Ian Christie was born on June 24, 1927 in Blackpool, Lancashire, England to a father who was a piano tuner and banjoist. He took lessons from Charlie Farrell but opted to join the Royal Air Force, taking up photography as his primary interest. After his brother Keith joined Humphrey Lyttleton’s band, he soon followed, finishing his photography studies with financial help from Humphrey.
During the 1950s and 1960s Ian worked extensively with Mick Mulligan and George Melly as well as playing in a number of trad jazz ensembles, and forming a group with his brother Keith, Ken Coyle and Dicky Hawdon called the Christie Brothers’ Stompers.
Throughout his career he continued to work in trad jazz ensembles into the 2000s, with the Wyre Levee Stompers, the Merseysippi & Parade Jazz Band, and the Tony Davis Band, among others. In his later years he played with Graham Tayar in his Crouch End All Stars. Aside from playing music clarinetist Ian Christie worked as a film critic for The Daily Express for over 25 years and as a photographer until his passed away on January 19, 2010.
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Wally Fawkes was born Walter Ernest Fawkes on June 21, 1924 in Vancouver, Canada. His family moved to Britain in 1931 and enthused by comic books he started out pursuing a career as a cartoonist, first enrolling in Sidcup Art School. Due to financial restraints he left school, took a job painting camouflage onto factory roofs at the onset of WWII but a bout of pleurisy kept him from service.
The Coal Commission employed Fawkes to work on maps and in 1942 he entered an art competition that was adjudicated by the Daily Mail and was found work in the Clement Davies ad agency and later at the Daily Mail drawing column-breaks and decorative illustrations.
It was during the war years that he began playing in jazz bands and because of the amount of time spent in air raid shelters that people living in London were becoming troglodytes and adopted the name for one of his first groups – Wally Fawkes and the Troglodytes. In 1947 he joined the George Webb Dixielanders, a semi-professional revivalist jazz band that featured Humphrey Lyttelton on trumpet. The two would leave and form their own group that evolved into mainstream jazz. He would record with Sidney Bechet in 1949, George Melly and John Chilton in the early Seventies.
Over the years clarinetist Wally Fawkes combined playing jazz with his love of cartooning and had a successful career in both. His political satire in the comic strip he illustrated gained praise from Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Poor eyesight retired him from cartooning at the age of 81 and he has concentrated solely on his clarinet playing.
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Anita Brown was born June 17, 1959 in South Hamilton, Massachusetts. She attended and graduated the Pingree School and Andover High School before her family moved to Long Island, New York in 1977. It was at this juncture in her life that she began studying voice, phrasing and inflection with Lennie Tristano, first imitating Billie Holiday and then singing the solos of Lester Young.
A year later she enrolled at SUNY Old Westbury, majored in Music Education, adding photography, dance and choreography to her schedule. In 1980 Anita transferred her major to the University of New Hampshire concentrating on classical piano and voice. In her junior year that she discovered her passion of conducting and by the time she graduated she had a considerable transcript of instrumental and choral conducting along with score study under her belt.
Brown began her career in conducting also in her third year at UNH as a part time band director, prior to graduation and moving back to New York. In addition to studying clarinet, she took on and mastered the trumpet, continuing to play, write and teach. By 1995 she was at the BMI Jazz Composers Workshop and building a body of work for jazz orchestra guided by Jim McNeely, Manny Albam and Mike Abene. There she composed and contributed compositions that were featured in the annual concerts and was a finalist in 2001 and 2003 Charlie Parker Composition Competitions.
In 2000 she founded the Anita Brown Jazz Orchestra, independently recording and releasing her debut CD, 27 East, to critical acclaim and was appeared in six categories on the ballot for the 46th Grammy Awards. She was the first recipient of the ASCAP/International Jazz Composers’ Symposium New Music Award for Big Band Works for her piece The Lighthouse, selected by Bob Brookmeyer, ohn Clayton and Dave Douglas.
She has written arrangements for Nnenna Freeelon, The ount Basie Orchestra, the Jon Faddis jazz Orchestra, Chiuck Owen, and the Jazz Surge, Roseana Vitro, Bobby Short and a number of New York R&B bands.
The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, the U.S. Army Jazz Ambassadors, BMI New York Jazz Orchestra and numerous college and high school jazz ensembles have performed her original works. As an educator she is on the faculty of New Jersey City University and Sara Lawrence College, and established her Composer Residency Project.
Conductor, arranger and composer Anita Brown consults planning and producing recordings and performances, has served as copyist and/or assistant to Jim McNeely, Maria Schneider, Many Albam, Don Sebesky, John Pizzarelli, the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, Carnegie Hall Jazz Band and Toshiko Akiyoshi Big Band while serving as archivist for the Gil Evans and Manny Albam estates.
Paquito D’Rivera was born on June 4, 1948 in Havana, Cuba. He performed at age 10 with the National Theater Orchestra, studied at the Havana Conservatory of Music, and at 17, became a featured soloist with the Cuban National Symphony.
Through the Sixties and Seventies Paquito was dissatisfied playing under the constraints placed on his music by a communist Cuban government that described jazz and rock as imperialist music. After meeting with Che Guevara the idea of leaving Cuba became more than a thought. In early 1981, while on tour in Spain, he sought asylum with the American Embassy, leaving his homeland, wife and child behind in search of a better life with a promise to get them out.
With family support already in the States, D’Rivera settled into the New York jazz scene and became something of a phenomenon after the release of his first two solo albums, Paquito Blowin in 1981 and Mariel the following year. Throughout his career in the U. S. his albums have hit the top of the jazz charts and have shown his ability playing bebop, classical and Latin/Caribbean music. He is the only artist to ever have won Grammy Awards in both Classical and Latin Jazz categories.
Paquito also plays with the Ying Quartet, Turtle Island String Quartet, Mark Summer, Alon Yavnai, Yo-Yo Ma, as well as the National, London, Puerto Rico, Costa Rican and Simon bolivar Symphony Orchestras and the London and Florida Philharmonic Orchestras.
With his band, Paquito D’Rivera Quintet consisting of Peruvian bassist Oscar Stagnaro, Argentinean trumpeter Diego Urcola, American drummer Mark Walker and pianist Alex Brown they have won a Latin Grammy for Best Latin Jazz Album for Live At The Blue Note for a total of seven and has also won fourteen Grammy Awards.
Alto and soprano saxophonist, clarinetist, composer and bandleader Paquito D’Rivera has to date 72 albums as a leader and another 5 as a sideman playing with Dizzy Gillespie and Lalo Schifrin. He has received the National Medal of Arts, NEA Jazz Master, Jazz Legend Award, Two honorary Doctorates, and the Presidents Award from the IAJE amongst numerous others, continues to perform, record and tour.
Sonny Fortune was born on May 19, 1939 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. After moving to New York City in 1967 he recorded and appeared live with drummer Elvin Jones’s group. In 1968 he was a member of Mongo Santamaria’s band. He subsequently performed with singer Leon Thomas and then with McCoy Tyner from 1971–1973.
In 1974 Sonny replaced Dave Liebman in Miles Davis’s ensemble and remained until spring 1975. He went on to join Nat Adderley after his brief tenure with Davis, and then formed his own group, recording two albums for A&M’s Horizon label. During the 1990s, he recorded several acclaimed albums for Blue Note.
Alto saxophonist and flautist Sonny Fortune also plays the soprano, tenor and baritone saxophone and clarinet. He has performed with Roy Brooks, Buddy Rich, George Benson, Rabih Abou Khalil, Roy Ayers, Oliver Nelson, Gary Bartz, Rashied Ali and Pharoah Sanders, and was a part of the live album The Atlantic Family Live at Montreux. He continues to perform, record and tour.