Gene Rodgers was born on March 5, 1910 in New York City. He worked professionally as a pianist from the mid-1920s and over the next few years made recordings with Clarence Williams and King Oliver while also playing with Chick Webb and Teddy Hill.
Rodgers started his own variety show in the 1930s, doing tours of Australia and England recording with Benny Carter in 1936 while in the latter. Upon his return to the States in ‘39 he played with Coleman Hawkins, Zutty Singleton and Erskine Hawkins into the early 40s. During the Forties he worked in Hollywood appearing in the film Sensations of 1945 with Cab Calloway and Dorothy Donegan. After this he worked mainly in New York, leading a trio for many years.
Rodgers appears, with opening title credits, in the 1947 film “Shoot To Kill”, and appearing in the film are two of his compositions “Ballad of the Bayou” and later is “Rajah’s Blues”.
Rodgers recorded sparingly as a leader; he did two sides for Vocalion in 1936, four in a session for Joe Davis in 1945, and albums as a trio leader for EmArcy, Black & Blue Records and 88 Up Right. He played with the Harlem Blues and Jazz Band in 1981-82.
Gene Rodgers, pianist and arranger, best known for his contributions on Coleman Hawkins’ 1939 recording of “Body and Soul”, passed away on October 23, 1987 in New York City.
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Benjamin Gordon Powell Jr. was born on March 1, 1930 in New Orleans, Louisiana. He first played professionally at age 14 and by 18 he was playing with Lionel Hampton. In 1951 he left Hampton’s band and joined Count Basie, where he remained until 1963. Powell takes the trombone solo in the bridge of Basie’s 1955 recording of “April In Paris”.
After leaving Basie, Benny freelanced in New York City and from 1966 to 1970 he was a member of the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra, playing Monday nights at the Village Vanguard. Among other engagements, he played in the house band of the Merv Griffin Show, relocating to Los Angeles, California when the show moved to the West Coast in 1970.
During this period Powell did extensive work as a session musician working with Abdullah Ibrahim, John Carter and Randy Weston. In the 80s he moved back to New York and added educator to his resume becoming part of the Jazzmobile and later, in 1994 teaching at the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music.
Benny Powell, tenor and bass trombonist, died following back surgery on June 26, 2010 in Manhattan, New York City. He was 80 years old.
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George Dorman “Scoops” Carry was born on January 23, 1915 in Chicago, Illinois. His mother a music teacher, his brother Ed a Chicago based bandleader and guitarist put Scoops in good company during his childhood. Starting on horn at the age of eight, he later went on to study at the Chicago College of Music and Iowa University.
He worked with Cassino Simpson, the Midnight Revellers and Boyd Atkin’s Firecrackers in the late 1920s and 30s while still a teenager. In 1931 Carry played with Lucky Millinder in RKO theater palaces. Reuniting with his brother in 1932, the pair co-led an orchestra through the middle of the 1930s. Following this, Scoops played with Zutty Singleton, Fletcher Henderson and Roy Eldridge. By 1938 he was with Art Tatum, a year later with Horace Henderson and at the end of the decade he worked briefly with Darnell Howard before joining Earl Hines’s band in 1940.
Carry remained in Hines’s employ until 1946, working with him in both large and small ensemble settings. After his tenure with Hines, Carry left music and entered law school in 1947, eventually working in the office of the Illinois state attorney.
Scoops Carry, alto saxophonist and clarinetist during the swing era, passed away on August 4, 1970.
Wallace Bishop was born February 17, 1906 in Chicago, Illinois and started on drums as a teenager, studying under Jimmy Bertrand. His first professional gig was with Art Sims and his Creole Roof Orchestra in Milwaukee in 1926. Around this time he also played with Jelly Roll Morton, Bernie Young, Hughie Swift, Richard M. Jones and Tommy Dorsey.
Often addressed as “Bish”, from 1928 to 1930 he played with Erskine Tate followed with the Earl Hines Orchestra from 1931-1937. By the 1940s he was playing with Jimmie Noone, Coleman Hawkins, Don Redman, Phil Moore, Foots Thomas, John Kirby and Sy Oliver among others.
While touring Europe with Buck Clayton in 1949, Wallace elected to remain there, and found work both with noted European jazz musicians and with touring or expatriate Americans, including Bill Coleman, Don Byas, Ben Webster, Kid Ory, Milt Buckner, Buddy Tate and T-Bone Walker. Bishop recorded only two pieces as a bandleader in 1950, with a trio, but he continued to record regularly into the 1970s.
Wallace Bishop, a subtle and supportive jazz drummer who was one of the finest drummers of the swing era, passed away on May 2, 1986 in Hilversum, Holland.
Jeff Clayton was born February 16, 1954 in Venice, California. He studied oboe at California State University. He then undertook a tour on the R&B circuit with Stevie Wonder, following with recording with Gladys Knight, Kenny Rogers, Michael Jackson, Patti Labelle and Madonna.
With his brother John, in 1977 his focus turned towards jazz and the two founded The Clayton Brothers, and later formed the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra with Jeff Hamilton.
Over the course of his career Jeff has worked with Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Ella Fitzgerald, Woody Herman, Lionel Hampton, Ethan Smith and Lena Horne and was a member of the Count Basie Orchestra under the leadership of Thad Jones.
From 1989 to 1991 Clayton was a member of the Phillip Morris Superband and also toured with Gene Harris, Dianne Reeves, Joe Cocker, B.B. King and Ray Charles.
Of his twelve recording catalogue to date, in December 2009 Brother To Brother by The Clayton Brothers received a Grammy nomination in the Best Jazz Instrumental Album, Individual or Group category. Saxophonist Jeff Clayton continues to perform, record and tour.