Eli Robinson was born on June 23, 1911 in Greenville, Georgia. After working in Cincinnati in bands led by Speed Webb and Zack White, he worked as well with McKinney’s Cotton Pickers.
Robinson made his first recordings in 1935 with Blanche Calloway. In 1936 he moved to New York City where he played with Teddy Hill, and Willie Bryant. After working briefly with Roy Eldridge in Chicago in 1939, he joined Count Basie from 1941 to 1947.
During the 1950s and 60s, he worked with Lucky Millinder and Buddy Tate. Trombonist and arranger Eli Robinson passed away on December 24, 1972.
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Donald Dean was born on June 21, 1937. ) He attended the University of Kansas, studying drums and Music Therapy, and playing snare drums in the marching band. He also played tympani, marimba, bells and snare drum in the university’s Symphony Orchestra. While matriculating, he played in a quartet with Nathan Davis on reeds, Elaine Brown Davis on piano, and trumpeter Carmel Jones.
His most famous recording was with Les McCann, Leroy Vinegar and Eddie Harris on the soul jazz album Swiss Movement, recorded live on June 21, 1969 at The Montreux Jazz Festival. He would go on to record a total of eight albums with McCann including Second Movement and Layers. Dean appeared as a jazz musician in the Tom Cruise/Jamie Foxx movie Collateral, has worked with Kenny Dorham, Jimmy Smith, George Gilliam, Carmel Jones and harold Land to name a few.
The Los Angeles Jazz Institute houses The Donald Dean Collection that includes reel to reel tapes of Sunday sessions at The Lighthouse that he recorded between 1952 and 1955. The collection also features over 700,000 photographic prints and negatives documenting both the southern and northern California scene from the mid 1960s through the late 1990s.
He has recorded on the Atlantic, Verve, Fresh Sound and Posi-Tone record labels, releasing two albums as a leader or co-leader. Drummer Donald Dean continues to perform at the age of 79 leading his own quartets and quintets.
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Ray McKinley was born on June 18, 1910 in Fort Worth, Texas. He got his start at age 9 working with local bands in the Dallas–Fort Worth area. Leaving home when he was 15, he played with Milt Shaw’s Detroiters and the Smith Ballew and Duncan-Marin bands. It was with the Smith Ballew band in 1929 that McKinley met Glenn Miller. The two formed a friendship that lasted from 1929 until Miller’s death in 1944. McKinley and Miller joined the Dorsey Brothers in 1934.
The Dorsey brothers split in 1935 and Ray remained with Jimmy Dorsey until 1939, when he joined Will Bradley, becoming co-leader. His biggest hit with Bradley, as a singer, was Beat Me Daddy, Eight to the Bar, which he recorded in 1940 and got a partial songwriting credit. Known also as Eight Beat Mack, taken from the lyrics to Down the Road a Piece, he recorded the song a trio with Will Bradley and Freddie Slack.
Splitting with Bradley in 1942, McKinley formed his own band and recorded for Capitol Records. The band was short-lived and he joined Glenn Miller’s Army Air Force Band, which he co-led with arranger Jerry Gray after Miller’s disappearance in December 1944. Upon discharge he formed a modern big band that featuring original material by legendary arranger Eddie Sauter and vocals by the leader. However, with business declining, by 1950 that band was history and his interest turned towards becoming a part-time leader and radio and TV personality.
In 1956, capitalizing on the popularity of The Glenn Miller Story movie with James Stewart, McKinley was chosen to be the leader of the revived Glenn Miller band, which he led until 1966. He co-hosted, with former Air Force band vocalist Johnny Desmond, a 13-week CBS-TV summer replacement series with the band called Glenn Miller Time in 1961. He also wrote the lyrics to the 1945 wartime song My Guy’s Come Back with music by Mel Powell and recorded by Benny Goodman with vocals by Liza Morrow on Columbia Records. His final recording session was in 1977 for Chiaroscuro Records. Drummer, singer, and bandleader Ray McKinley passed away on May 7, 1995.
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Baptiste Trotignon was born on June 17, 1974 near Paris, France. He started playing the violin at the age of 6 and the piano three years later attending the Nantes Conservatory. While there he won prizes for both piano and harmony. During his teen years he discovered and taught himself jazz and improvisation, playing his first concerts at the age of sixteen.
In 1994 he appeared in the movie Le Nouveau Monde as both actor and musician. Four years later he formed his own trio with bassist Clovis Nicolas and drummer Tony Rabeson. In 2000 he recorded his debut album Fluide winning the Django d’Or for Best First Album. His sophomore release Sightseeing picked up the Prix Django Reinhardt. He recorded his debut solo piano album was in 2003 titled Solo.
Over the course of his career he has performed with Eric Harland, Fabrizio Bosso, Russell Malone, Jeremy Pelt, Tom Harrell, Jeanne Added, Melody Gardot, onica Passos, Miossec, Donald Harrison, Billy Hart, Bireli Lagrene, Kenny Wheeler, Jeff “Tain” Watts, Gregory Hutchinson, Ari Hoenig, Brad Mehldau, David Murray, Stefano di Batista, Milton Nascimento, Didier Lockwood, Archie Shepp and the list goes on and on.
Pianist Baptiste Trotignon continues to compose music and and perform, often playing classical music as well as his own compositions and interpretations of music from Led Zeppelin and Bob Dylan to Edith Piaf.
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Dominique Frances Eade (was born on June 16, 1958 in London, England. The daughter of an American Air Force officer and a Swiss mother, she grew up in a musical household and spent much of her childhood moving within the US and in Europe. She studied piano as a child and decided she was going to be a singer in the second grade. She picked up guitar in her teens, learning folk, pop and jazz songs and writing some of her own.
She played her first gigs in the coffee houses of Stuttgart while there in high school. Later, as an English major at Vassar, Eade sang for a time with a jazz group, Naima, which also included Poughkeepsie native Joe McPhee. Eade transferred briefly to Berklee College of Music, and then finished her degree at New England Conservatory (NEC), where pianist Ran Blake became an important mentor and performing colleague. Staying in Boston after graduation she soon began teaching at NEC.
Dominique was an active performer on the vibrant Boston jazz scene during the 80’s, forming groups with Boston-based artists including Mick Goodrick, Donald Brown and Bill Pierce. She toured the United States and Europe as a clinician and performer and in addition to her own groups, she performed contemporary classical music and was a featured soloist with Boston Musica Viva, Composers in Red Sneakers, NuClassix and jazz big bands Orange Then Blue and the Either/Orchestra.
By 1987 she became the first jazz artist to be accepted into the NEC Artist Diploma program, where she studied for two years with Dave Holland and Stanley Cowell, and in 1989 she became the first jazz performer to be awarded the New England Conservatory’s NEC Artist Diploma. In 1990, Dominique moved to New York City and released her first CD, The Ruby and the Pearl, featuring Alan Dawson and Stanley Cowell. During this time she maintained her teaching position at NEC, and performed in a variety of contexts including soloist roles in two Anthony Braxton operas, duo restaurant performances with Gene Bertoncini, and an adventurous trio with Ben Street and Kenny Wollesen.
She performed with various groups around the East Village with Mark Helias, Peter Leitch, Larry Goldings, John Medeski, Fred Hersch, Kevin Hays, James Genus, Gregory Hutchinson, and Tom Rainey. She recorded her second CD, My Resistance is Low with Bruce Barth, George Mraz, and Lewis Nash.
Prior to returning to Boston in 1996 she recorded two critically acclaimed CDs for RCA Victor, When the Wind Was Cool featuring Benny Golson, Fred Hersch, James Genus, Matt Wilson, and many others, and The Long Way Home with Dave Holland and Victor Lewis, highlighted her arranging and songwriting. She has toured the United States and Europe, then focused on composing, recording and local performances around Boston.
Dominique eventually began to reemerge in New York, first with Ran Blake, then in duos and quartets with Jed Wilson, Ben Street, Matt Wilson and Brad Shepik, all receiving critical recognition. She continues to perform, record and compose, teach at the New England Conservatory and give private lessons to the likes of Luciana Souza, Kate McGarry, Sara Lazarus, Lisa Thorson, Julie Hardy, Patrice Williamson, Kris Adams, David Devoe, Aoife O’Donovan, Roberta Gambarini and many others.
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