Randy Bernsen was born on July 15, 1954 in Needham, Massachusetts. He began his professional career in the mid-1970s , playing guitar with local groups. He collaborated with the rock band Blood, Sweat & Tears on their 1977 tour, where he was second guitarist alongside Mike Stern until he left the band.
Randy went on to work with Jaco Pastorius, Herbie Hancock, Bob James and Peter Erskine. His debut album as a leader came in the form of Music for Planets, People & Washing Machines on the MCA , label in 1986, that received critical acclaim from Down Beat and Guitar Player.
1987 saw Bernsen releasing his sophomore project Mo ‘Wasabi with Wayne Shorter, Michael Brecker, Marcus Miller, Steve Gadd, Toots Thielemans and Bobby Economou supporting his effort. Once again he received great praise from among others, JazzIn and USA Today. His third MCA project however did not hold up to the standard.
Spending some time touring Asia and composing TV music, he settled in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and then joined Joe Zawinul’s band in 1992, replacing Scott Henderson. This move gave him the opportunity to record of Zawinul Syndicate’s Lost Tribes album.
Picking up a house gig at a Fort Lauderdale club resulted in Bernsen’s next CD in 1997 titled Live at Tavern 213, that featured excellent improvisation by the guitarist, bassist Pete Sebastian and drummer John Yarling. This led to a Mexico tour in 1998 with violinist/vocalist Nicole Yarling, saxophonist Richard Brookens, bassist Javier Carrion, and drummer Archie Pena that ultimately yielded Bernsen’s 2001 CD Live in San Miguel de Allande. Performing with his own band, recording 6 albums as a bandleader, guitarist Randy Bernsen continues to pursue his music career.
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Dave Grusin was born Robert David Grusin on June 26, 1934 in Littleton, Colorado to pianist mother and violinist father who emigrated from Riga, Latvia. He went on to study music at the University of Colorado at Boulder and received his degree in 1956.
He produced his first single Subways Are for Sleeping in 1962 and his first film score for Divorce American Style five years later. He would go on to score Winning, The Friends of Eddie Coyle, The Midnight Man and Three Days of the Condor, The Graduate, The Champ, The Fabulous Baker Boys, On Golden Pond, Tootsie, Mulholland Falls and The Goonies. He has been nominated six times for Academy Awards for his scoring and in 1988, he won an Oscar for Best Original Score for The Milagro Beanfield War.
In 1978 he had started GRP Records with his business partner, Larry Rosen, and began to create some of the first commercial digital recordings. He also composed the original opening fanfare for TriStar Pictures film studio. Through the end of the century he continued to score films, television theme songs and episode music.
From 2000 through 2011, Dave concentrated on composing classical and jazz compositions, touring and recording with collaborators, including guitarist Lee Ritenour, with whom he was nominated three times and won a Grammy for the album Harlequin. won a Grammy Award in 1985.
Throughout his career he has conducted the Andy Williams Show orchestra, was musical director and arranger for the Catarina Valente TV show, lived in Amsterdam, received honorary doctorates from Berklee College of Music and the University of Colorado, College of Music. Pianist, composer, arranger and producer Dave Grusin has and continues to collaborate with James Taylor, Renée Fleming, Paul Simon, Sérgio Mendes, Quincy Jones, Al Jarreau, Patti Austin, Billy Joel, Dave Valentin and Sadao Watanabe, among others.
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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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Eric Kloss was born on April 3, 1949 in Greenville, Pennsylvania near Pittsburgh. Blind from birth he attended the Western Pennsylvania School for the Blind, which was run by his father. At 10 he started learning to play the alto saxophone, and two years later he was playing in nightclubs with professional musicians such as Bobby Negri, Charles Bell, and Sonny Stitt. By the age of 16 he had recorded his debut album, Introducing Eric Kloss on the Prestige label in 1965 with Don Patterson and Pat Martino.
His third album as a leader saw him enlist the talents of musicians over twice his age: Jaki Byard, Richard Davis, and Alan Dawson. He continued recording and performing while a student at Duquesne University and being a fan of Elvis Presley and the Ventures, Kloss was attracted to the growth of jazz fusion in the 1960s and ’70s. He would eventually play with fusion musicians Chick Corea, Dave Holland, and Jack DeJohnette.
Eric also collaborated with Richie Cole and Gil Goldstein, and did sessions with Cedar Walton, Jimmy Owens, Kenny Barron, Booker Ervin, Barry Miles, and Terry Silverlight.
In the 1980s, he taught at Rutgers University, then Duquesne and Carnegie Mellon. He collaborated with his vocalist wife Candee in a group called Quiet Fire. Alto saxophonist Eric Kloss has performed and recorded rarely since the 1980s due to health problems.
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George Duke was born on January 12, 1946 in San Rafael, California and raised in Marin City. It was at the young age of 4 that he first became interested in the piano when his mother took him to see Duke Ellington in concert. He began his formal piano studies at the age of 7, at his local Baptist church. Attending Tamalpais High School in Mill Valley, he went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in trombone and composition with a minor in contrabass from the San Francisco Conservatory in 1967.
Initially he played with friends from garages to local clubs, George quickly eased his way into session work, before getting his master’s degree in composition from San Francisco State University. Although starting out playing classical music, his musician cousin Charles Burrell convinced him to switch to jazz and improvise what he wanted to do.
1967 saw Duke venturing into jazz fusion, playing and recording with violinist Jean-Luc Ponty, as well as performing with the Don Ellis Orchestra, and Cannonball Adderley’s band, and recorded with Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention on a number of albums through the 1970s. He also played with Ruth Underwood, Tom Fowler, Bruce Fowler from Zappa’s Overnite Sensation band that he was a part of, along with Johnny “Guitar” Watson and jazz guitarist Lee Ritenour. Lynn Davis and Sheila E recorded with him on his late-1970s solo albums Don’t Let Go and Master of the Game.
During the 1980s he collaborated with bassist Stanley Clarke and produced the Clarke/Duke Project that released three albums, he served as a record producer and composer on two instrumental tracks on the Miles Davis albums Tutu and Amandla, worked with a number of Brazilian musicians, including singer Milton Nascimento, percussionist Airto Moreira and singer Flora Purim, and in the 1992 film Leap of Faith featured gospel songs and choir produced by him and choir master Edwin Hawkins.
Duke was musical director for the Nelson Mandela tribute concert at Wembley Stadium in London, temporarily replaced Marcus Miller as musical director of NBC’s late-night music performance program Sunday Night during its first season, and was a judge for the second annual Independent Music Awards to support independent artists’ careers. He worked with Jill Scott on her third studio album, The Real Thing: Words and Sounds Vol. 3; and put together a trio with David Sanborn and Marcus Miller for a tour across the United States.
His educator side had him teaching a course on Jazz And American Culture at Merritt College in Oakland, California. He was nominated for a Grammy as Best Contemporary Jazz Performance for After Hours in 1999, was inducted into The SoulMusic Hall Of Fame in 2012, and was honored with a tribute album My Old Friend: Celebrating George Duke, produced by long-time friend and collaborator Al Jarreau, that received a NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Jazz Album in 2015.
As leader he recorded some four dozen albums and as sideman he worked with such artists as Third World, The Keynotes, Gene Ammons, Billy Cobham, Eddie Henderson, Alphonse Mouzon, Michael Jackson, Deniece Williams, Miles Davis, Dianne Reeves, John Scofield, Chanté Moore, Joe Sample, Phil Collins, Regina Belle, Teena Marie, Joe Williams, Gerald Wilson and Larisa Dolina among many others.
Keyboard pioneer, vocalist guitarist, trombonist, producer and composer George Duke passed away on August 5, 2013 in Los Angeles, California from chronic lymphocytic leukemia. He was 67. His songs have been sampled by Daft Punk, Kanye West and Ice Cube among numerous others.