Ruth Price was born on April 27, 1938 in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania. Originally a dancer, she went to ballet school in 1952. One evening a friend took her to hear Lester Young and she was hooked and by 1954, when Charlie Ventura’s regular singer fell ill, after hearing her sing he approached her to fill the vacancy and a jazz vocalist was born. She went on to pursue work in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and New York City as a vocalist and dancer.
Though her catalogue is relatively minimal, the vocalist is known for producing projects that are lasting. By 1955 she was in the studio recording her debut release My Name is Ruth Price: I Sing, followed by Ruth Price Sings with the Johnny Smith Quartet the next year and then with The Party’s Over in 1957.
In 1957 Ruth moved to Hollywood in 1957, and over the next several years performed recorded and toured with Mel Torme, Red Garland, John Coltrane, Philly Joe Jones, Dizzy Gillespie, Billy Taylor, Stan Getz, Sonny Stitt, Sonny Rollins, the Charles Mingus Quintet, Art Pepper, Victor Feldman, Russ Freeman and Hank Jones.
In 1961 Price recorded with Shelley Manne and His Men at the Manne Hole, recorded Live And Beautiful in ’63 and not another until 1983 with Lucky To Be Me and later toured with Harry James from 1964-1965. Her diverse repertoire includes many obscure, lesser-known gems from the Great American Songbook.
In the Nineties she never stepped far from the music and gained further renown not as a singer but as the owner of the prestigious Los Angeles nightspot The Jazz Bakery that opened in its doors in 1992 and hosted all the greats for nearly two decades until she closed them in 2009.
A talented singer whose wide expressive qualities do justice to any lyrics that she chooses to interpret made her a jazz poll winner. Highly respected for her knowledge and performances of those rare gems in American popular song, it was a natural transition to become an educator in recent years as an adjunct assistant professor at the University of California – Los Angeles in the Department of Ethnomusicology, and has taught at the Dick Grove School of Music. She continues to record and receive critical acclaim for her work.
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Tommy Turrentine was born Thomas Walter Turrentine, Jr. on April 22, 1928 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and is the older brother of saxophonist Stanley Turrentine.
Tommy played in the bands of Benny Carter, Earl Bostic, Charles Mingus, Billy Eckstine, Dizzy Gillespie and Count Basie. While his brother had a successful career and recorded a number of albums over his lifetime, Tommy only recorded one album under his name with Julian Priester, Bob Boswell, Max Roach and Horace Parlan before retiring in the 1960s.
However, he recorded a number of sessions as a sideman with Sonny Clark, Booker Ervin, Lou Donaldson, Abbey Lincoln, Dexter Gordon, Jackie McLean, Archie Shepp, Sun Ra and his brother’s bands. In the late 1950s Turrentine began a working relationship with Max Roach that was spawned in part when he joined the Max Roach Quintet following the death of Clifford Brown.
In the 1970s he lived on the ground floor of a brownstone with his wife Jane on West 82nd Street in New York City, a street which during that period had a number of jazz luminaries living along its blocks between Broadway and Central Park, including Tommy Flanagan and Pharoah Sanders.
In the summer of 1979 Turrentine was one of several star trumpeters who appeared at the Village Gate for an all-star tribute to Blue Mitchell. He was also adept on the piano at chord blockings and was a compositional exponent of Thelonious Monk’s earlier chordal voicing. His bebop compositions combined a sophisticated and emotional fusion and poignant lyricism reminiscent of Benny Golson and with the passionate, spirited influence of the Brown/Roach Quintet. Trumpeter Tommy Turrentine passed away on May 13, 1997 in New York City.
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Mundell Lowe was born April 21, 1922 in Laurel, Mississippi and in the Thirties he played country music and Dixieland jazz. He later played with big bands and orchestras, and on television, and in the 1960s he composed music for films and television in New York City Los Angeles.
Mundell has performed and/or recorded with with a Who’s Who list not limited to Billie Holiday, Bobby Darin, Lester Young, Charlie Parker, Bill Evans, Helen Humes, Charles Mingus, Stan Getz, Doc Severinsen, Kai Winding and Sarah Vaughan. He also worked with Carmen McRae, Benny Carter, Herb Ellis, Tal Farlow, Barry Manilow, Andre Previn, Ray Brown, Kiri Te Kanawa, Tete Montoliu, Harry Belfonte and numerous others.
During the late 1970s and early 1980s Lowe was also a well-respected teacher at Dick Grove Music Workshop, later the Grove School of Music, in Studio City, California, teaching guitar as well as film scoring.
Lowe was responsible for introducing the pianist Bill Evans to producer Orrin Keepnews resulting in Evan’s first recordings as a leader. He is a regular featured performer at the annual W.C. Handy Music Festival and a member of the W.C. Handy Jazz All-Stars. He was inducted into the Mississippi Music Hall of Fame, was conferred an honorary Doctorate of Arts from Millsap College and proclaimed Mundell Lowe Day as July 18 by his home town of Laurel. The guitarist continues to teach, perform and record.
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Tito Puente was born Ernesto Antonio Puente on April 20, 1923 at Harlem Hospital in New York City and spent the majority of his childhood in Spanish Harlem. As a child his mother sent him to 25-cent piano lessons and by the age of 10, he switched to percussion, drawing influence from jazz drummer Gene Krupa. He later created a song-and-dance duo with his sister Anna in the 1930s, intending to become a dancer, but an ankle tendon injury prevented him pursuing dance as a career. When the drummer in Machito’s band was drafted to the army, Puente subsequently took his place.
After serving three years in the Navy during WW II, Tito used the GI Bill to study music at Juilliard School of Music, taking conducting, orchestration and theory. During the 1950s, Puente was at the height of his popularity, and helped to bring Afro-Cuban and Caribbean sounds, like mambo, son, and cha-cha-cha to mainstream audiences. He moved into more diverse sounds, including pop music, bossa nova and others, eventually settling down with a fusion of Afro-Cuban and Latin jazz genres that became known as “salsa” (a term that he disliked).
Tito has received the key to the City of New York, the James Smithson Bicentennial Medal from the Smithsonian and been inducted into the National Congressional Record. He has won five Grammy Awards, and won a Grammy at the first Latin Grammy Awards for Best Traditional Tropical Album for Mambo Birdland. He was posthumously awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003 and has his timbales on display at theSmithsonian.
He has had a post office in Spanish Harlem named after him, an amphitheater in San Juan Puerto Rico, performed at the closing ceremonies for the 1996 Olympics, appeared as himself on the Simpsons episode “Who Shot Mr. Burns?”, and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame,
In early 2000, he shot the music documentary Calle 54. After a show in Puerto Rico, percussionist, timbale player and bandleader Tito Puente suffered a massive heart attack and was flown to New York City for surgery to repair a heart valve but complications developed and he died during the night of May 31 – June 1, 2000.
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Dudley Stuart John Moore was born on April 19, 1935 in London, England. Notably short in stature and born with clubfeet he was the butt of children’s jokes. He became a choirboy at the age of six and by eleven he earned a scholarship to the Guildhall School of Music where he took up harpsichord, organ, violin, musical theory and composition. He rapidly developed into a highly talented pianist and organist and was playing the pipe organ at local church weddings by the age of 14. He attended Dagenham County High School where he received musical tuition from a dedicated teacher, Peter Cork, who would also become a lifelong friend and confidant.
Moore’s musical talent won him an organ scholarship to Magdalen College, Oxford and it was during his university years that he developed a love of jazz. He soon became an accomplished pianist and composer and began working with John Dankworth and Cleo Laine. During the 1960s he formed the Dudley Moore Trio, with drummer Chris Karan and bassist Pete McGurk. Moore’s admitted principal musical influences were Oscar Peterson and Erroll Garner. Mastering the latter’s cadence he recorded songs like Baubles, Bangles and Beads, My Blue Heaven, Indiana and Autumn Leaves among others. The trio performed regularly on British television, made numerous recordings and had a long-running residency at Peter Cook’s London nightclub, The Establishment.
Dudley became an American household name in his role as Arthur but as his star waned he opted to concentrate on the piano, continuing to work as a composer and pianist, writing scores for a number of films and giving piano concerts. Moore co-owned the fashionable restaurant 72 Market Street OysterBar & Grill in Venice, California and played the piano whenever he was there.
In June 2001, he was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE). Pianist, composer, actor and comedian Dudley Moore passed away on March 27, 2002 as a result of pneumonia, secondary to immobility caused by progressive supranuclear palsy in Plainfield, New Jersey.
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