Larry Ridley was born September 3, 1937 in Indianapolis, Indiana and began playing bass professionally while still in high school in the 1950s. He studied at Indiana University School of Music and then would later study at the Lenox School of Jazz. As a college student he would go on to matriculate through be bassist in his mentor’s ensemble, the David Baker Big Band.
Ridley served as chairman of the Jazz Panel of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and was the organization’s National Coordinator of the “Jazz Artists in Schools” Program for five years. He was awarded the Mid Atlanti Arts Foundation’s Living Legacy Jazz Award, the Benny Golson Jazz Award from Howard University, and inducted into the International Association for Jazz Education Hall of Fame,
Over the course of his career Larry has recorded two albums as a leader and performed and/or recorded with Chet Baker, Al Cohn, Dameronia, Red Garland, Dexter Gordon, Stephane Grappelli, Joe Venuti, Roy Haynes, Freddie Hubbard, Jackie McLean, Hank Mobley, James Moody, Lee Morgan and Horace Silver to name a few.
Bassist and music educator Larry Ridley has been involved in jazz education, heading the jazz program at Rutgers University, and Professor of Jazz Bass at the Manhattan School of Music is a Jazz Artist in Residence at Harlem’s New York Public Library/Schomberg Center for Research in Black Culture, and continues to perform with his Jazz Legacy Ensemble.
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Horace Silver was born Horace Ward Martin Tavares Silva on September 2, 1928 in Norwalk, Connecticut to a mother from Connecticut and a father from Maio, Cape Verde. He began playing the piano as a child, receiving classical music lessons and Cape Verde folk music from his father. When he turned 11 he became interested in becoming a musician, after hearing the Jimmie Lunceford Orchestra.
From ninth grade Silver played tenor saxophone in the Norwalk High School band and orchestra, influenced by Lester Young. He played gigs locally on both instruments while still at school and around 1946 he moved to Hartford, Connecticut, taking a regular job as house pianist in a nightclub. His big break came around 1950, backing saxophonist Stan Getz at a Hartford club. Liking what he heard, Getz took Silver’s band on the road. With Getz he made his recording debut on the Stan Getz Quartet album, along with bassist Joe Calloway and drummer Walter Bolden.
The following year Horace left Getz, moving to New York City and worked at Birdland on Monday nights. During that year, he met the executives of Blue Note Records, eventually signed with them, and remained there until 1980. He also co-founded the Jazz Messengers with Art Blakey.
From 1951 he free-lanced around New York, recorded mostly his own compositions with his trio, featuring Blakey on drums and Gene Ramey, Curly Russell or Percy Heath on bass. Throughout his career he would record with Clifford Brown, Lou Donaldson, Kenny Dorham, Hank Mobley, Junior Cook, Blue Mitchell, Louis Hayes, Carmell Jones, Joe Henderson, Woody Shaw, Tyrone Washington, Michael and Randy Brecker, Lee Morgan, Benny Golson, Donald Byrd and Miles Davis All Stars.
He music reflected the social and cultural upheavals of the 60s and 70s as he briefly played electric piano and including lyrics in his compositions, and his interested in spiritualism also came into his music.
He received a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters Award, recorded his final studio session in 1998 titled Jazz Has A Sense of Humor, was awarded the President’s Merit Award by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, penned his autobiography Let’s Get to the Nitty Gritty: The Autobiography of Horace Silver and published by University of California Press, and many of his compositions have become jazz standards.
Horace Silver, whose early influences were Bud Powell, Art Tatum, Teddy Wilson, Nat King Cole and Thelonious Monk, and who and influence for Bobby Timmons, Le McCann, Ramsey Lewis and Cecil Taylor, passed away of natural causes in New Rochelle, New York on June 18, 2014. The pianist and composer known for his distinctive playing style and pioneering compositional contributions to hard bop, featured surprising tempo shifts from aggressively percussive to lushly romantic merged with funk long before that word could be used in polite company.
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Arthur Edward Pepper, Jr. was born on September 1, 1925 in Gardena, California to a mother who was a fourteen year old runaway and a merchant seaman father, both of whom were violent alcoholics. He was sent to live with his paternal grandmother where he exhibited musical interest and talent while still very young. He began playing the clarinet at nine, switching to the alto saxophone by 13 and immediately started jamming on Carnegie Avenue, the Black nightclub district of Los Angeles.
By the age of 17 he began playing professionally with Benny Carter and then became part of the Stan Kenton Orchestra, touring with that band, until he was drafted in 1943. After the war he returned to Los Angeles and joined the Kenton Innovations Orchestra. In the 1950s Pepper was recognized as one of the leading alto saxophonists in jazz, epitomized by his finishing second only to Charlie Parker as Best Alto Saxophonist in the Down Beat magazine Readers Poll of 1952. Along with Chet Baker, Gerry Mulligan and Shelly Manne, he is often associated with the musical movement known as West Coast jazz, more so for geography than playing style.
Art recorded profusely and some of his most famous albums from the 1950s are Art Pepper Meets The Rhythm Section, Art Pepper + Elven-Modern Jazz Classics, Getting’ Together and Smack Up. During this period he also recorded for Aladdin Records – The Early Show, The Late Show, The Complete Surf Ride, and The Way It Was!, which features a session recorded with Warne Marsh.
His career was repeatedly interrupted by several prison stints stemming from his addiction to heroin from the mid-Fifties to the mid-Sixties and during his last incarcerations at San Quentin played in an ensemble with Frank Morgan. Pepper managed to have several memorable and productive comebacks. Remarkably, his substance abuse and legal travails did not affect the quality of his recordings, which maintained a high level of musicianship throughout his career. During the late 1960s he spent time in Synanon, a drug rehabilitation group and began methadone therapy in the mid-1970s.
His last comeback saw him as a member of Buddy Rich’s Big Band from 1968 to 1969. During the mid-1970s and early 1980s he toured Europe and Japan with his own groups and recorded dozens of albums, mostly for Fantasy Records. He authored an autobiography with his third wife Laurie titled Straight Life that focused on the jazz music world and the drug and criminal subcultures of mid-20th century California. Alto saxophonist and clarinetist Art Pepper recorded sixty-four albums as a leader, three with Ceht Baker and another seventeen as a sideman leaving the world a admirable catalogue of music before his death from a stroke due to a brain hemorrhage in Los Angeles, California on June 15, 1982 at the age of 56.
Jewel Brown was born on August 30, 1937 in Houston, Texas. Her first professional performance was at the age of 12 in the Manhattan Club in Galveston, Texas. Before graduating from Jack Yates High School, Lionel Hampton offered her the opportunity to tour professionally in Europe.
In 1957 while on vacation in Los Angeles, California she sat in with organist Earl Grant at the Club Pigalle. Grant hired her that night and her performing relationship lasted for a year. Jewel went on to work for Dallas, Texas nightclub owner Jack Ruby. In the next decade she was approached with offers of vocal positions with Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong. She chose Armstrong and appeared with him in the films Louis Armstrong and All Stars and Solo.
Brown retired from singing and performing in 1971 to care for ailing family members and later established a hair salon in Houston. In recent years she has revived her singing career and in 2012 she released her first album as a co-leader title Milton Jackson & Jewel Brown. The following year she was nominated for a Blues Music Award in the Koko Taylor Award: Traditional Blues Female category. She is currently a member of the Heritage Hall Jazz Band.
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Warren Harding “Sonny” Sharrock was born on August 27, 1940 in Ossining, New York. His first love as a child was the saxophone after hearing John Coltrane play on Miles Davis album Kind Of Blue. Unfortunately asthma prevented him from the course so he began playing the guitar. By the time he was a teenager, he started singing in doo-wop groups.
By the late 60s he was collaborating with Pharoah Sanders and Alexander Solla during the first wave of free jazz. He made his recording debut on the 1966 Sanders album Tauhid. Sharrock performed with flautist Herbie Mann, made an un-credited guest appearance on Miles Davis’s project A Tribute To Jack Johnson and the Complete Jack Johnson Sessions, arguably his most famous cameo. He recorded three albums as a leader in the late 1960s through the mid-1970s: Black Woman, Monkey-Pockie-Boo, and an album his wife Linda titled Paradise.
Sonny semi-retired for much of the 1970s, got divorced, got divorced, and worked as a chauffeur and caretaker for mentally challenged children. He returned at the urging Bill Laswell in 1981 and recorded Laswell’s project Memory Serves. He went on to work on the punk/jazz session with the band Last Exit, and during the late 1980s, he recorded and performed extensively with the New York-based improvising band Machine Gun, as well as leading his own bands.
Sharrock flourished with Laswell’s help, performing together, as well as producing his albums such as his solo project Guitar, the metal-influenced Seize the Rainbow, and the well-received Ask the Ages where he featured Pharoah Sanders and Elvin Jones. He would go on to compose the soundtrack for the Cartoon Network program Space Ghost Coast To Coast, recording a total of twelve albums as a leader and six with Last Exit. He would perform and record as a sideman with Ginger Baker, Don Cherry, Pheeroah akLaff, Roy Ayers, Brute Force, and Wayne Shorter among others.
On May 26, 1994 guitarist Sonny Sharrock died unexpectedly of a heart attack in his hometown of Ossining, just as he was on the verge of signing the first major label deal in his entire career. He was 53.
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