Frank Strazzeri was born April 24, 1930 in Rochester, New York and began his musical journey on tenor saxophone and clarinet at age 12, switching to piano soon after. He attended the Eastman School of Music, then, in 1952, took a job as a house pianist in a Rochester nightclub. While there he accompanied visiting musicians such as Roy Eldridge and Billie Holiday.
Relocating to New Orleans, Louisiana in 1954, he performed with Sharkey Bonano and Al Hirt in a Dixieland jazz setting, though his main focus since has been bebop. He played with Charlie Ventura in 1957-58 and Woody Herman in 1959 before moving to Los Angeles, California in 1960. There he worked extensively as a studio musician on the West Coast jazz scene, and toured with Joe Williams, Maynard Ferguson, Les Brown and Elvis Presle, playing with the latter for the 1973 Aloha from Hawaii concert.
Pianist Frank Strazzeri copiously recorded as a leader and played with Terry Gibbs, Herb Ellis, the Lighthouse All-Stars, Art Pepper, Bud Shank, Cal Tjader, Louie Bellson, Curtis Amy, Red Mitchell, Bill Perkins, Harold Land and Chet Baker. in addition to recording copiously as a leader. He passed away at the age of 84 on May 9, 2014.
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2011 had an increased emphasis on straight-ahead jazz was by design. The festival is one of the last free music festivals that celebrates jazz in its purest form and will continue to cultivate the legacy of classic jazz.
In Piedmont Park over the Memorial Day Weekend of May 28th to the 30th, the lineup was a good collection of straight-ahead and contemporary, both young and more established stars, as well as Atlanta representation. J.C. Young Middle School Jazz Band and North Atlanta High School Jazz Band represented the Youth Jazz Band Competition winners opening each day’s festivities along with Audrey Shakir, Gerald Clayton Trio, Infinite Sound Family, Marea Alta, Metropolitan Atlanta Youth Wind Ensemble Jazz Band, Myrna Clayton, Oliver Santana & Ellison Jazz, Neo 4, Ninety Miles featuring Stefon Harris, David Sanchez, and Christian Scott, Regina Carter’s Reverse Thread, Rialto Jazz for Kids, Rua 6, Sean Jones Quintet, Tropical Breeze, Warren Wolf Quintet and Wild Rice.
Saxophonist Mike Phillips was selected as the festival’s first-ever ambassador, Glory Foods came on as a sponsor and the GoGreen Initiative made available an iphone app allowing everyone to go paperless and get all festival information. 31 Days of Jazz continued to build its own tradition of community performances and educational workshops and neighborhood concerts were all a part of the festivities.
Thilo Berg was born April 23, 1959 in Dortmund, Germany and attracted attention in the 1980s, as a modern jazz drummer and big band leader. He has produced and organized more than 700 jazz, classical, R&B and soul events. Besides his own productions, he worked on large industry concerts as well as kick-off meetings and social events.
Berg completed studies as a classical percussionist with Herrmann Gschwendtner and held the position of solo timpanist and percussionist in the Southwest German Radio Symphony Orchestra and the German between 1981 and 2008. Having worked in various bands, in 1986 he formed his big band, performing with guest soloists such as Barbara Dennerlein, Ack van Rooyen, Jiggs Whigham, Barbara Morrison, Silvia Droste, Jim Snidero, Slide Hampton, Bob Mintzer, Art Farmer and Bill Ramsey.
Over seven year together they recorded three albums and the band saw coming through its ranks Till Brönner, Paul Heller, Peter Weniger, Ludwig Nuss, Mark Nightingale, Gerald Presencer, Martin Shaw, Hubert Nuss and Thilo Wagner.He also worked in smaller groups with Jack van Poll, Bobby Shew, Heiner Franz, John Gordon, Elaine Delmare and Curtis Fuller.
Drummer Thilo Berg founded the jazz and classical music label Mons Records in 1991, has worked as a music producer for Sony Music, BMG, Columbia and Universal, and continues to perform, record and produce.
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Barry John Guy was born April 22, 1947 in London, England and came to the fore as an improvising bassist as a member of a trio with pianist Howard Riley and drummer Tony Oxley in 1969. He also became an occasional member of John Stevens’ ensembles in the 1960s and 1970s, including the Spontaneous Music Ensemble.
By the early 1970s, he was a member of the influential free improvisation group Iskra 1903 with Derek Bailey and trombonist Paul Rutherford and in the late Seventies was revived with violinist Philipp Wachsmann, replacing Bailey. Guy, saxophonist Evan Parker, and drummer Paul Lytton became one of the best-known and most widely travelled free-improvising trios of the 1980s and 1990s.For a brief time he was a member of the Michael Nyman Band in the 1980s, performing on the soundtrack of The Draughtsman’s Contract.
Guy’s improvisation and formal composition interests led him to the London Jazz Composers Orchestra, originally formed to perform his composition Ode in 1972. The orchestra became one of the great large-scale European improvising ensembles. Though documentation is sketchy early on, in the late 1980s the Swiss label Intakt set out to document the band more thoroughly, resulting in several recordings.
He has also written for other large improvising ensembles, such as the NOW Orchestra and ROVA. Having taught at Guildhall School of Music, double bassist Barry Guy is currently improvising in piano trios with Marilyn Crispell and Agusti Fernandez, recorded several albums for ECM, continues to venture into the pop field with his session work, and along with his wife, run the small label Maya, which releases a variety of records in the genres of free improvisation, baroque music and contemporary composition.
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The Jazz Voyager is heading to the airport to catch a plane to the midwest to hang out at The Blue Room situated in the American Jazz Museum and catch a set tomorrow night with Everett Freeman’s band Eclipse with Lisa Henry. Located in the historic 18th & Vine jazz district at 1616 E 18th St, Kansas City, MO 64108 it honors the past and showcases the present best local and national names in jazz.
The Blue Room opened in 1997 and is a happening club that’s determined to keep “Kansas City Jazz” alive and thriving. Welcoming all into an intimate setting it is said you can sit in on the Monday night jam session, big band performances as well as Latin Jazz and Salsa mixed into the varied nights of jazz performances. Open on Monday & Thursday from 5-11pm and Friday 5p-1a and Saturday from 7pm – 1:00am. To discover more visit their site at americanjazzmuseum.org/blueroom or call 816-474-6262 #jazz voyager