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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Anthony Braxton was born June 4, 1945 in Chicago, Illinois. He studied philosophy at Roosevelt University and early in his career he led a trio with violinist Leroy Jenkins and trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith. He was involved with the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) founded in his birthplace.
In 1969, Braxton recorded the double album For Alto, the first full-length album for unaccompanied saxophone. The album’s tracks were dedicated to Cecil Taylor and John Cage among others. The album influenced other artists like soprano saxophonist Steve Lacy and trombonist George Lewis, who would go on to record their own solo albums.
Joining pianist Chick Corea’s trio with bassist Dave Holland and Barry Altschul they form the short-lived avant garde quartet Circle around 1970. When Corea broke up the group to form Return To Forever, Holland and Altschul remained with Braxton for much of the 1970s as part of a quartet, rotating Kenny Wheeler, George Lewis and Ray Anderson. With Sam Rivers they recorded Holland’s This group recorded for Arista Records and the core trio with saxophonist Sam Rivers recorded Holland’s Conference of the Birds on ECM. In the 1970s he recorded duets with Lewis and with synthesizer player Richard Teitelbaum. In 1975, he released Muhal with the Creative Construction Company featuring Richard Davis, Steve McCall, Muhal Richard Abrams, Wadada Leo Smith and Leroy Jenkins. He would oo on to record through the 70s, 80s and early 90s wth Marilyn Crispell, Mark Dresser and Gerry Hemingway.
He performed at the Woodstock Jazz Festival, was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship, composed his Ghost Trance Music released on his now defunct Braxton House label, and the final Ghost House live recordings at the New York City Iridium club were released by Firehouse 12 label in 2007. He recorded a prodigious series of multi-disc sets of standards during the 1990 and early 2000s
Besides playing saxophone, Braxton also plays clarinet, flute and piano, performs and records in the avant-garde, improvisation, bebop and mainstream genres, composes operas, orchestral and classical compositions, and is an avid chess player. He is the author of multiple volumes explaining his theories and pieces, such as the philosophical three-volume Triaxium Writings and the five-volume Composition Notes.
Composer and instrumentalist Anthony Braxton has released well over 100 albums since the 1960s, has taught at Mills College in the Eighties, was Professor of Music at Wesleyan University from the 1990s until his retirement at the end of 2013, and in 2013, was named a 2014 National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master.
Woody Herman was born Woodrow Charles Thomas Herman on May 16, 1913 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. His father had a deep love for show business and this influenced him at an early age. As a child he worked as a Vaudeville singer and tap-dancer, then started to play the clarinet and saxophone by age 12.
1936 saw him joining the Tom Gerun band and his first recorded vocals were Lonesome Me and My Heart’s at Ease. He also performed with the Harry Sosnick Orchestra, Gus Arnheim and Isham Jones, the latter writing numerous popular songes including It Had To Be You. When Jones retired Woody acquired the orchestra, which became known for its orchestrations of the blues. They first recorded for the Decca label as a cover band, eventually getting their first hit with Woodchopper’s Ball in 1939.He went on to have hits with The Golden Wedding and Blue Prelude.
As bebop was gradually replacing swing Herman commissioned Dizzy Gillespie as an arranger and he provided him three arrangements of Woody‘n You, Swing Shift and Down Under in 1942, heralding a change in the music. By 1945 Herman was with Columbia Records, recording the First Herd, the very successful Laura, the theme song to the 1944 movie of the same name. That group became famous for its progressive jazz that was heavily influenced by Duke Ellington and Count Basie. By the end of 1946 the big band era was over and he disbanded his only financially profitable group.
In 1947, Herman organized the Second Herd that remained together until 1987. This band was also known as The Four Brothers Band derived from the song and featured three tenor and one baritone saxophone of Zoot Sims, Serge Chaloff, Herbie Steward and Stan Getz. In the band was also Al Cohn, Gene Ammons, Lou Levy, Oscar Pettiford, Terry Gibbs and Shelly Manne and they had hits with Early Autumn and The Goof and I.
Herman would go on to perform in movies with Billie Holiday and Louis Armstrong, record for RCA, Capitol, MGM and Verve record labels, put together his Third Herd and variations of the New Thundering Herd and by the Seventies was touring and working more in jazz education by offering workshops and taking on younger sidemen.
The 1980s saw Herman’s return to straight-ahead jazz, dropping some of the newer rock and fusion approaches he had used the previous decade. He continued to perform with his health in decline, chiefly to pay back taxes that were owed because of his business manager’s bookkeeping in the 1960s. Herman owed the IRS millions of dollars and was in danger of eviction from his home. He eventually passed leadership duties to reed section leader Frank Tiberi.
Clarinetist, alto and soprano saxophonist, singer and big band leader Woody Herman was awarded two Grammys for Best Big Band Jazz Album for Encore and Giant Steps, The Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, had won Down Beat, Esquire and Metronome polls. He was the feature of a documentary film titled Woody Herman: Blue Flame- Portrait of a Jazz Legend, and was a featured half-time performer at Super Bowl VII. He passed away on October 29, 1987.
Bonnie Wetzel was born Bonnie Jean Addleman on May 15, 1926 in Vancouver, Washington. She learned violin as a child and was an autodidact on bass.
She played with Ada Leonard in an all-female ensemble and soon after worked in a trio with Marian Grange. Bonnie married trumpeter Ray Wetzel in 1949 and the pair worked in the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra in 1951.
Wetzel played in the Beryl Booker Trio with Elaine Leighton in 1953. They toured Europe in 1953-54 and recorded for Discovery Records. She also played with Herb Ellis, Charlie Shavers, Roy Eldridge and Don Byas. During the 1950s she freelanced in New York City. Double-bassist Bonnie Wetzel, who never led a recording session in her short career, passed away on February 12, 1965, at the age of 38.
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