Marc Alan Johnson was born on October 21, 1953 in Omaha, Nebraska but grew up in Texas. By the age of 19, he was working professionally with the Fort Worth Symphony, and during his matriculation at the University of North Texas, he played in the One O’Clock Lab Band and was also the principal bassist in the NTSU Symphony.
1978 saw Johnson joining pianist Bill Evans in what would be Evans’s last trio. He toured and recorded with Evans until the pianist’s death in 1980. In 2007 together with his wife Eliane Elias, he released an Evans tribute album, Something For You.
Marc has recorded albums with Joe Lovano, Michael Brecker, Stan Getz, Bob Brookmeyer, Gary Burton, John Abercrombie, Bill Frisell, Pat Metheny, Eliane Elias, Enrico Pieranunzi, Charles Lloyd, Joey Baron, Philly Joe Jones, Jack DeJohnette, Peter Erskine, Lee Konitz, Paul Motian, Joe Lovano, Toots Thielemans and the list goes on.
As a leader he led Bass Desires, a quartet with Bill Frisell, John Scofield and Peter Erskine, recording several albums for JMT, Verve and ECM record labels. He has received the Danish Music Award for Best Foreign Release, and bassist Marc Johnson continues to collaborate with Eliane as well as compose, record, perform and tour.
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Beverly Peer was born on October 7, 1912 in New York City and started out playing piano professionally early in his career before switching to bass. He worked with Chick Webb from 1936 to 1939 and continued to play in the orchestra under the direction of Ella Fitzgerald.
In 1942 he joined the Sabby Lewis Orchestra and also worked extensively as an accompanist for Sarah Vaughan, Lena Horne, Johnny Mathis, and Barbra Streisand among others. The 1950s and 1960s saw him working with pianists Barbara Carroll and Ellis Larkins. Performing with Bobby Short from the 1970s into the 1990s, Peer was often heard performing with him at the Cafe Carlyle in New York City.
Among his many recording sessions were Ella Fitzgerald’s release Ella Sings, Chick Swings with the Chick Webb Orchestra and Lucky Thompson & His Lucky Seven with Harold “Money” Johnson, Jimmy Powell, Clarence Williams, Earl Knight, Beverly Peer and Percy Brice.
Aside from music, late in his career Peer also had cameo roles in films such as Hannah and Her Sisters and For Love or Money. Double bassist Beverly Peer passed away on January 16, 1997.
Edgar Gómez was born October 4, 1944 in Santurce, Puerto Rico and emigrating with his family at a young age arrived in New York City, where he was raised. He started on double bass in the City’s school system at the age of eleven and at age thirteen went to the New York City High School of Music & Art. He played in the Newport Festival Youth Band, led by Marshall Brown from 1959 to 1961, and graduated from Juilliard in 1963.
Gómez has performed with Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Gerry Mulligan, John Coltrane, New York Art Quartet, Benny Goodman, Buck Clayton, Ahmad Jamal, Bill Bruford, Scott LaFaro, Marian McPartland, Paul Bley, Michael Brecker, Wayne Shorter, Steps Ahead, Steve Gadd, Ron Carter, Jeremy Steig, Herbie Hancock, Tony Williams, Al Foster, Chick Corea, Mark Kramer, Eugenio Toussaint and Carli Muñoz, just to name a few giants.
Spending a total of eleven years with the Bill Evans Trio and touring the United States, Europe and Asia, as well as recording dozens of albums, in which two of the Trio’s recordings won Grammy awards. Though Eddie was a member of the Manhattan Jazz Quintet and Steps Ahead, most of his career has been as an accompanist, a position suited for his quick reflexes and flexibility. This gave him the opportunity to record some 73 albums above and beyond his projects as a leader.
He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Music from Berklee College of Music in Valencia, Spain, and was the first honorary doctorate granted at the college’s new international campus. Double bassist Eddie Gómez continues to perform, record and tour.
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Mark Helias was born on October 1, 1950 in New Brunswick, New Jersey and did not begin playing the double bass until the age of 20. He graduated from Yale University’s School of Music with a Masters degree in 1976 and went on to study at Rutgers University. In the late Seventies he, along with Gerry Hemingway on drums, put together BassDrumBone, and continuing to play together. The 80s saw him again with Hemingway and trombonist Ray Anderson where he led the avant-funk band Slickaphonics.
Helias performed with the previous members of Ornette Colemans original band, Don Cherry, Dewey Redman, and Ed Blackwell. Mark also performed with AACM affiliates Anthony Braxton, Anthony Davis, Muhal Richard Abrams, and Julius Hemphill. Furthermore, he played with Cecil Taylor, Marilyn Crispell, Simon Nabatov, and reed players Oliver Lake, Carlos Ward, Arthur Blythe, Don Byron, and Marty Ehrlich, among others. He also had performances with Abbey Lincoln, Mose Allison, and J.B. Horns.
Since 1984 he has released six recordings under his own name and further six albums leading the archetypal improvising trio Open Loose since 1996. The group comprises Helias on bass, first Ellery Eskelin, then Tony Malaby on tenor saxophone and Tom Rainey on drums.
Bassist Mark Helias has received six NEA Grants in Jazz Performance, two NYFA Grant in Music Composition, teaches at Sarah Lawrence College, The New School, and SIM (School for Improvised Music) when not performing, composing or recording.
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Joe Mudele also Joe Muddel was born on September 30, 1920 in Downham in the south-east of London, England. His father died in 1931 following the consequences of a war and after leaving school at the age of 14, he worked as a singer in a cinema and soon played in local bands. He served in the RAF during the Second World War where he had lessons with James Merritt, contrabassist at the Philharmonia Orchestra.
1946 saw Mudele beginning to work as a professional musician, initially as a member of the Tito Burns Sextet. He met Ronnie Scott and John Dankworth and with them he belonged to the group of musicians who held the first bebop sessions as Club Eleven. To listen to Charlie Parker he attended the Festival International 1949 de Jazz and had the opportunity to play two numbers with Parker and his drummer Max Roach.
At the beginning of the 1950s, Mudele was a member of the Club Eleven Johnny Dankworth Seven but he soon left for family reasons to work the Coconut Grove nightclub in London’s West End. He toured with musicians like Hoagy Carmichael, Sophie Tucker, Judy Garland and Billy Eckstine. In 1951, he formed his own band with saxophonist Joe Harriott.
In the 1940s and 1950s, Alan Dean, Ralph Sharon, Larry Adler, Humphrey Lyttelton, Tommy Whittle, the Melody Maker All Stars in 1952 and 1955, and George Chisholm and Sid Phillips. In the 1960s, he recorded with Johnnie Spence and Alan Branscombe while his last recordings under his own name were made with pianist Robin Aspland and Geoff Gascoyne on drums.
Between 1948 and 2010 he performed on radio and television with Mantovani, Cilla Black, Yehudi Menuhin, Stéphane Grappelli, and the Big Ben Banjo Band, and the Sing Something Simple radio program. He also played regularly at the Bexley Jazz Club.
He recorded some 52 jazz recording sessions, however, outside the jazz he also played on recordings with Johnny Mercer, Barry Gray, John Williams and the Cliff Adams Singers. Bassist Joe Mudele, one of the pioneers of bebop in England, passed away on March 7, 2014.
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