Michael Pedicin was born on July 29, 1947 in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. He started playing at eight and joined a band at 15. His ability to read music and play alto, tenor, and soprano saxophone made him a sought-after session musician at Sigma Sound Studios. His session skills not only got him into the R&B side of music with Gamble & Huff but led to a self-titled debut solo album in 1980 on Philadelphia International Records that did well only in New York. His single You piqued CBS Records’ interest but ultimately they withdrew their offer when he demanded a three-record deal.
By 1981 the casinos and lounges of Atlantic City were calling his name and he moved there to pursue his musical dreams. Gigs were plentiful at first, but Atlantic City wasn’t Las Vegas, and many lounges discontinued their live entertainment and the saxophonist hit the road with Dave Brubeck for two years. He resurrected the Michael Pedicin Quartet after the stint and found work in Atlantic City’s revitalized lounges. He also started a talent agency, promoted major jazz acts, did a second album — City Song on the Optimism Records label and served as the musical director at different times for three casinos.
He formed Bayshore Music, a management company , recorded a third solo album, Angles, on Optimism that featured Peter Erskine and Micki Rossi. A fourth album, You Don’t Know What Love Is , featured the Holland, Dozier, and Gorman tune Forever, popularized by the Marvelettes and Marvin Gaye, that has been reissued by Peter Pan and Triloka Records.
Michael has worked with Lou Rawls and Maynard Ferguson, taught at Temple University, and started 12th Street Music with Sigma Sound engineer Joe Tarisa. The post-bop saxophonist Michael Pedicin continues to commute to Philadelphia for sessions, remains active on the jazz scene and composes, performs and records with his current quintet with drummer Vic Stevens, bassist Andy Lalasis, guitarist Johnnie Valentino and pianist Rick Germanson.
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Ikey Robinson also known as Banjo Ikey was born Isaac L. Robinson on July 28, 1904 in Dublin, Virginia. He moved to Chicago, Illinois in 1926, playing and recording with Jelly Roll Morton, Clarence Williams, and Jabbo Smith during 1928-1929.
He went on to put together groups that included Ikey Robinson and his Band with Jabbo Smith, The Hokum Trio, The Pods of Pepper, Windy City Five, and Sloke & Ike.
His jazz style influenced many subsequent players, and his 1929 recording Rock Me Mama is often cited as an early use of the term “rock” as it evolved from black gospel into rock and roll.
Robinson reunited in the 1970s with Jabbo Smith for a global tour and appeared in the 1985 film Louie Bluie, a documentary about fellow musician Howard Armstrong. Having never previously met Armstrong he was initially hesitant to meet him because of their differing musical styles. However, the two got on well and perform together in the documentary. Banjoist and vocalist Ikey Robinson passed away on October 25, 1990.
Barbara Gracey Thompson was born on July 27, 1944 in Oxford, United Kingdom. She studied clarinet, flute, piano and classical composition at the Royal College of Music, but it was the music of Duke Ellington and John Coltrane that caused her to shift her interests to jazz and saxophone.
Around 1970, Thompson she joined Neil Ardley’s New Jazz Orchestra and appeared on albums by Colosseum. Starting in 1975, she was a founding member of three bands, the first being the United Jazz and Rock Ensemble, with bandleaders Wolfgang Dauner, Volker Kriegel, Albert Mangelsdorff, Eberhard Weber, Ian Carr, Charlie Mariano, Ack van Rooyen and Jon Hiseman. The second was Barbara Thompson’s Jubiaba, a 9 piece Latin/rock band with Peter Lemer, Roy Babbington, Henry Lowther, Ian Hamer, Derek Wadsworth, Trevor Tomkins, Bill Le Sage and Glyn Thomas. The third, Barbara Thompson’s Paraphernalia, is her current working band with pianist Peter Lemer, vocalist Billy Thompson, bassist Dave Ball and Jon Hiseman on drums.
She was awarded the MBE in 1996 for services to music but due to her being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1997, she retired as an active saxophonist in 2001 with a farewell tour. Barbara went on to work exclusively as a composer exclusively, but returned to the stage in 2003 replacing the unwell Dick Heckstall-Smith during Colosseum’s “Tomorrow’s Blues” tour becoming a permanent member, and in 2005 she performed live with Paraphernalia in their “Never Say Goodbye” tour.
Thompson has worked with Andrew Lloyd Webber on musicals such as Cats, Starlight Express and Requiem. She has written several classical compositions, music for film and television, a musical of her own and has composed songs for her big band Moving Parts.
Jack Six was born on July 26, 1930 in Danville, Illinois. He studied trumpet between 1945-1947 and worked in Chicago, Los Angeles and New York City where he spent a year studying composition at the Juilliard School in 1955.
As a bassist he played in the Tommy Dorsey Ghost Band led by Warren Covington, then in the big bands of Claude Thornhill and Woody Herman while he continued his studies. He spent several years in groups led by Herbie Mann and also Don Elliott . From 1968 to 1974 he was a part of the Dave Brubeck Trio with drummer Alan Dawson and this tenure Jack followed with Jim Hall.
After a few years in television shows and the musical director of a hotel band from 1989-1998, Six returned to work with Brubeck on tour. Over the course of a forty year career he recorded some 77 jazz sessions with Maxwell Davis,Tal Farlow, Jack Reilly, Dave Pike, Marlene Verplanck, Gerry Mulligan, Susannah McCorkle, Dick Meldonian, Johnny Rae’s Afro-Jazz Septet, Marco Di Marco and Marty Grosz among numerous others.
Bassist Jack Six, a consummate sideman who never led his own recording session, passed away on February 24, 2015.
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Happy Caldwell was born Albert W. Caldwell on July 25, 1903 in Chicago, Illinois. He began on clarinet at age 16, playing in the Eighth Illinois Regimental Band and soon after in an Army band. He studied to be a pharmacist but eventually gave up his medicinal studies for jazz.
He worked with Bernie Young early in the 1920s in Chicago, where he recorded for the first time in 1923 and began doubling on tenor saxophone. In the middle of the 1920s he played with Mamie Smith’s Jazz Hounds, Bobby Brown’s Syncopaters, Elmer Snowden, Billy Fowler, Thomas Morris, Willie Gant, and Cliff Jackson. By 1929 he had recorded with Louis Armstrong.
The 1930s saw him playing with Vernon Andrade, Tiny Bradshaw, and Louis Metcalfe, and leading his own band, the Happy Pals. He played at Minton’s in New York City for a short time before moving to Philadelphia, where he played with Eugene Slappy and Charlie Gaines. Returning to New York he put together a new ensemble in the Forties and continued to work in small settings for several decades. In the 1970s he played with Jimmy Rushing, including on international tours. Never leading his own sessions, clarinetist and tenor saxophonist Happy Caldwell, sometimes misspelled as Cauldwell, passed away on December 29, 1978 in New York City at age 75.