Larry Gales was born Lawrence Bernard Gales on March 25, 1936 in New York City and began playing bass at age 11. He attended the Manhattan School of Music in the late 1950s. Moving into the early Sixties he worked with J.C. Heard, Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis, Johnny Griffin, Herbie Mann, Junior Mance and Joe Williams.
From 1964 to 1969 Larry was a member of the Thelonious Monk Quartet, and as such, recorded extensively and toured worldwide. After 1969, he relocated to Los Angeles, California where he worked frequently on the local scene with Erroll Garner, Willie Bobo, Red Rodney, Sweets Edison, Benny Carter, Blue Mitchell, Clark Terry, Teddy Edwards, and Kenny Burrell.
He recorded with Buddy Tate, Bennie Green, Sonny Stitt, Mary Lou Williams, Jimmy Smith, Sonny Criss, Charlie Rouse, Johnny Lytle and Big Joe Turner, among others. His first session as a leader was A Message From Monk, released in 1990 on Candid Records that comprised one original and five Thelonious Monk tunes.
Double-bassist Larry Gales passed away on September 12, 1995 in Sylmar, California at 59 years old.
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Steve Kuhn was born on March 24, 1938 in Brooklyn, New York City and began studying piano at the age of five. He studied under Boston, Massachusetts piano teacher Margaret Chaloff, mother of jazz baritone saxophonist Serge Chaloff. She taught him the Russian style of piano playing and at an early age he began improvising classical music.
As a teenager Steve appeared in jazz clubs in the Boston area with Coleman Hawkins, Vic Dickenson, Chet Baker, and Serge Chaloff. After graduating from Harvard University, he attended the Lenox School of Music where he became associated with Ornette Coleman, Don Cherry, and Gary McFarland. His professors included Bill Evans, George Russell, Gunther Schuller, and the members of the Modern Jazz Quartet. This experience with some of the most forward-thinking innovators of jazz improvisation and composition culminated with his joining trumpeter Kenny Dorham’s group for an extended time and for a brief time in John Coltrane’s quartet at New York’s Jazz Gallery club.
Kuhn has appeared or recorded with Stan Getz, Art Farmer, Oliver Nelson, Gary McFarland, Art Farmer, Joe Henderson, Scott LaFaro, Harvie Swartz, Pete LaRoca, Sheila Jordan, Billy Drummond, David Finck, and Miroslav Vitous. In 1967 he moved to Stockholm, Sweden where he worked with his own trio throughout Europe until 1971. Moving back to New York City he formed a quartet while continuing to play European gigs and appearing at the Newport Jazz Festival.
Known as an avant-garde pianist in his early career, he was associated with bassist Steve Swallow and drummer Pete La Roca during the Sixties that produced several notable recordings. He was part of the quartet on the landmark recording Sound Pieces led by saxophonist, composer, and arranger Oliver Nelson with bassist Ron Carter and drummer Grady Tate. Among other critically acclaimed recordings there was The October Suite composed by Gary McFarland for Kuhn and an ensemble which included strings, woodwinds, and reeds.
For decades he has led all-star trios that have included such players as bassists Ron Carter and David Finck, and with drummers Al Foster, Jack DeJohnette, and Joey Baron. Pianist Steve Kuhn is the composer of the jazz standard The Saga of Harrison Crabfeathers, has recorded several live albums at New York City jazz clubs and continues to lead a trio and compose.
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Albert Aarons was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on March 23, 1932 and graduated from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. Remaining in Detroit he began gaining attention as a trumpeter in 1956 and started working with Yusef Lateef and pianist Barry Harris in the latter part of that decade. After a period playing with jazz organist Wild Bill Davis, he went on to play trumpet in the Count Basie Orchestra from 1961 to 1969.
In the Seventies Aarons worked as a sideman for singers Sarah Vaughan and Ella Fitzgerald, worked with saxophonist Gene Ammons and was a contributor to jazz fusion, playing on School Days with Stanley Clarke. He appeared with Snooky Young on the classic 1976 album Bobby Bland and B. B. King Together Again…Live.
He also worked with Brass Fever, Kenny Burrell, Eddie Harris, Gene Harris, Milt Jackson, Carmen McRae, Zoot Sims with the Benny Carter Orchestra, Frank Wess and Gerald Wilson. Trumpeter Al Aarons passed away on November 17, 2015 in Laguna Woods, California at age 83.
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Edward Soph was born on March 21, 1945, in Coronado, California and was raised in Houston, Texas. In 1963 he e enrolled at North Texas State University, now the University of North Texas, as a music major, but switched his concentration to English during his sophomore year. While at UNT, he performed with the One O’Clock Lab Band, as well as summer tenures with the Glenn Miller Orchestra and Stan Kenton. Graduating in 1968 he joined Woody Herman upon a recommendation from Cannonball Adderley.
Moving to New York City in 1971, Ed began performing and recording freelance with the bands of Clark Terry, Bill Watrous and Woody Herman, Bill Evans, Marvin Stamm, Randy Brecker, Joe Henderson, Pat LaBarbera, Bill Mays, Cedar Walton, Dave Liebman, Chris Potter, Carl Fontana and Slide Hampton, among others.
As an educator Soph pursued a teaching career on the faculty at The Jamey Aebersold Jazz Workshops, The National Stage Band Camps and The University of Bridgeport. Returning to Texas in 1987 he is currently a Professor in the Jazz Studies and Performance divisions of the College of Music at the University of North Texas in Denton, Texas. Some of his students have been Ari Hoenig, Keith Carlock, Joel Rosenblatt, Jason Sutter and Dave Weckl.
Drummer Ed Soph is currently an Artist Clinician for Yamaha Corporation, the Avedis Zildjian Company, Evans Drumheads and Innovative Percussion. He continues to perform and record.
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Deanna Witkowski was born on March 20, 1972 in New Hampshire, Ohio but was raised in Pennsylvania and upstate New York. She began her musical journey playing classical flute and piano long before discovering jazz. While studying at Wheaton College, Illinois, she turned to jazz, first as a saxophonist, then as pianist and composer. Jazz so captured her interest that she abandoned later studies at DePaul University, Chicago, to become a full time musician. Subsequently, she studied with Hilario Duran and Chucho Valdés, experiences that developed an interest in Afro Cuban music. In Chicago in the mid-90s she accompanied singer Linda Tate and was involved in the LaSalle Street Church’s annual jazz service.
Forming her first quintet in 1994 Deanna performed with them until a four month trip to Africa found her thousands of miles away teaching piano in Kenya. Two years later she returned to the States landing in Chicago, Illinois and recording a demo with her grant money. During this period she studied with several Cuban jazz musicians and the next year, she moved to New York City and became the music director at All Angels Episcopal Church, crafting jazz/gospel masses.
In 2000 released independently the Having to Ask album and began studying with Brazilian drummer Vanderlei Pereira. Leaving the church to follow her own musical path she continued writing and performing sacred music in her spare time, but she composed a piece for a jazz choir and reactivated her quintet.
In 2002 she won the annual Great American Jazz Piano Competition in Jacksonville, Florida. She backed vocalist Lizz Wright, leading her supporting band on tour in the USA and on a visit to Europe, played a duo with pianist Fred Hersch at New York’s Jazz Gallery, and with multi-instrumentalist James Finn, playing on his Great Spirit.
In the early to years of the new millennium, members of her regular trio have been bass players Jonathan Paul and Dave Ambrosio, and drummers Tom Hipskind and Vince Cherico. She has also taught extensively, including spells at colleges in Germany and Kenya. Post bop pianist Deanna Witkowski continues to compose, perform and record combining jazz, Latin folk, and modern classical composition.
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