Mimi Fox was born of August 24th in New York City and started playing drums at nine and guitar when she was ten. She was inspired by a wide variety of music in her house from show tunes, classical, Dixieland, Motown pop, folk, and R&B. By fourteen she bought her first jazz album, John Coltrane’s classic Giant Steps and her course of her musical life changed. She began touring right out of high school and eventually settled in the San Francisco Bay area where she became a sought after player.
Fox has performed and recorded with Charlie Byrd, Stanley Jordan, Charlie Hunter, Mundell Lowe, Branford Marsalis, David Sanchez, Houston Person, Don Lanphere, Abbey Lincoln, Diana Krall, Kevin Mahogany, Janis Siegel, Joey DeFrancesco, Barbara Denerlein, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Terri Lyne Carrington, Stevie Wonder and John Sebastian and the list continues to grow.
Mimi has been named a winner in 6 consecutive Downbeat Magazine international critic’s polls, hit #23 on the Billboard Top Jazz Albums chart, recognized by the IAJE for her outstanding service to jazz education, has released ten albums as a leader, published several instructional books and interactive CD-Roms.
As a composer she has written and performed original scores for orchestras, documentary films and dance projects. As an educator she teaches master classes worldwide, is currently the Chair of the Guitar Department, a faculty advisor and instructor at the Jazz School for Musical Study and Performance in Berkeley, California. Guitarist Mimi Fox continues to composer, record, teach and perform at festivals around the world.
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Malachi Favors was born on August 22, 1927 in Lexington, Mississippi. He learned to play the double bass at age fifteen and began performing professionally upon graduating high school. His early performances included working with Dizzy Gillespie and Freddie Hubbard. By 1965, he was a founder of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians and a member of Muhal Richard Abrams’ Experimental Band.
A protégé of Chicago bassist Wilbur Ware, his first known recording was a 1953 session with tenor saxophonist Paul Bascomb. He recorded an LP with Chicago pianist Andrew Hill in 1957. He went on to work with Roscoe Mitchell in 1966 and this group eventually became the Art Ensemble of Chicago.
Malachi worked outside the group, with Sunny Murray, Archie Shepp and Dewey Redman. His most noted records include a solo bass project Nature and the Spiritual in 1977 and Sightsong a duet with Muhal Richard Abrams. In 1994 he played with oudist Roman Bunka at Berlin Jazz Fest where they recorded the German Critics Poll Winner album Color Me Cairo.
Double bassist Malachi Favors, who played in the bebop, hard bop and free jazz genres, passed of pancreatic cancer in 2004 at the age of 76. Though his primary instrument was the double bass, he also plays electric bass, guitar, banjo, zither, gong, and other instruments. At some point in his career he added the word “Maghostut” to his name and because of this he is commonly listed as Malachi Favors Maghostut. He recorded some 46 albums as a member of the Art Ensemble of Chicago and another 24 as a collaborator and sideman.
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Thurman Green was born on August 12, 1940 in Texas where he learned to play the trombone. He spent time playing in Los Angeles, California with swinging big bands including the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra and was an occasional member of the Horace Tapscott Quintet, unfortunately one of the groups no one bothered to record. He was open-eared enough to play quite credibly in free settings now and then.
In 1962, Green and baritone saxophonist Hamiet Bluiett were jamming buddies at the Navy School of Music in Washington D.C. but they soon went their separate ways hoping to team up again some day. He wpould perform and record with Willie Bobo, Donald Byrd, Ella Fitzgerald, Bobby Hutcherson and Jean-Luc Ponty.
Some thirty-two years later, in 1994, Bluiett who had been recording for the Mapleshade label was able to give his old friend his first opportunity to lead his own record date, Dance of the Night Creatures. It is a shame that it took over four years for the music to finally come out because on June 19, 1997, bebop trombonist Thurman Green suddenly died at age 57.
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Rahsaan Roland Kirk was born Ronald Theodore Kirk on August 7, 1935 in Coumbus, Ohio and grew up in the neighborhood called Flytown. He felt compelled by a dream to transpose two letters in his first name to make Roland. He became blind at an early age as a result of poor medical treatment. In 1970 he added “Rahsaan” to his name after hearing it in a dream.
Rahsaan preferred to lead his own bands and rarely did he perform as a sideman, although he did record lead flute and solo on Soul Bossa Nova with arranger Quincy Jones in 1964, as well as drummer Roy Haynes and had notable stints with bassist Charles Mingus. His playing was generally rooted in soul jazz or hard bop but his knowledge of jazz gave him the ability to draw from ragtime to swing to free jazz. In additional to classical influences he borrowed elements from composers like Smokey Robinson and Burt Bacharach, Duke Ellington and John Coltrane.
His main instrument was the tenor saxophone and two obscure saxophones: the stritch, a straight alto sax lacking the instrument’s characteristic upturned bell and a manzello, a modified saxello soprano sax, with a larger, upturned bell. Kirk modified these instruments himself to accommodate his simultaneous playing technique. He also played flute, clarinet, harmonica, English horn, recorder and trumpet, as well as incorporating an interesting array of common items such as garden hose, alarm clocks and sirens.
At times Rahsaan would play a number of these horns at once, harmonizing with himself, or sustain a note for lengthy durations by using circular breathing or play the rare, seldom heard nose flute. Many of Kirk’s instruments were exotic or homemade, but even while playing two or three saxophones at once the music was intricate, powerful jazz with a strong feel for the blues. Politically outspoken, he would often talk about issues of the day in between songs at his concerts, such as Black history and the civil rights movement and lacing them with satire and humor. According to comedian Jay Leno, when he toured with him as his opening act, Kirk would introduce him by saying, “I want to introduce a young brother who knows the black experience and knows all about the white devils… Please welcome Jay Leno!”
In 1975, Kirk suffered a major stroke that led to partial paralysis of one side of his body. However, he continued to perform and record, modifying his instruments to enable him to play with one arm. He died from a second stroke on December 5, 1977 after performing in the Frangipani Room of the Indiana University Student Union in Bloomington, Indiana.
His influence went well beyond jazz to include such rock musicians as Jimi Hendrix, Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull, Eric Burdon and War, T.K. Kirk, Hope Clayburn, Jonny Greenwood and Ramon Lopez, all who idolized or paid tribute to, and David Jackson, George Braith and Dick Heckstall-Smith who took to playing multiple saxophones, and Steve Turre, Courtney Pine who utilizing his circular breathing during play. He left to us nearly four-dozen albums as a leader and another eleven with aforementioned Jones, Mingus and Haynes, and Tubby Hayes, Tommy Peltier, Jaki Byard and Les McCann.
Ben Wolfe was born on August 3, 1962 in Baltimore, Maryland but was raised in Portland, Oregon. Early on in his career he formed a duo with Harry Connick Jr. and went on to be his musical director, recording over a dozen albums and soundtracks. He then joined the Wynton Marsalis Septet, remaining until it disbanded. This engagement was followed being an part of Diana Krall’s touring band, playing on many of her recordings, including the Grammy Award winning project When I Look In Your Eyes.
As a member of The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra (JLCO), Ben has performed with Joe Henderson, Doc Cheatham, Jon Hendricks, Harry “Sweets” Edison, and Billy Higgins as well as recording with Branford Marsalis, James Moody, Eric Reed, Carl Allen, and Benny Green.
Wolfe has been awarded the 2004 New Works: Creation and Presentation Program Grant by Chamber Music America and funded through the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. As a result he composed his extended composition Contradiction: Music for Sextet. He has also composed the score for Matthew Modine’s film short I Think I Thought.
Double bassist, composer and educator Ben Wolfe currently performs, records and teaches in the Jazz Division of the Juilliard School in New York City.
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