Ernie Fields was born Ernest Lawrence Fields on August 28, 1904 in Nacogdoches, Texas, though raised in Taft, Oklahoma. He attended Tuskegee Institute before moving to Tulsa. From the late 1920s, he led the Royal Entertainers, and eventually began touring more widely from Kansas City, Kansas to Dallas, Texas, and recording. Fields’ band became the first African-American band to play at Tulsa’s landmark Cain’s Ballroom.
A 1939 invite to New York by John Hammond to record for Vocalion. He began touring nationally, never became a star but continued to work steadily, recording for smaller labels, and gradually transforming his sound through a smaller band and a repertoire shift from big band and swing to R&B. During WWII he entertained troops both at home and abroad.
Continuing to straddle these styles into the 1950s, Ernie played swing standards such as “Tuxedo Junction” and “Begin The Beguine” in a rocking R&B style. In the late 1950s he moved to Los Angeles, California and joined the Rendezvous Records and ran the house band In 1959 this band had an international hit with an R&B version of Glenn Miller’s “In The Mood” that reached #4 on the Billboard chart, selling over a million copies. He would go on to record instrumentals under a variety of names including B. Bumble and the Stingers, The Marketts and The Routers.
After Rendezvous Records folded in late 1963, trombonist, pianist, arranger and bandleader Ernie Fields retired and returned to Tulsa. He died on May 11, 1997, at the age of 92.
Born August 26, 1943, Dorival Tostes Caymmi, the son of famous Brazilian musicians Dorival Caymmi and Stella Maris. He began playing piano at age eight, studied music theory at the Conservatorio Lorenzo Fernandez and in 1959 made his professional debut accompanying his sister, Nana.
In 1960 Dori became a member of Groupo dos Sete, writing music for plays aired on Brazilian television. He co-directed and played viola in the play Opinião, an important transitional work between the styles of bossa nova and MPB and directed the play Arena Conta Zumbi. For a time he produced Edu Lobo, Eumir Deodato and Nara Leao, co-wrote the prize winning song “Saveiros” with Nelson Matta, a collaboration that lasted many years and produced some of Brazil’s biggest hits.
Caymmi played and toured with Paul Winter, arranged and directed albums by Caetano Veloso, Gal Costa and Gilberto Gil, and was involved with the tropicalia movement of the late 1960s, but did not record in this style himself due to his distaste for Euro-American pop music. He wrote scores for numerous films and television shows in the 1970s and 1980s, moved to Los Angeles, California in 1989 and has since played or recorded with Dionne Warwick, Toots Thielemans, Marilyn Scott, Oscar Castro-Neves, Eliane Elias, Richard Silveira and Edu Lobo; was a collaborator celebrating Tom Jobim at Carnegie Hall and arranged the music for Spike Lee’s film, Clockers.
Dori Caymmi has been nominated for Latin Grammys several times and is a two-time Grammy Award winner for Best Latin Song and Best Latin Samba Recording. The Brazilian singer, guitarist, songwriter, arranger, and producer has an extensive discography dating back to 1964 and he continues to perform and record.
Louie Bellson was born Luigi Paulino Alfredo Francesco Antonio Balassoni on July 6, 1924 in Rock Falls, Illinois. He started playing drums at three years of age and at 15 pioneered the double-bass drum set-up. By 17 he triumphed over 40,000 drummers to win the Slingerland National Gene Krupa contest and graduated from high school in 1939.
1943 saw Bellson performing with Benny Goodman and Peggy Lee in the film “The Powers Girl” followed two more by the decade’s end. Between 1943 and 1952, he performed with Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey, Harry James and Duke Ellington, for whom he composed “Skin Deep” and “The Hawk Talks”. In 1952 he married Pearl Bailey, leaving Ellington to be her musical director, a union that lasted 38 years until her death in 1990.
Through the 1950s and 1960s, Louie performed with Jazz At The Philharmonic or J.A.T.P., Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey, Count Basie, again with Duke Ellington and Harry James, as well as appearing on several Ella Fitzgerald studio albums.
Equally adept as a big band or small group drummer, Bellson recorded extensively and led his own big and small bands, occasionally maintaining separate bands on each coast. His sidemen have included Blue Mitchell, Don Menza, Larry Novak, John Heard, Clark Terry, Pete and Conte Candoli and Snooky Young.
Louie Bellson, composer, arranger, bandleader and jazz educator passed away from Parkinson’ s disease on February 14, 2009.
John Blake, Jr. was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on July 3, 1947 and began studying violin in that city’s public school system and at the Settlement Music School. Graduating from West Virginia University, his postgraduate work was at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Montreux, Switzerland prior to receiving a grant to study studied East Indian music.
Classically trained, Blake first gained recognition on early-’70s recordings he made with Archie Shepp and in the mid-70s became established with a global audience during three years recording and touring as a member of Grover Washington, Jr.’s popular “crossover” jazz band. He then spent five years working extensively as a member of various ensembles led by pianist McCoy.
John is a four-time winner of the Down Beat Critics’ Poll Violinist Deserving Wider Recognition category he was also one of the top two jazz violinists in the 49th, 50th, and 51st Down Beat Readers’ Poll. He has performed and/or recorded with are the Duke Ellington Orchestra, Turtle Island String Quartet, Quartet Indigo, the Steve Turre Sextet, the Billy Taylor Trio, Avery Sharpe, Cecil McBee, Jay Hoggard and James Newton.
In addition to being a prominent violinist leading his own quartet, sideman and session player, John is an accomplished composer, arranger and producer as well as an author, educator and lecturer who presents hundreds of workshops annually to musicians at all levels. Violinist John Blake continues to perform, record and tour and lecture.
Tom Harrell was born on June 16, 1946 in Urbana, Illinois but by 5 was growing up in San Francisco. He started playing trumpet at eight and within five years, started playing gigs with local bands. Graduating from Stanford University with a music composition degree, he joined Stan Kenton’s orchestra, touring and recording with them throughout 1969.
After leaving Kenton, the post-bop trumpeter played with Woody Herman, Azteca, Horace Silver, the Sam Jones-Tom Harrell Big Band, the Lee Konitz Nonet, George Russell and the Mel Lewis Orchestra. Through the ‘80s he became a pivotal member of the Phil Woods Quintet making seven albums with the group.
Harrell is also plays flugelhorn and is a composer and arranger who has collaborated and recorded albums with Bill Evans, Dizzy Gillespie, Ronnie Cuber, Bob Brookmeyer, Lionel Hampton, Bob Berg, Bobby Shew, Joe Lovano, Charlie Haden’s Liberation Orchestra, Art Farmer, Charles McPherson and Kathleen Battle among others.
Since 1989 Harrell has led his own groups, usually quintets but has expanded ensembles such as chamber orchestra with strings and big bands. He has appeared at virtually every major jazz club and festival venues, and recorded under his own name for such record labels as RCA, Contemporary, Pinnacle, Blackhawk, Criss Cross, Steeplechase, Chesky and HighNote Records.
The Grammy-nominated artist has arranged and composed for Carlos Santana, Arturo O’Farrill, Metropole Orchestra and other big bands as well as his compositions being recorded by Ron Carter, Kenny Barron, Tom Scott, Chris Potter, Steve Kuhn and Hank Jones to name a few. In recent years he has formed and recorded with piano-less sextet “Colors Of A Dream” and piano-less quartet TRIP.
Despite his well-documented schizophrenia, Tom Harrell has successfully coped with the illness through medication and has become an influential figure in the jazz world. Throughout his career he has won numerous awards and grants, including multiple Trumpeter of the Year awards from Down Beat magazine, SESAC Jazz Award, BMI Composers Award, and Prix Oscar du Jazz. He has amassed a recorded discography of over 260 albums and continues to actively compose, record and tour extensively around the world.