Rio De Gregori was born on September 22, 1919 in Zurich, Switzerland. He began taking classical piano lessons at the age of seven and at fourteen he began buying records by Duke Ellington and other jazz musicians. Although his parents wanted to make him a classical pianist, his interest were leaning towards jazz.
Rio first played with Willie Mac Allen in 1939, then with James Boucher, The Lanigiros, Jo Grandjean and René Weiss during the early to mid Forties. He was with the big band of Fred Böhler until 1945 when he founded his own dance orchestra bringing with him some of the best Swiss jazz musicians, Stuff Combe, Bob Jaquillard, Jean Pierre Dupuis, Luc Hoffmann, Raoul Schmassmann and Kurt Weil. He also featured Glyn Paque as a guest soloist.
He disbanded his big band and worked in a trio setting or as a soloist. Performing in Ascona, Switzerland, he met vocalist Suzanne Doucet and composed and arranged for her. Moving to Munich, Germany De Gregori played under the name Rio Gregory and opened a nightclub.
Because of his harmonious flair De Gregori enjoyed an excellent reputation as a pianist recordings. As an arranger he was commissioned by Fred Böhler and other orchestral conductors. He recorded four albums as a leader over the course of his career. Pianist and vocalist Rio De Gregori passed away on May 22, 1987 in Munich, Germany.
Atzko Kohashi was born on September 21st in Japan and studied classical piano from an early age. Her sights were not set on jazz until her early teens. A self-taught jazz pianist, while studying law at Kelo University in Tokyo, she was a member of the big band, Kelo Light Music Society. Post graduation she began playing in local jazz clubs in quintets until she formed her own trio.
In 1994 Kohashi moved to New York City and studied under Steve Kuhn, who had a big influence on her playing. In 2001 she moved back to Tokyo, played the clubs and composed music for C.G. animation for children and radio dramas. During this period she arranged jazz for the piano-violin duo Rosco.
2005 saw Atzko moving to Amsterdam, Netherlands and releasing her first album as a leader Amstel Delight followed by her 2009 sophomore album Amstel Moments with bassist Frans van der Hoeven. She recorded her third album live titled Turnaround with bassist Yosuke Inoue. In 2012 she went back into the studio with Dutch drummer Sebastiaan Kaptein. Her next duo recording was in 2013 with bassist van der Hoeven, making their critically acclaimed second duo album, Waltz For Debby and garnering success on the concert trail.
Along with van der Hoeven and Kaptein, she has released her latest 2016 record Lujon on the Japanese label Cloud. Pianist Atzko Kohashi, also writes and interviews for a monthly column ‘Amsterdam Report’ on a web magazine for Japanese jazz lovers, continues to compose, arrange, perform and record and is scheduling a Japan tour in November.
More Posts: piano
Elvira “Vi” Redd was born September 20, 1928 in Los Angeles, California to New Orleans drummers and Clef Club co-founder Alton Redd. She was deeply influenced during her formative years by her father, who was one of the leading figures on the Central Avenue jazz scene, as well as her other important musical mentor, her paternal great aunt Alma Hightower.
After working for the Board of Education from 1957 to 1960, Redd returned to jazz. She played in Las Vegas, Nevada in 1962, toured with Earl Hines in 1964 and led a group in San Francisco, California in the mid-1960s with her husband, drummer Richie Goldberg. During this time Vi also worked with Max Roach.
She toured as far as Japan, London, that included an unprecedented 10 weeks at Ronnie Scott’s, Sweden, Spain and Paris. In 1969, she settled back in Los Angeles where she played locally while also working as an educator. She recorded albums as a leader for United Artists and Atco and her 1963 album Lady Soul features Bill Perkins, Jennell Hawkins, Barney Kessel, Leroy Vinnegar, Leroy Harrison,Dick Hyman, Paul Griffin, Bucky Pizzarelli, Ben Tucker and Dave Bailey, with liner notes by Leonard Feather. She also performed with Count Basie, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Linda Hopkins, Marian McPartland, Dizzy Gillespie, Gene Ammons and Dexter Gordon.
A graduate of California State University, Los Angeles, she earned a teaching certificate from University of Southern California. She taught and lectured for many years from the ’70s onward upon returning to Los Angeles. She served on the music advisory panel of the National Endowment for the Arts in the late 1970s. In 1989 she received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Los Angeles Jazz Society. In 2001 she received the Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Award from the Kennedy Center. Bebop, hard bop and post bop alto saxophonist, vocalist and educator Vi Redd remained active, performing and recording until 2010. She is 87 years old.
More Posts: saxophone
Lovie Austin was born Cora Calhoun on September 19, 1887 in Chattanooga, Tennessee and grew up with eight brothers and sisters. She studied music theory at Roger Williams University and Knoxville College which was uncommon for African American woman and jazz musicians alike during the time.
In 1923, Lovie Austin decided to make Chicago, Illinois her home, living and working there for the rest of her life. She was often seen elegantly dressed, racing around town in her Stutz Bearcat with leopard skin upholstery. Her early career was in vaudeville, playing piano and performing in variety acts. Accompanying blues singers was Lovie’s specialty, and can be heard on recordings by Ma Rainey – Moonshine Blues, Ida Cox – Wild Women Don’t Have the Blues, Ethel Waters – Craving Blues, and Alberta Hunter – Sad ‘n’ Lonely Blues.
She led her own band, the Blues Serenaders, which usually included trumpeters Tommy Ladnier, Bob Shoffner, Natty Dominique, or Shirley Clay on cornet, Kid Ory or Albert Wynn on trombone, and Jimmy O’Bryant or Johnny Dodds on clarinet, along with banjo and occasional drums. The Blues Serenaders developed their own unique sound within the jazz genre, straying away from the typical jazz band paradigm.
Austin worked with many other top jazz musicians of the 1920s, including Louis Armstrong. They worked on a song together that was called Heebie Jeebies. Her skills as songwriter can be heard in the classic Down Hearted Blues, co-written with Alberta Hunter. Singer Bessie Smith turned the song into a hit in 1923. She was also a session musician for Paramount Records and recorded with the Blues Serenaders in 1923.
When the classic blues craze waned in the early 1930s, Lovie became the musical director for the Monogram Theater in Chicago where all the T.O.B.A. acts played. She worked there for 20 years and during wartime, she was reported to be working as a security guard at a defense plant to support herself.
After World War II she became a pianist at Jimmy Payne’s Dancing School at Penthouse Studios, and performed and recorded occasionally.
In 1961, nearly forty years after participating in her first recordings, Lovie recorded Alberta Hunter with Lovie Austin’s Blues Serenaders, as part of Riverside Records’ “Living Legends” series, produced by radio WHAT-FM disc jockey and jazz critic Chris Albertson. Austin’s songs included Sweet Georgia Brown, C Jam Blues and Gallon Stomp.
Pianist Lovie Austin, who is cited as Mary Lou Williams greatest influence and one of the best pianists during the Harlem Renaissance, retired in 1962 and passed away on July 10, 1972 in Chicago.
More Posts: piano
Teddi King was born Theodora King on September 18, 1929 in Boston, Massachusetts. She won a singing competition hosted by Dinah Shore at Boston’s Tributary Theatre and later began performing in a touring revue involved with cheering up the military troops in the lull between the Second World War and the Korean conflict.
Improving her vocal and piano technique during this time, she first recorded with Nat Pierce in 1949, later recorded with the Beryl Booker Trio and three albums with several other small groups recorded between 1954 and 1955 for the Storyville label. She then toured with George Shearing for two years in the summer of 1952, and for a time was managed by George Wein. King went on to perform for a time in Las Vegas.
Teddi landed a contract with RCA and recorded three albums for the label, beginning with 1956’s Bidin’ My Time. She also had some minor chart success with the singles Mr. Wonderful, Married I Can Always Get and Say It Isn’t So. Her critically acclaimed 1959 album All the Kings’ Songs found her interpreting the signature songs of contemporary male singers like Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole.
In the 1960s, she opened the Playboy Club, where she often performed, however, after developing lupus, she managed to make a brief comeback with a 1977 album featuring Dave McKenna. She recorded two more albums for Audiophile that were released posthumously. She also recorded for the Coral, Inner City and Flare labels as well as having a compilation released on the Baldwin Street Music label. Jazz and pop standard vocalist Teddi King, who was influenced by Lee Wiley, Mildred Bailey and Mabel Mercer, passed away from lupus on November 18, 1977.
More Posts: vocal