Ellyn Rucker was born in Des Moines, Iowa of July 29, 1937 and she started playing piano when she was eight, discovered jazz at 13, and studied classical piano at Drake University. However, it wasn’t until 1979 that she decided to become a full-time musician.
Rucker toured Europe several times both with and without Spike Robinson, recorded a small catalogue of several albums for Capri Records, has a full-length video Live In New Orleans on Leisure Jazz label, and has performed at festivals and clubs around the U.S. and Europe.
Though she is not a household name to jazz fans around the globe Ellyn Rucker is a fixture on the Denver, Colorado jazz scene. The Bill Evans influenced hard bop and bop-based pianist and vocalist continues to perform, record and tour.
Jim Galloway was born James Braidie Galloway in Kilwinning, Ayrshire, Scotland on July 28, 1936. Since emigrating from Scotland in the mid-1960s he had based his career in Canada.
Galloway recorded several albums as a leader and in the late 1970s formed an ensemble, the Wee Big Band. One of his many albums, Walking On Air, was nominated for Best Jazz Album at the 1980 Juno Awards.
He was the artistic director of the Toronto Jazz Festival from 1987 to 2009. In 2002 Jim was honored when made a Chevalier of the French Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. His musical performances continue to be listed on the Toronto Jazz Festival website.
Bandleader, songwriter, clarinet and saxophone player Jim Galloway died in palliative care in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on December 30, 2014.
Jean Toussaint, born July 27, 1960 in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands and grew up in St. Thomas and New York City. He learned to play calypso as a child and attended Berklee College of Music in the late 1970s, studying under saxophonist Billy Pierce.
In 1979 Jean formed a group with Wallace Roney and from 1982 to 1986 was a member of Art Blakey and The Jazz Messengers alongside Terence Blanchard, Donald Harrison, Mulgrew Miller and Lonnie Plaxico. With Blakey he recorded three studio albums, including New York Scene, which won a Grammy for Best Jazz Instrumental Performance.
Toussaint moved to London in 1987, following an invitation from Professor of Jazz, Lionel Grigson, to be artist-in-residence at the Guildhall School of Music. Since then he has maintained a consistent profile as a band leader in the UK and Europe, playing with British musicians who include, among others, Steve Williamson, Courtney Pine, Julian Joseph, Jason Rebello and Cleveland Watkins.
He has also performed in the groups led by McCoy Tyner, Gil Evans, Kirk Lightsey, Cedar Walton, Max Roach, Horace Silver, Jeff “Tain” Watts, and has collaborated with Lionel Loueke. Soprano and tenor saxophonist Jean Toussaint has compiled a catalogue of ten albums as a leader with his latest release being Tate Song for Lyte Records. He continues to perform and record.
More Posts: saxophone
Patti Bown was born on July 26, 1931 in Seattle, Washington and began playing piano at age two. She studied piano while attending the university in Seattle and played in local orchestras toward the end of the 1940s. From 1956 she moved to New York and worked as a soloist, playing early on in sessions with Billy Eckstine and Jimmy Rushing.
Bowen released one album in 1958 as a leader titled Patti Bown Plays Big Piano for Columbia Records. The following year, she recorded in a trio with Ed Shaughnessy and then was part of the Quincy Jones Orchestra touring Europe. While there she also played with Bill Coleman in Paris.
By the 1960s Patti was working extensively in the studios, recording with Gene Ammons, Oliver Nelson, Cal Massey, Duke Ellington, Roland Kirk, George Russell, Etta Jones, Art Farmer and Harry “Sweets” Edison. Stretching outside the jazz genre, she also recorded with Aretha Franklin and James Brown, and for a period of time she was the musical director for the bands that were accompanying Dinah Washington and Sarah Vaughan.
The 1970s saw Bown working as a pianist in orchestras on Broadway and composing for film and television. She lived in Greenwich Village for the last 37 years of her life and played regularly at the nightclub Village Gate. Pianist, composer and music director Patti Bown passed away on March 21, 2008 in Media, Pennsylvania.
More Posts: piano
The Nearness Of You is a Hoagy Carmichael & Ned Washington tunethat was featured in the 1938 film Romance In The Dark. The movie starred John Barrymore and John Boles. Lead actress Gladys Swarthout of the Metropolitan Opera performed the song.
The Story: John Boles, plays an egotistical, preening, successful Hungarian singer named Kovach. Gladys Swarthout, charmingly plays a young singer who wishes to advance herself. Kovach has handed her a first prize medal at her graduation from conservatory, and casually said he would like to hear her sing again and to look him up. He didn’t mean it, but she takes him literally, so she goes and stands by the stage door and he doesn’t notice her, she tries his house and can’t get in, and eventually gets a job as his maid. Having infiltrated his abode, she keeps trying to draw attention to her voice by singing, and he remains obtuse and does not notice. Events transpire in her favor, however, and he ends up appreciating her, then later falling for her. Barrymore gives her a contract, under the false impression that she is a Persian princess, and creates a huge publicity campaign about his new discovery, a Middle Eastern singing sensation. Well, events ensue, and the ending must remain wrapped in satin, although the discerning might well imagine it.