Ray C. Sims was born on January 18, 1921 in Wichita, Kansas, the older brother of Zoot Sims. He learned to play the trombone and coming of age he was a part of the Swing Era in jazz.
He first played with Jerry Wald, then with Bobby Sherwood, and in 1947 was with Benny Goodman and recorded How High The Moon on Capitol Records. From 1949 to 1958 he was a trombone soloist and vocalist in the Les Brown Orchestra before joining Harry James.
In 1955 he recorded with Les Brown on trombone and vocals, Bill Johnson, Benny Goodman, Harry James and Frank Sinatra, among others It’s A Lonesome Old Town. Ray was primarily a lead trombone or session player and over the course of his career played and recorded with Earle Spencer, Lyle Griffin, Anita O’Day, Dave Pell, Billy Eckstine, The Four Freshmen, Ray Anthony, Peggy Lee, Bill Holman, Jackie and Roy, Lena Horne, Georgia Carr, Red Norvo, John Towner Williams, Jerry Gray, Maxwell Davis, Ernie Andrews, Frank Capp and Corky Corcoran.
Trombonist and vocalist Ray Sims, who never led a session, passed away in 2000.
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Earl Theodore Dunbar was born on January 17, 1937 in Port Arthur, Texas. He became interested in jazz at the age of seven and in the 1950s he joined several groups while studying pharmacy at Texas Southern University and during that period he became influenced by Wes Montgomery.
He trained as a pharmacist at Texas Southern University, but by the 1970s only did pharmacy work part-time. Dunbar was also a trained numerologist and had studied other aspects of mysticism. At one point he received accolades from Ebony and Down Beat.
In 1966 Ted moved to New York City and gained more experience. In 1972 he became one of the first jazz professors at Rutgers University and taught Kevin Eubanks, Vernon Reid and Peter Bernstein, as well as many others. He published four volumes on jazz.
He recorded five albums as a leader and another fifteen albums with Gene Ammons, Kenny Barron, Richard Davis, Gil Evans, Curtis Fuller, Albert Heath, Willie Jackson, Charles McPherson, David “Fathead” Newman, Don Patterson, Bernard Purdie, Sam Rivers, Johnny “Hammond” Smith, McCoy Tyner and Tony Williams among others. Guitarist and educator Ted Dunbar passed away on May 29, 1998 of a stroke in New Brunswick, New Jersey.
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Phillip Guilbeau was born on January 16, 1926 in Lafayette, Louisiana. Like many of his fellow musicians he took up the trumpet and during World War II served in the Navy, Honorably discharged in 1945 he moved to Detroit, Michigan and successfully became a session player. Throughout his career he recorded on hundreds of albums including sessions with Count Basie, Big Joe Turner, David “Fathead” Newman, Otis Redding, Frank Sinatra, Quincy Jones, soloist on Hank Crawford’s recording of What A Difference A Day Makes from his Soul Clinic album and with Ray Charles, he was the soloist on the landmark 1961 album Genius + Soul = Jazz.
By the Seventies Phil moved to Washington, DC and recognizing the evolution of the music, moved into the new sound called funk. He became the trumpeter and manager of the group The Young Senators, the top-rated R&B group in the area after the release of their hit, that Guilbeau penned, The Jungle. With the success of this single they were asked to tour as the backing group of Eddie Kendricks, and recorded his seminal album My People… Hold On with them. The album included what is widely considered the first ever Disco song, Girl You Need A Change Of Mind.
As a manager, Gilbeau would go on to discover another group called Black Heat, get them to Atlantic Records and record three albums before they disbanded. After a lifetime career of playing jazz, funk and rhythm & blues music that spanned five decades, trumpeter and composer Phil Guilbeau passed away on September 5, 2005 in Florida.
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Caterina Valente was born on January 14, 1931 in Paris, France into an Italian artist family, her father, a well-known accordion player and her mother, a musical clown. In 1953, she made her first recordings with Kurt Edelhagen and soon afterwards achieved success with songs such as Malagueña, The Breeze and I,] and Dreh dich nicht um with the Werner Müller orchestra. In 1955, she was featured on The Colgate Comedy Hour with Gordon MacRae.
By the mid 1960s Valente was working with Claus Ogerman and recording his arrangements and compositions and sometimes conducted in both Italian and English on the Decca and London labels. She guest appearances on the NBC Kraft Music Hall television program and on the Dean Martin Show, the CBS variety series The Entertainers alongside Carol Burnett and Bob Newhart.
She has recorded some seven dozen albums around the world in the United States, Brazil, Peru, Argentina, Columbia, United Kingdom, Japan, Australia, Germany and South Africa. Caterina has been nominated for a Grammy and won 15 awards in Austria, Italy, the US, Italy, Brazil, France and Germany. She recorded Cole Porter’s I Love Paris, that sold nearly a million copies in 1954, her jazz album A Briglia Sciolta recorded in 1989 was her best selling album worldwide and has been reissued under the titles Fantastica and Platinum Deluxe and in 2001 released her album Girl Talk with harpist Catherine Michel..
Over the years of her career she has recorded or performed with Louis Armstrong, Chet Baker, Perry Como, Ella Fitzgerald, Benny Goodman, Woody Herman, the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, Sy Oliver, Buddy Rich and Edmundo Ros.
Vocalist, guitarist, dancer and actress Caterina Valente has yet to retire from show business at the age of 85.
Calvin Massey was born on January 11, 1928 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and studied trumpet under Freddie Webster. Following his education on the trumpet he and played in the big bands of Jay McShann, Jimmy Heath, and Billie Holiday.
In the late 1950s he led an ensemble with Jimmy Garrison, McCoy Tyner, and Tootie Heath, while John Coltrane and Donald Byrd occasionally played with them. Towards the end of the decade he gradually receded from active performance and concentrated on composition. Some of Cal’s compositions that were recorded are Bakai by Coltrane, Assunta, Father and Son by Freddie Hubbard, Message from Trane by Jackie McLean, These Are Soulful Days by Lee Morgan, Fiesta by Philly Joe Jones and Cry of My People by Archie Shepp. Horace Tapscott and McCoy Tyner also recorded his work.
He played and toured with Shepp from 1969 until 1972. An outspoken activist, Massey’s political standpoint was radical and his work was strongly connected with the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s and ’70s. The Black Panthers were an inspiration for The Black Liberation Movement Suite which he created with Romulus Franceschini. The Suite was performed three times at Black Panther benefit concerts. Massey’s ideology resulted in him getting blacklisted or whitelisted according to Fred Ho from major recording companies and only one album was recorded under his name.
He also performed in The Romas Orchestra with Romulus Franceschini, and had The Music of Cal Massey: A Tribute, recorded by Fred Ho, Quincy Saul and the Green Monster Band. Cal’s only album recorded as a leader two days after his birthday in 1961, Blues to Coltrane, on Candid label, was not released until fifteen years later in 1987. He composed all the songs and the personnel with him on this session were Julius Watkins on French horn, pianist Patti Brown, bassist Jimmy Garrison, Hugh Brodie on tenor saxophone, and G. T. Hogan on drums.
Trumpeter and composer Cal Massey passed away from a heart attack at the age of 43 in New York City, New York on October 25, 1972.
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