Johnny Mbizo Dyani was born on November 30, 1945 and grew up in the township of Duncan Village in East London, South Africa. In the early 1960s, the bassist was a member of South Africa’s first integrated jazz band, The Blue Notes with trumpeter Mongezi Feza, Dudu Pukwana on alto saxophone, Nikele Moyake on tenor saxophone, Chris McGregor on piano, and Louis Moholo on drums. Though the first integrated band they had to flee South Africa In 1964 to seek musical and political freedom.
In 1966, Dyani toured Argentina with Steve Lacy’s quartet and recorded with Lacy and Moholo The Forest and the Zoo. He moved to Copenhagen, Denmark in the early 70’s, and about ten years later to Sweden and recording many albums under his own name. He recorded with Dolar Brand aka Abdullah Ibrahim, Don Cherry, David Murray, Joseph Jarman, Clifford Jarvis, Don Moye, Han Bennik, Brotherhood of Breath, Mal Waldron, Pierre Dorge, Jukka Syrenius, Leo Smith and numerous others.
After his death of double bassist and pianist Johnny Dyani on October 24, 1986 in West Berlin, Germany, the remaining members of The Blue Notes reunited to record a moving tribute album, entitled Blue Notes for Johnny.
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Dr. Michael White was born on November 29, 1954 in New Orleans, Louisiana. He is a classically trained clarinetist who began his jazz musical career as a teenager playing for Doc Paulin’s Brass Band in New Orleans. He was a member of an incarnation of the Fairview Baptist Church Marching Band.
Kid Sheik Colar, discovered him after hearing him onstage performing in Jackson Square in the French Quarter. He began working with the musician regularly following the encounter. A staunch jazz traditionalist, he can be heard on Wynton Marsalis’s 1989 album The Majesty of the Blues. Wynton also appears on White’s 1990 album titled “Crescent City Serenade”, along with Wendell Brunious and Walter Payton.
Michael has led several bands in the New Orleans area, and has accompanied various artists on other recording projects. Since 1979 he has played in the Young Tuxedo Brass Band. During the 1980s he led a band called The New Orleans Hot Seven.
In 1981, White founded The Original Liberty Jazz Band with the express intent of preserving the musical heritage of New Orleans. They perform an end-of-year concert at the Village Vanguard every year since the early 1990s, and in 2006 with former Presidents George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton in attendance they performed at Tulane University commencement.
Putting on his education cap Michael is also a college professor who formerly taught Spanish, now teaches African-American Music at Xavier University, holds the Rosa and Charles Keller Endowed Chair in the Humanities of New Orleans Music and Culture. As a continuing component of his performances he also serves as guest director at several Jazz at Lincoln Center concerts relating to traditional New Orleans jazz.
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Melton S. Mustafa was born on November 23, 1947 in Miami, Florida, the younger brother of Jesse Jones, Jr. He started playing the trumpet in junior high school and as a teenager played in a five-piece R&B/calypso band led by his brother. As a young adult in the Sixties, he studied at Berklee College of Music and Mississippi Valley State College before graduating from Florida A&M with a degree in music education.
During this period he started played behind Sam and Dave, Betty Wright, Lattimore, the Marvelettes and Joe Simon. His love for jazz never waning, his visibility on the Miami jazz scene increased when Melton joined hard bopper multi-instrumentalist Ira Sullivan. By the 80s he was playing with the Duke Ellington Orchestra led by mercer Ellington, Jaco Pastorius, James Williams, Bobby Watson and John Hicks and Mingus Dynasty among others.
Mustafa joined the Count Basie Orchestra in 1984 and stayed for eight years. In 1992 he formed his own big band and a couple years later signed with Contemporary/Fantasy releasing his debut album Boiling Point. He followed up with his sophomore project St. Louis Blues in 1997. Never far from jazz standards and ballads his quintet recorded his latest CD titled The Softer Side, Scenes from Miami Vol. 1 featuring Duffy Jackson on drums, Dennis Marks on bass and Jim Gasior on piano.
He produces his Annual Melton Mustafa Jazz Festival at the university that has welcomed Jon Faddis, Abraham Laboriel, Benny Golson, Dr. Nathan Davis, Dr. Grover Washington Jr., Dr. James Moody, Idris Muhammad, George Cables, Wallace Roney, Patrice Rushen, Geri Allen, Jimmy Owens, Billy Cobham, Herbie Mann, Dr. Billy Taylor, Clark Terry, Curtis Fuller, Nestor Torres, Winard Harper, Najee, Randy Brecker, and others.
As an educator he is the Director of Jazz Studies at Florida Memorial University, teaching Music Theory, Jazz Composition and other jazz related courses. The hard bop, post bop, soul and swing trumpeter, composer, arranger and producer and educator Melton Mustafa continues to perform, record and tour.
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Lynn Baker was born Malcolm Lynn Baker on November 9, 1955 in Salem, Oregon. When he was seven he started taking piano lessons and by the fifth grade was in band class and in sixth grade his mother bought him a tenor saxophone but didn’t practice much until he got in junior high. It was there that he soon took first chair and held it throughout his high school years.
By 1973 Baker was attending Oregon College of Education but in his sophomore year transferred to the University of Oregon seeking a better jazz program without success. However it offered him the opportunity to play with a young John Zorn, which would have a powerful impact on his music aesthetic. Eventually he would transfer to Western Oregon University, Mt. Hood Community College and finally transferring back to and graduating from Oregon College of Education.
He joined a local Top 40 band led by Ricky Santos for a while, then moved to Eugene, Oregon and joined the Experimental Jazz Ensemble followed by gigs playing with dance bands and a rock/Latin fusion band. An award winning composer, performer and educator Lynn released his debut album Azure Intention in 2010 on the Origin Records label. His sophomore project LectroCoustic followed three years later.
As an educator Baker has taught at Indian University and Carleton College and is currently the director of jazz studies and Commercial Music Program at the Lamont School of Music, University of Denver, directs the Lamont Jazz Orchestra, coaches combos and teaches jazz improvisation and composition, jazz history and jazz technique. Tenor saxophonist Lynn Baker continues to perform in between his teaching duties.
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Patricia Barber was born on November 8, 1955 in Chicago, Illinois to professional musician parents and raised in South Sioux City, Iowa. She began playing classical piano at age six and by the time she graduated high school jazz was completely in her blood.
She enrolled in the University of Iowa with a double major of classical music and psychology but the jazz voice in her head grew louder. In 1984 she returned to Chicago and landed a five night week gig at the Gold Star Sandine Bar and since the mid-90s performs regularly at the Green Mill.
Starting her professional career as a pianist, as Barber’s stock rose, she then began to add vocals to her repertoire, centered in a fairly low register and a traditional blues-jazz style. Mixing original compositions and standards with classic rock covers, she has recorded and released a dozen compact discs, including a three CD box set covering her 1994-2007 years. She has released a classic Cole Porter collection of his songbook in her unique way of interpretation.
Vocalist, pianist and songwriter Patricia Barber has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship and teaches master classes worldwide in between her performing, touring and recording.