Thomas Clausen was born on October 5, 1949 in Copenhagen, Denmark and grew up in a musical home with his father playing a strong and able jazz piano in swing style, his mother from a family of singers. He began playing very young with great artists of jazz and his energetic and lyrical piano playing was discovered by Dexter Gordon in 196. During that same year he joined Palle Mikkelborg’s projects and groups and was soon playing regularly with the bass players Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen, Bo Stief, and Mads Vinding, as well as with the drummers Alex Riel, Bjarne Rostvold, and Kasper Winding.
Accompanying a number of international jazz stars visiting Copenhagen, Thomas has performed with Ben Webster, Elvin Jones, Jan Garbarek, Joe Henderson, Phil Woods, Lee Konitz, Stan Getz, Chet Baker, Eddie ”Lockjaw” Davis, Jackie Mclean, Gary Bartz, and Johnny Griffin, just to mention a few. In the mid 80’s he was a regular member of the Peter Herboltzheimer International Big Band in Germany.
Clausen formed his own band in 1978, when he started Mirror, a group that recorded the first LP with his own compositions and included Jan zum Vohrde on saxophone and flute, bassist Ole Skipper Moesgaard, and Aage Tanggaard on drums. 1979 saw him leading his first jazz trio, with bassist Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen and once again Tanggaard on drums, releasing two albums by 1983. Towards the end of the decade another trio emerged with Mads Vinding and Alex Riel and participated in the first Jazzpar Prize concerts in Copenhagen, Odense, and Paris in 1990, joined by with Gary Burton. The collaboration with Burton lasted a couple of years and led to two recording sessions.
Through the Nineties he delved into Brazilian music, recording and performing with many who were living in Denmark and Germany. His Brazilian Quintet continued into the new millennium, performing and touring throughout Europe. At 67, pianist, composer, arranger and bandleader Thomas Clausen has received the Ben Webster Prize, The Jasa Prize, The Fanfare Prize, and The Danish Society for Jazz, Rock and Folk Composers Prize, received support from the Danish Arts Foundation for fifteen consecutive years from 1993 to 2007 and continues to compose, perform as a leader and co-leader and to tour.
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Phil Urso was born on October 2, 1925 in Jersey City, New Jersey and learned clarinet as a child, but switched to tenor sax while in high school. He served in the Navy during World War II and then moved to New York City in 1947.
Once he landed in the mecca for jazz from 1948 to 1954 he played with Elliot Lawrence, Woody Herman, Terry Gibbs, Miles Davis, Oscar Pettiford , Jimmy Dorsey, and Bob Brookmeyer.
In 1955, he first began working with Chet Baker, and was a prominent contributor to Baker’s Pacific Jazz releases in 1956. Urso and Baker would collaborate sporadically for some 30 years. He also recorded with Walter Bishop Jr., Horace Silver, Percy Heath, Kenny Clarke and Bobby Timmons among others.
He went on to work with Claude Thornhill late in the 1950s, but receded from national attention in later decades. Moving to Denver, Colorado he continued performing locally into the 1990s. Tenor saxophonist Phil Urso passed away on April 7, 2008 in Denver.
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Dottie Dodgion was born Dorothy Rosalie Giaimo on September 23, 1929 in Brea, California. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area as a child, she sang in the band led by her drummer father and as a teenager sang with Charles Mingus. She began playing drums in the 1950s though she was discouraged by her husband Monty Budwig, but receiving encouragement to play from Jerry Dodgion, she subsequently divorced Budwig to marry Dodgion.
She worked with Carl Fontana in Las Vegas, Nevada toward the end of the decade and then relocated to New York City in 1961. There she played in Benny Goodman’s ensemble for about a week, then moved on to work with Marian McPartland and Eddie Gomez, Billy Mitchell and Al Grey, Wild Bill Davison, and Al Cohn and Zoot Sims over the course of the 1960s. In the early 1970s she worked with Ruby Braff and Joe Venuti, then played alongside her husband in Germany with Walter Norris and George Mraz.
Dottie and Jerry separated in the late Seventies and she moved to p style=”text-align: justify;”>Washington, D.C. for a time, where she was musical director for the club The Rogue and Jar. After moving back to New York City she worked in the 1980s with Melba Liston, George Wein, Michael and Randy Brecker, Frank Wess, Jimmy Rowles, Carol Sloane, Pepper Adams, Tommy Flanagan, Roland Hanna, Sal Nistico, Herb Ellis, Chris White, Bob Cranshaw, Joe Newman, and Harold Danko. After returning to the Bay Area in 1984 she played regularly at the Monterey Jazz Festival. Drummer and singer Dottie Dodgion is no longer active in jazz at age 87.
Pat Martino was born Pat Azzara in South Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on August 25, 1944 and began playing professionally at the age of 15 after moving to New York City. He resided with Les Paul for a while before moving into a suite in the President Hotel on 48th Street. He started playing jazz clubs like Smalls Paradise and would play at Smalls for six months of the year and then in the summer play at Club Harlem in Atlantic City.
Early in his career Martino played and recorded with Lloyd Price, Willis Jackson, Eric Kloss, Charles Earland, Richard “Groove” Holmes, Jack McDuff, Don Patterson, Trudy Pitts, Jimmy Smith, Gene Ludwig, Bobby Pierce and Joey DeFrancesco.
He has been awarded Guitar Player of the Year in Down Beat Reader’s Poll in 2004, NARAS Songs from the Heart Award, been nominated for a Grammy for Best Jazz Instrumental Album, Live at Yoshi’s, and Best Jazz Instrumental Solo on ‘All Blues‘ and has received Philadelphia Alliance Walk of Fame Award and National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences “2nd Annual Heroes Award among others.
The list of jazz musicians he has performed and recorded as a sideman with are John Handy, Jimmy Heath, Charles McPherson, Sonny Stitt, The Philadelphia Experiment as well as released three-dozen albums as a leader. Guitarist and composer Pat Martino, noted for his mathematical approach to the instrument and plays in the post-bop, fusion, mainstream and soul jazz idioms, continues to perform and tour.
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James Edward Weidman, Jr. was born in Youngstown, Ohio on July 23, 1953 to a saxophonist father who led his own band. He began playing piano when he was eight years old and eventually became the electric organist in his father’s group.
Attending Youngstown State University after graduating James spent two years playing locally before he moved to New York City in 1978. There he worked with Pepper Adams, Cecil Payne, Sonny Stitt and Bobby Watson, then became Abbey Lincoln’s pianist in 1982. This association continued into the early Nineties.
He went on to work with Steve Coleman, from 1987 to 1992 replacing Geri Allen in his Five Elements band, and with Jay Hoggard later in the 1980s. Throughout the 1990s he worked with Cassandra Wilson, Talib Kibwe, Kevin Mahogany, Belden Bullock, Max Roach, Woody Herman, Gloria Lynne, Archie Shepp, James Moody, Greg Osby, Slide Hampton, Dakota Staton and Marvin “Smitty” Smith.
Pianist and organist James Weidman who has released several albums as a leader in is a member of Joe Lovano’s Us Five band, continues to perform, tour and record.