Lorenzo Tio Jr. was born on April 21, 1893 in New Orleans, Louisiana and raised in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. Following in the footsteps of his father Lorenzo Sr. and his uncle Louis “Papa”, he also became a master clarinetist. Their method of playing the instrument, which involved the Albert system, a double-lip embouchure and soft reeds, was seminal in the development of the jazz solo.
Tio Jr.was instrumental in bringing classical music theory to the ragtime, blues and jazz musicians of New Orleans and he eventually played jazz himself. His main instrument was clarinet also played the oboe and joined Manuel Perez’s band in Chicago, Illinois in 1916 and Armand J. Piron’s from 1918 to 1928, recording with Piron, Bechet, Jelly Roll Morton and Clarence Williams.
As an educator among the reed players to impact early jazz who studied under Lorenzo’s direction were Sidney Bechet, Barney Bigard, Johnny Dodds, Omer Simeon, Louis Cottrell Jr., Jimmie Noone and Albert Nicholas. He taught Bigard what would become the main theme to the famous Ellington tune Mood Indigo.
Tio gigged in legendary New Orleans large ensembles such as the Lyre Club Symphony Orchestra during the late 19th century. He played in smaller combos, traditional brass bands, had a standing collaboration with Papa Celestin whenever he was in the Big Easy, and performed with the Tuxedo Brass Band.
Despite his strong ties to New Orleans, he regularly played the New York jazz scene on steamboats running between the state capitol in Albany and the Big Apple. During the late ’20s and early ’30s, He had a regular stint at The Nest Club in New York City. Clarinetist and educator Lorenzo Tio Jr., who also played oboe and tenor saxophone, passed away on December 24, 1933.
Johnny Dodds (pronounced dots) was born April 12,1892 in Waveland, Mississippi and moved to New Orleans in his youth, and studied clarinet with Loranzo Tio. He played with the bands of Frankie Duson, Kid Ory and Joe “King” Oliver.
Dodds went to Chicago, Illinois to play with Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band, with whom he first recorded in 1923. He also worked frequently with his good friend Natty Dominique during this period, a professional relationship that would last a lifetime.
After the breakup of Oliver’s band in 1924, he replaced Alcide Nunez as the house clarinetist and bandleader of Kelly’s Stable. He recorded with numerous small groups in Chicago, most notably Louis Armstrong’s Hot Five and Fot Seven, Jelly Roll Morton’s Red Hot Peppers and Lovie Austin.
Noted for his professionalism and virtuosity as a musician, and his heartfelt, heavily blues-laden style, Dodds was an important influence on later clarinetists, notably Benny Goodman.
Along with his younger brother drummer Warren “Baby” Dodds, they worked together in the New Orleans Bootblacks in 1926. As a leader he recorded prolifically between 1927 and 1929, recording for Paramount, Brunswick/Vocalion, and Victor. Affected by ill he recorded two more sessions in 1938 and 1940 both for Decca before passing away of a heart attack in Chicgo, Illinois on August 8, 1940. In 1987, clarinetist and alto saxophonist Johnny Dodds was inducted into the Down Beat Jazz Hall of Fame.
William Russell was born Russell William Wagner on February 26, 1905 in Canton, Missouri. He learned to play the violin and throughout his career contributed to many a performance. When he decided to become a classical music composer he changed his name, transposing first and second and dropping his last.
He was a leading figure in percussion music composition, influenced by his acquaintances John Cage and Henry Cowell. In turn, he also influenced Cage, in his emphasis of percussion. During the 1930s, predating Cage’s main work, Russell’s percussion works called for vernacular textures such as Jack Daniels bottles, suitcases, and Haitian drums, and pianos.
One notable performance of his Fugue For Eight Percussion Instruments took place in 1933 at Carnegie Hall, with the ubiquitous and influential critic-writer-performer Nicholas Slonimsky conducting. These performances took place under the auspices of the Pan-American Association of Composers, an organization that was composed of Cowell, Slonimsky Ruth Crawford Seeger, Edgard Varese and other luminaries of American ultra-modernism.
Bill was also one of the leading authorities on early New Orleans jazz, authoring articles and books, including three essays in the milestone book, Jazzmen and the voluminous 720-page Jelly Roll Morton scrapbook, Oh, Mr. Jelly. He made many recordings of historical interest, founded American Music Records, helping bring many forgotten New Orleans performers, including Bunk Johnson back to public attention and became an important force in the New Orleans jazz revival of the early 1940s.
Moving to the French Quarter of New Orleans in 1956, he opened a small record shop from which he also repaired violins. Russell played violin with the New Orleans Ragtime Orchestra, co-founded and became the first curator of The Hogan Jazz Archive at Tulane University in 1958,
Russell collected a large quantity of material related to the history of New Orleans, early jazz, ragtime, blues, and gospel music, all of which he kept in his French Quarter apartment. During his lifetime he always was willing to share access to the material with serious researchers.
At his death on August 9, 1992, Bill Russell, the single most influential figure in the revival of New Orleans jazz that began in the 1940s, bequeathed his collection to the Historic New Orleans Collection, where it continues to be a valuable resource for researchers in the city that became his last home.
Dave Brubeck was born David Warren Brubeck on December 6, 1920 in Concord, California and grew up in Ione. His father, a cattle rancher, his mother Studied piano with intention to become a concert pianist, taught he son to play. He could not read music during these early lessons, attributing this difficulty to poor eyesight, but faked his way well enough that this deficiency went mostly unnoticed.
Brubeck entered the College of the Pacific studying veterinarian science but changed his major to music at the best of the head of zoology. Discovered that he could not read music he was almost expelled but his ability with counterpoint and harmony more than compensated.
In 1942, Brubeck was drafted into the U.S. Army, and serving in Europe played piano at a Red Cross show and was such a hit that he was spared from combat service and ordered to form a band. He created one of the U.S. armed forces’ first racially integrated bands, The Wolfpack. It was here that he met Paul Desmond in early ’44. He returned to college after discharge, completed his studies, worked with an octet and with an experimental trio with Cal Tjader and Ron Crotty, and often joined onstage by Desmond.
He recorded his first sessions in 1949 for Coronet Records, soon to become Fantasy Records owned by the Weiss Brothers. In 1951 he organized the Dave Brubeck Quartet with Paul Desmond on alto saxophone, taking up a long residency at San Francisco’s Black Hawk nightclub. During this period he recorded a series of albums and gained great popularity touring college campuses.
Dave signed with Fantasy Records, worked as an A&R man and brought in Gerry Mulligan, Chet Baker and Red Norvo. Discovering he only owned half interest in his own recording and not the label he moved to Columbia Records.
In 1959, the Dave Brubeck Quartet recorded Time Out, a seminal album that featured unusual time signatures that quickly went platinum and was the first jazz album to sell more than a million copies. A high point for the group was their 1963 live album At Carnegie Hall, arguably his greatest concert.
Over the next several decades Brubeck would record many albums, develop a jazz musical, The Real Ambassadors, working with Louis Armstrong, Lambert, Hendricks and Ross, and Carmen McRae, perform at the Monterey Jazz Festival, did a series of Jazz Impressions albums, and was the program director of all-jazz format WJZZ-FM radio.
Of his many honors pianist Dave was inducted into the California Hall of Fame, was honored with a Time Magazine cover that he felt should have gone to Duke Ellington, and received an honorary Doctor of Music degrees from the Eastman School of Music, Berklee College of Music and George Washington University.. He was honored by the Kennedy Center, was awarded the Miles Davis Award and Bruce Ricker and Clint Eastwood produced the documentary Dave Brubeck: In His Own Sweet Way.
Pianist and composer Dave Brubeck, considered to be one of the foremost exponents of cool jazz, passed away of heart failure, ironically, on his way to a cardiology appointment, on December 5, 2012, in Newark, Connecticut, one day before his 92nd birthday.
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Scott Joplin was November 24, 1867 or 1868 in Northeast Texas into a musical family of railway laborers and developed his musical knowledge with the help of local teachers. Growing up in Texarkana, he formed a vocal quartet, and taught mandolin and guitar. During the late 1880s he left his job as a laborer with the railroad, and travelled around the Southern states as an itinerant musician.
By 1893 he was in Chicago, Illinois for the World’s Fair and played a major part in making ragtime a national craze by 1897. Joplin moved to Sedalia, Missouri in 1894, earned a living as a piano teacher and taught future ragtime composers Arthur Marshall, Scott Hayden and Brun Campbell. He began publishing music in 1895, and publication of his “Maple Leaf Rag” in 1899 brought him fame. This piece had a profound influence on subsequent writers of ragtime and brought the composer a steady income for life. Though he never reached this level of success again, he would frequently have financial problems, causing him to lose a be forever lost, the score to his first opera A Guest of Honor for non-payment of bills.
Joplin moved to St. Louis in 1901, continued composing and publishing music, and regularly performed in the St. Louis community. In 1907, a move to New York City had him searching for a producer for a new opera, Treemonisha, which, went beyond the limitations of his then famous music and was not well received when partially staged in 1915.
In 1916 he descended into dementia as a result of syphilis. He was admitted to a mental institution in January 1917, and died there three months later on April 1st at the age of 49. Scott Joplin death is widely considered to mark the end of ragtime as a mainstream music format, and in the next several years it evolved with other styles into stride, jazz and eventually big band swing. His music was rediscovered and returned to popularity in the early 1970s with the release of a million-selling album recorded by Joshua Rifkin. Several of his compositions including The Entertainer were featured in the Academy Award winning 1973 movie The Sting, and his opera Treemonisha was finally produced in full to wide acclaim in 1972. In 1976, Joplin was posthumously awarded a Pulitzer Prize. During his lifetime her composed 44 original ragtime pieces, one ragtime ballet and two operas.
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