Addison Farmer was born August 21, 1928 an hour after his twin brother, in Council Bluffs, Iowa reportedly at 2201 Fourth Avenue. Their parents divorced when the boys were four, and their steelworker father was killed in a work accident not long after this. He moved with his grandfather, grandmother, mother, brother and sister to Phoenix, Arizona when he was four.
Addison and his brother moved to Los Angeles, California in 1945 and attended the music-oriented Jefferson High School, where they got music instruction and met other developing musicians such as Sonny Criss, Ernie Andrews, Big Jay McNeely, and Ed Thigpen. They brothers earned money by working in a cold-storage warehouse and by playing professionally. He went on to take bass lessons from Fred Zimmermann, and studied at Juilliard and the Manhattan School of Music.
By late 1945, Farmer was with Johnny Alston and His Orchestra recording for the Bihari Brothers’ Modern Music label, backing Jeanne De Metz. Shortly afterwards he recorded on the Blue Moon label with Al “Cake” Wichard and King Fleming and worked with Teddy Edwards’s band. He played and recorded in several groups with his brother and in ensembles led by Benny Golson, Gigi Gryce, Mose Allison, Jay McShann, Charlie Parker, Gene Ammons, Bob Brookmeyer, curtis Fuller, Hampton Hawes, Curtis Fuller, Stan Getz, Teo Macero, Sahib Shihab, Mal Waldron and Miles Davis.
Bassist Addison Farmer recorded extensively for the jazz label Prestige before passing away suddenly from bed death on February, 20, 1963 in New York City at the age of 34.
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Herb Ellis was born Mitchell Herbert Ellis in Farmersville, Texas on August 4, 1921 and raised in the suburbs of Dallas, Texas. He first heard the electric guitar performed by George Barnes on a radio program which inspired him to take up the guitar. He became proficient on the instrument by the time he entered North Texas State University, majored in music, but with no guitar program he studied string bass. With a lack of funds he dropped out in 1941 and toured for six months with a band from the University of Kansas.
In 1943, he joined Glen Gray and the Casa Loma Orchestra and it was here that he got his first recognition in the jazz magazines. Leaving Gray for the Jimmy Dorsey band, he got his initial opportunities to recorded solos. Ellis remained with Dorsey through 1947, traveling and recording extensively, but with a six-week hole in the schedule, he John Frigo and Lou Carter took a gig in Buffalo that lasted six months and where the group Soft Winds was born he wrote the classic jazz standard Detour Ahead.
The group fashioned themselves after the Nat King Cole Trio. and stayed together until 1952. Herb then replaced Barney Kessel in the Oscar Peterson Trio in 1953. His prominence not only with his performing with the trio alongside Ray Brown until 1958 but also because he was the only white person in the group in a time when racism was still very much widespread.
With the addition of a drummer, the Oscar Peterson Trio, served as the house rhythm section for Norman Granz’s Verve Records. They supported the likes of Ben Webster, Stan Getz, Dizzy Gillespie, Roy Eldridge, Sweets Edison, Buddy Rich, Lester Young, Benny Carter, Victor Feldman, Mel Brown, Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong among numerous others.
The trio were a mainstay of Jazz at the Philharmonic concerts as they swept the jazz world, from 957 to 1960 Ellis toured with Ella Fitzgerald, and along with fellow jazz guitarists Barney Kessel, Charlie Byrd and Tal Farlow, he created another ensemble, the Great Guitars.
In 1994 he was inducted into the Arkansas Jazz Hall of Fame, received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of North Texas College of Music. Guitarist Herb Ellis, released twenty-two albums as a leader before passing away from Alzheimer’s disease at his Los Angeles home on the morning of March 28, 2010, at the age of 88.
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Arnie Lawrence ,was born Arnold Lawrence Finkelstein on July 10, 1938 in Brooklyn, New York. He studied clarinet in his youth before switching to saxophone and from the age of 12 he was playing in clubs in the Catskills, and by age 17 was performing at Birdland, at one point working a double bill with John Coltrane.
He played with Charles Mingus, Thad Jones, Maynard Ferguson, Clark Terry and Duke Pearson but did not make his first recordings until 1966, playing on Chico Hamilton’s The Dealer. Working for several years with Hamilton and becoming a soloist on The Tonight Show from 1967 to 1972, Arnie made his first records as a leader in 1968.
In the early 1970s Lawrence played with Willie Bobo, then joined Blood, Sweat & Tears in 1974. He did a world tour with Liza Minnelli in 1978–79, and released a few more records under his own name before touring with Louie Bellson and Elvin Jones in the early 1980s. He composed a symphony he titled Red, White and Blues, which was premiered by an orchestra in Williamsburg, Virginia. It featured himself, Dizzy Gillespie and Julius Hemphill all soloing in the performance.
Putting on his educator hat he taught from the middle of the 1970s, working as an artist in residence in Kentucky and Kansas. By 1986 he had stopped recording and touring and founded the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in New York City. Among the program’s students were Roy Hargrove, Brad Mehldau, Larry Goldings, John Popper, Peter Bernstein and Spike Wilner of Smalls Jazz Club. Moving to Israel in 1997, where he founded the International Center for Creative Music, an education facility open to both Jewish and Arab students. He played regularly in Israel and owned his own nightclub called Arnie’s Jazz Underground.
Suffered from lung and liver cancer late in life, alto saxophonist Arnie Lawrence passed away on April 22, 2005, in Jerusalem, Israel and Palestine, as both claim the city as their capital.
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Sanford Gold was born in Cleveland, Ohio on June 9, 1911. He played locally in Cleveland and led regional bands before moving to New York City in the 1930s. It was in New York that he collaborated with Babe Russin and Raymond Scott in 1935.
Forming a trio with Dave Barbour in 1941 by 1942 Gold was working as a studio musician for CBS before serving in World War II from 1942 to 1946. After his discharged from the military, he worked with Don Byas, Mary Osborne and others before he going to work for NBC from 1949-1954. Gold recorded an album as a leader titled Piano d’Or on the Prestige label in 1955. He also performed as a sideman with Johnny Smith, Al Cohn, Vic Dickenson, Stan Getz, Coleman Hawkins and Sally Blair.
As an educator Sanford was considered one of the premier jazz piano teachers of his time. His self-published book, A Modern Approach to Keyboard Harmony and Piano Techniques, distills the complexities of jazz and classical harmony down to a simple yet far-reaching system of pianistic and harmonic exercises. It has become an underground classic for serious students of the instrument.
Pianist Sanford Gold, whose one of his biggest fans was Bill Evans and who often steered students his way, passed away on May 29, 1984 in Danvers. Massachusetts.
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Henri Renaud was born April 20, 1925 in Villedieu-sur-Indre, France. His styles was evolutionary over the decades he was musically active and represented the swing, bebop and cool styles. His international renown came when he served as an ensemble-organizing point-man for visiting jazz performers from the United States.
Moving to Paris in 1946, Renaud established a career as a jazz pianist and joined tenor-saxophonist Jean-Claude Fohrenbach’s combo. During 1949 and 1950 he accompanied Don Byas, James Moody and Roy Eldridge. In 1952 he performed at various times with Lester Young, Sarah Vaughan and Clifford Brown.
Henri would go on to record several times with Brown as well as with Milt Jackson, J. J. Johnson, Al Cohn, Oscar Pettiford, Max Roach, Frank Foster and Bob Brookmeyer. In 1954, he visited the United States and recorded during that time.
He became an executive for French CBS’ jazz division in 1964 and for the most part stopped performing, though he occasionally worked as a film composer. Pianist Henri Renaud passed away in Paris, France on October 17, 2002.
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