Vince Guaraldi was born Vincent Anthony Dellaglio on July 17, 1928 in San Francisco, California. Growing up in the North Beach area, taking the name of his stepfather Tony Guaraldi after being adopted and being around his maternal uncle was a musician, singer and whistle all became an important influence on his blossoming musical career. He attended Lincoln High School, went on to San Francisco State University and then enlisted and served as an Army cook during the Korean War.
His first recording was a self-titled LP recorded in 1953 with the Cal Tjader Trio and released early the following year. By 1955, Guaraldi had his own trio with Eddie Duran and and Dean Reilly. Reuniting with Tjader in 1956 he became an integral part of two bands that the vibraphonist assembled, the first band played mainly straight jazz with Al Torre on drums and Eugene Wright on bass and Luis Kant playing congas and bongos. The second band included Al McKibbon, Mongo Santamaria, Willie Bob, Paul Horn and Jose “Chombo” Silva. He made a big splash with his performance with Tjader at the 1958 Monterey Jazz Festival.
Vince left the group early in 1959 to pursue his own projects full-time. He probably would have remained a well-respected but minor jazz figure had he not written an original number to fill out his covers of Antonio Carlos Jobim/Luis Bonfá tunes on his 1962 album, Jazz Impressions of Black Orpheus. His label, Fantasy Records released the single Samba de Orpheus with his original Cast Your Fate To The Wind on the B-side trying to catch the building bossa nova wave. As providence would have radio DJs began flipping it over and playing the B-side and the gentle, likeable tune stood out from everything else on the airwaves and became a grassroots hit and won the Grammy for Best Original Jazz Composition.
Guaraldi would go on to record with Brazilian guitarist Bola Sete, began experimenting with electric piano and then composed a series of Latin influenced waltz tempos and jazz standards for the Eucharist chorus at the San Francisco Grace Cathedral. Through contact with Peanuts television producer Lee Mendelson, he was commissioned to score the upcoming Christmas special and played what would become Linus and Lucy over the phone two weeks later. The Vince Guaraldi Trio with drummer Jerry Granelli and bassist Fred Marshall recorded the soundtrack and he would go on to compose scores for seventeen Peanuts television specials, plus the feature film A Boy Called Charlie Brown.
Pianist and composer Vince Guaraldi passed away at age 47 on February 6, 1976. The evening before, he had dined at Peanuts producer Lee Mendelson’s home and was reportedly not feeling well, complaining of indigestion-like chest discomfort that his doctor had told him was nothing to worry about. The following evening, after concluding the first set at Butterfield’s Nightclub in Menlo Park, California with his interpretation of the Beatles’ Eleanor Rigby, Guaraldi and drummer Jim Zimmerman returned to the room they were staying in that weekend at the adjacent Red Cottage Inn, to relax before the next set. Walking across the room he just collapsed. That was it. The cause of death has been variously described as a heart attack or an aortic aneurysm. He had just finished recording the soundtrack for It’s Arbor Day, Charlie Brown earlier that afternoon. He left us a modest catalogue of some 32 albums as a leader or co-leader, 14 notable appearances as a sideman and another eleven showcasing or featuring his music.
Bola Sete was born Djalma de Andrade on July 16, 1923 in Rio de Janiero, Brazil. His name translates to Seven Ball and in Brazilian billiards the seven ball is the black ball on the table. He got this nickname when he was the only black member of a small jazz group. He studied guitar at the Conservatory of Rio and started performing with his own sextet and local samba groups while he was still a student. His early influences were guitarists Django Reinhardt, Charlie Christian, Barney Kessell and Oscar Moore, as well as the big band sounds of Dizzy Gillespie, Tommy Dorsey and Woody Herman that toured South America.
His career began in 1952 playing various clubs and hotels around Italy for four years. Then returning to Brazil while touring South America he was spotted by the manager of the Sheraton hotels who brought him to the States to play in New York’s Park Sheraton and San Francisco’s Sheraton Palace. Dizzy Gillespie was staying there at the time and listening to Bola Sete playing every day. When Gillespie decided to bring his pianist Lalo Schifrin to the hotel, he discovered that Lalo and Bola had already met and played together in Argentina. This meeting was the beginning of Bola’s success in the US. In the fall of 1962, Gillespie took the guitarist to the 9th Annual Monterey Jazz Festival. Enjoying huge success he toured for a while with Gillespie then returned to San Francisco and joined the Vince Guaraldi Trio.
Bola was already well known in the US, and his partnership with Guaraldi yielded several well-received recordings. After staying for a couple of years Bola formed his own trio with his fellow Brazilians, bassist Sebastian Neto and drummer Paulinho da Costa. In the 1970s, he became friends with guitarist John Fahey, who had been an admirer of Sete’s. In 1975, Fahey used his Takoma label to release Ocean, which is now seen as one of Sete’s greatest accomplishments.
During the eighties, Sete suffered from lung cancer and though he attempted to counter with yoga and meditation, on February 14, 1987 guitarist Bola Sete passed away at Marin General Hospital in Greenbrae, California from complications caused by pneumonia and cancer.
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Gilberto Passos Gil Moreira was born June 26, 1942 in Salvador do Bahia, Brazil though he spent much of his childhood in the countryside of Ituaca. The offspring of a doctor and a schoolteacher, he attended the Marist Brothers school until he was nine and then returned to Salvador for secondary school.
Gil’s interest in music began when he was two and grew up listening to the forro music and the street performers of Salvador. Early on, he began to play the drums and the trumpet, and then took up the accordion before attending music school. He first played classical music, but grew more interested in the folk and popular music of Brazil, influenced by accordionist Luiz Gonzaga. He discovered the samba music of Dorival Caymmi, American big band jazz and tango.
In 1950 while still in high school he joined his first band, Os Desafinados (The Out of Tunes), playing accordion and vibraphone and singing. Soon afterwards he settled on the guitar as his instrument after hearing Joao Gilberto and started playing bossa nova. Gil met guitarist and singer Caetano Veloso at the Universidade Federal da Bahia in 1963 and immediately they began collaborating and performing together, releasing a single and EP soon afterwards. Along with Maria Bethania, Gal Costa and Tom Ze, they opened the Vila Velha Theatre with a night of bossa nova and traditional Brazilian songs in 1964.
Gilberto would go on to become musical director of the theatre’s concert series, sold bananas, composed jingles for tv ads and work for Unilever before moving to Sao Paulo in in 1965. Though he had a hit single with Louvação that was later recorded by Elis Regina, his first solo hit was the 1969 song Aquele Abraco. Arrested with Veloso he spent seven months in jail and house arrest and then instructed to leave the country. After a concert in Salvador in ’69 they left for Portugal, Paris and London where he listened to Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff and Burning Spear. He performed with Yes, Pink Floyd and the Incredible String Band. It was in London that he recorded Gilberto Gil Nega and attended Miles Davis and Sun Ra concerts.
Over the course of his career he participated in the Aids benefit album Red, Hot + Rio, win Grammy awards, receive the Legion d’honneur from France, and was the first Latin American recipient of the Polar Music Prize in Stockholm. In between performances he turned to politics becoming the Salvador Secretary of Culture, founded the environmental protection organization Onda Azul (Blue Wave), was a Good will Ambassador for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, became Brazil’s Minister of Culture and then retired due to a vocal cord polyp.
Tenor, baritone and falsetto vocalist, guitarist, lyricist and composer Gilberto Gil who is one of the pioneers of tropicália, and became increasing interested in the welfare of Black culture and focused on Afro-Brazilian culture. He continues to transcend the eras of dance and music trends emerging on the other side with a blend of music styles that stay true to his traditional Bahian roots while engaging with commercial markets.
Miles Dewey Davis III was born May 26, 1926 in Alton, Illinois into an affluent family, father a dentist and his mother a blues pianist. They owned a substantial ranch in the Delta region of Pine Bluffs, Arkansas. When he was one years old the family moved to East St. Louis and it was between there and Pine Bluffs that his appreciation for music came out of the Black church.
His musical studies began at 13, when his father gave him a trumpet and arranged lessons with local musician Elwood Buchanan. He learned to play with out vibrato which gave him his clear signature tone. By age 16, Davis was a member of the music society and, when not at school, playing professionally first at the local Elks Club. At 17, he spent a year playing in Eddie Randle’s band, the Blue Devils and during this time, Sonny Stitt tried to persuade him to join the Tiny Bradshaw band, then passing through town. His mother insisted that he finish his final year of high school and he graduated from East St. Louis Lincoln High School in 1944.
In 1944, the Billy Eckstine band visited East St. Louis with Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker in tow. Miles was brought in on third trumpet for a couple of weeks because the regular player, Buddy Anderson, was out sick. Even after this experience, once Eckstine’s band left town, Davis’ parents were still keen for him to continue formal academic studies.
However, In the fall of 1944, following graduation from high school, Davis moved to New York City to study at the Juilliard School of Music. His arrival marked a new chapter and he spent his first weeks attempting to contact Charlie Parker, against all advice even from Coleman Hawkins. Finally locating his idol, he became one of the cadre of musicians who held nightly jam sessions at Minton’s Playhouse and Monroe’s, both Harlem nightclubs. He was among future leaders of bebop Fats Navarro, Freddie Webster, J. J. Johnson as well as the established Thelonious Monk and Kenny Clarke.
Dropping out of Juilliard after asking permission from his father, Miles began playing professionally, performing in several 52nd Street bands led by Coleman Hawkins, and Eddie Lockjaw Davis. By 1945, he entered a recording studio for the first time, under the leadership of Herbie Field. This was the beginning of his many sideman recordings until 1946 when he recorded as a leader with the Miles Davis Sextet plus Earl Coleman and Ann Hathaway. Though a member of the groundbreaking Charlie Parker Quintet, he can be heard accompanying singers. He would play with Max Roach, Al Haig, Sir Charles Thompson, Duke Jordan, Curley Russell, Tommy Potter and Leonard Gaskin. This gave him numerous recording sessions and the beginning of what would become his cool jazz style.
After Parker’s breakdown and committal to Camarillo State Mental Hospital while on tour in Los Angeles, Davis, found himself stranded. He roomed and collaborated for some time with Charles Mingus, got a job with Billy Eckstine and eventually got back to New York. He would freelance and sideman in some of the most important combos on the New York jazz scene.
By 1948 Davis grew close to Canadian composer and arranger Gil Evans and his basement apartment had become the meeting place for several young musicians and composers such as Davis, Roach, John Lewis and Gerry Mulligan who were unhappy with the bebop scene. Together they created the tuba band sound that included French horn and tuba in the nonet line-up. The objective was to achieve a sound similar to the human voice, through carefully arranged compositions and by emphasizing a relaxed, melodic approach to the improvisations.
A contract and recording sessions between 1949-1950 with Capitol Records brought about the release of Birth Of The Cool in 1956, which gave its name to the cool jazz movement. Though met with resistance, years later it was co-opted by white musicians like Mulligan and Dave Brubeck and the critics who hailed it as a success.]
By the first half of the 1950s Davis was on tour in Paris with Tadd Dameron, Kenny Clarke and James Moody, and living the life of a black musician abroad. He was involved with French actress and singer Juliette Greco for a time and then returned to the States to be underappreciated by the critics and a liaison with the mother of his two children unraveled. This is when his heroin addiction began, with subsequent arrests. But iwas during this period that he became acquainted with Ahmad Jamal’s music and his elegant approach and use of space influenced him deeply and he definitely severed all ties to bebop.
Through the decade he would record for Prestige, work with Art Blakey, Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane, began using the Harmon mute creating a signature sound and phrasing. The most important Prestige recordings of this period were Dig, Blue Haze, Bag’s Groove, Miles Davis and the Modern Jazz Giants and Walkin’. This placed him in the center of the hard bop movement. It also hailed his period of withdrawal, being distant, cold, contempt for critics, and his quick temper.
His first great quintet included John Coltrane, Red Garland, Paul Chambers and Philly Joe Jones. This group brought forth such titles as Relaxin’, Steamin’, Workin’ and Cookin’ all with The Miles Davis Quintet. From 1957 to 1963 Davis recorded a series of albums with Gil Evans playing often trumpet and flugelhorn on Miles Ahead, Porgy and Bess, Sketches of Spain, and Quiet Nights. In 1959 with Bill Evans, Wynton Kelly, John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderley, Paul Chambers and Jimmy Cobb he recorded his magnus opus Kind Of Blue.
Through the Sixties he recoded with a number of musicians, Hank Mobley, Sonny Stitt, Jimmy Heath, George Coleman, Ron Carter, Tony Williams, Herbie Hancock and Sam Rivers. But it was Hancock, Williams, Carter and Wayne Shorter that became the nucleus of his second great quintets.
He would work with Chick Corea and Dave Holland, enter into his electric period playing with Joe Zawinul, John McLaughlin, Jack DeJohnette, Airto Moriera, Bennie Maupin and recorded the landmark Bitches Brew. He would create the Cellar Door Band before retiring in 1975. By 1979, he overcame his cocaine addiction and regained his enthusiasm for music and put together new smaller combos playing up until his death.
Miles Davis is regarded as one of the most innovative, influential and respected figures in the history of music. He has received numerous Grammy Awards, and according to the RIAA, the album is the best-selling jazz album of all time, having been certified as quadruple platinum (4 million copies sold. In 2009, the US House of Representatives voted 409–0 to pass a resolution honoring the album as a national treasure. On September 28, 1991 he passed away in Santa Monica, California.
Eliane Elias was born on March 19, 1960 in Sao Paulo, Brazil and her musical talents began to show at an early age. She started studying piano at age seven, and by age twelve was transcribing solos from the great jazz masters. Fifteen, saw her teaching piano and improvisation and her performing career began at age seventeen, working with Brazilian singer/songwriter Toquinho and the poet Vinicius de Moraes.
In 1981, she headed for New York and a year later landed a spot in the acclaimed group Steps Ahead. In 1988 she was voted Best New Talent in the Critics Poll of Jazziz magazine, together with Herbie Hancock she was nominated for a Grammy in the “Best Jazz Solo Performance” category for her 1995 release, Solos and Duets, received the Downbeat Readers Poll’s “Best Jazz Album” for her recording The Three Americas and has been named in five other categories: Beyond Musician, Best Composer, Jazz Pianist, Female Vocalist, and Musician of the Year.
Elias has recorded with RCA Victor, Bluebird, Denon, Manhattan, Blue Note, EMI, Concord/Picante, ECM and Savoy Jazz spanning over twenty albums to date. She has recorded two albums solely dedicated to the works of the composer, Plays Jobim and Sings Jobim. Her 1998 release, Eliane Elias Sings Jobim, winning Best Vocal Album in Japan and was awarded Best Brazilian Album in the Jazziz Critics Poll. She has been featured in a Calle 54 documentary, received several Grammy nominations for Best Latin Jazz Album, and recorded with Denyce Graves on The Lost Days.
On her first album titled “Amanda” released in 1984 she collaborated with Randy Brecker and shortly thereafter she began her solo career. She has also collaborated with bassist Marc Johnson on the album Swept Away. Pianist, singer, arranger and songwriter Eliane Elias, known for her distinctive blend of her Brazilian roots with voice, jazz and classical music, continues to compose, record, perform and tour.