Herbert Alpert was born on March 31, 1935 and raised in the Boyle Heights section of East Los Angeles, California. His family was Jewish, emigrating from Radomyshl, now present day Ukraine and Romania. His father, a talented mandolin player, his mother taught violin, and his older brother a drummer. He began trumpet lessons at the age of eight and played at dances as a teenager. Acquiring an early wire recorder in high school, he experimented on this crude equipment.
Following graduation in 1952, he joined the U.S. Army and frequently performed at military ceremonies. After his service in the Army, Alpert tried his hand at acting, but eventually settled on pursuing a career in music. While attending the University of Southern California he became a member of the USC Trojan Marching Band, and appeared in the un-credited role as “Drummer on Mt. Sinai” in the film The Ten Commandments in 1056. In 1962, he had an un-credited part in a scene in the film Mr. Hobbs Takes A Vacation, playing a solo in a dance band.
In 1957, Alpert teamed up with Rob Weerts, co-wrote a number of Top 20 hits including Baby Talk for Jan & Dean and Wonderful World for Sam Cooke. By 1960 he was signed with RCA Records as a vocalist under the name of Dore Alpert.
In 1962 along with Jerry Moss they founded A&M Records and their very first hit was “The Lonely Bull” adapted from the mariachi bands and the cheers of bullfighting spectators. The title song reached No. 6 on the Billboard Pop Singles chart and became A&M’s first album with the original release number being #101.
By the end of 1964, with top session players he began touring with the Tijuana Brass. Television specials followed by 1967, as well as two albums, Whipped Cream and Other Delights and Going Places. The single “A Taste Of Honey” won a Grammy Award for Record of the Year.
The Brass would go on to perform the title tack to the first movie version of Casino Royale in 1967. His music would be used on The Dating Game, bringing him greater exposure. The band would win six Grammy Awards, fifteen of their albums went gold, fourteen platinum, and in 1966 outsold the Beatles.
Alpert’s only No. 1 single during this period, and the first No. 1 hit for his A&M label, was a solo effort of “This Guy’s In Love With You” by Bacharach/David. In the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, Alpert enjoyed a successful solo career. In 1979 he had his biggest instrumental hit titled “Rise”. He would go on to work with Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis, Janet Jackson and Lisa Keith. He performs with Gato Barbieri, Rita Coolidge, Brian Culbertson, and others. With his wife kani Hall (Sergio Mendes fame), they have released the live album Anything Goes. In 2013, he released a new album, Steppin’ Out which won a Grammy.
Herb and Moss received a Grammy Trustees Award, a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, he was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Obama in 2013, has a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame, and received the “El Premio Billboard” for his contributions to Latin music. Trumpeter, pianist, vocalist, composer, arranger, songwriter, record producer of jazz, Latin and pop music continues to perform, record and tour.
Bobby Shew was born Robert Shew on March 4, 1941 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He began playing the guitar at the age of eight but by ten switched to the trumpet. By thirteen he was playing at local dances with various groups and at fifteen put together his own group. This gave him the opportunity to play dances, concerts, jazz coffee houses and dinner clubs.
After leaving college in 1960 he was drafted into the U.S. Army and played trumpet with the NORAD band in Colorado Springs and on tour. After leaving the Army he joined the big bands of Tommy Dorsey and Woody Herman, Della Reese and followed by the Buddy Rich Big Band in the mid to late 1960s.
By 1972 Bobby had moved from Las Vegas to Los Angeles where he became a top shelf studio musician. He also played with some of the top big bands of the era through the end of the 1970s: Toshiko Akiyoshi, Lew Tabackin, Louis Bellson, Maynard Ferguson and numerous others. In addition to playing on several notable Big Band recordings starting in the 1960s, he recorded several albums as leader starting with his 1978 debut recording Telepathy.
Shew has held the position of Trumpet chairman of the International Association of Jazz Educators, has authored numerous books on trumpet performance and technique, andis on the Board of Directors of the International Trumpet Guild.
Trumpeter and flugelhorn player Bobby Shew, now living near his hometown of Albuquerque, spends time mentoring jazz musicians in the area and leading the local Albuquerque Jazz Orchestra. As an educator he is a member of the faculty at the Skidmore Summer Jazz Institute, a two-week residential jazz workshop primarily for high school students, located in Saratoga Springs, New York. He continues to perform, record and tour.
Ramiro Flores was born on January 12, 1977 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He began his musical training through the alto saxophone at the age of 11 years. He studied composition at the UCA and saxophone at the National Conservatory, while both played in the band folklorist César Isella, in addition to various projects.
In 1998 he traveled to Boston to continue his studies at Berklee College of Music, where he studied with musicians such as Joe Lovano, George Garzone and Jerry Bergonzi among others. He graduated with a dual major in Film Scoring and Performance in 2002 before moving to New York and continued developing his musical career in this city.
During this period he collaborated with Pedro Giraudo, Mr. Live Big Band, Pablo Ablanedo, The Monkeys, Ryle’s Big Band, Jerry Bergonzi and Slide Hampton. For a period he worked as a show band musician for Carnival Cruise Lines, was a composer for American Music Co. and wrote a book of instruction flute, and recorded for Music Sales Corporation NYC. He began his development as a leader to form his own band and performing his own music in Boston and New York.
Returning to Argentina in 2005, he participated in the projects of the local jazz including Mariano Otero, Ligia Piro, Juan Cruz de Urquiza, Pepi Taveira and Javier Malosetti amongst numerous others. The following year he won “80mundos, and by 2007 he produced and recorded his first CD “Flowers”, for BAU records, in which he collaborated with the likes of Juan Quintero,
That same year in December he received the Clarín Award as the revelation of jazz, voted best soprano saxophonist in 2008 by the newspaper La Nación. Alto saxophonist Ramiro Flores released his sophomore project “Son Dos” and continues to perform.
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Danilo Pérez was born on December 29, 1965 in Panama and started his musical training at 3 years old on bongos with his father Danilo Sr., a professional bandleader and singer. By age 10 he was studying the European Classical Piano repertoire at the National Conservatory in Panama, eventually transferring to the Berklee College of Music to study Jazz composition.
During the yeas 1985 to ’88 while at Berklee, Danilo played with Jon Hendricks, Terence Blanchard, Claudio Roditi and Paquito D’Rivera. He would go on to tour Poland in ’95 and play the Summer Olympics in Atlanta in ‘96 with Wynton Marsalis, be a part of the Grammy winning album Danzon, perform at President Clinton’s Inaugural Ball and played piano on the Bill Cosby theme song.
Perez has had the fortune to play and record with such luminaries as Charlie Haden, Michael Brecker, Jack DeJohnette, Dizzy Gillespie, Tito Puente, Joe Lovano, Gary Burton, Wayne Shorter, Tom Harrell, Roy Haynes, Steve Lacy and many others.
Pianist and composer Danilo Perez, whose primary influence of style and thought was Dizzy Gillespie, but as a child gleaned from the recordings the styles of Gershwin, Ellington, Coltrane and Monk. He has recorded over a dozen albums, served as a professor at the New England Conservatory of Music, and serves as the artistic director of the Berklee College of Music Global Jazz Institute.
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Carlos “Patato” Valdes was born on November 4, 1926 in Cuba and learned to play the conga in his native land. Moving to New York in 1954 he began playing around the city working with Willie Bobo in Harlem. Known by his nickname “Patato”, he invented and patented the tunable conga drum in the late Forties that revolutionized use of the instrument as earlier drums only had nailed heads.
Since the 1950s Patato is among the Congueros that were in highest demand in the Latin Music and jazz world. He played, toured and recorded together with singer Miguelito Valdes, Perez Prado, Tito Puente, Machito, Herbie Mann, Cachao Lopez, Cal Tjader, Kenny Dorham, Art Blakey and Elvin Jones among others. He also worked in the bands of and toured Europe with Dizzy Gillespie, Quincy Jones and Mario Bauza.
Patato acted in and composed the title song of The Bill Cosby Show, contributed to the soundtrack of the film The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, gave Bridget Bardot mambo lessons in the film “And God Created Woman, led his own band Afrojazzia and toured Europe once again and mastered to the delight of his audiences, the art of actually dancing atop his congas during his performances.
For over 60 years Valdes demonstrated in his conga playing how a musician could combine technical skill with superb showmanship, fusing melody and rhythm, and understanding the rhythm is rooted in dancing. Carlos “Patato” Valdes, whose spontaneity and charm enabled him to bring together audiences of varied backgrounds and cultures to the Afro-Cuban rhythms and who Tito Puente once referred to as “the greatest conguero alive today”, passed away on December 4, 2007 in New York City.
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