Nobuo Tsukahara, better known as Nobuo Hara was born November 19, 1926 in Toyama, Japan. He played in a military band during World War II and in a Tokyo officer’s club after the war. Realizing classical music was not going to pay a living wage he ventured into jazz and joined the ensemble Sharps and Flats, taking leadership in 1952, a position he held for over six decades. This band helped to make jazz popular in Japan after WWII and they recorded copiously as well as appearing at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1967.
In 2007 at 80 years old he still the led Nobuo Hara and His Sharps and Flats, the 17-piece big band. Sharps and Flats have accompanied Chiemi Eri and included sidemen such as Norio Maeda, Shotaro Moriyasu, and Akitoshi Igarashi. Noted for their sweet rhythms and their swing they have continued to mesmerize audiences even today.
Saxophonist Nobuo Hara has performed and/or recorded with Quincy Jones, Count Basie, Miles Davis, Sammy Davis Jr., Perry Como, Henry Mancini, Silvie Vartan, Nat King Cole, Yves Montand, Sarah Vaughan, Diana Ross, and the list goes on and on.
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George Masso was born November 17, 1926 in Cranston, Rhode Island. Most notable for his work from 1948 to 1950 as a member of the Jimmy Dorsey band, but finding the life of a professional jazz musician financially difficult, Masso quit performing following his work with Dorsey and began teaching.
Returning to music in 1973, George recorded and/or performed with Bobby Hackett and Benny Goodman. In 1975 he became member of the World’s Greatest Jazz Band and by the late 1980s and early 1990s, he had recorded with George Shearing, Barbara Lea, Ken Peplowski, Scott hamilton, Warren Vache, Bobby Rosengarden, Woody Herman, Spike Robinson, Bob Haggart, Totti Bergh, Harry Allen and Yank Lawson.
He recorded numerous albums leading sessions on the Sackville, Nagel-Heyer, Arbors, Famous Door, World Jazz and Dreamstreet labels over the course of his career. Trombonist, bandleader, vibraphonist, and composer George Masso, who specialized in swing and Dixieland, rarely performs at 90 years old.
Joe Bushkin was born on November 7, 1916 in New York City and began his career playing trumpet and piano with New York City dance bands. He acquired a lot of experience performing with Frank LaMare’s Band at the Roseland Ballroom in Brooklyn, New York.
In 1935 he joined Bunny Berigan’s band, played with Eddie Condon from 1936 to 1937, and with Max Kaminsky and Joe Marsala, before rejoining Berigan in 1938. He then left to join Muggsy Spanier’s Ragtime Band in 1939. From the late Thirties through to the late 1940s he also recorded with Eddie Condon as well as performing on radio and television. After his World War II service he worked with Louis Armstrong, Bud Freeman and Benny Goodman.
Best-known for his composition Oh! Look at Me Now with John DeVries, composed when he was working in Tommy Dorsey’s band. The song would become Frank Sinatra’s first hit. In his 60s, Bushkin’s semi-retirement was ended by an offer from Bing Crosby for them to tour together in 1976 and 1977. He also appeared on Crosby’s 1975 Christmas TV special with Fred Astaire, performed in a concert series at New York’s St. Regis Hotel in 1984 that celebrated his 50 years in show business.
Pianist Joe Bushkin passed away in Santa Barbara, California on November 3, 2004, three days shy of his 88th birthday, which he had dreamed of celebrating the 88 piano keys.
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George Wallington was born Giacinto Figlia on October 27, 1924 in Palermo, Sicily and then moved to New York City with his family in 1925. His father sang opera and introduced his son to classical music, but Wallington listened to jazz after hearing the music of saxophonist Lester Young. Acquiring the name Wallington in high school by the neighborhood kids for his flashy clothes, he left school at the age of 15 to play piano in the city.
From 1943 to 1953 Wallington played with Dizzy Gillespie, Joe Marsala, Charlie Parker, Serge Chaloff, Allan Eager, Kai Winding, Terry Gibbs, Brew Moore, Al Cohn, Gerry Mulligan, Zoot Sims, and Red Rodney. He recorded as a leader for Savoy and Blue Note in 1950, toured Europe in 1953 with Lionel Hampton’s big band and in 1954-60 he led bands in New York City that contained rising musicians including Donald Byrd, Jackie McLean and Phil Woods. During this period he recorded as leader with these musicians for the Prestige and Atlantic labels.
1960 saw George leaving music and moving to Florida to work in the family air conditioning business. He cited the stress of endless touring as the reason, however, he returned to music in 1984 and recorded three albums. He also performed at the 1985 Kool Jazz Festival in New York.
Pianist and composer George Wallington, whose best-known compositions are Lemon Drop, and Godchild, passed away in Cape Coral, Miami, Florida on February 15, 1993.
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Cyril Blake was born October 22, 1900 in Trinidad and moved to England about 1918, where he sometimes performed under the stage name of “Midnight,” and quite often appearing well after midnight. He was an essential part of the freewheeling music scene of London in the decades both before and after World War II.
He became well versed in jazz, blasted away in rhythm & blues bands of various ethnic persuasions. and played in a British group called the Southern Syncopated Orchestra. Being a trumpet player and was working in both London and Paris clubs whilst the ’20s roared helped to skyrocket his career.
Working in Paris, France and London as a musician throughout the 1920s, in the 1930s he played in the bands of Leon Abbey, Happy Blake, Rudolph Dunbar, Leslie Thompson’s Emperors of Jazz, Joe Appleton, and Lauderic Caton. 1938 saw Cyril putting together his own band, which was centred on Jig’s Club in London but was also the house band for several other venues around Soho. He recorded several times with this ensemble and in the 1940s led his band behind Lord Kitchener for recordings on Parlophone Records, playing in a calypso style.
Late in his life he returned to Trinidad, where he continued to lead bands. Trumpeter Cyril Blake, along with Bertie King, Lauderic Caton and Brylo Ford were credited in the Who’s Who of British Jazz by John Chilton and influenced generations of British jazz musicians, passed away of an illness on December 3, 1951.
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