Bennie Maupin was born August 29, 1940 in Detroit, Michigan. He started playing tenor saxophone in high school and attended the Detroit Institute for Musical Arts, while playing locally. He moved to New York in 1963, freelancing with many groups, including ones led by Marion Brown and Pharoah Sanders.
Well known for his playing as a part of Herbie Hancock’s Mwandishi sextet and Headhunters band and for performing on Miles Davis’s seminal fusion record, Bitches Brew. Maupin has collaborated with Horace Silver, Roy Haynes, Woody Shaw, Lee Morgan and many others. He has also performed on several Meat Beat Manifesto albums.
Noted for having a harmonically-advanced, “out” improvisation style, while having a different sense of melodic direction than other “out” jazz musicians such as Eric Dolphy.
Maupin was also a member of Almanac, a group with bassist Cecil McBee, pianist Mike Nock and drummer Eddie Marshall. He has recorded a half dozen albums as a leader and another three dozen as a sideman with John Beasley, Marion Brown, Mike Clark, Miles Davis, Jack DeJohnette, Eddie Henderson, Andrew Hill, Darek Oles, Lonnie Smith, McCoy Tyner, Lenny White, Patrick Gleeson and Jim Lang.
Multireedist Bennie Maupin, who plays various saxophones, flute and bass clarinet, failed to catch on as a bandleader, thus maintained a low profile during the past 15 years, until emerging in 2006 with the critically acclaimed Penumbra followed two years later Early Reflections on the Cryptogramophone label, then on Vocalion with Slow Traffic To The Left, Moonscapes. He continues to perform and tour.
Anthony Branker was born August 28, 1958 in Elizabeth, New Jersey and raised in Piscataway and Plainfield, New Jersey. He attended the music program and graduated from Piscataway High School, then went on to Princeton University for his B.A. in Music, the University of Miami for a Master of Music in Jazz Pedagogy and finally to Columbia University, Teachers College receiving degrees of Master of Education and Doctor of Education; with specialties in Music and Music Education.
Hailing from Trinidad and Barbados heritage his family boasts a musical director and pianist with the Platters, a composer and pianist who worked with the Copasetics and Billy Strayhorn, and a music producer and bassist who has worked with Roberta Flack, Cyndi Lauper, Simply Red and others.
His lists of fellowships, commissions, compositions and collaborations while at Princeton University are extensive. He has been a Fulbright Scholar, received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, and has conducted symphonies, orchestras and ensembles all over the world. Branker has performed and recorded with the Spirit of Life Ensemble and has shared the stage in a variety of musical settings with such artists as Ted Curson, Talib Kibwe, Guilherme Franco & Nova Bossa Nova, Steve Nelson, Marcus Belgrave, Billy Higgins, John Hicks, Michael Cochrane, Calvin Hill, Bobby Watson, Jacky Terrasson, Steve Nelson, Bob Mintzer, Don Braden, Ralph Peterson Jr.,Orrin Evans, Antonio Hart, Clark Terry, Phil Woods, Slide Hampton, Jimmy Heath, Jon Faddis, Ted Curson, Oliver Lake, Frank Foster, Benny Carter, Conrad Herwig, Eddie Henderson, James Weidman, Stanley Jordan, Benny Carter, Ralph Peterson, Terence Blanchard, Big John Patton, Roscoe Mitchell, Gary Burton,among numerous others, and has performed in the critically acclaimed Off-Broadway production of Dinah Was: The Dinah Washington Musical.
As an educator Anthony recently retired from Princeton University after 27 years on the faculty and the endowed chair in jazz studies, serving as founding director of the Program in Jazz Studies, director of university jazz ensembles program, and associate director of the Program in Musical Performance.
In 1999 with medical problems stemming from two brain aneurysms and the discovery of an arteriovenous malformation caused trumpeter, composer, educator, scholar, and conductor Anthony Branker to give up trumpet playing and to take a leave of absence from teaching.
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Jack Delaney was born on August 27, 1930 in New Orleans, Louisiana. He studied at Southeastern Louisiana College and worked the late 1940s and early 1950s in New Orleans with Johnny Reininger, Sharkey Bonano and Tony Almerico.
Recordings were mainly mid-1950s with Almericos Parisian Room band with singer Lizzie Miles. Around this time he put together a group with Ken Colyer and Pete Fountain. From 1958 he worked at the Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans with Leon Kellner, later with Pete Fountain. His jazz career primarily spanned from 1950-1977 and he recorded 52 sessions.
Dixieland trombonist Jack Delaney, who also played the trumpet and sang, passed away on September 22, 1975.
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James Andrew Rushing was born on August 26, 1901 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma into a family with musical talent and accomplishments. His father, Andrew, was a trumpeter and his mother, Cora and her brother were singers. He studied music theory with Zelia N. Breaux at Douglass High School, and was unusual among his musical contemporaries, having attended college at Wilberforce University.
Rushing was inspired to pursue music and eventually sing blues by his uncle Wesley Manning and George “Fathead” Thomas of McKinney’s Cotton Pickers. Touring the midWest and California as an itinerant blues singer in 1923 and 1924, he eventually moved to Los Angeles, California, where he played piano and sang with Jelly Roll Morton. He also sang with Billy King before moving on to Page’s Blue Devils in 1927. He, along with other members of the Blue Devils, defected to the Bennie Moten band in 1929.
When Moten died in 1935 Jimmy joined Count Basie for what would be a 13-year tenure. Due to his tutelage under his mentor Moten, he was a proponent of the Kansas City jump blues tradition as heard in his versions of Sent For You Yesterday and Boogie Woogie for the Count Basie Orchestra. After leaving Basie,, as a solo artist and a singing with other bands.
When the Basie band broke up in 1950 he briefly retired, then formed his own group and his recording career soared. He also made a guest appearance with Duke Ellington for the 1959 album Jazz Party. In 1960, he recorded an album with the Dave Brubeck Quartet, known for their cerebral cool jazz sound. Rushing appeared in the 1957 television special Sound of Jazz, singing one of his signature songs I Left My Baby backed by many of his former Basie band compatriots. In 1958 he was among the musicians included in an Esquire magazine photo by Art Kane, later memorialized in the documentary film A Great Day in Harlem.
In 1958 Jimmy toured the UK with Humphrey Lyttelton and his band, appeared in the 1969 Gordon Parks film The Learning Tree, and by 1971 was diagnosed with leukemia, that sidelined his performing career. On June 8, 1972 vocalist Jimmy Rushing, who was known as a blues shouter, balladeer and swing jazz singer, passed away in New York City. He was one of eight jazz and blues legends honored in a set of United States Postal Service stamps issued in 1994. Among his best known recordings are “Going to Chicago” with Basie, and “Harvard Blues”, with a famous saxophone solo by Don Byas.
Carrie Louise Smith was born August 25, 1925 in Fort Gaines, Georgia. Her mother moved her to Newark, New Jersey to escape an abusive husband but left her to be raised by an older cousin when she joined Father Divine’s church.
Leaving school after the eighth grade, Carrie taught herself to play piano, began singing in church and worked a number of jobs including train announcer at Newark’s train station. She became a member of the Back Home Choir that performed at the 1957 Newport Jazz Festival. She first gained notice singing with Big Tiny Little in the early 1970s, but became internationally known by 1974 when she played Bessie Smith (no relation) in Dick Hyman’s Satchmo Remembered at Carnegie Hall.
This was when Smith launched a solo career, performing with the New York Jazz Repertory Orchestra, with a sextet led by trombonist Tyree Glenn in 1973, Yank Lawson in 1987, and then with the World’s Greatest Jazz Band. In addition to recording numerous solo albums, she starred in the Broadway musical Black and Blue from 1989 to 1991.
Though not well known in the U. S. she had a cult following in Europe and recorded thirteen albums between 1976 and 2002 as a leader. She also recorded with Art Hodes, Buddy Tate, Doc Cheatham, Hank Jones, Winard Harper, Dick Hyman, Clark Terry, Bross Townsend, Bob Cunningham and Bernard Purdie among others over the course of her career.
Jazz and blues vocalist Carrie Smith, lauded by jazz critics Rex Reed, Leonard Feather, Richard Sudhalter and John S. Wilson, passed away of from complications due to cancer at the age of 86 in Englewood, New Jersey on May 20, 2012.