Paul Cacia was born on June 20, 1956 and at age 10 he took up playing the trumpet. A protege of the master Claude Gordon and private pupil of Cat Anderson, he was also mentored by Stan Kenton, Louie Bellson, and Don Ellis.
His professional career began as the lead trumpet for the Al Hirt Big Band in New Orleans, Louisiana and The Ray Anthony Orchestra. His first recording session was a duet with Stevie Wonder, leading to over a decade as a top call studio musician in Los Angeles, California. As a soloist and bandleader, his career began before sixty thousand people as the opening act for the rock group Chicago. Paul has also shared billing with Tito Puente and Pia Zadora.
Hard bop trumpeter, big band leader and producer Paul Cacia recorded for the Alexander Street, Outstanding and Happy Hour labels. He has produced The Mormon Tabernacle Symphony & Chorus, the Los Angeles Raiders Big Band and has been the personal manager to Peggy Lee. For over fifty years he has been known as one of the world’s greatest high note trumpet showmen until his retirement in 2016.
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Philip Francis Bates was born June 19, 1931 in Brixton, London. After playing bass on regular gigs at London’s 51 Club with Harry Klein and Vic Ash throughout 1956, he joined The Jazz Couriers with Tubby Hayes and Ronnie Scott. After the Couriers disbanded,
Bates went on tour with Sarah Vaughan and played with the Lennie Metcalfe Band on the Cunard liner the RMS Mauretania. By the early 1960s he was working with Johnny Dankworth and Ronnie Ross, among others, before joining Dick Morrissey’s Quartet from 1962 until 1968. During that period he also played with the Harry South Big Band, as did the other members of the quartet, and with the Tony Kinsey Quintet.
In 1968 he played briefly again with Tubby Hayes and from 1968 on, he worked as a session musician, accompanying visiting American musicians such as Sonny Stitt, Jimmy Witherspoon, Judy Collins and Tom Paxton. He spent five years touring Europe with Stéphane Grappelli in the late 1970s and in the Eighties and 1990s he led his own trio. At 86, double bassist Phil Bates seldom performs, if at all.
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John Simmons was born June 14, 1918 in Haskell, Oklahoma and played trumpet at first, but a sports injury prevented him from continuing on the instrument. He picked up bass instead, landing his first professional gigs a mere four months after starting on the instrument. Early on he played with Nat King Cole and Teddy Wilson in 1937 before moving to Chicago, Illinois where he played with Jimmy Bell, King Kolax, Floyd Campbell, and Johnny Letman.
1940 saw him playing with Roy Eldridge and then spent 1941 to 1942 playing at various times with Benny Goodman, Cootie Williams, and Louis Armstrong. From 1942 to 1943 John played in the CBS Blue Network Orchestra, then played with Duke Ellington, Eddie Heywood and Illinois Jacquet through 1946, in addition to doing much studio work.
Simmons recorded with Lester Young, James P. Johnson, Hot Lips Page, Ben Webster, Billie Holiday, Sidney DeParis, Sid Catlett, Coleman Hawkins, Don Byas, Benny Carter, Bill DeArango, Al Casey, Ella Fitzgerald, Charles Thompson, Milt Jackson, Buddy Rich, Tadd Dameron, Matthew Gee, Maynard fErguson and Thelonious Monk among numerous others.
Much of the 1950s Simmons continued to work as a studio musician recording with Erroll Garner, Harry “Sweets” Edison, Art Tatum, and the Rolf Ericson/Duke Jordan band. One of his last associations was with Phineas Newborn in 1960 before ill health forced his retirement not long afterwards. Bassist John Simmons passed away on September 19, 1979 in Orange, New York.
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Jon Georg Balke was born on June 7, 1955 at Furnes, Ringsaker, Norway and started playing classical piano, but switched to blues at 12, and eventually migrated into jazz. At the age of 18 he joined Arild Andersen’s quartet.
By the mid-1980s he was working on his own and has become one of Norway’s leading jazz composers. He was active in the groups of Radka Toneff, the Afrofusion group E´olén, Oslo 13 and Masqualero in the early 1980s. From 1989 he focused on his own projects, such as JøKleBa with Audun Kleive and Per Jørgensen, and the Magnetic North Orchestra.
Forming the percussion group Batagraf in 2002, he created a series of multimedia concerts at Vossajazz festival, labeled Ekstremjazz that included the extreme sports of parachuting, paragliding, hang-gliding, and bmx biking. In 2016 he launched the solo piano concept Warp, with a subtle use of live electronics accompanying the grand piano in live performances.
Pianist and composer Jon Balke has received numerous awards for his contributions to jazz, has been an artist in residence at Moldejazz and currently works with his Magnetic North Orchestra.
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Carl Briggs Pruitt was born on June 3, 1918 in Birmingham, Alabama and began his career as a pianist, but switched to bass in 1937. For a brief time he played around Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and then went on to work through the Forties with Roy Eldridge, the Jeter-Pillars Orchestra, Lucky Millinder, Maxine Sullivan, Cootie Williams, and Mary Lou Williams.
The 1950s saw Pruitt touring with Earl Hines and the Sauter-Finegan Orchestra, but was mostly active as a sideman and session musician on recordings with Shorty Baker, Arnett Cobb, Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis, Bill Doggett, Wynonie Harris, Bull Moose Jackson, Roland Kirk, George Shearing, Sahib Shihab, and Hal Singer among others.
Pruitt did not perform or record frequently in the 1960s or 1970s, but he did play with Woody Herman at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1967 and recorded with Ray Nance in 1969. He toured France with Doc Cheatham and Sammy Price in 1975.
Double-bassist Carl Pruitt passed away in June of 1977.
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