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MONETTE MOORE

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Monette Moore was born May 19, 1902 in Gainesville, Texas but was raised in Kansas City, Missouri. She taught herself piano in her teens and worked as a theater pianist in Kansas City in the early Twenties. In 1923–24 she recorded for Paramount Records  in New York City and Chicago, in addition working Dallas and Oklahoma City and eventually settling in New York City.

Monette played with Charlie Johnson’s ensemble at Smalls Paradise and recorded with him in 1927–28. Her output from 1923–27 amounts to 44 tunes, some recorded under the name Susie Smith. Her sidemen included Tommy Ladnier, Jimmy O’Bryan, Jimmy Blythe, Bob Fuller, Rex Stewart, Bubber Miley, Lou Hooper and Elmer Snowden.

In the 1930s, Moore recorded with Fats Waller, filled in for Ethel Waters as an understudy, and in 1937 sang with Zinky Cohn in Chicago. She would perform at her own club, Monette’s Place, in New York City in 1933. Around 1940 she sang in New York with Sidney Bechet and Sammy Price, then moved to Los Angeles in 1942, performing often in nightclubs. She appeared in James P. Johnson’s revue Sugar Hill in 1949 and in numerous films in minor roles.

Monette recorded again from 1945-47, performed with the Young Men of New Orleans at  Disneyland in 1961–62.  Vocalist and pianist Monette Moore passed away of a heart attack on October 21, 1962 in Garden Grove, California.

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WOODY HERMAN

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Woody Herman was born Woodrow Charles Thomas Herman on May 16, 1913 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. His father had a deep love for show business and this influenced him at an early age. As a child he worked as a Vaudeville singer and tap-dancer, then started to play the clarinet and saxophone by age 12.

1936 saw him joining the Tom Gerun band and his first recorded vocals were Lonesome Me and My Heart’s at Ease. He also performed with the Harry Sosnick Orchestra, Gus Arnheim and Isham Jones, the latter writing numerous popular songes including It Had To Be You. When Jones retired Woody acquired the orchestra, which became known for its orchestrations of the blues. They first recorded for the Decca label as a cover band, eventually getting their first hit with Woodchopper’s Ball in 1939.He went on to have hits with The Golden Wedding and Blue Prelude.

As bebop was gradually replacing swing Herman commissioned Dizzy Gillespie as an arranger and he provided him three arrangements of Woody‘n You, Swing Shift and Down Under in 1942, heralding a change in the music. By 1945 Herman was with Columbia Records, recording the First Herd, the very successful Laura, the theme song to the 1944 movie of the same name. That group became famous for its progressive jazz that was heavily influenced by Duke Ellington and Count Basie. By the end of 1946 the big band era was over and he disbanded his only financially profitable group.

In 1947, Herman organized the Second Herd that remained together until 1987. This band was also known as The Four Brothers Band derived from the song and featured three tenor and one baritone saxophone of Zoot Sims, Serge Chaloff, Herbie Steward and Stan Getz. In the band was also Al Cohn, Gene Ammons, Lou Levy, Oscar Pettiford, Terry Gibbs and Shelly Manne and they had hits with Early Autumn and The Goof and I.

Herman would go on to perform in movies with Billie Holiday and Louis Armstrong, record for RCA, Capitol, MGM and Verve record labels, put together his Third Herd and variations of the New Thundering Herd and by the Seventies was touring and working more in jazz education by offering workshops and taking on younger sidemen.

The 1980s saw Herman’s return to straight-ahead jazz, dropping some of the newer rock and fusion approaches he had used the previous decade. He continued to perform with his health in decline, chiefly to pay back taxes that were owed because of his business manager’s bookkeeping in the 1960s. Herman owed the IRS millions of dollars and was in danger of eviction from his home. He eventually passed leadership duties to reed section leader Frank Tiberi.

Clarinetist, alto and soprano saxophonist, singer and big band leader Woody Herman was awarded two Grammys for Best Big Band Jazz Album for Encore and Giant Steps, The Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, had won Down Beat, Esquire and Metronome polls. He was the feature of a documentary film titled Woody Herman: Blue Flame- Portrait of a Jazz Legend, and was a featured half-time performer at Super Bowl VII. He passed away on October 29, 1987.


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GIL EVANS

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Gil Evans came into this world on May 13, 1912 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada as Ian Ernest Gilmore Green. His name was changed to his stepfather’s Evans early in his life. His family moved to Stockton, California where he spent most of his youth.

Between 1941 and 1948, Evans worked as an arranger for the Claude Thornhill Orchestra. His basement apartment behind a New York City Chinese laundry became a meeting place for musicians looking to develop new musical styles outside of the dominant bebop style of the day that included the leading bebop performer Charlie Parker, Gerry Mulligan and John Carisi.

In 1948, Gil collaborated with Miles Davis, Mulligan and others to create a nonet utilizing French horns and tubas keeping the big sound with less cost. The Davis-led group was booked for a week at the Royal Roost as an intermission group on the bill with the Count Basie Orchestra. Subsequently, Capitol Records recorded 12 numbers at three sessions in 1949 and 1950 that were reissued on the 1957 Miles Davis LP titled Birth Of The Cool. He was also instrumental in contributing behind the scenes to Davis’ classic quintet albums of the 1960s.

From 1957 onwards Evans recorded albums under his own name. He brought tubist Bill Barber, trumpeter Louis Mucci along with im and featured soloists Lee Konitz, Jimmy Cleveland, Steve Lacy, Johnny Coles and Cannonball Adderley. By 1965 he was arranging the big band tracks on Kenny Burrell’s Guitar Forms album.

Evans’ influence by Latin, Brazilian and Spanish composers Manuel de Falla and Joaquin Rodrigo as well as German expat Kurt Weill led him to create arrangements that included two basses, using Richard Davis, Paul Chambers, Ron Carter, Ben Tucker and Milt Hinton on many of his recordings. He was prolific in his recording until he became discouraged by the commercial direction Verve Records was taking with his arrangements for Astrud Gilberto’s Look To The Rainbow, causing him to take a hiatus from music.

During this period he began listening to Jimi Hendrix at the suggestion of his wife. He became interested in scoring the music of the rock guitarist, put together another orchestra in the Seventies and began working with in the free jazz and jazz rock idioms. He eventually released an album of arrangements of Hendrix’s music with John Abercrombie and RyoKawasaki and his ensembles featured electric guitars and basses, like that of Jaco Pastorious, from that date forward.

He would go on to release Where Flamingos Fly in 1981 with Coles, Harry Lookofsky, Richard Davis and Jimmy Knepper, Howard Johnson, Don Preston and Billy Harper. He created his Monday Night Orchestra in 1983 that became a staple for five years at Sweet Basil Jazz Club in Greenwich Village. Members of the band were Lew Soloff, Hiram Bullock, David Sanborn, Mark Eagan and Tom “Bones” Malone and Gil Goldstein among others. He recorded a big band album of The Police songs with Sting collaborating with apprentice arranger Maria Schneider.

Gil won two Grammy awards, has four films to his credit  and was inducted into the Down Beat Jazz Hall of Fame in 1986. He ha a catalogue of eighteen studio albums, 16 live albums, arranged fifteen albums for Miles Davis, Hal McKusick, Helen Merrill, Johnny Mathis, Macy Lutes, Don Elliott, Astrud Gilberto and Kenny Burrell.

Pianist, composer, arranger and bandleader Gil Evans, who played an important part in the development of cool, modal, free and fusion styles of jazz, passed away of peritonitis in Cuernavaca, Mexico at the age of 75 on March 20, 1988.


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SID WEISS

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Sid Weiss was born April 30, 1914 in Schenectady, New York and learned clarinet, violin, and tuba when young. He switched to bass in his teens. He moved to New York City around 1931 and worked the following decade with Louis Prima, Bunny Berigan, Wingy Manone, Artie Shaw, Tommy Dorsey, Charlie Barnet and Adrian Rollini.

He was with Benny Goodman from 1941–1945, then played in the second half of the 1940s and the early 1950s with Muggsy Spanier, Pee Wee Russell, Cozy Cole, Bud Freeman, Duke Ellington and Eddie Condon. He quit full-time performing in the mid-1950s and in 1968 was an executive of the musicians’ union in Los Angeles, California. Bassist Sid Weiss passed away on March 30, 1994.


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DAVE TOUGH

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Dave Tough, born April 26, 1907 in Oak Park, Illinois was sometimes Davie or Davey Tough. His decision to become a drummer was not supported by his family or community, so he ventured from his upper-middle class world to the evolving jazz scene of Chicago’s Southside, breaking both cultural and musical boundaries.

Dave worked Bud Freeman, Woody Herman, Eddie Condon, Red Nichols, Red Norvo, Tommy Dorsey, Bunny Berigan and Benny Goodman. Appearing as the poet-drummer character Dick Rough in the Autobiographical Novel of Kenneth Rexroth, he played at Chicago’s legendary Green Mask,

In the later 1920s, Tough floated between Nice and Paris doing freelance work, touring and recording throughout Europe mostly on the Tri-Ergon label in the early Thirties. During this overseas period he worked loosely with George Carhart and while in Paris he had extensive sessions with Mezz Mezzrow.

Though without official record,he spent portions of 1942-44 in the Navy playing behind Shaw’s Naval Band. He only led one album, a small-sided release by the Jamboree label. Although he had varied successes, one being with the Artie Shaw band, Dave also had difficulties with alcoholism and illness that caused him to lose a number of prominent jobs.

Although he was not known as a bebop drummer, he was a fan and admired the drumming of Max Roach. He was not a flashy, crowd-pleasing drummer like Gene Krupa or Buddy Rich, he was widely admired by other musicians for his taste and subtle rhythmic drive. Dixieland and swing drummer Dave Tough, described as the most important of the drummers of the Chicago circle in the 1930s and 1940s, passed away from a cerebral trauma after falling down on a Newark, New Jersey street on December 9, 1948 at age 41. He was inducted into the Big Band and Jazz Hall of Fame in 2000.


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