Phil Ranelin was born May 25, 1939 in Indianapolis, Indiana and lived in New York City before moving to Detroit, Michigan in the 1960s. He worked as a session musician on many Motown recordings, including with Stevie Wonder.
In 1971, he and Wendell Harrison formed a group called The Tribe, which was an avant-garde jazz ensemble devoted to black consciousness. Alongside it he co-founded Tribe Records. He released several albums as a leader in the 1970s, and continued with The Tribe project until 1978. Following this, Ranelin worked with Freddie Hubbard, Freddie Redd and the Red Hot Chili Peppers..
Working for the most part locally around Detroit in the following decades, Phil did not find widespread acceptance among jazz aficionados. He did, however, eventually gain the attention of rare groove collectors who became increasingly interested in his work. As a result, Tortoise drummer John McEntire remastered some of his older material and re-released it on Hefty Records. He also recorded on Lifeforce, Wide Hive and Rebirth record labels.
Trombonist Phil Ranelin continues to perform, compose, and record.
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Connie Crothers was born on May 2, 1941 in Palo Alto, California and began studying classical piano at age 9. She went on to major in music and composition at the University of California at Berkeley. While matriculating her teachers put less emphasis on emotional expression and more on procedure, structure and compositional rigor, which did not find a likeable place in her mind.
She subsequently became a student of pianist Lennie Tristano. After Tristano’s death in November 1978, she founded the Lennie Jazz Foundation and recorded a memorial concert album in his honor.
Her debut recording Perception was released in 1974 on the Steeplechase label. She went on to record another twenty albums as a leader over the course of her career and four as a sidewoman. In 1982 she recorded the album Swish with drummer Max Roach for New Artists Records, a label she and Roach founded. She also recorded in groups with, among others, Bud Tristano, Linda Satin, Richard Tabnik and Cameron Brown.
Pianist Connie Crothers, who mainly played in the avant-garde and free jazz genres, passed away of lung cancer in Manhattan, New York City on August 13, 2016.
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Barry John Guy was born April 22, 1947 in London, England and came to the fore as an improvising bassist as a member of a trio with pianist Howard Riley and drummer Tony Oxley in 1969. He also became an occasional member of John Stevens’ ensembles in the 1960s and 1970s, including the Spontaneous Music Ensemble.
By the early 1970s, he was a member of the influential free improvisation group Iskra 1903 with Derek Bailey and trombonist Paul Rutherford and in the late Seventies was revived with violinist Philipp Wachsmann, replacing Bailey. Guy, saxophonist Evan Parker, and drummer Paul Lytton became one of the best-known and most widely travelled free-improvising trios of the 1980s and 1990s.For a brief time he was a member of the Michael Nyman Band in the 1980s, performing on the soundtrack of The Draughtsman’s Contract.
Guy’s improvisation and formal composition interests led him to the London Jazz Composers Orchestra, originally formed to perform his composition Ode in 1972. The orchestra became one of the great large-scale European improvising ensembles. Though documentation is sketchy early on, in the late 1980s the Swiss label Intakt set out to document the band more thoroughly, resulting in several recordings.
He has also written for other large improvising ensembles, such as the NOW Orchestra and ROVA. Having taught at Guildhall School of Music, double bassist Barry Guy is currently improvising in piano trios with Marilyn Crispell and Agusti Fernandez, recorded several albums for ECM, continues to venture into the pop field with his session work, and along with his wife, run the small label Maya, which releases a variety of records in the genres of free improvisation, baroque music and contemporary composition.
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Linda Sharrock was born Linda Chambers on April 2, 1947 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and began singing in church choirs as a child. Interested in both folk music and jazz, she studied art while in college and became interested in avant-garde music.
She performed with Pharoah Sanders in the mid-1960s and late in 1966 she married Sonny Sharrock and professionally began using the spelling Lynda. She worked with him and Sanders into the early 1970s, as well as with Herbie Mann.
One of her best-known performances is on the 1969 Sonny Sharrock album Black Woman, released on Vortex Records. She toured Istanbul, Turkey in 1973 and recorded with Joe Bonner in 1974. After her divorce in 1978 she returned to using Linda, though she kept his surname.
A move to Vienna, Austria saw Sharrock working with Franz Koglmann, Eric Watson, and Wolfgang Puschnig well into the 1990s. She worked with ensembles such as the Pat Brothers, Red Sun, and AM4 in the 1980s, and with Harry Pepl in 1992.
Suffering a stroke in 2009 which left her partially disabled and aphasic, she briefly withdrew from the scene before returning in 2012. Since then the avant-garde and free jazz vocalist Linda Sharrock has appeared and recorded in France, Austria, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Slovenia, with various ensembles under the Linda Sharrock Network label.
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Fred Anderson was born on March 22, 1929 in Monroe, Louisiana and learned to play the saxophone by himself when he was a teenager. Moving with his family to Evanston, Illinois in the 1940s he studied music formally at the Roy Knapp Conservatory in Chicago, Illinois and had a private teacher for a short time.
He was one of the founders of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) and an important member of the musical collective. In the early 1960s Fred formed his own group and performed his original compositions with drummer Vernon Thomas, bassist Bill Fletcher, and his partner for many years, trumpeter Billy Brimfield.
During this period he recorded several notable avant garde albums as a sideman with saxophonist Joseph Jarman, As If It Were the Seasons and Song For which included one of his composition Little Fox Run. By 1972 he put together the Fred Anderson Sextet, with trombonist George Lewis, reedist Douglas Ewart, bassist Felix Blackman, drummer Hamid Drake and Iqua Colson on vocals. Throughout the Seventies he toured Europe, recorded in Austria, and recorded his first record as leader, Another Place in Germany.
He opened the short-lived performance-workshop space Birdhouse in honor of Charlie Parker, and in 1983 took over ownership of the Velvet Lounge in Chicago, which quickly became a center for the city’s jazz and experimental music scenes. The club expanded and relocated in the summer of 2006. Before that, his eclectic Beehive bar in west Chicago was a draw where musicians from around the world drank beer and played, mostly for each other.
Though remaining active as a performer, Anderson rarely recorded for about a decade beginning in the mid-1980s but by the Nineties he resumed a more active recording schedule, both as a solo artist, and as a collaborator with younger performers. He mentored a host of young musicians not limited to Hamid Drake, Harrison Bankhead, David Boykin, Nicole Mitchell, Justin Dillard, Aaron Getsug, Josh Abrams, Fred Jackson, Jr., George Lewis, Karl E. H. Seigfried, Isaiah Sharkey, and Isaiah Spencer.
Chicago avant-garde tenor saxophonist Fred Anderson, who was rooted in the swing and hard bop idioms but incorporated innovations from free jazz, passed away on June 24, 2010.
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