Rick Henderson was born in Washington, D.C. on April 25, 1928 and studied composition while in high school and in the late 1940s played the saxophone locally. After serving in the Army from 1951 to 1953, he joined Duke Ellington’s Orchestra upon recommendation by Clark Terry.
During Ellington’s years on Capitol Records, Rick sat in the saxophone section, created arrangements, and in addition composed tunes such as Carney for the Ellington band. Leaving Ellington’s employ in 1956, he returned to Washington, where he led the Howard Theatre’s house band until 1964.
Following this he worked as an arranger and composer for jazz orchestras as well as military bands and school ensembles. Among those who used Henderson’s charts, in addition to Ellington, were Count Basie, Illinois Jacquet, and Billy Taylor. He continued to lead bands into the 1990s, including the University of Maryland Jazz Ensemble from 1977 to 1978.
Saxophonist and arranger Rick Henderson passed away of arteriosclerotic cardiovascular disease on May 21, 2004 in the District of Columbia.
Frank Strazzeri was born April 24, 1930 in Rochester, New York and began his musical journey on tenor saxophone and clarinet at age 12, switching to piano soon after. He attended the Eastman School of Music, then, in 1952, took a job as a house pianist in a Rochester nightclub. While there he accompanied visiting musicians such as Roy Eldridge and Billie Holiday.
Relocating to New Orleans, Louisiana in 1954, he performed with Sharkey Bonano and Al Hirt in a Dixieland jazz setting, though his main focus since has been bebop. He played with Charlie Ventura in 1957-58 and Woody Herman in 1959 before moving to Los Angeles, California in 1960. There he worked extensively as a studio musician on the West Coast jazz scene, and toured with Joe Williams, Maynard Ferguson, Les Brown and Elvis Presle, playing with the latter for the 1973 Aloha from Hawaii concert.
Pianist Frank Strazzeri copiously recorded as a leader and played with Terry Gibbs, Herb Ellis, the Lighthouse All-Stars, Art Pepper, Bud Shank, Cal Tjader, Louie Bellson, Curtis Amy, Red Mitchell, Bill Perkins, Harold Land and Chet Baker. in addition to recording copiously as a leader. He passed away at the age of 84 on May 9, 2014.
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Thilo Berg was born April 23, 1959 in Dortmund, Germany and attracted attention in the 1980s, as a modern jazz drummer and big band leader. He has produced and organized more than 700 jazz, classical, R&B and soul events. Besides his own productions, he worked on large industry concerts as well as kick-off meetings and social events.
Berg completed studies as a classical percussionist with Herrmann Gschwendtner and held the position of solo timpanist and percussionist in the Southwest German Radio Symphony Orchestra and the German between 1981 and 2008. Having worked in various bands, in 1986 he formed his big band, performing with guest soloists such as Barbara Dennerlein, Ack van Rooyen, Jiggs Whigham, Barbara Morrison, Silvia Droste, Jim Snidero, Slide Hampton, Bob Mintzer, Art Farmer and Bill Ramsey.
Over seven year together they recorded three albums and the band saw coming through its ranks Till Brönner, Paul Heller, Peter Weniger, Ludwig Nuss, Mark Nightingale, Gerald Presencer, Martin Shaw, Hubert Nuss and Thilo Wagner.He also worked in smaller groups with Jack van Poll, Bobby Shew, Heiner Franz, John Gordon, Elaine Delmare and Curtis Fuller.
Drummer Thilo Berg founded the jazz and classical music label Mons Records in 1991, has worked as a music producer for Sony Music, BMG, Columbia and Universal, and continues to perform, record and produce.
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Daniel Richard Gottlieb was born in New York City on April 18, 1953. Taking lessons from Mel Lewis and Joe Morello, he graduated from the University of Miami in 1975. He became a member of the Gary Burton Quartet in 1976 with Pat Metheny, and then was one of the original members of The Pat Metheny Group from 1977–1983. Bassist Mark Egan, who was also in Metheny’s first group, teamed with Gottlieb and formed the band Elements. In 1984 he was a member of the Mahavishnu Orchestra led by guitarist John McLaughlin.
Gottlieb performed or recorded with dozens of musicians not limited to Bill Evans, Branford Marsalis, Jacqui Naylor, Chick Corea, Randy Brecker, Stan Getz, Clark Terry, Ernie Wilkins, Gerry Mulligan, Joanne Brackeen, Herbie Hancock, Hiram Bullock, Booker T and the MG’s, Hubert Laws, Lew Soloff, Jim Hall, Jimmy Haslip, Nnenna Freelon, John Scofield, Bobby McFerrin, Kenny Barron, Larry Coryell, Eddie Gómez, Mark Murphy, Miroslav Vitous, Naná Vasconcelos, Ali Ryerson, Nguyên Lê, Rufus Reid, Sting and Wayne Shorter, as well as the Carnegie Hall Jazz Orchestra, NDR Big Band, Trio, Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, Gil Evans Orchestra and WDR Big Band.
In 2004 he became the drummer for Gary Sinise’s Lt. Dan Band. He has performed on over 400 albums, earned nine Grammy Award nominations and four wins, is on the faculty of the University of North Florida as a full-time Professor of Jazz Studies. Drummer Danny Gottlieb has made over ten instructional DVDs, wrote the textbook The Evolution of Jazz Drumming, and continues to perform and record.
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Johnny St. Cyr was born on April 17, 1890 in New Orleans, Louisiana. St. He led several bands in the Crescent City beginning around 1905 and performed on the riverboats with Fate Marable. He played for several leading New Orleans bands including A.J. Piron, the Superior, Olympia and Tuxedo bands before moving to Chicago, Illinois in 1923 with King Oliver.
He is most commonly remembered as a member of Louis Armstrong’s Hot Five and Hot Seven bands. He also played and recorded with Jelly Roll Morton’s Red Hot Peppers. St. Cyr also performed with Don Cook’s Dreamland Orchestra. He composed the popular standard Oriental Strut, noted for its adventurous chord sequence.
In 1930 Johnny returned to New Orleans to make a living as a plasterer while still playing with local bands led by Paul Barbarin or Alphonse Picou. In 1955 he moved to Los Angeles, California and returned to music full time. From 1961 until his death in 1966, he was the bandleader of the Young Men from New Orleans that featured Barney Bigard, performers at Disneyland.
Banjoist and guitarist Johnny St. Cyr passed away on June 17, 1966 in Los Angeles, California.