Melton S. Mustafa was born on November 23, 1947 in Miami, Florida, the younger brother of Jesse Jones, Jr. He started playing the trumpet in junior high school and as a teenager played in a five-piece R&B/calypso band led by his brother. As a young adult in the Sixties, he studied at Berklee College of Music and Mississippi Valley State College before graduating from Florida A&M with a degree in music education.
During this period he started played behind Sam and Dave, Betty Wright, Lattimore, the Marvelettes and Joe Simon. His love for jazz never waning, his visibility on the Miami jazz scene increased when Melton joined hard bopper multi-instrumentalist Ira Sullivan. By the 80s he was playing with the Duke Ellington Orchestra led by mercer Ellington, Jaco Pastorius, James Williams, Bobby Watson and John Hicks and Mingus Dynasty among others.
Mustafa joined the Count Basie Orchestra in 1984 and stayed for eight years. In 1992 he formed his own big band and a couple years later signed with Contemporary/Fantasy releasing his debut album Boiling Point. He followed up with his sophomore project St. Louis Blues in 1997. Never far from jazz standards and ballads his quintet recorded his latest CD titled The Softer Side, Scenes from Miami Vol. 1 featuring Duffy Jackson on drums, Dennis Marks on bass and Jim Gasior on piano.
He produces his Annual Melton Mustafa Jazz Festival at the university that has welcomed Jon Faddis, Abraham Laboriel, Benny Golson, Dr. Nathan Davis, Dr. Grover Washington Jr., Dr. James Moody, Idris Muhammad, George Cables, Wallace Roney, Patrice Rushen, Geri Allen, Jimmy Owens, Billy Cobham, Herbie Mann, Dr. Billy Taylor, Clark Terry, Curtis Fuller, Nestor Torres, Winard Harper, Najee, Randy Brecker, and others.
As an educator he is the Director of Jazz Studies at Florida Memorial University, teaching Music Theory, Jazz Composition and other jazz related courses. The hard bop, post bop, soul and swing trumpeter, composer, arranger and producer and educator Melton Mustafa continues to perform, record and tour.
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Seldon Powell was born on November 15, 1928 in Lawrenceville, Virginia. A classically trained saxophonist and flautist who studied at Juilliard in New York City, he went on to work briefly with Tab Smith in 1949 before joining and recording with Lucky Millinder the following year. For the next two years he would spend in the military and upon discharge became a studio musician.
A solid musician with the ability to move between genres from big band to hard bop to soul jazz and R&B, over a forty year career he would record four albums as a leader between 1956 and 1973 and another 60 album sessions as a sideman with Clark Terry, Johnny Hammond Smith, Buddy Rich, Louis Bellson, Neal Hefti, Billy Ver Planck, Sy Oliver,, Erskine Hawkins, Ahmed Abdul-Malik, Richard “Groove” Holmes, Gato Barbieri, Dizzy Gillespie, Gerry Mulligan,Benny Goodman, Woody Herman, roland Hana, Osie Johnson, Freddie Green, Gus Johnson, Sonny Stitt, Friedrich Gulda, Art Farmer, Cal Tjader, Billy Taylor, Ernie Wilkins, Panama Francis, Teri Thornton, Jimmy Forrest, Charlie Byrd, Oliver Nelson and the list goes on.
He recorded for Epic, Roost, Savoy, RCA, United Artists, Lion, Riverside, EmArcy, Golden Crest, Candid, ABC, New Jazz, Impulse, Solid State, Verve, 20th Century, Atlantic, and Sesac record labels. Tenor saxophonist and flautist who concentrated in the swing, progressive and soul jazz, big band and rhythm & blues genres passed away on January 25, 1997 in Hempstead, New York.
Lou Blackburn was born on November 12, 1922 in Rankin, Pennsylvania. Performing mainly in the swing genre, his adaptability lent his trombone to pursue several other genres including the West Coast jazz, soul jazz and mainstream mediums.
During the 1950s Lou played swing with Lionel Hampton and also with Charlie Ventura. In the early 1960s he began performing with Duke Ellington’s big band and with musicians like trumpeter Cat Anderson, Horace Tapscott, Melvin Moore, Red Callender and Bobby Bryant. He performed sideman duties on the album Mingus at Monterey with Charles Mingus. During this period he did some crossover work with The Beach Boys and The Turtles. He was also a part of the recording session for the film The Manchurian Candidate
Blackburn recorded as a leader in 1963, Jazz Frontier and Two Note Samba for Imperial Records and both have been reissued by Blue Note as a compilation The Complete Imperial Sessions. He also recorded Perception, Brass Bag, Jean-Bleu and Ode To Taras. As a sideman he worked with June Christy, Gil Fuller and The Three Sounds recording for Capitol, Pacific Jazz and Blue Note record labels. Trombonist Lou
His decision to live abroad moved him to Germany where he toured very successfully out of Germany and Switzerland with his ethno jazz band Mombasa that had strong African content and players. He also put together an ensemble called the Lou Blackburn International Quartet that had a more progressive feel. Trombonist Lou Blackburn passed away on June 7, 1990 in Berlin, Germany.
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Horace Silver was born Horace Ward Martin Tavares Silva on September 2, 1928 in Norwalk, Connecticut to a mother from Connecticut and a father from Maio, Cape Verde. He began playing the piano as a child, receiving classical music lessons and Cape Verde folk music from his father. When he turned 11 he became interested in becoming a musician, after hearing the Jimmie Lunceford Orchestra.
From ninth grade Silver played tenor saxophone in the Norwalk High School band and orchestra, influenced by Lester Young. He played gigs locally on both instruments while still at school and around 1946 he moved to Hartford, Connecticut, taking a regular job as house pianist in a nightclub. His big break came around 1950, backing saxophonist Stan Getz at a Hartford club. Liking what he heard, Getz took Silver’s band on the road. With Getz he made his recording debut on the Stan Getz Quartet album, along with bassist Joe Calloway and drummer Walter Bolden.
The following year Horace left Getz, moving to New York City and worked at Birdland on Monday nights. During that year, he met the executives of Blue Note Records, eventually signed with them, and remained there until 1980. He also co-founded the Jazz Messengers with Art Blakey.
From 1951 he free-lanced around New York, recorded mostly his own compositions with his trio, featuring Blakey on drums and Gene Ramey, Curly Russell or Percy Heath on bass. Throughout his career he would record with Clifford Brown, Lou Donaldson, Kenny Dorham, Hank Mobley, Junior Cook, Blue Mitchell, Louis Hayes, Carmell Jones, Joe Henderson, Woody Shaw, Tyrone Washington, Michael and Randy Brecker, Lee Morgan, Benny Golson, Donald Byrd and Miles Davis All Stars.
He music reflected the social and cultural upheavals of the 60s and 70s as he briefly played electric piano and including lyrics in his compositions, and his interested in spiritualism also came into his music.
He received a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters Award, recorded his final studio session in 1998 titled Jazz Has A Sense of Humor, was awarded the President’s Merit Award by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, penned his autobiography Let’s Get to the Nitty Gritty: The Autobiography of Horace Silver and published by University of California Press, and many of his compositions have become jazz standards.
Horace Silver, whose early influences were Bud Powell, Art Tatum, Teddy Wilson, Nat King Cole and Thelonious Monk, and who and influence for Bobby Timmons, Le McCann, Ramsey Lewis and Cecil Taylor, passed away of natural causes in New Rochelle, New York on June 18, 2014. The pianist and composer known for his distinctive playing style and pioneering compositional contributions to hard bop, featured surprising tempo shifts from aggressively percussive to lushly romantic merged with funk long before that word could be used in polite company.
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Ike Quebec was born Ike Abrams Quebe on August 17, 1918 in Newark, New Jersey and was both an accomplished dancer and pianist. He switched to tenor sax as his primary instrument in his early twenties, and quickly earned a reputation as a promising player. His recording career started in 1940, with the Barons of Rhythm and from 1944 and 1951 he worked intermittently with Cab Calloway.
Over the course of his career Quebec recorded or performed with Frankie Newton, Hot Lips Page, Roy Eldridge, Trummy Young, Ella Fitzgerald, Benny Carter, Sonny Clark, Dodo Green, Jimmy Smith and Coleman Hawkins. He recorded as a leader for Blue Note records in the Forties era, and also served as a talent scout for the label, helping pianists Thelonious Monk and Bud Powell come to wider attention. Due to his exceptional sight-reading skills, he was also an un-credited impromptu arranger for many Blue Note sessions.
His struggles wit drug addiction and the fading popularity of big band music forced Ike to record only sporadically during the 1950s, though he still performed regularly. He kept abreast on new developments in jazz, and his later playing incorporated elements of hard bop, bossa nova and soul jazz. He occasionally recorded on piano, as on his 1961 Blue & Sentimental album, where he alternated between tenor and piano, playing the latter behind Grant Green’s guitar solos.
In 1959 he began what amounted to a comeback with a series of albums on the Blue Note label. Blue Note executive Alfred Lion, though always fond of his music, was unsure how audiences would respond to the saxophonist after a decade of low visibility. So in the mid-to-late 1950s, they issued a series of singles for the juke-box market and audiences ate them up, leading to a number of warmly-received albums. However, his comeback was short-lived when Ike Quebec, the tenor saxophonist with the big breathy sound, passed away from ling cancer on January 16, 1963.