Robert James Neloms was born on March 2, 1942 in Detroit, Michigan and received piano lessons from the age of five and as a youth played in Country & Western Bands. In 1959 he received a scholarship from Downbeat to attend the Berklee College of Music.
From 1961 to 1963 he worked as a studio musician for Motown and afterwards he was active on the West Coast, founding the jazz rock band The Flower in San Francisco, California and also performed with Sly Stone. In 1969 and 1970 Bob returned to continue his studies at Berklee College, then continued to work in the Boston area.
1973 saw his move to New York City and performing with Roy Haynes, Pharoah Sanders, Pepper Adams and Clifford Jordan. Leading his own bands he enlisted Ricky Ford, Eddie Henderson and Bob Mover. In 1977 he became a member of the Charles Mingus band, with whom he went on tour and on whose last albums he participated, like Cumbia & Jazz Fusion and then became a member of the Mingus Dynasty recording of their first album. He worked with Danny Richmond, Billy Bang, Ahmed Abdullah , Allen Lowe, James Newton , Abbey Lincoln , Buddy Tate, and Hamiet Bluiett on the Soul Note label.
In 1981 he recorded his solo album for India Navigation titled Pretty Music. From the mid-1980s onwards he was mainly active as a music teacher, but occasionally performed as a soloist or in a duo with the bassist Vishnu Wood in New York. Currently residing in Birmingham, Michigan, pianist Bob Neloms continues to be active in modern jazz and music education.
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Lennie Hayton was born Leonard George Hayton on February 14, 1908 in New York City, New York and developed a penchant for the piano when six years old, showing unusual interest in the early classics from the rolls of the family player piano. His parents were keen followers of the concert hall and took their son to many concerts, however, disliking jazz, it was not until he was 16 that he really discovered it. He left high school to become pianist with the Broadway Hotel Orchestra of Cass Hagen, a boyhood friend.
In 1928 while playing at the Park Central, Hayton was heard by Paul Whiteman who immediately engaged by him as second pianist, playing piano and celeste as well as acting as a part-time arranger. He played alongside Frankie Trumbauer, Bix Beiderbecke, Red Nichols and Joe Venuti, and became friendly with Bing Crosby. With the ongoing Depression in 1930, theatre audiences fell to the economic problems and he and Eddie Lang were let go as Whiteman streamlined the band. He then joined the Charles Previn Orchestra, which had a weekly assignment on radio in the Camel Pleasure Hour.
Re-joining Bing Crosby who was enjoying tremendous success on record, radio and the stage, in 1932 they embarked on a tour of Paramount-Publix theatres, working across the country to Hollywood where he was to make the film The Big Broadcast. At each location, he continued to broadcast his radio show until he reached the West Coast. He and Lang provided the musical support to Crosby on his theatre appearances and on his radio shows.
His long relationship with Crosby leading his orchestra rendered the singer’s first hit recordings Cabin in the Cotton, Love Me Tonight and Some of These Days and Brother, Can You Spare a Dime? his most famous recordings. which went to the top of the charts of the day. Hayton became the musical director for the Chesterfield radio series Music That Satisfies, again featuring Crosby. He would go on to be musical director for the singer’s film Going Hollywood in 1933, and continue to work with Crosby until he became a musical director for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1940 and guided it through its prime years as forerunner of the movie musical.
He would be nominated for six Oscars for Best Original Music and won two for On The Town and Hello Dolly!, the latter co-composed with Lionel Newman. He arranged the music for 1952’s Singin’ in the Rain, arranged Frank Sinatra’s first attempt at the Beatles tune Something. Lennie composed Apple Blossoms with Joe Venuti, Frankie Trumbauer and Eddie Lang; as well as Flying Fingers, The Stage is Set, Mood Hollywood with Jimmy Dorsey, and Midnight Mood, and co-arranged the Hoagy Carmichael composition Stardust with Artie Shaw, for a 1940 recording on the Bluebird label.
Hayton met Lena Horne when both were under contract to MGM and married her in 1947 in Paris, France. Throughout their marriage he was her music director but the pressures of an interracial relationship made it tumultuous, and they were separated for most of the Sixties. Always a heavy drinker and smoker, pianist, composer, arranger, musical director and bandleader Lennie Hayton passed away of heart disease while separated from Horne, in Palm Springs, California on April 24, 1971.
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Bob Carter was born Robert Kahakalau on February 11, 1922 in New Haven, Connecticut and learned to lay the bass and guitar from his father, a vaudeville performer of Hawaiian heritage. He played in local orchestras from 1937 to 1940, toured from 1940 to 1942 and worked with his own trio in Boston, Massachusetts in 1944.
By 1944 he was working in various groups on New York City’s 52nd Street with Tony Scott, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Stuff Smith and Charlie Shavers among others. Following time spent playing bebop with Allen Eager and Max Roach in 1946, he worked with Charlie Ventura from 1947 to 1949 and again in 1953-54. Between the Ventura stints he played with Benny Goodman in 1949-50.
In 1953, he also worked with jazz guitarist Johnny Smith and appeared on the albums Jazz at NBC and The Johnny Smith Quintet Featuring Stan Getz.
After his second stint with Ventura he studied composition with Wesley LaViolette and later that decade his arrangements were used by Red Norvo, Bob Harrington, and Shelly Manne. He spent two years in Hawaii beginning in 1957, then returned to New York in 1959, where he played with Bobby Hackett. In the early 1960s, he worked in Germany in the Kurt Edelhagen Orchestra. He did little playing after the end of the Sixties decade.
Bassist and arranger Bob Carter passed away in Honolulu, Hawaii on August 1, 1993 at the age of 71.
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Joseph George Dodge was born on February 9, 1922 in Monroe, Wisconsin and was raised and grew up in San Francisco, California. He initially studied to be a symphonic percussionist, and like many young drummers of his generation, he was primarily influenced by Gene Krupa, Jo Jones, Jimmy Crawford and Shelly Manne, gathering different sources of inspiration that helped him to create his own creative style.
During World War II, Dodge fulfilled his military duties from 1942 until 1945 playing drums in the Coast Artillery band, where he met tenor saxophonist Dave van Kriedt, who introduced him to Dave Brubeck and Paul Desmond. After his discharge in 1946 he worked in several dixieland groups and dance bands around the Bay area.
In 1950, becoming tired of road touring and economic instability took a job working in a bank but still kept in touch with Desmond, who arranged for him to play a Brubeck engagement as a temporary replacement for drummer Cal Tjader. The Brubeck octet was steady playing at the San Francisco Opera House, and opened for Nat King Cole and Woody Herman.
A few years later, Desmond again recommended Joe to Brubeck and he joined the quartet as Brubeck’s regular drummer. During his tenure he helped to record five successful albums between 1953 and 1956. During the same period, he was featured in two albums with different formats directed by Desmond.
By late 1956, Dodge was worn down again by the travel and intense schedule with the quartet and wanted to spend more time with his family. He then told Brubeck it was time to look for another drummer and took a day job in San Francisco. In 1957 he was offered a transitory position with Stan Kenton but again declined and from 1958 until he retired in 1981, he would combine working in the liquor business with evening musical engagements. Never losing touch with Desmond or Brubeck, he would play at the latter’s 50th wedding anniversary in 1992. Drummer Joe Dodge passed away on August 18, 2004 in Lake Elsinore, California at the age of 82.
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Frank Ricotti was born on January 31, 1949 in London, England and played in the National Youth Jazz Orchestra while a teenager, then attended Trinity College of Music from 1967 to 1970. From 1968 through 1974 hep performed with Neil Ardley, Dave Gelly, Graham Collier, Mike Gibbs, Stan Tracey, Harry Beckett, Norma Winstone and Gordon Beck.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Ricotti led his own jazz quartet with a line-up of the band featuring the guitarist Chris Spedding, bassist Chris Laurence and drummer Bryan Spring. Together they recorded the album Our Point of View, and released it in 1969. By 1971, in partnership with bassist Mike de Albuquerque, he released the album First Wind. He recorded with Oliver Nelson on the album Oliver Edward Nelson in London with Oily Rags for the Flying Dutchman label in 1974.
The 1980s saw Frank playing with Chris Laurence and John Taylor in the group Paragonne, and then played with Beck again in 1984. After this he worked primarily as a studio musician recording with groups outside the jazz genre, such as, Status Quo, Freddie Mercury, Pet Shop Boys, Swing Out Sister, Belle and Sebastian, Clannad, Barclay James Harvest, Meat Loaf, Elkie Brooks, Rick Wakeman, Tina Turner, Aztec Camera, Thomas Anders, and Alphaville.
Between 1984 and 1987 Ricotti wrote the soundtrack music for Yorkshire Television’s The Beiderbecke Trilogy, in the style of Bix Beiderbecke. The music was performed by his band, the Frank Ricotti All Stars, and featured Kenny Baker on cornet. The band made a cameo appearance in the final series, playing in a jazz club and the soundtrack album was released in 1988.
In 2007 he played vibes on Mark Knopfler’s album Kill to Get Crimson and vibraphonist and percussionist Frank Ricotti continues to perform, record and compose.