Roy McCurdy was born November 28, 1936 in Rochester, New York. He attended the Eastman School of Music from sixteen to eighteen, during which time he also played professionally with Roy Eldridge, Eddie Vinson at seventeen. Among the influences he cites Louie Bellson, Shelly Manne, Sam Woodyard, Buddy Rich, Pap Joe Jones, and the bands of Duke Ellington, Jimmie Lunceford and Lionel Hampton.
He started out playing with the Jazz Brothers – Chuck and Gap Mangione, In 1960 he joined the Art Farmer-Benny Golson Jazztet, remaining for two years, as well as Bobby Timmons, Betty Carter and Sonny Simmons from 1963-64. He played on the classic album Sonny Meets Hawk!.
In 1965 he joined Cannonball Adderley Quintet in 1965 and stayed with the band, recording 18 albums until Adderley’s death. He recorded a half-dozen with Nat Adderley, and has also played and/or recorded with Count Basie, Nancy Wilson, Gene Ammons, Wes Montgomery, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Carmen McRae, Joe Williams, Herbie Hancock, Oscar Peterson,, Bud Powell, Art Pepper, Joe Zawinul, Betty Bennett and the jazz rock group Blood, Sweat and Tears.
He appears on the classic 1983 recording Jackson, Johnson, Brown & Company featuring Milt Jackson on vibes, trombonist J.J. Johnson, bassist Ray Brown, Tom Ranier on piano and John Collins on guitar.
As of 2010, in between performing and recording drummer Roy McCurdy is an Adjunct Professor in the Jazz Studies Department of the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, California.
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Art Themen was born Arthur Edward George Themen on November 26, 1939 in Manchester, England. He originally played the clarinet but after hearing the Dankworth Seven when he was sixteen and saxophonist Danny Moss winked at his cousin, he knew his path was with the saxophone. Dexter Gordon and Sonny Rollins initially influenced his style of playing, and later by Coleman Hawkins, Evan Parker and John Coltrane.
In 1958 he began his medical studies at the University of Cambridge, completed studies at St. Mary’s Hospital Medical School in London and in 1964 became a consultant specializing in orthopaedic medicine.
Themen started playing jazz with the Cambridge University Jazz Group alongside Lionel Grigson, Dave Gelly and Dick Heckstall-Smith. Around London he played with blues musicians Jack Bruce and Alex Korner, then with Peter Stuyvesant Jazz Orchestra in 1965 in Zurich, leading to his playing with Michael Garrick and Graham Collier’s Music.
1974 saw Themen entering on what was to be one of his central musical relationships when he started playing with Stan Tracey, touring with him worldwide and the United Kingdom. He also played and toured with musicians Nat Adderley, Ian Carr, George Coleman and Al Haig.
In 1995 he formed a quartet with pianist John Critchinson. Following his retirement as a consultant orthopaedic surgeon, saxophonist Art Themen has been concentrating on his jazz career and has recorded three albums with Al Haig, Peter King, Howard Riley, Mornington Lockett and Don Weller.
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Claude Berkeley Williamson was born November 18, 1926 Brattleboro, Vermont. He studied piano at the New England Conservatory of Music before moving to jazz, influenced mainly by Teddy Wilson, then by Al Haig and Bud Powell.
Moving to California in 1947 he first worked with Teddy Edwards, then with Red Norvo in San Francisco followed by Charlie Barnet in 1949 and June Christy two years later. He would go on to work with Max Roach, Art Pepper, Chet Baker, Maynard Ferguson, Barney Kessel, Dizzy Reece, Ted Curson and others.
Williamson was a longtime member of the Lighthouse All-Stars, often substituting for Russ Freeman, and performing with Bud Shank, Stan Levey, Bob Cooper, Conte Candoli and Howard Rumsey. By 1956 he was the piano player in the Bud Shank Quartet and a little over a decade later he was the pianist for NBC on The Andy Williams Show and then for Sonny and Cher.
In 1978 he went back to the jazz world and released many albums, mainly for Japanese labels, often accompanied by Sam Jones and Roy Haynes. In 1995 he made a trio recording for Fresh Sound Records at the Jazz Bakery and at the age of 88, pianist Claude Williamson currently plays clubs in Los Angeles.
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Seldon Powell was born on November 15, 1928 in Lawrenceville, Virginia. A classically trained saxophonist and flautist who studied at Juilliard in New York City, he went on to work briefly with Tab Smith in 1949 before joining and recording with Lucky Millinder the following year. For the next two years he would spend in the military and upon discharge became a studio musician.
A solid musician with the ability to move between genres from big band to hard bop to soul jazz and R&B, over a forty year career he would record four albums as a leader between 1956 and 1973 and another 60 album sessions as a sideman with Clark Terry, Johnny Hammond Smith, Buddy Rich, Louis Bellson, Neal Hefti, Billy Ver Planck, Sy Oliver,, Erskine Hawkins, Ahmed Abdul-Malik, Richard “Groove” Holmes, Gato Barbieri, Dizzy Gillespie, Gerry Mulligan,Benny Goodman, Woody Herman, roland Hana, Osie Johnson, Freddie Green, Gus Johnson, Sonny Stitt, Friedrich Gulda, Art Farmer, Cal Tjader, Billy Taylor, Ernie Wilkins, Panama Francis, Teri Thornton, Jimmy Forrest, Charlie Byrd, Oliver Nelson and the list goes on.
He recorded for Epic, Roost, Savoy, RCA, United Artists, Lion, Riverside, EmArcy, Golden Crest, Candid, ABC, New Jazz, Impulse, Solid State, Verve, 20th Century, Atlantic, and Sesac record labels. Tenor saxophonist and flautist who concentrated in the swing, progressive and soul jazz, big band and rhythm & blues genres passed away on January 25, 1997 in Hempstead, New York.
Lou Blackburn was born on November 12, 1922 in Rankin, Pennsylvania. Performing mainly in the swing genre, his adaptability lent his trombone to pursue several other genres including the West Coast jazz, soul jazz and mainstream mediums.
During the 1950s Lou played swing with Lionel Hampton and also with Charlie Ventura. In the early 1960s he began performing with Duke Ellington’s big band and with musicians like trumpeter Cat Anderson, Horace Tapscott, Melvin Moore, Red Callender and Bobby Bryant. He performed sideman duties on the album Mingus at Monterey with Charles Mingus. During this period he did some crossover work with The Beach Boys and The Turtles. He was also a part of the recording session for the film The Manchurian Candidate
Blackburn recorded as a leader in 1963, Jazz Frontier and Two Note Samba for Imperial Records and both have been reissued by Blue Note as a compilation The Complete Imperial Sessions. He also recorded Perception, Brass Bag, Jean-Bleu and Ode To Taras. As a sideman he worked with June Christy, Gil Fuller and The Three Sounds recording for Capitol, Pacific Jazz and Blue Note record labels. Trombonist Lou
His decision to live abroad moved him to Germany where he toured very successfully out of Germany and Switzerland with his ethno jazz band Mombasa that had strong African content and players. He also put together an ensemble called the Lou Blackburn International Quartet that had a more progressive feel. Trombonist Lou Blackburn passed away on June 7, 1990 in Berlin, Germany.
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