Buddy Childers was born Marion Childers in Belleville, Illinois on February 12, 1926. He came to fame in 1942 at the age of 16 when he took over the first trumpet chair in the Stan Kenton Orchestra. For years he worked with Kenton as well as performing with Tommy Dorsey, Woody Herman, Les Brown, Charlie Barnet, Dan Terry and other big bands.
He would go on to work with Gene Ammons, Elmer Bernstein, Maynard Ferguson, Clare Fischer, Milt Jackson, Carmen McRae, Oliver Nelson and Lalo Schifrin among others. No stranger to television programs and or films, Childers put together a big band that recorded for Candid Records in the 1980s and 1990s. He also recorded quintet and quartet sessions with Herbie Steward, Arnold Ross, Bob Harrington and Harry Babasin on the Jazz City label.
Trumpeter, composer and ensemble leader Buddy Childers passed away of cancer on May 24, 2007, at the age of 81.
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Conrad Janis was born February 11, 1928 in New York City and learned to play trombone as a child. Throughout his life, Janis has striven to keep traditional jazz alive often performing when not in front of a camera. In 1949, Janis put together a band of aging jazz greats comprised of James P. Johnson on piano, trumpeter Henry Goodwin, clarinetist Edmond Hall, Pops Foster on bass and Baby Dodds on the drum, with himself out front on trombone.
He was also a theater, film and television actor who at the age of 19 starred in the film the Brasher Doubloon with George Montgomery and went on to appear in the film Margie with Jeanne Crain.
In 1953, he played eldest son Edward in NBC’s Bonino, guest appeared on Get Smart, The Golden Girls and Quark. He was featured in the movies The Buddy Holly Story, The Duchess and The Dirtwater Fox, and appeared as himself in the bar scene in Tom Hanks/Jackie Gleason film Nothing In Common. Janis is best known for playing Mindy McConnell’s father Frederick on Mork & Mindy.
By the late 1970s, he formed the Beverly Hills Unlisted Jazz Band, which appeared multiple times on the Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson and made eight sold-out performances at Carnegie hall. Trombonist and bandleader Conrad Janis continues to play and act whenever possible at the age of 87.
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Joe Maini was born on February 8, 1930 in Providence, Rhode Island. Early in his career he played alto saxophone in the big bands of Alvino Rey, Johnny Bothwell and Claude Thornhill. He moved to Los Angeles, California and found work as a session musician and continued working in big bands, usually holding the lead alto chair.
Some of the leaders Joe worked with over the course of his career were Terry Gibbs, Onzy Matthews, Gerald Wilson, Bill Holman, Louis Bellson, Jack Montrose, Dan Terry, Johnny Mandel and Shelly Manne. He recorded in small group settings with Clifford Brown and Max Roach, Zoot Sims, Jack Sheldon, Red Mitchell, Lin Halliday, Kenny Drew and Jimmy Knepper. He also worked with his close friend, comedian Lenny Bruce.
Alto saxophonist Joe Maini passed away at age 34 in Los Angeles on May 7, 1964. History states it was while playing Russian roulette as the cause, but family and witnesses contend it was simply a firearms accident. Forty-four years after his death, Lone Hill Jazz issued a four-CD set with many of his small group recordings.
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Ray Alexander was born on February 7, 1925 in Lynbrook, Long Island, New York. His mother was a concert pianist who began him on the instrument as a very young child. Asthma ended his ambitions to be a trumpeter but after hearing Gene Krupa his interest turned towards drums. He education also came from listening to Big Sid Catlett, Art Tatum, Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker in the clubs.
Ray started his musical career as a drummer, playing with Claude Thornhill, Bobby Byrne, the Dorsey Brothers, Stan Getz, Joe Venuti, Mel Torme, Johnny Smith, Chubby Jackson, Stuff Smith and numerous others. Switching to the vibraphone he worked with George Shearing, Charlie Barnett, Bil Evans, Anita O’Day and Mel Lewis, as well as his own quartet.
In the early ’70’s he joined with Mousey Alexander and formed the Alexanders the Great quartet which was booked frequently at the new Half Note uptown, as well as gained notoriety and bookings through the city.
By 1983 Ray put out an album called “Cloud Patterns“, recorded live at Eddie Condon’s featuring Albert Daily on piano, Harvie Swartz on bass, Ray Mosca on drums and Pepper Adams on baritone saxophone. He would go on to work with Kenny Barron, Warren Vache Jr., Bob Kindred, Harvie Swartz, Oliver Jackson, Mac Chrupcala, John Anter and Marshall Wood, tour England and nearby European countries. Vibraphonist and drummer Ray Alexander passed away on June 9, 2002 in new Hyde Park, New York as a result of complications from elective surgery.
Stanley Getz was born on February 2, 1927 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania but moved to New York City with his parents during The Depression. In school he was a straight A student finishing 6th grade close to the top of his class but his major interest was in musical instruments, and he felt a need to play every instrument in sight.
He played a number of them before his father bought him his first saxophone at the age of 13 and began practicing eight hours a day. Attending James Monroe High School, got accepted in the All City High School Orchestra of New York City, giving him a chance to receive private, free tutoring from the New York Philharmonic’s bassoonist, Simon Kovar.
By 1943 at age 16, he was accepted into Jack Teagarden’s band, becoming his ward because of his age. Getz also played along with Nat King Cole and Lionel Hampton, and after playing for Stan Kenton, Jimmy Dorsey, and Benny Goodman he became the Woody Herman’s soloist for two years in The Second Herd. Known as The Four Brothers alongside Serge Chaloff, Zoot Sims and Herbie Steward, he gained notoriety. Leaving Herman to strike out on his solo career, he led almost all of his recording sessions after 1950. However, it was during this period that having become involved with drugs and alcohol while a teenager, he was arrested in 1954 while attempting to rob a pharmacy to get a morphine fix.
Stan’s reputation was greatly enhanced by his featured status on Johnny Smith’s album Moonlight In Vermont and the single became a hit, staying on the charts for months. He went on to further popularity playing cool jazz with Horace Silver, Smith, Oscar Peterson and others. In his various bands were Roy Haynes, Al Haig, Tommy Potter, Dizzy Gillespie, Herb Ellis, Ray Brown and Max Roach.
In 1961 Getz became a central figure in introducing bossa nova to the American audience, teaming with guitarist Charlie Byrd who had just returned from Brazil. His album Jazz Samba with Charlie Byrd and Antonio Carlos Jobim became a hit, winning him a Grammy for Best Jazz Performance for Desifinado in 1963 that became his first million-copy seller. He would record Big Band Bossa Nova and Jazz Samba Encore! with Luiz Bonfa and get his second gold disc.
He recorded the album Getz/Gilberto with Jobim, Joao Gilberto and Astrud Gilberto winning two more Grammys for The Girl From Ipanema. What could have been a long partnership with his love affair with Astrud Gilberto, moving him away from bossa nova and back to cool jazz. By 1972, he recorded in the fusion idiom with Chick Corea, Tony Williams and Stanley Clarke.
In the mid-1980s he worked regularly in the San Francisco Bay area and taught at Stanford University as an artist-in-residence at the Stanford Jazz Workshop. In 1986, he was inducted into the Down Beat Jazz Hall of Fame. Tenor saxophonist Stan Getz died of liver cancer on June 6, 1991.
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