Phillip Guilbeau was born on January 16, 1926 in Lafayette, Louisiana. Like many of his fellow musicians he took up the trumpet and during World War II served in the Navy, Honorably discharged in 1945 he moved to Detroit, Michigan and successfully became a session player. Throughout his career he recorded on hundreds of albums including sessions with Count Basie, Big Joe Turner, David “Fathead” Newman, Otis Redding, Frank Sinatra, Quincy Jones, soloist on Hank Crawford’s recording of What A Difference A Day Makes from his Soul Clinic album and with Ray Charles, he was the soloist on the landmark 1961 album Genius + Soul = Jazz.
By the Seventies Phil moved to Washington, DC and recognizing the evolution of the music, moved into the new sound called funk. He became the trumpeter and manager of the group The Young Senators, the top-rated R&B group in the area after the release of their hit, that Guilbeau penned, The Jungle. With the success of this single they were asked to tour as the backing group of Eddie Kendricks, and recorded his seminal album My People… Hold On with them. The album included what is widely considered the first ever Disco song, Girl You Need A Change Of Mind.
As a manager, Gilbeau would go on to discover another group called Black Heat, get them to Atlantic Records and record three albums before they disbanded. After a lifetime career of playing jazz, funk and rhythm & blues music that spanned five decades, trumpeter and composer Phil Guilbeau passed away on September 5, 2005 in Florida.
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Bob Maize was born on January 15, 1945 in San Diego, California. He played piano from age seven and switched to bass at 13 and began playing professionally. After moving to San Francisco, California in 1963, he worked in the house bands of many jazz clubs in the city, including Soulville and Bop City.
He played with Sonny Stitt, Philly Joe Jones, Vince Guaraldi, Mose Allison, Herb Ellis, Monty Alexander, Anita O’Day, Emily Remler, and Jon Hendricks. He also did a stint in a rock band as a bass guitarist.
A move to Los Angeles, California in the 1970s saw him working with Scott Hamilton, Dave McKenna, and Tal Farlow. Following this, Maize worked with Horace Silver in 1983-84, recorded with Eiji Kitamura on the Concord label, for whom he recorded regularly as a sideman, and toured Japan with Sarah Vaughan in 1985. He continued to play as a sideman in West Coast clubs into the new millennium.
Double bassist Bob Maize, never led a recording session and passed away on November 20, 2004 in Los Angeles.
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Caterina Valente was born on January 14, 1931 in Paris, France into an Italian artist family, her father, a well-known accordion player and her mother, a musical clown. In 1953, she made her first recordings with Kurt Edelhagen and soon afterwards achieved success with songs such as Malagueña, The Breeze and I,] and Dreh dich nicht um with the Werner Müller orchestra. In 1955, she was featured on The Colgate Comedy Hour with Gordon MacRae.
By the mid 1960s Valente was working with Claus Ogerman and recording his arrangements and compositions and sometimes conducted in both Italian and English on the Decca and London labels. She guest appearances on the NBC Kraft Music Hall television program and on the Dean Martin Show, the CBS variety series The Entertainers alongside Carol Burnett and Bob Newhart.
She has recorded some seven dozen albums around the world in the United States, Brazil, Peru, Argentina, Columbia, United Kingdom, Japan, Australia, Germany and South Africa. Caterina has been nominated for a Grammy and won 15 awards in Austria, Italy, the US, Italy, Brazil, France and Germany. She recorded Cole Porter’s I Love Paris, that sold nearly a million copies in 1954, her jazz album A Briglia Sciolta recorded in 1989 was her best selling album worldwide and has been reissued under the titles Fantastica and Platinum Deluxe and in 2001 released her album Girl Talk with harpist Catherine Michel..
Over the years of her career she has recorded or performed with Louis Armstrong, Chet Baker, Perry Como, Ella Fitzgerald, Benny Goodman, Woody Herman, the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, Sy Oliver, Buddy Rich and Edmundo Ros.
Vocalist, guitarist, dancer and actress Caterina Valente has yet to retire from show business at the age of 85.
Quentin “Butter” Jackson was born January 13, 1909 in Springfield, Ohio. His brother-in-law Claude Jones, who played with McKinney’s Cotton Pickers taught him to play the trombone. During the Thirties he played with Zack White, McKinney’s Cotton Pickers and the Don Redman Orchestra.
The Forties saw Butter, as he was affectionately known, working with Cab Calloway and then Lucky Millinder, taking occasional solos with those groups, and in the early days was a ballad singer. In 1949 he became a fixture in the Duke Ellington Orchestra, becoming his best wa-wa trombonist utilizing the plunger mute. This relationship, that included recordings, lasted until 1960, both as a soloist and in the ensembles.
Jackson went on to tour of Europe and recorded with Quincy Jones, then performed and recorded with Count Basie for two years and recorded notable work with Charles Mingus in 1962-63, followed by a return to Ellington and worked with the big bands of Louie Bellson and Gerald Wilson. By the 1970s he was working with the Mel Lewis/Thad Jones Orchestra until near the end of his life.
A consummate sideman he recorded with Dorothy Ashby, Kenny Burrell, Ella Fitzgerald, Johnny Hodges, Leon Thomas, Dizzy Gillespie, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Louis Armstrong, Milt Jackson, Herbie Mann, Freddie McCoy, Wes Montgomery, Shirley Scott, Jimmy Smith, Clark Terry, Billy Strayhorn, Randy Weston and Dinah Washington, who did a version of Bessie Smith’s Trombone Cholly on her album Dinah Sings Bessie Smith, enlisting Jackson on the horn, under the title “Trombone Butter”.
Trombonist Quentin Jackson, whose only session as a leader resulted in four titles in 1959 that were reissued by Swing, passed away on October 2, 1976 in New York City.
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George Duke was born on January 12, 1946 in San Rafael, California and raised in Marin City. It was at the young age of 4 that he first became interested in the piano when his mother took him to see Duke Ellington in concert. He began his formal piano studies at the age of 7, at his local Baptist church. Attending Tamalpais High School in Mill Valley, he went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in trombone and composition with a minor in contrabass from the San Francisco Conservatory in 1967.
Initially he played with friends from garages to local clubs, George quickly eased his way into session work, before getting his master’s degree in composition from San Francisco State University. Although starting out playing classical music, his musician cousin Charles Burrell convinced him to switch to jazz and improvise what he wanted to do.
1967 saw Duke venturing into jazz fusion, playing and recording with violinist Jean-Luc Ponty, as well as performing with the Don Ellis Orchestra, and Cannonball Adderley’s band, and recorded with Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention on a number of albums through the 1970s. He also played with Ruth Underwood, Tom Fowler, Bruce Fowler from Zappa’s Overnite Sensation band that he was a part of, along with Johnny “Guitar” Watson and jazz guitarist Lee Ritenour. Lynn Davis and Sheila E recorded with him on his late-1970s solo albums Don’t Let Go and Master of the Game.
During the 1980s he collaborated with bassist Stanley Clarke and produced the Clarke/Duke Project that released three albums, he served as a record producer and composer on two instrumental tracks on the Miles Davis albums Tutu and Amandla, worked with a number of Brazilian musicians, including singer Milton Nascimento, percussionist Airto Moreira and singer Flora Purim, and in the 1992 film Leap of Faith featured gospel songs and choir produced by him and choir master Edwin Hawkins.
Duke was musical director for the Nelson Mandela tribute concert at Wembley Stadium in London, temporarily replaced Marcus Miller as musical director of NBC’s late-night music performance program Sunday Night during its first season, and was a judge for the second annual Independent Music Awards to support independent artists’ careers. He worked with Jill Scott on her third studio album, The Real Thing: Words and Sounds Vol. 3; and put together a trio with David Sanborn and Marcus Miller for a tour across the United States.
His educator side had him teaching a course on Jazz And American Culture at Merritt College in Oakland, California. He was nominated for a Grammy as Best Contemporary Jazz Performance for After Hours in 1999, was inducted into The SoulMusic Hall Of Fame in 2012, and was honored with a tribute album My Old Friend: Celebrating George Duke, produced by long-time friend and collaborator Al Jarreau, that received a NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Jazz Album in 2015.
As leader he recorded some four dozen albums and as sideman he worked with such artists as Third World, The Keynotes, Gene Ammons, Billy Cobham, Eddie Henderson, Alphonse Mouzon, Michael Jackson, Deniece Williams, Miles Davis, Dianne Reeves, John Scofield, Chanté Moore, Joe Sample, Phil Collins, Regina Belle, Teena Marie, Joe Williams, Gerald Wilson and Larisa Dolina among many others.
Keyboard pioneer, vocalist guitarist, trombonist, producer and composer George Duke passed away on August 5, 2013 in Los Angeles, California from chronic lymphocytic leukemia. He was 67. His songs have been sampled by Daft Punk, Kanye West and Ice Cube among numerous others.