Talib Ahmad Dawood, formerly Alfonso Nelson Rainey, was born on January 26, 1923 on Antigua. He first took lessons from his father, a trumpeter who played in marching bands; his mother was a singer who accompanied him on piano. He also learned to play the banjo and the pipe organ.
His further education came in the United States at from his high school and music school experiences at the end of the 1930s in New York. Because of the support he received fromof the Barrymore Foundation, Talib first took the stage name Barrymore Rainey. After studying at the Juilliard School in 1940, he played with Tiny Bradshaw, Louis Armstrong, Benny Carter, Andy Kirk, Jimmie Lunceford, Roy Eldridge and other swing orchestras.
In Philadelphia he met Sheikh Nasir Ahmad, an Ahmadiyya missionary, through whom he converted to Islam and took the name Talib Dawud. In the second half of the 1940s and again in 1956 he was a member of the Dizzy Gillespie Big Band, performing with in 1957 at the Newport Jazz Festival.
1958 saw Dawud married to singer Dakota Staton who was no longer actively working since 1959 and the two operated an Africa-Import Shop in New York City. As a member of the Ahmadiyya Muslim sect, which distanced itself from the Nation of Islam, he wrote numerous articles in the African-American Chicago daily New Crusader on the controversy between Elijah Muhammad and Malcolm X.
Trumpeter Talib Dawud never had the opportunity to record as a leader, and on July 9, 1999 he passed away in New York City.
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Barbara Carroll was born Barbara Carole Coppersmith on January 25, 1925 in Worcester, Massachusetts. She began her classical training in piano at age eight, but by high school decided to become a jazz pianist. Attending the New England Conservatory of Music for a year, she departed because it conflicted with her performance schedule for bands.
In 1947 Leonard Feather dubbed her “the first girl ever to play bebop piano. The following year her trio, featuring guitarist Chuck Wayne and Clyde Lombardi on bass, worked briefly with Benny Goodman. Later on Wayne would leave and Charlie Byrd sat in the guitar chair and Joe Shulman took over Lombardi’s duties on bass. After Byrd’s departure, Carroll decided to have it be a drums, bass, and piano trio.
In the 1950s Carroll and her trio worked on the Broadway musical Me and Juliet by Rodgers and Hammerstein. The decade saw her career ebb due to changing musical tastes and personal concerns.
By 1972 she was able to revive her career due to a renewed interest in her work. In 1975 she was asked by Rita Coolidge to work on an A&M session. In 1978 she toured with Coolidge and Kris Kristofferson and the following two decades Barbara became known as a cabaret performer.
Pianist and composer Barbara Carroll was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award and the “Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz”. She continues to perform and record.
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Julius Arthur Hemphill was born on January 24, 1938 in Fort Worth, Texas and attended M. Terrell High School, studied clarinet with John Carter before taking up the saxophone due to the early influence of Gerry Mulligan.
Hemphill joined the Army in 1964, served for several years, and later, for a brief period, performed with Ike Turner. In 1968 he moved to St. Louis, Missouri and co-founded the multidisciplinary arts collective. This brought together saxophonists Oliver Lake and Hamiet Bluiett, trumpeters Baikida Carroll and Floyd LeFlore and writer/director Malinke Robert Elliott.
A move to New York City in the mid-1970s witnessed Julius thriving in the free jazz community. He gave saxophone lessons to David Sanborn, and Tim Berne among others. He founded the World Saxophone Quartet in 1976 after collaboration with Anthony Braxton. He remained a member until the early 1990s and then formed a saxophone quintet.
Hemphill recorded over twenty albums as a leader and another ten records with the World Saxophone Quartet and recorded or performed with Bjork, Bill Frisell, Jean-Pau Bourelly and others. Late in his life his ill-health including diabetes and heart surgery, forced Hemphill to stop playing saxophone, but he continued writing music. His saxophone sextet, led by Marty Ehrlich, also released several albums of Hemphill’s music, but without Hemphill playing. The most recent is entitled The Hard Blues, posthumously recorded live in Lisbon.
Prior to his death on April 2, 1995 in new York City, composer and alto saxophonist and flautist recorded a multi-hour interview on his life and music for the Smithsonian Institute and it is held at the archive center of the National Museum of American History in Washington D.C.
Johnny Costa was born in Arnold, Pennsylvania on January 17, 1922. He learned to play accordion at age 7 and was reading music three years later. He was encouraged by his high school music teacher, Frank Oliver, to learn the piano after discovering he had perfect pitch. Costa graduated from Carnegie Mellon University with degrees in music and education.
After college Johnny began working the same day as the house pianist for a Pittsburgh radio station and television station providing piano and organ music for many programs, eventually teaming with Fred Rogers to arrange and perform the music heard on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood for which he served as musical director until his death. He insisted on not playing “baby” music, believing children understood good music and each day, his trio, Carl McVicker Jr. on bass and Bobby Rawsthorne on percussion played live in the studio for the taping.
Costa’s debut recording was The Amazing Johnny Costa, on the Savoy label. He gave up his lucrative career and international recognition to stay near family and friends, resigning as musical director of the Mike Douglas Show to perform only in western Pennsylvania for the remainder of his life. Costa appeared along with guitarist Joe Negri on the 1954 Ken Griffin TV series 67 Melody Lane performing After You’ve Gone and Little Brown Jug, with the latter being accompanied by Ken Griffin at the organ.
Pianist Johnny Costa, given the title “The White Tatum” by jazz legend Art Tatum, passed away of anemia on October 11, 1996, at age 74 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Much of the music heard on Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood continued to be his and the show’s closing continued to list Costa as its Musical Director.
Thelma Carpenter was born January 15, 1922 in Brooklyn, New York. As a child performer she had her own radio show on WNYC in New York and won an amateur night at the Apollo Theatre in 1938. She would go on to play such 52nd Street clubs as Kell’s Stables and the Famous Door and was discovered by John Hammond.
Carpenter subsequently made her debut as a band vocalist with Teddy Wilson’s short-lived orchestra in 1939, recording Love Grows On the White Oak Tree and This Is The Moment on the Brunswick label. She joined Coleman Hawkins’ orchestra in 1940 and recorded the RCA/Bluebird Records classic album He’s Funny That Way. She followed Helen Humes as Count Basie’s vocalist and over two years recorded several sessions with the band such as More Than You Know, Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me and My Ideal.
Thelma replaced Dinah Shore as vocalist on Eddie Cantor’s radio show for the 1945-46 season, marking the first time that a black artist had become a permanent member of an all-white show without playing a character. She would also sing with Duke Ellington in concerts and on television. She was a top nightclub and major theater attraction for most of her career, performing regularly at such chic clubs as Chez Bricktop in Paris and Rome and the Capitol and Palace Theater on Broadway among others.
As a Broadway performer she appeared with Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, replaced Pearl Bailey in Hello Dolly!, performed along with Avon Long in Shuffle Along, co-starred in Barefoot In The Park and created the role of Irene Paige in Bubbling Brown Sugar. She toured nationally in Bob fosse’s Pippin and was the Good Witch of The North in Sidney Lumet’s film The Wiz. So in demand was she that Fosse and Lumet arranged their schedules so she could do both projects simultaneously. She was the mother of Maurice and Gregory Hines in the film The Cotton Club.
She also had a critically acclaimed album Thinking of You Tonight and Sepia Records posthumously released a 26-song compilation title Seems Like Old Times. Carpenter performed on television with Jackie Gleason, Eddie Condon, Duke Ellington, Diana Ross, Sammy Davis Jr. and Eric Clapton, as well as appearing on the Ed Sullivan, Merv Griffin, Paul Lynde and Cosby shows. Jazz vocalist and actress Thelma Carpenter passed away of cardiac arrest on May 14, 1997 in New York City.
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