Didier Levallet was born in Arcy-sur-Cure, France on July 19, 1944 and is a self-taught bassist. He made his professional debut in Paris in 1969 working with the likes of Ted Curson, Johnny Griffin, Kenny Clarke, Mal Waldron, Hank Mobley, Steve Lacy, Harry Beckett and Didier Lockwood.
Didier worked with the free-jazz quartet Perception through the 70s and toured the United States with tenor saxophonist Byard Lancaster from 1974 to 1976. He also led Confluence, a group based on strings and percussion only. By the early Eighties he was playing with Frank Lowe, Archie Shepp, Mike Westbrook’s Concert Band and Chris McGregor’s Brotherhood Of Breath as well as the Double Quartet with Tony Oxley.
Levallet is a prolific composer who combines free-improvisation and structure coherently. He works within four bands – the Quintet, a 12-piece band, Swing Strings System with seven string players plus drums and a trio with violinist Dominique Pifarely and guitarist Gérard Marais. In 1976, he founded ADMI, the Association pour la Developement de la Musique Improvise.
He was a former Director of the French National Jazz Orchestra from 1997 to 2000 and serves as an educator at the L’École Nationale de Musique in Angoulême. Double bassist, composer, arranger and leader Didier Levallet regularly hold workshops and music concerts in Cluny, France.
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Wilton Crawley was born on July 18, 1900 in Virginia with his family moving to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Some of his musical influences may be traced back to Virginia and its many farms and barnyards with cackles and clucks like a chicken, oinks like a pig, and neighs like a goat that he . It was in Philadelphia that along with his reed-playing brother Jimmy that they formed their first band. During the ’20s and ’30s, the clarinetist found success with a variety act featuring his singing and playing. Though not the most versatile musician he had a sound and style that utilized weird speech-like sound effects and extended use of slap tonguing, sometimes filling out whole lines of a solo with obnoxious little pops.
Between 1927 and 1930 Wilton recorded his own compositions for OKeh and Victor Records, working with Paul Barbarin, Lonnie Johnson, Henry “Red” Allen, Pops Foster, Luis Russell, Jelly Roll Morton, Eddie Heywood and Eddie Lang among others. After splitting with Morton in the 1930s he toured England and after the death of his father and his friend guitarist Eddie Lang, his personal problems derailed his career and slipped into oblivion.
His most famous pieces include Crawley Clarinet Moan, She’s Forty With Me, Put a Flavor to Love, Futuristic Blues and Irony Daddy Blues. Much of this music reveals his attempts to recreate jazz sounds from other instruments, particularly the muted trumpet effects that might have been done by an artist such as Bubber Miley. While some of this sound effect activity have may influenced Anthony Braxton, he may have more in common with the clarinetists who worked with Spike Jones or even later rock showmen like Arthur Brown. Some of the membership in his ensembles such as Wilton Crawley & His Orchestra or the Washboard Rhythm Kings remains unknown, however, banjoist Johnny St. Cyr and blues guitarist Lonnie Johnson show up in his bands.
It is unfortunate that many of the recordings originally done under his own name have all been reissued in various Jelly Roll Morton retrospectives, as he went on to become a lasting legend of early jazz while the clarinetist went into obscurity. Clarinetist, composer, contortionist and vaudevillian Wilton Crawley passed away in 1948 in Maryland.
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Ben Riley was born July 17, 1933 in Savannah, Georgia and his family moved to New York City when he was three years old. In high school he played drums in the school band, and after graduation he joined the Army, where he was a paratrooper, and also played with the Army band. After his discharge in 1954 he returned to New York City where he began playing jazz professionally in 1956. It was with Johnny Griffin he made his recording debut in 1961.
Ben played with such musicians as Randy Weston, Mary Lou Williams, Sonny Rollins, Woody Herman, Randy Weston, Sonny Stitt, Ray Bryant, Stan Getz and Billy Taylor.. But it was four years playing, recording and touring with Thelonious Monk that established his name and helped direct his career to success.
During the 1970s he was a member of the New York Jazz Quartet and the hard bop drummer has recorded three albums as a leader. Riley has recorded no less than another three dozen albums as a sideman working with the above-mentioned musicians as well as Alice Coltrane, Woody Herman, Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis, Ahmad Jamal, Kenny Barron, Ron Carter, Bennie Green, Michael Franks, Andrew Hill, Sam Jones, Junior Mance, Roseanna Vitro, Horace Tapscott, Jim Hall, Abdullah Ibrahim and as a member of the group Sphere.
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Eddie Farley was born on July 16, 1904 in Newark, New Jersey. He received his trumpet education at Sacred Heart and St. Benedict Prep School in Newark. After graduating he played in dance orchestras led by Bert Lown and his Hotel Biltmore Orchestra, an outfit he began playing with in the late ’20s for several years and with drummer Will Osborne in the early Thirties. By 1935 he organized his own orchestra with Mike Riley for his NBC radio program and his career was doing quite well around New York City in addition to touring the country.
He is best known for the mid ’30s hit The Music Goes ‘Round and Round”, and was the high point in the songwriting and bandleading partnership of Farley and Mike Riley. However the thrill of working together only lasted until 1936 and after firing their own respective combo cannonballs Eddie had success with it, adding his own pleasant vocals to the mix and holding down stints at ritzy venues such as the Midnight Club and Meadowbrooks.
Joining ASCAP in 1941, his chief musical collaborator was Mike Riley, and his other popular-song compositions include I’m Gonna Clap My Hands, There’s Something In the Wind and Looking for Love. The ’50s saw his group featured at the Ivanhoe Club in Irvington, New Jersey, Farley making his home within a short drive from the gig in Essex, New Jersey where the trumpeter, composer, vocalist, conductor, author and songwriter passed away in 1983.
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Graham Peter Hall, generally known as GP Hall, was born on July 15, 1943, and raised in Hampton Hill, London, United Kingdom, where he was schooled in classical, flamenco and jazz. As a teenager he went on to play in the Odd Lot Band and set up the Odd Lot Club as a venue for their music, which in turn attracted more established bands and players for concerts.
As he became better known, Hall went on to play at more celebrated London venues including The Roundhouse, the Middle Earth club and a residency at the 100 Club. He would back Deep Purple, The Hollies, Chris Farlowe and played with John Lee Hooker, Sonny Boy Williamson and with Casey Jones & The Governors.
His musical approach broadened in the early 1970s where he spent time studying with Romani musicians and flamenco guitarist Manitas de Plata, became involved in more avant-garde work, writing, producing and performing, and became the musical director for the multi-media performance art group Welfare State International.
By 1972 GP composed and recorded The Estates on Prototype Records, followed three years later by his sophomore project Manifestations. But around this time, his promising career fell into a fifteen-year depression due to personal trauma. It was until the Eighties that he re-emerged into the music world with his twenty-nine track Colors (Movements) a series of instrumental albums on the Kenwest label. The 90s saw the release of a solo album Imaginary Seasons on his own Imaginary Music label that was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize, followed by Figments Of Imagination in 1996 and an appearance on the Unknown Public compilation alongside guitarists Bill Frisell, Frank Zappa, John Zorn and Robert Fripp.
Into the new millennium the guitarist has continued to record new and old music combining them with live performances, created eclectic instrumental and industrial inclined works, recorded several unreleased albums and collaborated with percussionist Justin Ash, painter Alistair Michie, Lol Coxhill, Paul Rutherford, Jeff Clyne, John Ellis and Lyn Dobson, among others.
Hall invented the musical genre known as Industrial Sound Sculptures, draws on classical, rock, jazz, flamenco, folk and blues styles and performs mainly in the free jazz and avant-garde genres, though much more melodic. He uses a variety of techniques such as slides, fingerpicking and found implements like crocodile clips, palette knives, velcro strips, an antique psaltery bow and wind-up toy to create a variety of different sounds.
Guitarist GP Hall is adept with electric and electronic playing but is also known for his particular virtuosity as an acoustic guitarist, an expert flamenco guitarist, and an accomplished classical-style player. He also plays a customized Shergold six-string bass guitar featuring a half-fretted, half-fretless fretboard and has been known to dabble in playing other instruments such as double bass, piano, soprano saxophone and varied percussion, and vocals as he continues his musical journey.
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