Malcolm Earl Waldron was born on August 16, 1925 in New York City to West Indian immigrants, his father was a mechanical engineer., however they moved out of the city to Jamaica, Long Island when he was four. His parents discouraged his initial interest in jazz, but he was able to maintain it by listening to swing on the radio. He started classical piano lessons around age seven but by 16 he became inspired to play jazz on tenor saxophone after hearing Coleman Hawkins’ 1939 recording of Body and Soul, but unable to afford a tenor he settle for an alto saxophone. He played alto for local bands that performed for dances, bar mitzvahs, Spanish weddings, frequently taking over the pianist’s role when other musicians took their solos.
In 1943 Waldron being called up by the Army was based at West Point, allowing him to listen to the greats of jazz in clubs on 52nd Street. After two years of service he returned as a student to Queens College where he studied under composer Karol Rathaus, making his final decision to switch from saxophone to piano. After college he worked for a short time in rhythm and blues bands, including with Big Nick Nicholas.
In 1950 Mal went on to work with Ike Quebec in New York, made his recording debut with the saxophonist in 1952 and played at Café Society Downtown on Mondays for six or seven months. Over the next couple of years he worked frequently with Charles Mingus, recording on several Mingus albums, including Pithecanthropus Erectus, a key development in the movement towards freer collective improvisation in jazz. He would go on to work with Lucky Millinder and Lucky Thompson, form his own band Idrees Sulieman, Gigi Gryce, Julian Euell, and Arthur Edgehill. This group recorded Waldron’s debut release as a leader, Mal-1, in 1956.
Waldron was Billie Holiday’s regular accompanist from 1957 until her death in 1959, and Introduced by Jackie McLean, he became the house pianist for Prestige Records. Other leaders he worked under at Prestige included Gene Ammons, Kenny Burrell, John Coltrane and Phil Woods. His most famous, Soul Eyes, written for Coltrane, became a widely recorded jazz standard. A prolific composer he has estimated composing more than 400 pieces of music during his time with Prestige.
He went on to perform with Abbey Lincoln, Max Roach, Eric Dolphy and Booker Little, and wrote for is own band, scores for modern ballet, and film scores with his score for The Cool World becoming one of the first attempts to stress improvisation rather than composition in a jazz-based film score. In 1963 Waldron having a major breakdown caused by a heroin overdose causing him to lose the ability to remember his name or play the piano, requiring shock treatments and a spinal tap to bring him back. He had to relearn his skills, in part by listening to his own records. Recovery was a slow process, taking over two years till all his faculties fully returned.
From the mid-1960s on, Waldron lived in Paris, Rome, Bologna and Cologne, before moving permanently to Munich. He scored full-length and short films, for television and Amiri Baraka’s theater production The Slave & Dutchman, and played with Ben Webster and Kenny Clarke. He toured and recorded throughout Europe and Japan, stopping in the U.S. playing solo piano but also with Joe Henderson, Herbie Lewis, Freddie Waits, Charlie Rouse, Calvin Hill and Horacee Arnold and Cameron Brown.
The ‘90s saw Mal recording several albums with vocalist Jeanne Lee. Two of his final recordings were duets with saxophonists David Murray and Archie Shepp. Diagnosed with cancer in 2002 he continued to perform until his death on December 2nd of that year in a hospital in Brussels, due to complications resulting from the cancer. He was 77.
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Michael Blieden Wolff was born July 31, 1952 in Victorville, California and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana. At age nine, his family moved to Berkeley, California where he continued his study of classical piano that began at age eight, before playing drums at age 12. While attending Berkeley High School he began playing piano with the University of California Jazz Ensembles. After graduating from high school, Wolff attended the University of California, Berkeley before enrolling at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Leaving college in 1972 Michael started his music career by joining Cal Tjader’s band, followed by Cannonball Adderley’s band three years later. By 1977, he formed the band Answering Service with saxophonist Alex Foster.
Wolff has worked with among others Warren Zevon, The Thad Jones/ Mel Lewis Orchestra, Sonny Rollins, Wayne Shorter, Jean-Luc Ponty, Children On The Corner and Terri Lyne Carrington. He has composed and played original music, and served as host for the Riverside Shakespeare Company production of The Mandrake in New York City. In 1978, singer Nancy Wilson chose Michael as her musical director, and in 1989, after being Wilson’s opening act, when Arsenio Hall was given his own talk show, he was chosen to serve as its bandleader and musical director.
In 1995, he released Jumpstart featuring Christian McBride and Tony Williams and in 1997 the trio released 2AM. Wolff was the leader of the jazz band Impure Thoughts which features Indian tabla player Badal Roy, drummer Mike Clark, percussionist Frank Colón and electric bassist John B. Williams.
He has written music for the films Who’s The Man?, The Tic Code and Made Up, as well as writing for and performing in other films. Michael has co-starred in The Naked Brothers Band on Nickelodeon, and was the co-executive producer and music supervisor, along with his wife, Polly Draper.
As an educator he is on the faculty at The New School For Jazz And Contemporary Music. He has been honored as a Steinway Artist and obtained a Broadcast Music, Inc. award.In between his teaching duties pianist, composer, producer Michael Wolff continues to compose, record and perform with his jazz-funk band Wolff & Clark Expedition, consisting of Wolff and Clark as band leaders, Steve Wilson and Lenny Pickett as saxophonists, and James Genus as the bassist.
Alan Leonard Broadbent was born on April 23, 1947 in Auckland, New Zealand. He studied piano and music theory in his own country, but in 1966 came to the United States to study at Berklee College of Music.
Broadbent’s first professional gig was in a jazz trio with bassist Kevin Haines and drummer Tony Hopkins at Club 81 in Auckland in the mid-1960s. His first two albums as a leader in 1985, Song of Home and Further Down the Road, were recorded on the Tartar label with bassist Andy Brown and Frank Gibson, Jr. on drums. These two albums showcased his signature of reinterpretation of standards.
His first U.S. release in 1986, Everything I Love, recorded more standards on the Discovery label replaces Brown with bassist Putter Smith replaces Brown on bass; Frank Gibson, Jr. continues with the trio. By the early Nineties Alan was asked to be a part of Natalie Cole’s Unforgettable album, and toured as her pianist and conductor. At this time he wrote an orchestral arrangement for her second video with her father, When I Fall in Love, winning him his first Grammy for Best Orchestral Arrangement Accompanying a Vocal.
During the 1990s Broadbent he joined Charlie Haden’s Quartet West and it was during this period he won his second Grammy, an orchestral accompaniment written for Shirley Horn of Leonard Bernstein’s Lonely Town. As a soloist and with his jazz trio, Broadbent has been nominated for Grammys twice for best instrumental performance, in the company of such artists as Herbie Hancock, Sonny Rollins and Keith Jarrett.
Alan is Diana Krall’s conductor for her occasional orchestra concerts and conducted on her Live in Paris DVD. He has arranged for Glenn Frey, wrote six string arrangements for Paul McCartney with the London Symphony, worked with Warne Marsh, Woody Herman, Chet Baker, Irene Kral, Sheila Jordan, Bud Shank and numerous others and has toured the UK, Poland and France. In 2008 he was appointed a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to jazz.
Pianist, arranger and composer Alan Broadbent has two-dozen albums out as a leader in trio, duet nd solo performance and another seventeen as a sideman to date. He continues to perform, record and tour.
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Hugh Ramopolo Masekela was born on April 4, 1939 in Kwa-Guqa Township of Witbank, South Africa. He began singing and playing piano as a child. At the age of 14, after seeing Kirk Douglas in the film Young Man With A Horn he took up playing the trumpet. He was given his first trumpet was given to him by anti-apartheid Archbishop Trevor Huddleston at St. Peter’s Secondary School.
Quickly mastering the instrument under the tutelage of Uncle Sauda of Johannesburg’s Native Municipal Brass Band, Masekela along with some of his schoolmates formed the Huddleston Jazz Band, South Africa’s first youth orchestra. By 1956, after leading other ensembles, he joined Alfred Hebrert’s African Jazz Revue.
In 1958 he wound up in the orchestra of South Africa’s first musical blockbuster King Kong, followed by touring the country for a sold-out year with Miriam Makeba and the Manhattan Brothers’ Nathan Mdledle in the lead. By the end of 1959 Hugh along with Dollar Brand, Kippie Moeketsi, Makhaya Ntshoko and Johnny Gertze formed the Jazz Epistles. They became the first African jazz group to record an album and perform to record-breaking audiences in Johannesburg and Cape Town.
Following the 1960 Sharpeville Massacre of 69 peacefully protesting Africans he left the country with the help of Huddleston, Yehudi Menuhin and John Dankworth for London’s Guildhall School of Music. Befriended by Harry Belafonte on a visit to the U.S. he gained admission to Manhattan School of Music studying classical trumpet.
By the late Sixties he had hits with Up, Up & Away and Grazing In The Grass, appeared at the Monterey Pop Festival, and was featured in the film Monterey Pop. In 1974, Masekela and friend Stewart Levine organized the Zaire 74 music festival around the Rumble In The Jungle boxing match.
He has played primarily in jazz ensembles, with guest appearances on recordings by The Byrds and Paul Simon. Since 1954 Hugh’s music protested about apartheid, slavery, government and the hardships individuals were living but also vividly portrayed the struggles and sorrows, as well as the joys and passions of his country. In 1987, he had a hit single with Bring Him Back Home, which became an anthem for the movement to free Nelson Mandela.
Trumpeter Hugh Masekela also plays the flugelhorn, cornet, and trombone and is a composer and singer. He has some four dozen albums to date in his catalogue, has won two Grammy Awards with seven nominations, received two honorary doctorates, and serves as a director on the board of The Lunchbox Fund, a non-profit organization that provides a daily meal to students of township schools in Soweto. He continues to perform, record and tour.
Sherman Irby was born and raised in Tuscaloosa, Alabama on March 24, 1968. He found his calling to music at age 12 and in high school he played saxophone and recorded with gospel immortal James Cleveland. Graduating from Clark Atlanta University with a B. A. in Music Education, in 1991, he joined Johnny O’Neal’s Atlanta-based quintet.
1994 saw Irby moving to New York City and immediately became a part of the jazz scene at Smalls jazz club. Catching the attention of Blue Note Records. He subsequently recorded his first two albums, Full Circle in 1996 and Big Mama’s Biscuits in 1998 on the label. He toured the U.S. and the Caribbean with the Boys Choir of Harlem in 1995, and was a member of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra from 1995 to 1997. During that tenure, he also recorded and toured with Marcus Roberts, Roy Hargrove and was part of Betty Carter’s Jazz Ahead Program.
After a four-year stint with Roy Hargrove, he focused on his own group, in addition to being a member of Elvin Jones’ ensemble and Papo Vazquez’s Pirates Troubadours. Since 2003, Irby has been the regional director for the Jazz Masters Workshop, mentoring young children, and a board member for the CubaNOLA Collective. Saxophonist and composer Sherman Irby formed Black Warrior Records and has released Black Warrior, Faith, Organ Starter and Live at the Otto Club under the new label. Post-bop alto saxophonist Sherman Irby has re-joined Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis and currently continues to perform with his quartet and his group Organomics.
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