Samuel Blythe Price was born in Honey Grove, Texas on October 6, 1908 and during his early career, he was a singer and dancer in local venues in the Dallas, Texas area. While living in Kansas City, Missouri, Chicago, Illinois and Detroit Michigan he played jazz. In 1938 he was hired by Decca Records as a session sideman on piano, assisting singers such as Trixie Smith and Sister Rosetta Tharpe.
Price was most noteworthy for his work on Decca Records leading his own band, known as the Texas Bluesicians, that included fellow musicians Don Stovall and Emmett Berry. He would also go on to have a decade-long partnership with Henry “Red” Allen.
Later in his life, Sammy partnered with the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City, and was the headline entertainment at the Crawdaddy Restaurant, a New Orleans themed restaurant in New York in the mid-1970s. Here he would play with both Benny Goodman and Buddy Rich.
During the Eighties he moved to Boston, Massachusetts switched to performing in the bar of Copley Plaza. Pianist and vocalist Sammy Price passed away from a heart attack on April 14, 1992, at home in Harlem, in New York City, at the age of 83.
Ulysses Banks, nicknamed Buddy, was born on October 3, 1909 in Dallas, Texas and began playing saxophone in his youth. Moving to Los Angeles, California in the early Thirties he played with the Charlie Echols band from 1933 to 1937. He remained in the group after it was taken over by Claude Kennedy and subsequently by Emerson Scott due to Kennedy’s death. The group then scored a gig at the Paradise Cafe, and Cee Pee Johnson became its leader and played in Johnson’s ensemble until 1945.
Following his departure from the group Buddy led his own group that featured tenor saxophone and trombone as its most prominent instruments. Holding down the trombone chair was Allen Durham and then by Wesley Huff. Guitarist Wesley Pile and drummer Monk McFayalso recorded as members of this group. The ensemble played throughout southern California and recorded until 1949.
Banks led a new group in 1950, but disbanded it quickly and started playing piano, and though he accompanied Fluffy Hunter on tenor saxophone in 1953, he spent most of the rest of his life on piano. From 1953 to 1976 he enjoyed a piano-bass duo with Al Morgan. By 1980 he was playing solo piano.
Tenor saxophonist, pianist and bandleader Buddy Banks passed away on September 7, 1991 in Desert Hot Springs, California.
Nicholas Payton was born on September 26, 1973 in New Orleans, Louisiana to bassist and sousaphonist Walter Payton. He took up the trumpet at the age of four and by age nine was sitting in with the Young Tuxedo Brass Band alongside his father. He began his professional career at ten years old as a member of James Andrews’ All-Star Brass and was given his first steady gig by guitarist Danny Barker at The Famous Door on Bourbon Street. He enrolled at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts and then at the University of New Orleans.
After touring with Marcus Roberts and Elvin Jones in the early Nineties, Payton signed with Verve Records and his first album as a leader, From This Moment was released in 1994. In 1996 he performed on the soundtrack of the movie Kansas City, and in 1997 received a Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Solo for his recording Doc Cheatham & Nicholas Payton.
After seven albums on Verve, Nicholas moved to Warner Bros. Records, and has collaborated with among others Trey Anastasio, Ray Brown, Ray Charles, Daniel Lanois, Dr. John, Stanley Jordan, Herbie Hancock, Roy Haynes, Zigaboo Modeliste, Marcus Roberts, Jill Scott, Clark Terry, Allen Toussaint, Nancy Wilson, Dr. Michael White, and Joe Henderson.
He is a founding member of the SFJAZZ Collective, joined The Blue Note 7 honoring the 70th Blue Note Records anniversary and formed a 21-piece big band ensemble called the Television Studio Orchestra. In addition he recorded and released Bitches, a love narrative on which he played every instrument, sang, and wrote all of the music, the Czech National Symphony Orchestra commissioned and debuted his first full orchestral work, The Black American Symphony and formed his own record label, BMF Records. Payton has been a Distinguished Artist and Visiting Lecturer at Tulane University and belongs to a growing group of race scholars and activists committed to social justice. His writings are provocative as witnessed with his most notable pieces On Why Jazz isn’t Cool Anymore describes the effects of cultural colonization on music.
Trumpeter Nicholas Payton has recorded sixteen albums as a leader, another eight as a sideman wth Eric Alexander, Elvin Jones, Joanne Brackeen, Jimmy Smith and Allen Toussaint among others and continues to perform, compose, write and record,
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Ram Ramirez was born Roger J. Ramirez on September 15, 1913 in San Juan, Puerto Rico and grew up in New York City. He started learning piano when he was eight and was a professional five years later. In the early Thirties he worked with the Louisiana Stompers, Monette Moore , Rex Stewart, the Spirits of Rhythm and Willie Bryant.
Traveling to Europe with Bobby Martin’s group from 1937 to 1939, when Ramirez returned to New York City and had his own band before working with Ella Fitzgerald, Frankie Newton and Charlie Barnet in the Forties. After a second stint with Newton, he played with the John Kirby Sextet in 1944.
Ram mostly led his own trio from the mid-1940’s on and began doubling on organ in 1953. Active into the 1970’s. playing with the Harlem Blues and Jazz Band at the end of the decade. He became semi-active in the 1980’s and never gaining much fame except among knowledgeable musicians in the swing, bop and trad settings.
Through the years he led sessions for Gotham, Super Disc, Black & Blue, RCA and Master Jazz. He also played with Helen Humes, Putney Dandridge, John Kirby, Ike Quebec, Rex Stewart, Annie Ross, King Pleasure and Duke Ellington’s Small groups. Pianist and composer Ram Ramirez, best known as a co-writer of the classic song Lover Man (Oh, Where Can You Be?, passed away on January 11, 1994 in Queens, New York.
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Zinky Cohn was born on August 18, 1908 in Oakland, California. He played in Chicago, Illinois in the late 1920s, including in Jimmie Noone’s Apex Club Orchestra from 1928–30. He recorded extensively with Noone between 1929 and 1934, especially for Vocalion Records. Many of the songs Noone recorded were written and/or arranged by Cohn, including Apex Blues that was previously attributed to Earl Hines.
He recorded as a leader in the early 1930s, with a band that featured Leon Washington on tenor saxophone. Zinky recorded with Frankie Franko & His Louisianans in 1930, and also accompanied blues singers such as Georgia White.
In late 1930s he led the Chicago musicians’ union and continued to play locally. Pianist Zinky Cohn passed away on April 25, 1952 in Chicago, Illinois.
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