innovation and stylistic development in the music during that period, and he often led the way in those changes, both with his own performances and recordings and by choosing sidemen and collaborators who forged new directions. It can even be argued that jazz stopped evolving when Davis wasn't there to push it forward.

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  • Joe Sullivan

    Joe SullivanThe British poet (and jazz pianist) Roy Fisher celebrated Sullivan's playing with a poem, "The Thing About Joe Sullivan", regarded by some critics as one of the best poems about jazz. Fisher also used that title for a book of his selected poems, because (he said) he felt Sullivan was a neglected master who deserved to have his name on the cover of a book.

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  • Marcus Miller

    Marcus MillerAs a multi-instrumentalist, Marcus Miller is highly proficient as a keyboardist, clarinetist/bass clarinetist and, primarily, as a world-renowned electric bassist, topping critics' and readers' polls for three decades. His résumé as an A-list player brims with over 500 recording credits as a sideman on albums across the spectrum of musical styles: rock (Donald Fagen and Eric Clapton), Jazz (George Benson, Dizzy Gillespie, Joe Sample, Wayne Shorter and Grover Washington, Jr.), pop (Roberta Flack, Paul Simon and Mariah Carey), R&B (Aretha Franklin and Chaka Khan), hip hop (Jay-Z and Snoop Dogg), blues (Z.Z. Hill), new wave (Billy Idol), smooth jazz (Al Jarreau and Dave Koz) and opera (collaborations with tenor Kenn Hicks and soprano Kathleen Battle).

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  • Michael Brecker

    Michael BreckerA native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Michael Brecker was born on March 29, 1949. For Brecker’s father, attorney Robert Brecker, jazz was a way of life. The family owned an Hammond organ, and Brecker enjoyed playing with his father who doubled as a jazz pianist between courtroom gigs. Michael Brecker studied the clarinet and played some alto saxophone before settling on tenor saxophone in high school. His teenage years were a succession of jazz dreams come true for the boy. After school he spent free afternoons with his father listening to Coltrane records and playing drums and horns at home, or else making the rounds of Philadelphia clubs where Brecker jammed with professional musicians like Eric Gravatt. It was Gravatt who first taught Brecker the meaning of endurance.

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  • Eric Dolphy

    Eric DolphyBorn on June 20, 1928, in Los Angeles, California, Eric Dolphy  was the only child of parents of West Indian descent. While growing up in central Los Angeles, he frequently accompanied his mother to the People’s Independent Church of Christ to attend her choir recitals, where he heard performances such as Handel’s Messiah. He eventually became a choir member himself and taught Sunday school there and at the Westminster Presbyterian Church where the father of jazz pianist Hampton Hawes was pastor.

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  • Lou Donaldson

    Lou DonaldsonLou Donaldson has long been an excellent bop altoist influenced by Charlie Parker, but with a more blues-based style of his own. His distinctive tone has been heard in a variety of small-group settings, and he has recorded dozens of worthy and spirited (if somewhat predictable) sets throughout the years.
    Donaldson has recorded in the bop, hard bop, and soul jazz genres. For many years his pianist was Herman Foster. He was inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame on October 11, 2012. Also in 2012, he was named a NEA Jazz Master by the National Endowment for the Arts, United States' highest honor in jazz music.

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