Pops Mohamed was born Ismail Mohamed-Jan on December 10, 1949 in Benoni, Gauteng, South Africa. His career in music was the logical outcome of an early exposure at Dorkay House to the likes of Abdullah Ibrahim and Kippie Moeketsi. He started his first band The Valiants at 14.
Known by fans as the Minister of Music, Pops plays a wide variety of instruments, African mouth bow, bird whistle, berimbau, didgeridoo, guitar, keyboard, kora, and the thumb piano. He is also known for his wide range of musical styles which include jazz, kwela, pop, and soul. He produced Finding One’s Self, the late Moses Taiwa Molelekwa’s award-winning album.
His recorded his debut album Kalamazoo in 1991 and has since recorded eleven more, his last to date being 205’s Mood Africa. He performs regularly with and sits on the board of the Johannesburg Youth Orchestra Company. Multi-instrumentalist, jazz musician and producer Pops Mohamed continues to pursue his career in music.
Mathias Rüegg was born on December 8, 1952 in Zurich, Switzerland and began playing jazz in secondary school. Trained as a schoolteacher, he taught for a while in special-needs schools. From 1973 to 1975 he attended the Musikhochschule in Graz, Austria, studying classical composition and jazz piano. In Vienna, Austria he performed in a nightclub as a solo jazz pianist, joined later by saxophonist Wolfgang Puschnig. The duo formed the core of an ensemble that became the Vienna Art Orchestra in 1977.
Rüegg’s distinctive, often humorous compositions have drawn on a range of influences from traditional folk music to classics. He has also led the VAO to explore the big band repertory of American jazz composers such as Duke Ellington. Beyond the traditional big-band complement, his orchestrations have prominently featured such instruments as the tuba, piccolo, bass clarinet, alphorn, exotic percussion, and wordless vocals.
Mathia has composed hundreds of pieces for the Vienna Art Orchestra, other European big bands, and classical orchestras, as well as theatre music and film music. Since 1994 he has composed several works for soloist and chamber orchestra.
Besides managing the VAO, Rüegg has conducted workshops in Europe, worked as artistic director for music festivals, and headed multimedia and music-related projects. From 1983 to 1987 he was the director of the Vienna Art Choir. He founded the Porgy & Bess music club in Vienna and the Hans Koller Prize for Austrian jazz.
Pianist, composer, director and bandleader Mathias Rüegg continues to pursue his career in a variety of musical endeavors.
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Egberto Amin Gismonti was born December 5, 1947 in Carmo, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil into a musical family. His mother was from Sicily and his father was from Beirut, Lebanon. At the age of six, he started learning the piano at Conservatório Brasileiro de Música. After 15 years of studying the classical repertoire, he went to Paris to delve into modern music under Nadia Boulanger and composer Jean Barraqué encouraged him to write the collective Brazilian experience into his music.
An autodidact guitarist, Egberto returned to Brazil and designed guitars with more than six strings, expanding the possibilities of the instrument. Approaching the fretboard as if it were a keyboard, he gives the impression that there is more than a single guitar player.
His musical career spans five decades of composing, recording and performing with his Brazilian group Academia de Danças, that included Mauro Senise on saxophone and flutes, Zeca Assumpção on bass and Nenê Realcino Lima Filho on drums and percussion. He also performs in a duo setting with percussionist Naná Vasconcelos, and a trio configuration with the late bassist Charlie Haden and saxophonist Jan Garbarek. Dança das Cabecas, the first ECM record, was nominated by Stereo Review for Album of the Year and was awarded the 1977 Großer Deutscher Schallplattenpreis.
He has recorded more than three dozen albums as a leader, produced and arranged Vasconcelos Saudades album and guested on others. Composer, guitarist and pianist Egberto Gismonti continues to perform, compose and record.
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With Sweet Smell Of Success Chico Hamilton got his first brush with Hollywood in 1957. Riding high on the popularity of his adventurous quintet of the time – reed/flutist Paul Horn, bassist Carson Smith, cellist Fred Katz, guitarist John Pisano-he and the band were cast in the film after being watched around the country for six months to insure they were drug free, on the heels of Gerry Mulligan’s recent release from jail on similar charges.
This gritty black-and-white film about a ruthless Walter Winchell-style, New York City tabloid-gossip columnist, J.J. Hunsecker, played by a dour Burt Lancaster, who wields his power like a club from Club 21. The plot of this sharp-edged media satire thickens when J.J.’s younger sister, played by Susan Harrison, begins dating the clean-cut young jazz guitarist in the Chico Hamilton Quintet, Steve Dallas, played by Martin Milner. Tony Curtis turns in a brilliant performance as the unctuous Broadway press agent Sidney Falco, who would sell his own mother to get an item in J.J.’s column. It’s your basic “guitarist finds girl, guitarist loses girl, guitarist loses gig but ends up with girl” story.
The music composed by Elmer Bernstein, Fred Katz and Chico Hamilton and performed by Elmer Bernstein Orchestra and the Chico Hamilton Quintet. The personnel in the group are Chico Hamilton – drums, Paul Horn – tenor saxophone, alto saxophone, flute, clarinet, Fred Katz – cello, John Pisano – guitar and Carson Smith on bass. They appear on the soundtrack on compositions by Hamilton and Katz: Hot Dogs and Juice (Goodbye Baby), Hunsecker Operates (Goodbye Baby), Goodbye Baby Blues and Love Scene (Susan – The Sage).
The group also performed Jazz Themes composed by Hamilton and Katz: Goodbye Baby, Cheek to Chico, Susan (The Sage), Sidney’s Theme, Jam, Night Beat and Concerto of Jazz Themes from the Soundtrack of “Sweet Smell of Success.
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P. J. Perry CM was born Paul John Guloien to saxophonist Paul Guloien, who performed under the name Paul Perry and Margaret Yeo, on December 2, 1941 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Early in life they moved around Canada between Medicine Hat, Regina, Sylvan Lake and Vancouver. He learned to play the clarinet and piano before becoming a saxophonist for his father’s band when he was 14.
Spending most of his time in Canada, as a young man, Perry played at Sylvan Lake and in various Vancouver night clubs. Her recorded and released his debut album My Ideal on the Unity label in 1989, following with his sophomore project Worth Waiting For on Jazz Alliance. He has gone on to record for Unity/Page, Cellar Live, Royalty record labels, and for Justin Time Records he has twice recorded with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra.
He has received several accolades and honors among others, two Juno awards, an honorary doctorate of law from the University of Alberta and is a member of the Order of Canada. Alto saxophonist P. J. Perry continues to perform, record and tour.
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