Richard “Richie” Kamuca was born on July 23, 1930 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His early playing, in what is generally considered the Lester Young style, was done on tour with the big bands of Stan Kenton and Woody Herman, where he became a member of the later line-ups of Herman’s Four Brothers saxophone section with Al Cohn and Bill Perkins.
Like many players associated with West Coast jazz, he grew up in the East before moving West around the time that bebop changed the prevailing style of jazz. Kamuca stayed on the West Coast, playing with the smaller groups of Chet Baker, Maynard Ferguson, Shorty Rogers, Bud Shank, Bill Holman, Conte Candoli, Frank Rosolino and others. He was one of the Lighthouse All-Stars, and recorded with Perkins, Art Pepper, Jimmy Rowles, Cy Touff, Jimmy Giuffre, Gary McFarland, The Modern Jazz Quartet and many others, as well as leading recording sessions in his own right.
Kamuca was a member of the group Shelly Manne and His Men from 1959 through 1962, when he returned East and settled in New York City. Here he worked with Gerry Mulligan, Gary McFarland, and Roy Eldridge before returning to the West Coast in 1972, where he recorded in the studios and performed with local groups.
Less well known to the general public than other saxophonists, Richie Kamuca passed away of cancer, in Los Angeles, California on July 22, 1977 just before his 47th birthday.
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Edward Lee Morgan was born on July 10, 1938 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the youngest of Otto Ricardo and Nettie Beatrice Morgan’s four children. Originally interested in the vibraphone, he soon showed a growing enthusiasm for the trumpet and at thirteen his sister gave him his first trumpet, but he also knew how to play the alto saxophone. His primary stylistic influence was Clifford Brown, with whom he took a few lessons as a teenager.
He joined the Dizzy Gillespie Big Band at 18, and remained for a year and a half, until Dizzy to disband the unit in 1958. Lee began recording for Blue Note Records in 1956, eventually recording 25 albums as a leader for the label, with more than 250 musicians. He also recorded on the Vee-Jay label and one album for Riverside Records on its short-lived Jazzland subsidiary.
He was a featured sideman on several early Hank Mobley records, as well as on John Coltrane’s Blue Train, joining Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers in 1958 further developed his talent as a soloist and composer. When Benny Golson left the Jazz Messengers, Morgan persuaded Blakey to hire tenor saxophonist Wayne Shorter to fill the chair. This version of the Jazz Messengers, including pianist Bobby Timmons and bassist Jymie Merritt, recorded the classic The Freedom Rider album. However, in 1961 the drug problems of Morgan and Timmons forced them to leave the band.
Returning to New York City two years later he recorded The Sidewinder which became his greatest commercial success and was the background theme for Chrysler television commercials during the 1963 World Series. Due to the crossover success of the album’s boogaloo beat, Morgan repeated the formula several times with compositions such as Cornbread and Yes I Can, No You Can’t.
He would go on to record a string of more than twenty albums as a leader and perform and record as a sideman with Shorter, Grachan Moncur III, Stanley Turrentine, Freddie Hubbard, Joe Henderson, McCoy Tyner, Lonnie Smith, Elvin Jones, Jack Wilson, Reuben Wilson, Larry Young, Clifford Jordan, Andrew Hill, as well as on several albums with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. Together with John Gilmore, this lineup was filmed by the BBC for seminal jazz television program Jazz 625.
He became more politically involved in the last two years of his life, becoming one of the leaders of the Jazz and People’s Movement. The group demonstrated during the taping of talk and variety shows during 1970-71 to protest the lack of jazz artists as guest performers and members of the programs’ bands. His working band during those last years featured reed players Billy Harper or Bennie Maupin, pianist Harold Mabern, bassist Jymie Merritt and drummers Mickey Roker or Freddie Waits and were featured on the three-disc, Live at the Lighthouse, recorded during a two-week engagement at the Hermosa Beach, California club in 1970.
Hard bop trumpeter and composer Lee Morgan passed away in the early hours of February 19, 1972 at Slug’s Saloon in the East Village of New York City. Following an altercation between sets, Morgan’s common-law wife Helen More shot him and though not immediately fatal, he bled to death, due to a heavy snowfall and the ambulance’s lengthy arrival time. He was 33 years old.
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Ralph Jose P. Burns was born on June 29, 1922 in Newton, Massachusetts and began playing the piano as a child. In 1938, he attended the New England Conservatory of Music, learning the most about jazz by transcribing the works of Count Basie, Benny Goodman and Duke Ellington. While a student, Burns lived in big band singer Frances Wayne’s home. Her brother, bandleader Nick Jerret began working with him and found himself in the company of performers such as Nat King Cole and Art Tatum.
After a move to New York in the early 1940s, he met Charlie Barnet and the two began working together. By 1944, he joined the Woody Herman band with members Neal Hefti, Bill Harris, Flip Phillips, Chubby Jackson and Dave Tough. Together, the group developed a powerful and distinctive sound. For 15 years, Ralph wrote or arranged many of the band’s major hits including Bijou, Northwest Passage and Apple Honey, and on the longer work “Lady McGowan’s Dream” and the three-part Summer Sequence.
Burns worked with tenor saxophonist Stan Getz on his Early Autumn solo that launched Getz’s solo career. He also worked in a small band with soloists including Bill Harris and Charlie Ventura. He went on to collaborate with Billy Strayhorn, Lee Konitz and Ben Webster to create both jazz and classical recordings. He wrote compositions for Tony Bennett and Johnny Mathis, Aretha Franklin and Natalie Cole, and arranged the introduction of a string orchestra on two of Ray Charles’s biggest hits Come Rain or Come Shine and Georgia on My Mind.
In the 1960s he began arranging/orchestrating for Broadway including the major show Chicago, Funny Girl, No, No, Nanette, and Sweet Charity, arranged for Woody Allen’s film Bananas, worked with film-director Bob Fosse and in 1972 won the Academy Award as music supervisor for Cabaret. He composed the film scores for Lenny, New York, New York and All That Jazz for which he also won an Academy Award in 1979. He went on to win an Emmy Award for Baryshnikov on Broadway, and won the Tony Award for Best Orchestrations in 1999 for Fosse and posthumously in 2002 for Thoroughly Modern Millie
Burns arranged music for Mel Tormé, John Pizzarelli and Michael Feinstein and was inducted into the New England Jazz Hall of Fame in 2004. Bebop pianist, songwriter, bandleader, composer, conductor and arranger Ralph Burns passed away on November 21, 2001 Los Angeles, California.
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Kenneth Clare was born on June 8, 1929 in Leytonstone, London, England and played with Oscar Rabin on English radio in his early 20s. Following this, he played with Jack Parnell and then with Johnny Dankworth for an extended period in the 1950s and early 1960s. In the latter decade he played with Ted Heath and Ronnie Stephenson as well as playing in the studios as a member of Sounds Orchestral.
Clare played drums for the Kenny Clarke-Francy Boland Big Band in 1963 to 1966 when Clarke was unavailable. But from 1967 through 1971, when the band folded, he was a regular paired with Clarke in what became a two-drummer band for performances, concerts, and at least 15 recordings issued by various labels.
He accompanied singers including Ella Fitzgerald, Tony Bennett and Cleo Laine. On December 5, 1971 he performed in concert at Queen Elizabeth Hall with fellow drummers Buddy Rich and Louie Bellson. Drummer Kenny Clare, who also did extensive work for radio, television, film, and commercials, passed away December 21, 1984.
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Hotep Idris Galeta was born Cecil Galeta on June 7, 1941 in Crawford, Cape Town, South Africa but according to local custom he was more commonly known as Cecil Barnard, using his father’s first name instead of a last name.
In his teens Hotep played with some of the best jazz musicians in South Africa; Abdullah Ibrahim (Dollar Brand) and Lami Zokufa who introduced him to bebop and hard bop. Galeta left South Africa clandestinely for the United Kigdom after the Sharpeville Massacre made it impossible for anyone but white artists to have quality of life. After a year in the UK, he moved to the United States.
Once in the United States, he played and recorded with Herb Alpert, John Handy, Bobby Hutcherson, Elvin Jones, Hugh Masekela, Jackie McLean, Mario Pavone, Joshua Redman and Archie Shepp. Outside jazz he performed and recorded with David Crosby and the Byrds. In 1985, Jackie McLean invited him to teach at The Hartt School of the University of Hartford, where he taught until he returned to South Africa in 1991, following the collapse of apartheid.
Once home he recorded, performed, and taught at the University of Fort Hare, held the musical directorship of a national music education program for high schools, and coordinator of music outreach programs in Cape Town. He has been Project Manager for the establishment of a school of jazz and a multimedia audio visual production center at the University of Fort Hare’s new urban campus in the east coast South African city of East London in the Eastern Cape Province. Pianist, composer and bandleader Hotep Idris Galeta passed away in Johannesburg, South Africa on the November 3, 2010 following an asthma attack.
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