Frank Capp was born Francis Cappuccio on August 20, 1931 in Worcester, Massachusetts. He began playing with Stan Kenton in 1951, remaining for some time. Later he joined Neal Hefti’s group and often accompanied Peggy Lee on some of her road dates.
Capp subsequently came to Los Angeles, California where he joined Billy May. He performed and recorded with Chet Baker, Herbie Harper Quintet, Joe Pass, André Previn, J. J. Johnson, Ben Webster, Michael Nesmith, Anita O’Day, Frank Sinatra and Bud Shank among others.
Not limited to jazz he also played on numerous rock and roll sessions and is considered to be a member of The Wrecking Crew. This quintessential first-call group of musicians became Phil Spector’s de facto house band. Known as the Wall Of Sound Orchestra. They also played behind such 60s & 70s groups as Jan and Dean, Sonny & Cher, The Mamas & The Papas, Nancy Sinatra, The Byrds, The Monkees, Bob Dylan and The Beach Boys.
In 1975 together with Nat Pierce he founded the Capp/Pierce Juggernaut Band. Among the personnel have been Bill Berry, Bobby Shew, Marshal Royal, Blue Mitchell, Herb Ellis, Chuck Berghofer and Richie Kamuca, while the singers have been Ernie Andrews, Joe Williams, Ernestine Anderson and Nancy Wilson. Still led by drummer Frank Capp at age 84, the Juggernaut has proved sufficiently well founded to survive Pierce’s death in 1992.
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Ron Escheté was born in Houma, Louisiana on August 19, 1948 and after receiving his first guitar at the age of 14, he joined a quartet and was working clubs in Louisiana before he had even graduated from high school. Attending Loyola University he majored in classical guitar and minored in flute, studying with classical guitarist Paul Guma. Shortly after leaving Loyola he toured with Buddy Greco, setting his sites on the Los Angeles, California music scene.
In 1970 Ron moved to California, working and recording with vibist Dave Pike. By 1975 he joined pianist Gene Harris and quickly establish his reputation as a premier accompanist. However, it was in 1988 that he stepped into the spotlight as a leader during a gig in San Diego. That pivotal moment would lead to a contract with Concord Records and the release of his debut solo recording A Closer Look in 1994. Since then he has released more than a dozen albums as a leader.
As an educator Escheté has dedicated nearly twenty-five years teaching music at many colleges and universities, not limited to North Texas State University, Utah State University, Loyola University, Louisiana State University at New Orleans, California State Universities at Long Beach and Fullerton, and Musicianís Institute in Hollywood. He has authored three books: Melodic Chord Phrases, The Jazz Guitar Soloist and a book of Howard Roberts solos titled Super Solos.
Over the decades the consummate sideman has worked and recorded some 30 albums with among others Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn, Diana Krall, Dizzy Gillespie, Milt Jackson, Buddy Greco, Mort Lindsey, Dave Pike, Dewey Erney, Mort Weiss, Gene Harris, and Ray Brown. Guitarist Ron Escheté continues to perform, record and tour.
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Enoch Henry Light was born August 18, 1905, in Canton, Ohio and became a classically trained violinist. The leader of various dance bands that recorded as early as 1927 and continued to 1940. For a time in 1928 he also led a band in Paris and in the 1930s studied conducting in Paris with French conductor Maurice Frigara.
Throughout the 1930s, Light was steadily employed in the generally more upscale hotel restaurants and ballrooms in New York mixing current popular songs with jazz. At some point his band was tagged “The Light Brigade”, often broadcasting over radio live from the Hotel Taft in New York where they had a long residency.
The 1940s saw Enoch recording for Brunswick, ARC, Vocalion and Bluebird, going on to become A&R (Artists and Repertoire) chief and vice-president of Grand Award Records, and then founded his own label Command Records in 1959. His name was prominent on many albums both as musician and producer. He revolutionized the creation of high-quality recordings in the late 1950s and early 1960s, particularly stereo effects that bounced the sounds between the right and left channels, often described as ping-pong recording. This technique had huge influence on the whole concept of multi-track recording that would become commonplace in the ensuing years.
The first of the albums produced on his record label was Persuasive Percussion, that became one of the first big-hit LP discs based solely on retail sales with little or no radio airplay because AM radio was monaural and had very poor fidelity. He did however,record several successful big band albums with an ace-group of New York studio musicians of the Swing Era.
His album covers were generally designed with abstract, minimalist artwork that stood out boldly from other album covers. Light developed the “gatefold” sleeve to fit his lengthy descriptions of the sleeve, enabling it to fold like a book, thus popularizing the gatefold packaging format. The gatefold sleeve became extremely popular in later decades, and was used on albums produced by CTI.
He would go on to work with The Free Design, The Critters, Rain, Doc Severinsen, Tony Mottola, Dick Hyman, organist Virgil Fox and arranger, Lew Davies, was one of the label’s most important contributors.
Violinist, bandleader and recording engineer Enoch Light retired from music entirely in 1974 and passed away four years later on July 31, 1978 in Redding, Connecticut.
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Arvin Charles Garrison was born on August 17, 1922 in Toledo, Ohio and taught himself ukulele at age nine and played guitar for dances and local functions from age twelve.
In 1941 Arv was leading his own band at a hotel in Albany, New York, then with Don Seat put together a trio that played on both the East and West coasts of the United States until 1948. After 1946 it was called the Vivien Garry Trio, after his wife and bassist.
Garrison recorded on Dial Records with Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, and was actively at the forefront of the early New York City bebop scene in the 1940s. Jazz critic Leonard Feather interviewed him extensively about his time spent playing with Parker. In the 1950s he returned to his hometown of Toledo and played locally.
Some of his recordings can be heard on a few anthologies, such as, the Onyx 1974 release Central Avenue Breakdown, Vol. 1 shared with Teddy Edwards and Dodo Marmarosa and includes 6 of the 8 tracks that Arv and wife Vivien Garry’s quartet recorded for Sarco Records in 1945; Swing To Bop Guitar: Guitars In Flight 1939-1947 on the Hep label that includes Arv’s famous Five Guitars In Flight recorded for Black & White Records in 1946 with Earle Spencer’s Orchestra; and The Complete Dial Modern Jazz Sessions on Mosaic Records.
Guitarist Arv Garrison passed away on July 30, 1960 from drowning during an epileptic seizure.
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Malcolm Earl Waldron was born on August 16, 1925 in New York City to West Indian immigrants, his father was a mechanical engineer., however they moved out of the city to Jamaica, Long Island when he was four. His parents discouraged his initial interest in jazz, but he was able to maintain it by listening to swing on the radio. He started classical piano lessons around age seven but by 16 he became inspired to play jazz on tenor saxophone after hearing Coleman Hawkins’ 1939 recording of Body and Soul, but unable to afford a tenor he settle for an alto saxophone. He played alto for local bands that performed for dances, bar mitzvahs, Spanish weddings, frequently taking over the pianist’s role when other musicians took their solos.
In 1943 Waldron being called up by the Army was based at West Point, allowing him to listen to the greats of jazz in clubs on 52nd Street. After two years of service he returned as a student to Queens College where he studied under composer Karol Rathaus, making his final decision to switch from saxophone to piano. After college he worked for a short time in rhythm and blues bands, including with Big Nick Nicholas.
In 1950 Mal went on to work with Ike Quebec in New York, made his recording debut with the saxophonist in 1952 and played at Café Society Downtown on Mondays for six or seven months. Over the next couple of years he worked frequently with Charles Mingus, recording on several Mingus albums, including Pithecanthropus Erectus, a key development in the movement towards freer collective improvisation in jazz. He would go on to work with Lucky Millinder and Lucky Thompson, form his own band Idrees Sulieman, Gigi Gryce, Julian Euell, and Arthur Edgehill. This group recorded Waldron’s debut release as a leader, Mal-1, in 1956.
Waldron was Billie Holiday’s regular accompanist from 1957 until her death in 1959, and Introduced by Jackie McLean, he became the house pianist for Prestige Records. Other leaders he worked under at Prestige included Gene Ammons, Kenny Burrell, John Coltrane and Phil Woods. His most famous, Soul Eyes, written for Coltrane, became a widely recorded jazz standard. A prolific composer he has estimated composing more than 400 pieces of music during his time with Prestige.
He went on to perform with Abbey Lincoln, Max Roach, Eric Dolphy and Booker Little, and wrote for is own band, scores for modern ballet, and film scores with his score for The Cool World becoming one of the first attempts to stress improvisation rather than composition in a jazz-based film score. In 1963 Waldron having a major breakdown caused by a heroin overdose causing him to lose the ability to remember his name or play the piano, requiring shock treatments and a spinal tap to bring him back. He had to relearn his skills, in part by listening to his own records. Recovery was a slow process, taking over two years till all his faculties fully returned.
From the mid-1960s on, Waldron lived in Paris, Rome, Bologna and Cologne, before moving permanently to Munich. He scored full-length and short films, for television and Amiri Baraka’s theater production The Slave & Dutchman, and played with Ben Webster and Kenny Clarke. He toured and recorded throughout Europe and Japan, stopping in the U.S. playing solo piano but also with Joe Henderson, Herbie Lewis, Freddie Waits, Charlie Rouse, Calvin Hill and Horacee Arnold and Cameron Brown.
The ‘90s saw Mal recording several albums with vocalist Jeanne Lee. Two of his final recordings were duets with saxophonists David Murray and Archie Shepp. Diagnosed with cancer in 2002 he continued to perform until his death on December 2nd of that year in a hospital in Brussels, due to complications resulting from the cancer. He was 77.
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