Jay Cameron was born on September 14, 1928 in New York City and began as an alto saxophonist only to later record with bass and B-flat clarinet and baritone saxophone.
He began his career in the early 1940s in Hollywood with Ike Carpenter‘s band, with whom he played until 1947. He moved to Europe near the end of the decade and played with Rex Stewart, Bill Coleman, Roy Haynes and Henri Renaud in France and Italy. In the early 1950s Cameron gigged around Belgium, Germany, and Scandinavia and by 1955 he played steadily in Paris, France with a band that included Bobby Jaspar, Barney Wilen and Jean-Louis Chautemps.
Returning to the United States in 1956, Jay played in bands led by Woody Herman and Slide Hampton as well as collaborations with Chet Baker, Dizzy Gillespie, Maynard Ferguson, Freddie Hubbard, Candido Camero, Bill Barron, André Hodeir, Hal McKusick, and Les and Larry Elgart.
He was the leader of the International Sax Band and the Third Herdsmen. And in the late 1960s he toured with Paul Winter. He continued to be an active musician and advocate for jazz programming and education throughout his life. Baritone saxophonist and reed player Jay Cameron passed away on March 20, 2001 in San Diego, California.
Putte Wickman was born Hans Olof Wickman on September 10, 1924 in Falun, Sweden and grew up in Borlänge, Sweden, where his parents hoped he would become a lawyer. He nagged them to allow him to go to high school in Stockholm. Arriving in the capital at 15 not knowing what jazz was, and not having access to a piano his mother gave him a clarinet and by then he had started to hang out with those with jazz records.
With Artie Shaw and Benny Goodman as his role models by 1944, he had already turned to music full-time. He was taken on as band leader at Stockholm’s Nalen and in 1945 the newly founded Swedish newspaper Expressen described him as the country’s foremost clarinet player.
For eleven years Putte led his own band at Nalen and during the 1960s he ran the big band at Gröna Lund, and at Puttes, the club he part-owned, at Hornstull in Stockholm. He gave church performances and concerts yearly and stayed active until shortly before his death. In 1994, Wickman received the Illis Quorum gold medal, the highest award that can be conferred upon an individual Swedish citizen by the Government of Sweden.
Clarinetist Putte Wickman, who considered himself self-taught having never taken a classes on the instrument and a member of the Royal Swedish Musical Academy, passed away on 14 February 2006 in Grycksbo, Sweden.
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Lester Boone was born August 12, 1904 in Tuskegee, Alabama and studied at the Illinois College of Music before beginning his career in the Chicago bands of Alex Calamese, Charlie Elgar, Clarence Black and Carroll Dickerson. At the end of the 1920s he played in Albert Wynn’s Creole jazz band and on his recording Down by the Levee for Vocalion Records.
The following years he worked with Harry Dial, got his first big break playing with Earl Hines, and by the early Thirties was hitting with Louis Armstrong. He then moved on to play with Jerome Carrington, Emperor Marshall, Eubie Blake, the Mills Blue Rhythm Band and Jelly Roll Morton. Bouncing between Chicago and New York City he played with trumpeter Hot Lips Page and Eddie South. By 1941 he was accompanying Billie Holiday on her recording session of Am I Blue? on the Decca label.
With Tom Lord he was involved in 24 recording sessions between 1928 and 1941. From the early 1940s into the Sixties he played in New York with his own bands including with Everett Barksdale at clubs such as Harvey’s and the Lucky Bar.
Alto and baritone saxophonist and clarinetist Lester Boone, who had the honor of having the great Satchmo personally introduce his solo in that unmistakable growly voice of his, passed away in 1989.
Fletcher Allen was born on July 25, 1905 in Cleveland, Ohio and began his career in the mid-’20s as a member of Lloyd Scott’s Band in New York City. In 1927, he was off to Europe for the first time in a group under the direction of Leon Abbey, a bandleader whose pioneering efforts with jazz eventually led to a 1936 tour of India which he also participated in. In between, he went to Budapest with the Benny Peyton group in 1929 and hung out in Europe the following decade. While in Europe he performed on several collaborations with guitarist Django Reinhardt, among others.
Reinhardt recorded some of his arrangements and compositions, including the intoxicating Viper’s Dream. Allen also took advantage of the European base to take part in several tours involving top American performers such as Louis Armstrong, Freddy Taylor and Leon Abbey in the ’30s. It was during this time that he began leading his own band.
By 1938, he began performing with Benny Carter, something of a doppelgänger in that both men played alto saxophone and clarinet and had excellent reputations as arrangers and shows up several times in the extensive Carter discography. He went on to Later that year, Allen went to Egypt as a member of the Harlem Rhythmakers group during an era when American jazz musicians held court at swank Cairo hotels, a situation that would be quite inconceivable in modern times.
As World War II escalated Fletcher returned home to the States and at first found little work but eventually left the docks when he found that his new skills on baritone sax meant work filling in the sections of various New York big bands. His last job of any notoriety began in the early 70s with the big band of Fred “Taxi” Mitchell, meaning he was one New Yorker who always managed to find a taxi.
Saxophonist, clarinetist and composer Fletcher Allen, whose composition Viper’s Dream has become a jazz staple, passed away on August 5, 1995.
Karel Krautgartner was born on July 20, 1922 in Mikulov, Moravia and began to play piano at the age of eight. In 1935, after moving to Brno, he found interest mainly in the radio broadcasting and especially in jazz. He began to study clarinet privately with Stanislav Krtička, acquiring necessary skills and inherited a fanatic passion for clarinet construction and its components.
In 1936 Krautgartner founded the student orchestra Quick Band and six years later signed his first professional contract as a saxophonist in the Gustav Brom Orchestra in the hotel Passage in Brno. In 1943 he gradually created Dixie Club and started to arrange in the Benny Goodman and Glenn Miller styles. During 1945 – 1955, the core of the Dixie Club moved gradually to Prague and became a part of Karel Vlach orchestra. Karel became leader of the saxophone section and started to contributing his own compositions.
1956 saw him founding the Karel Krautgartner Quintet along with Karel Velebný. The group played in various line-ups modern jazz, swing, dixieland and accompanied popular singers. From 1958 to 1960 he performed with the All star band, an orchestra playing in west-coast style, and dixieland with Studio 5. Between 1960 and 1968 he became the head of the Taneční Orchestr Československého Rozhlasu (Dance Orchestra of Czechoslovakia Radio), renamed to Karel Krautgartner Orchestra in 1967.
Following the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, he emigrated to Vienna, Austria in 1968 and became the chief conductor of the 0RF Bigband. Later he moved to Cologne, Germany. Clarinetist, saxophonist, arranger, composer, conductor and teacher Karel Krautgartner passed away on September 20, 1982 in Germany.