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.
James Robert Haslip was born in the Bronx, New York on December 31, 1951 to Puerto Rican immigrants, Spanish being his first language and learned to speak English in kindergarten. His family moved to Huntington, New York when he was four years old. At age seven, he began playing drums and then moved onto other instruments such as trumpet and tuba until at age 15 when he started playing bass.
Considering himself self-taught though he took music lessons and went to a private music school, he originally went to a local music shop with his father and purchased a right-handed bass and learned to play it upside down, as he is left-handed. Surrounded by music as a young boy, from visiting nightclubs and concert venues, there was always music in the house as well. His older brother listened to classic jazz, his father to Latin and orchestra jazz and his aunt listening to sappy stuff like Jerry Vale and Johnny Mathis. In high school, Jimmy created his first band called Soul Mine with his high school classmates, playing soul music at school dances and parties.
By the early 1970s he toured alongside musicians, and moved to Los Angeles, California in 1976, playing with guitarists Tommy Bolin and Harvey Mandel. A founding member of the jazz fusion group the Yellowjackets, in 2012 he took a year hiatus that turned permanent and has gone on to produce independent projects as well as being involved with the charitable organization Union Station Foundation that serves the needs of the homeless. He has worked with Jeff Lorber, Eric Marienthal, Bruce Hornsby, Rita Coolidge, Gino Vannelli, Kiss, Tommy Bolin, Allan Holdsworth, Marilyn Scott, Chaka Khan, Al Jarreau, Donald Fagen, and Anita Baker.
A part of a combo with Allan Holdsworth, Alan Pasqua, and Chad Wackerman, he has also collaborated with Jing Chi with Robben Ford and Vinnie Colaiuta, and Modereko. Bass player and record producer Jimmy Haslip, who is an early user of the five-string electric bass, continues to produce and perform.
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Charles “Don” Alias was born on December 25, 1939 in Harlem, New York City, the son of Caribbean immigrants. Absorbing the lessons of neighborhood Cuban and Puerto Rican hand drummers, while in high school he played conga with the Eartha Kitt Dance Foundation, and in 1957 accompanied the singer at the Newport Jazz Festival.
Mothballing his musical career to study biology at Erie, Pennsylvania’s Cannon College, he followed those studies with a stint at Boston’s Carnegie Institute for Biochemistry. While there Alias regularly moonlighted at local clubs in the company of students of the nearby Berklee School of Music, among them conguero Bill Fitch and bassist Gene Perla, and played bass in a short-lived trio featuring Chick Corea on guitar and Tony Williams on drums.
When Perla landed a gig with Nina Simone, he convinced the singer to hire Alias to assume drumming duties. By the end of his three-year residency he was serving as musical director, and eventually captured the attention of Miles Davis, with whom Simone regularly shared festival bills. He would go on to record four albums with Miles Davis including sitting in to play the drums on the recording of Miles Runs the Voodoo Down on the album Bitches Brew in 1969, when neither Lenny White nor Jack DeJohnette were able to play the marching band-inspired rhythm.
Settling back in New York City in the late Seventies he along with Gene Perla formed the Afro-Cuban fusion group Stone Alliance, which would be resurrected in 1980 with pianist Kenny Kirkland and tenor saxophonist Bob Mintzer. Performing on hundreds of recording sessions, he can be heard playing with Carla Bley, Uri Caine, Jack DeJohnette, Roberta Flack, Joe Farrell, Dan Fogelberg, Bill Frisell, Hal Galper, Kenny Garrett, Herbie Hancock, Elvin Jones, Joe Lovano, David Sanborn, Philip Bailey, Joni Mitchell, Jaco Pastorius, Carlos Santana, John McLaughlin, Lalo Schifrin, Nina Simone, Steve Swallow, the Brecker Brothers, James Taylor, Weather Report, Lou Reed, Blood Sweat & Tears, Pat Metheny, Don Grolnick Group and Jaco Pastorius, on the short list.
Percussionist Don Alias, best known for playing congas and other hand drums, but was also a capable drum kit performer, passed away suddenly in his Manhattan home on March 29, 2006 in New York City.