Oscar Brashear was born August 18, 1944, in Chicago, Illinois. After studying at trumpet and music at DuSable High School and Wright Jr. College under John DeRoule, he worked briefly with Woody Herman before going on to join Count Basie from 1968-69, then returning to freelance in Chicago. There her worked with Sonny Stitt, Gene Ammons, Dexter Gordon and James Moody.
A move to Los Angeles in 1971, he worked with Gerald Wilson, Harold Land, Oliver Nelson, Shelly Manne, Quincy Jones, Horace Silver and Duke Pearson.
To date Brashear has contributed to more than five-dozen recording sessions with Teddy Edwards, Jimmy Smith, Sonny Rollins, Benny Golson, Bobby Hutcherson,, B.B. King, Bobby Bland, Freddie Hubbard, Joe Farrell, The Crusaders, McCoy Tyner, Gene Harris, Earth Wind and Fire, Carole King, Ry Cooder and Frank Sinatra among many others. He continues to perform and record as a session player.
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Jack Wilson was born in Chicago, Illinois on August 3, 1936 but grew up in Fort Wayne, Indiana from the age of seven. From 1949-54, he studied piano with Carl Atkinson at the Fort Wayne College of Music where he was introduced to the music of George Shearing.
Wilson later picked up the tenor saxophone and played in the Central High School band. He began performing locally leading small combos. By his fifteenth birthday, he had become the youngest member ever to join the Fort Wayne Musicians Union, Local 58. At 17, James Moody hired him to play a two-week stint as a substitute pianist.
After graduating from Central High, Jack spent a year-and-a-half at Indiana University, where he met Freddie Hubbard and Slide Hampton. Then touring with a rock ‘n roll band, he wound up in Columbus, Ohio and connecting with then unknown Nancy Wilson and Rahsaan Roland Kirk.
After a year in Columbus, he moved to Atlantic City and led the house band at the Cotton Club, adding organ to his musical arsenal. At the Club he met Dinah Washington and worked with her from 1957-58.
A return to Chicago, Wilson was playing with Gene Ammons, Sonny Stitt, Eddie Harris and Al Hibbler and holding down the gig at the Persian Lounge. Drafted into the Army, he went to Fort Stewart, GA. and became the first Black music director for the Third Army Area, playing tenor saxophone in the army band.
In 1961, jack received an honorable medical discharge due to diabetes, returned to Dinah Washington’s band for a year and encouraged by Buddy Collette moved to Los Angeles, California. It was here he worked with Gerald Wilson, Lou Donaldson, Herbie Mann, Johnny Griffin, Sammy Davis Jr., Sarah Vaughan, Lou Rawls, Eartha Kitt, Julie London, as well as Sonny & Cher. He composed and recorded the title track for Earl Anderza’s debut album Outa Sight!
Wilson recorded his debut as a leader for Atlantic Records with The Jack Wilson Quartet featuring Roy Ayers followed by a sophomore project, then three for the label’s subsidiary Vault Records and three albums for Blue Note including the classic Easterly Winds in 1967. From there he focused on work with vocalist Esther Phillips, went back to the studio for Discovery Records, and returned to be a sideman with Lorez Alexandria, Tutti Camarata and Eddie Harris.
His final recording session simply titled In New York, took place on June 4, 1993 and featured legendary drummer Jimmy Cobb. Composer and pianist Jack Wilson died on October 5, 2007 due to complications from his life with diabetes.
Carl Saunders was born August 2, 1942 in Indianapolis, Indiana and his first five years were mostly spent on the road with his uncle, trumpeter-bandleader Bobby Sherwood. Sherwood’s orchestra had hits with “Elks Parade” and “Sherwood’s Forest”.His mother, Gail (Bobby’s sister) sang for the Sherwood Orchestra and with Stan Kenton, among others. By the time he was five, he and his mother settled in Los Angeles; living with Carl’s aunt Caroline and her husband, tenor-saxophonist Dave Pell. At the time, Saunders heard the records of Pell’s Octet and was influenced by the style and phrasing of trumpeter don Fagerquist.
Saunders began playing trumpet in the seventh grade and he quickly found that he had a natural ability, mostly learning to play by ear and never having any lessons. He played in school bands, and after he graduating high school, went to work with Stan Kenton’s Orchestra, spending much of 1961-62 on the road.
After spending part of 1962-63 traveling once again with Bobby Sherwood playing drums, Carl settled in Las Vegas and over the next 20 years played with Ella Fitzgerald, Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra, Paul Anka, Robert Goulet, Si Zentner, Harry James, Maynard Ferguson, Benny Goodman, Dan Terry and Charlie Barnet, to name a few.
A move to Los Angeles in 1984 saw Saunders playing lead trumpet with bill Holman’s Orchestra, a position he still holds. He has also worked with Supersax, the Bob Florence and Gerald Wilson big bands, the Phil Norman Tentet, as well as Buddy Rich, and Clare Fischer. In 1994, he became a member of the Dave Pell Octet and leads his own groups –quartet, sextet and big band.
As an educator the trumpeter enjoys working with kids and conducting clinics. Carl currently has seven albums released and plans to continue playing, composing and recording the straight ahead jazz that he loves most.
Delfeayo Marsalis was born July 28, 1965 in New Orleans, Louisiana into the musical family in which father and three brothers are musicians. Lying under the piano as a child while his father played, he eventually tried the bass and the drums but by the sixth grade gravitated to the trombone. His early influences were J.J. Johnson, Curtis Fuller, Al Grey, Tyree Glenn and Tommy Dorsey.
He went on to attend the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts high school and was classically trained at the Eastern Music Festival and Tanglewood Institute. He graduated from Berklee School of Music and the University of Louisville with degrees in performance and audio production.
While a gifted trombonist, Delfeayo has recorded only five albums as a leader and is more prolific and better known for his work as a producer of over 100 acoustic jazz recordings. Since the age of 17 he has produced such artists as Harry Connick Jr., Marcus Roberts, Spike Lee, Terence Blanchard, Nicholas Payton, Marcus Roberts, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and his family members – Ellis, Branford and Wynton.
Along with Tonight Show engineer Patrick Smith, he coined “to obtain more wood sound from the bass recorded without usage of the dreaded bass direct”, a phrase that became the single sentence to define the recorded quality of many acoustic jazz recordings since the late ’80s.
Forming Uptown Music Theatre in 2000, the organization has trained over 300 youth and staged 8 original musicals, all of which are based upon the mission of “community unity.” Marsalis has toured with internationally renowned bandleaders Art Blakey, Slide Hampton, Max Roach, Elvin Jones and Abdullah Ibrahim. In addition he has performed and toured with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, was a part of the Ken Burns documentary Jazz and is an integral part of Marsalis Family: A Jazz Celebration DVD.
Delfeayo Marsalis, along with his father and brothers, are group recipients of the 2011 NEA Jazz Masters Award. He continues to perform, record, tour and produce.
Charlie Shoemake was born on July 27, 1937, in Houston, Texas to music loving parents who began him on piano at age six. Excelling in both baseball and music by high school graduation he was also playing vibes and had attracted the attention of the St. Louis Cardinals. He went on to Southern Methodist University to study music and play baseball. But it was during his first year he realized to be good he had to choose one and that choice was music.
In 1956 he moved to Los Angeles and embarked on an extensive study of the concepts of his idols, Charlie Parker and Bud Powell along with other greats Fats Navarro, Kenny Dorham, Clifford Brown, Hank Mobley, Sonny Stitt, Phil Woods, Hank Jones, Tommy Flanagan, Sonny Clark. During this period informal harmony studies with pianist Jimmy Rowles were very invaluable. But with the onset of rock and roll, the jazz scene began to dry up and he was forced to do studio work, commercials and accompanying vocalists to make ends meet.
Returning to the vibraphone in the Sixties and with the aid of Victor Feldman, Charlie was back in the jazz circles playing for composers Quincy Jones and Lalo Schifrin. It was 1966 that a stop by Shelly’s Manne Hole that he was offered and took a five week tour with the George Shearing Quintet that turned into a 7 year relationship. This tenure saw him playing with the likes of Andy Simpkins, Stix Hooper, Harvey Mason, Joe Pass, Pat Martino and others.
By 1973 Shoemake opened a successful jazz improvisation school in Los Angeles and by 1990 he had taught and guided over 1500 people, most notably saxophonists Ted Nash and Tim Armacost, trombonist Andy Martin and even smooth jazz artists Dave Koz and Richard Elliot.
Closing his studio in 1990, he moved north to Cambria with the idea of having a quiet home base and touring around the world. But with no jazz in town, he approached a restaurateur to bring in jazz and today The Hamlet performs some thirty concerts a year and he appears with every major jazz musician stopping through from the East coast and Europe. Vibraphonist Charlie Shoemake is currently the Director of the Central Coast Jazz Institute.
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