Thilo Berg was born April 23, 1959 in Dortmund, Germany and attracted attention in the 1980s, as a modern jazz drummer and big band leader. He has produced and organized more than 700 jazz, classical, R&B and soul events. Besides his own productions, he worked on large industry concerts as well as kick-off meetings and social events.
Berg completed studies as a classical percussionist with Herrmann Gschwendtner and held the position of solo timpanist and percussionist in the Southwest German Radio Symphony Orchestra and the German between 1981 and 2008. Having worked in various bands, in 1986 he formed his big band, performing with guest soloists such as Barbara Dennerlein, Ack van Rooyen, Jiggs Whigham, Barbara Morrison, Silvia Droste, Jim Snidero, Slide Hampton, Bob Mintzer, Art Farmer and Bill Ramsey.
Over seven year together they recorded three albums and the band saw coming through its ranks Till Brönner, Paul Heller, Peter Weniger, Ludwig Nuss, Mark Nightingale, Gerald Presencer, Martin Shaw, Hubert Nuss and Thilo Wagner.He also worked in smaller groups with Jack van Poll, Bobby Shew, Heiner Franz, John Gordon, Elaine Delmare and Curtis Fuller.
Drummer Thilo Berg founded the jazz and classical music label Mons Records in 1991, has worked as a music producer for Sony Music, BMG, Columbia and Universal, and continues to perform, record and produce.
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Alexander Gafa was born on April 9, 1941 in New York City and worked as a student in the city from 1964 to 1969, playing guitar with Kai Winding and Sam Donahue . During the late Sixties he was a part of the New York Playboy Club playing with Winding, Earl May and Al Foster.
From 1969 to 1970, he was musical director and accompanist for Carmen McRae and performed as a member of the Sammy Davis Jr. orchestra in 1970 and 1971. During this decade he also did some live dates with Sarah Vaughan, one of which aired on PBS.
In 1971 Al played with Dizzy Gillespie and joined his group and toured with him for a period. Under his own name, he recorded the album Leblon Beach in 1976 for Pablo Records. He has recorded as well with Susannah McCorkle, Paul Simon, The Monkees, Alex Leonard, Duke Pearson, Johnny Hartman, Joe Albany and Sonny Stitt.
Before the fall of the World Trade Centers, he and bassist Dr. Lyn Christie would play in a duo configuration in the restaurant on the top floor. He is also part of Tom Lord’s 34 recording sessions from 1934 to 2011 of acoustic and electric guitar, and banjo. Guitarist Al Gafa currently resides in Brooklyn, New York where he performs occasionally.
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Ollie Mitchell was born Oliver Edward Mitchell in Los Angeles, California on April 8, 1927. His father, Harold Mitchell, lead trumpeter for MGM Studios, taught his son to play the trumpet.
His career would see him playing in the big bands of Harry James, Buddy Rich and Pérez Prado, among others, as well as the NBC Symphony Orchestra. In the 1960s, Mitchell joined The Wrecking Crew, a group of studio and session musicians who played anonymously on many records for popular singers of the time, as well as television theme songs, film scores, advertising jingles.
An original member of Herb Alpert’s Tijuana Brass, Ollie would go on to lead his own bands under the names of Ollie Mitchell’s Sunday Band and the Olliephonic Horns. It was in 1995 that he moved from to Puako, Hawaii and founded the Horns.
Mitchell recorded some two dozen albums over the course of his career with Chet Baker, Harry James, Stan Kenton, Irene Kral, Shorty Rogers, Pete Rugolo, Dan Terry and Gerald Wilson, among others.
In 2010, Ollie published his memoir, Lost, But Making Good Time: A View from the Back Row of the Band. Around this time he stopped playing the trumpet, due to macular degeneration, hand problems from an automobile accident and complications from cancer. Trumpeter and bandleader Ollie Mitchell passed away on May 11, 2013 in Puako, Hawaii at the age of 86.
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Don Butterfield was born on April 1, 1923 in Centralia, Washington and though he wanted to play trumpet in high school, the band director assigned him to tuba instead. After serving in the U.S. Military from 1942-46 he went on to study the instrument at the Juilliard School.
Butterfield started his professional career in the late 1940s playing for the CBS and NBC radio networks. He played in orchestras, including the American Symphony and on albums by Jackie Gleason until he became a full time member at the Radio City Music Hall.
By the 1950s, Don had switched to jazz, backing such artists as Dizzy Gillespie, Frank Sinatra, Charles Mingus, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Jimmy Smith, and Moondog. He fronted his own sextet for a 1955 album on Atlantic Records and played the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival.
The mid 1960s saw him taking a temporary, nearly unpaid, position conducting an amateur group of musicians known as the Gloria Concert Band, located in upstate New Jersey. In the Seventies he worked as a session musician playing on recordings for a variety of artists, and on television and film soundtracks, including The Godfather Part II.
As a sideman he recorded with Cannonball Adderley, Nat Adderley, David Amram, Bob Brookmeyer, Kenny Burrell, Donald Byrd, Teddy Charles, Jimmy Cleveland, Bill Evans, Art Farmer, Maynard Ferguson, Dizzy Gillespie, Jimmy Heath, Roland Kirk, John Lewis, Arif Mardin, Gil Mellé, Charles Mingus, Modern Jazz Quartet, James Moody, Wes Montgomery, Lee Morgan, Oliver Nelson, Oscar Peterson, Sonny Rollins, Lalo Schifrin, Jimmy Smith, Billy Taylor, Clark Terry, The Thad Jones / Mel Lewis Orchestra and Stanley Turrentine
Suffering a stroke in 2005 left him unable to no longer play the tuba and on November 27, 2006 tubist Don Butterfield passed away in Clifton, New Jersey from a stroke-related illness.
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Ike Isaacs was born Charles Isaacs on March 28, 1923 in Akron, Ohio and played trumpet and tuba as a child before settling on bass. Serving in the Army during World War II, he took lessons from Wendell Marshall.
After being discharged Ike played with Tiny Grimes from 1948 to 1950, then with Earl Bostic until 1953, followed by Paul Quinichette in ‘53 and Bennie Green in 1956. He led a band locally in Ohio in 1956, then played for two years in the trio of Carmen McRae, whom he married late in the decade.
Throughout the Sixties Isaacs went on to work and recorded with Lambert, Hendricks and Ross, then with Count Basie, Gloria Lynne, Ray Bryant, Maxine Sullivan, Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis, Harry “Sweets” Edison and Erroll Garner, as well as with his own small groups.
Bassist Ike Isaacs only recorded once as a leader in 1967 for RGB Records. With him on the date were Jack Wilson on piano and Jimmy Smith on drums. He passed away on February 27, 1981.
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