Ken Gregory was born on April 26, 1950 in Atlanta, Georgia and began playing trumpet at age nine, playing in the Northside Highlander Concert Band for three years beginning in 1960. After four years of private training, during his time in high school he sat 1st chair trumpet in the concert band from 1963 to 1968. He went on to work as conductor and lead trumpeter for the Six Flags Over Georgia orchestra until 1971, then learned to play guitar, electric bass and keyboards.
Gregory started playing the nightclub circuit in 1971 for the next nine years. By the Eighties as performance venues transitioned from clubs to private parties, he partnered with an electronics technician and moved into the professional studio business.
As a composer he has been commissioned to write for Warner Bros. Films, CNN, the Weather Channel, numerous radio and television advertisers, songwriters and lyricists. He has added trombone to his arsenal of instruments and has been recorded on thousands of studio sessions and has engineered audio and MIDI programming.
He performs original compositions with his band Solid State and has been featured on some of Atlanta’s best radio stations, on PBS Television’s Jazz Atlanta, and has performed at the Montreux Jazz, Atlanta Jazz and Inman Park festivals. Trumpeter and engineer Ken Gregory continues to be active in the professional music and record business in Atlanta.
Rick Henderson was born in Washington, D.C. on April 25, 1928 and studied composition while in high school and in the late 1940s played the saxophone locally. After serving in the Army from 1951 to 1953, he joined Duke Ellington’s Orchestra upon recommendation by Clark Terry.
During Ellington’s years on Capitol Records, Rick sat in the saxophone section, created arrangements, and in addition composed tunes such as Carney for the Ellington band. Leaving Ellington’s employ in 1956, he returned to Washington, where he led the Howard Theatre’s house band until 1964.
Following this he worked as an arranger and composer for jazz orchestras as well as military bands and school ensembles. Among those who used Henderson’s charts, in addition to Ellington, were Count Basie, Illinois Jacquet, and Billy Taylor. He continued to lead bands into the 1990s, including the University of Maryland Jazz Ensemble from 1977 to 1978.
Saxophonist and arranger Rick Henderson passed away of arteriosclerotic cardiovascular disease on May 21, 2004 in the District of Columbia.
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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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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