John Parker was born on June 24, 1928 in Queens, New York and began playing jazz trumpet at the age of 16 while attending Flushing High School. Encouraged by the bassist George Duvivier in the late Forties, he began playing in the jazz clubs on Manhattan’s W. 52nd Street where Dixieland, swing and bebop combos held court. It was on 52nd St. that drummer Zooty Singleton nicknamed him Tasty because of his tasty solos.
During the early 1950s, John, who was no relation to the Charlie Parker, began traveling with the Rhythm & Blues band of Roosevelt Sykes. He also played with trumpeter and composer Sy Oliver and vocalist Etta Jones. He also stepped in for trumpeter Cat Anderson in the Duke Ellington band. He would go on to play with Sonny Rollins and Thelonious Monk.
The 1970s saw Parker playing with pianist Brooks Kerr and drummer Sonny Greer in Manhattan venues including the Algonquin Hotel. Over the last 20 years, when Parker was living at Westbeth Artists Community with his wife, the late writer Leslie Gourse, he became a regular at Arthur’s Tavern and played New York City clubs in Little Italy and Chelsea.
Trumpeter John “Tasty” Parker, who never recorded as a leader and had been suffering from emphysema, passed away on Tuesday, March 21, 2006 in his Manhattan apartment at the age of 78.
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Jamil Nasser was born George Joyner on June 21, 1932 in Memphis, Tennessee and learned to play the piano from his mother as a child. He took up the bass at age 16 and as a student at Arkansas State University he led the school band. He played bass and tuba in bands while stationed in Korea as a member of the U.S. Army and following his discharge he played with B.B. King in 1955 and 1956.
Moving to New York City in 1956, Jamil played with Phineas Newborn, Sonny Rollins, Gene Ammons, Evans Bradshaw, Randy Weston, Herbie Mann, Charlie Rouse, Kenny Burrell, Mal Waldron, Red Garland and Lou Donaldson before the decade was over. He toured Europe and North Africa with Idrees Sulieman in 1959, then went to Paris, France and recorded with Lester Young. He briefly lived in Italy briefly from 1961 to 1962 during which time he recorded with Eric Dolphy, then returned to New York City and formed his own trio, playing for the next two years. In 1964 he began working with Ahmad Jamal, a relationship lasting until 1972. He closed out the rest of the decade playing with Al Haig.
The 1980s and 1990s saw Nasser performing on many sessions with among others George Coleman, Clifford Jordan, Jimmy Raney, Harold Mabern, Gene Ammons and Hideaki Yoshioka.
Double bassist, electric bassist and tubist Jamil Nasser, who never recorded as a leader but is also credited on some of Ahmad Jamal‘s recordings as Jamil Sulieman, passed away on February 13, 2010 in Englewood, New Jersey.
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Paul Cacia was born on June 20, 1956 and at age 10 he took up playing the trumpet. A protege of the master Claude Gordon and private pupil of Cat Anderson, he was also mentored by Stan Kenton, Louie Bellson, and Don Ellis.
His professional career began as the lead trumpet for the Al Hirt Big Band in New Orleans, Louisiana and The Ray Anthony Orchestra. His first recording session was a duet with Stevie Wonder, leading to over a decade as a top call studio musician in Los Angeles, California. As a soloist and bandleader, his career began before sixty thousand people as the opening act for the rock group Chicago. Paul has also shared billing with Tito Puente and Pia Zadora.
Hard bop trumpeter, big band leader and producer Paul Cacia recorded for the Alexander Street, Outstanding and Happy Hour labels. He has produced The Mormon Tabernacle Symphony & Chorus, the Los Angeles Raiders Big Band and has been the personal manager to Peggy Lee. For over fifty years he has been known as one of the world’s greatest high note trumpet showmen until his retirement in 2016.
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John Simmons was born June 14, 1918 in Haskell, Oklahoma and played trumpet at first, but a sports injury prevented him from continuing on the instrument. He picked up bass instead, landing his first professional gigs a mere four months after starting on the instrument. Early on he played with Nat King Cole and Teddy Wilson in 1937 before moving to Chicago, Illinois where he played with Jimmy Bell, King Kolax, Floyd Campbell, and Johnny Letman.
1940 saw him playing with Roy Eldridge and then spent 1941 to 1942 playing at various times with Benny Goodman, Cootie Williams, and Louis Armstrong. From 1942 to 1943 John played in the CBS Blue Network Orchestra, then played with Duke Ellington, Eddie Heywood and Illinois Jacquet through 1946, in addition to doing much studio work.
Simmons recorded with Lester Young, James P. Johnson, Hot Lips Page, Ben Webster, Billie Holiday, Sidney DeParis, Sid Catlett, Coleman Hawkins, Don Byas, Benny Carter, Bill DeArango, Al Casey, Ella Fitzgerald, Charles Thompson, Milt Jackson, Buddy Rich, Tadd Dameron, Matthew Gee, Maynard fErguson and Thelonious Monk among numerous others.
Much of the 1950s Simmons continued to work as a studio musician recording with Erroll Garner, Harry “Sweets” Edison, Art Tatum, and the Rolf Ericson/Duke Jordan band. One of his last associations was with Phineas Newborn in 1960 before ill health forced his retirement not long afterwards. Bassist John Simmons passed away on September 19, 1979 in Orange, New York.
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Georges Arvanitas was born on June 13, 1931 in Marseille, France, to Arvanite Greek immigrants from Constantinople, Turkey. At age four he began studying piano and initially trained as a classical pianist. Influenced by Bud Powell and Bill Evans he switched to jazz in his teens.
At 18 he was called up for military duty and finding himself stationed in Versailles and his proximity to Paris, he was exposed to the city’s thriving postwar jazz culture. Soon he was moonlighting at clubs alongside American musicians such as Don Byas and Mezz Mezzrow. After completing his service, Arvanitas relocated permanently to Paris where he led the house band at the Club St. Germain before he graduated to the city’s premier jazz venue, the legendary Blue Note. There he played with Dexter Gordon and Chet Baker. As his notoriety grew, he became a leader and with bassist Doug Watkins and drummer Art Taylor recorded 3 A.M. in 1963. The trio would go on to win the Prix Django Reinhardt and the Prix Jazz Hot for the album.
Georges spent half of 1965 in New York City collaborating with saxophonist Yusef Lateef and trumpeter Ted Curzon on The Blue Thing and the New Thing for Blue Note. A year later he returned stateside on tour with trombonist Slide Hampton’s big band. A respected session player earning the nickname Georges Une Prise (One-take George) for his reliable efficiency and mastery and worked closely with Michel Legrand.
Best remembered for a series of LPs he cut with bassist Jacky Samson and drummer Charles Saudrais, the trio endured from 1965 to 1993. He was received the Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres award in 1985. Unfortunately his failing health forced him to retire from music in 2003 and two year later pianist and organist Georges Arvanitas passed away in Paris on September 25, 2005.