Edward Ernest Sauter was born December 2, 1914 in Brooklyn, New York and studied music at Columbia University and the Juilliard School. He began as a drummer and then played trumpet professionally, most notably with Red Norvo’s orchestra, eventually becoming Norvo’s full-time arranger.
Eddie went on to arrange and compose for Artie Shaw, Tommy Dorsey, Woody Herman and Benny Goodman, earning a reputation for intricate, complex, and carefully crafted works such as Benny Rides Again, Moonlight on the Ganges and Clarinet a la King.
From 1952 to 1958 he co-led the Sauter-Finegan Orchestra and between 1957 and 1959 he was Kurt Edelhagen’s successor as leader of the SWF Orchestra in Baden-Baden, Germany. By 1961, he was working with tenor saxophonist Stan Getz on Focus, a unique collaboration of string compositions, and featuring drummer Roy Haynes on I’m Late, I’m Late, the only selection to feature a non-string instrument other than Getz. They collaborated again during Sauter’s work composing the score for the 1965 film Mickey One, starring Warren Beatty.
He would venture into composing for television including the third season theme to Rod Serling’s Night Gallery. He also orchestrated a number of Broadway musicals, most notably 1776, but also The Apple Tree and It’s a Bird…It’s a Plane…It’s Superman. His composition World Without Time is used as the theme music for the public affairs show The Open Mind.
Composer, arranger, drummer and trumpeter Eddie Sauter, who was prominent during the swing era, passed away of a heart attack in New York City on April 21, 1981.
Alvin Burroughs was born on November 21, 1911 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He played in Kansas City, Missouri with Walter Page’s Blue Devils in 1928-29 and then joined Alphonse Trent’s territory band before moving to Chicago, Illinois around 1930.
Through the Thirties he went on to play with Hal Draper’s Arcadians, Horace Henderson and Earl Hines with whom he recorded extensively. By the 1940s Burroughs worked with Bill Harris, Milt Larkin, Benny Carter and Red Allen, in addition to leading his own groups. He was in George Dixon’s quartet in 1950 when he died of a heart attack.
Swing drummer Alvin Burroughs, who never recorded as a leader, passed away on August 1, 1950.
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Ben Thigpen was born Benjamin F. Thigpen on November 16, 1908 in Laurel, Mississippi. He played piano as a child and was trained by his sister Eva. He played in South Bend, Indiana with Bobby Boswell in the 1920s before moving to Chicago, Illinois to study under Jimmy Bertrand.
Chicago saw Ben playing with many noted Chicago bandleaders and performers, including Doc Cheatham. He played with Charlie Elgar’s Creole Band from 1927 to 1929 but never recorded with them. Following this he spent time in Cleveland, Ohio with J. Frank Terry, and then became the drummer for Andy Kirk’s Clouds of Joy, where he stayed from 1930 to 1947.
Much of his work is available on collections highlighting the piano work of Mary Lou Williams, who also played in this ensemble. After his time performing and recording with Kirk, his career was not well documented and it appears that he never recorded as a leader. He did however, lead his own quintet in St. Louis, Missouri, recorded with Mary Lou Williams, Booker Collins and Ted Robinson and also recorded Dixieland with Singleton Palmer in the 1960s.
Drummer Ben Thigpen, father of Ed Thigpen, who followed in his footsteps, passed away on October 5, 1971.
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Ari Hoenig was born on November 13, 1973 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and was exposed to music very young, being his father is a conductor and classical vocalist, his mother a violinist and pianist. He began studying the violin and piano at age four, playing the drums by twelve and by fourteen was honing his skill with young jazz musicians in Philadelphia clubs.
He would go on to matriculate through the University of North Texas, become a member of the One O’Clock Lab Band, then wanting to be closer to the action in New York City, he transferred to William Patterson University in northern New Jersey. It wasn’t long before Ari began playing with fellow Philadelphia native Shirley Scott and gigging around the City.
Moving to Brooklyn found him playing with Jean Michel Pilc, Kenny Werner, Chris Potter, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Joshua Redman, Wayne Krantz, Mike Stern, Richard Bona, Pat Martino, Bojan Z, Dave Liebman, Tigran Hamasyan, Ethan Iverson, Mark Turner and Fred Hersch.
He has shared the stage with Herbie hancock, Ivan Lins, Wynton Marsalis, Toots Thielemans, Dave Holland, Joe Lovano and Gerry Mulligan. In 2005 Hoenig appeared with his group at the Dominican Republic Jazz Festival.
He released his debut album Jazzheads as a leader in 1999, followed up by Time Travels in 2000 and The Life of a Day in 2002. He has nine albums out to date and has had several articles and reviews written in about him in Drummerworld, Down Beat, All About Jazz and other publications.
As an educator he teaches privately and is on the faculty of New York University, the New School for Social Research, and has released several educational and instructional manuals and videos about drumming. Drummer, composer and educator Ari Hoenig continues to perform, record and tour, leading a quintet, nonet and trio.
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Lester William DeMerle was born on November 4, 1946 in Brooklyn , New York and studied drums and percussion from 1960 to 1965 with Bob Livngstone in New York, then music theory and harmony with Alf Clausen . At 16 he was jamming with Lionel Hampton and in 1966 he played with the Lee Castle led Dorsey band.
1967 found Les with Randy Brecker and Arnie Lawrence in the first band formation called Sound 67. By the late 1960s he joined with Joe Farrell and Lee Konitz in New York. By 1971 Les was moving to Los Angeles,California where he founded the band Transfusion, that became the house band at the Cellar Theatre. He also played with Michael Brecker, Eric Marienthal, David Benoit and Raul De Souza. In 1974 he joined Harry James at the Newport Jazz Festival and stayed for 12 years.
He recorded with the Heath Brothers on the album Smilin’ Billy Suite / A Day in the Life in 1976 on the Strata-East label, worked with Bunk Gardner and in the 1980s he worked on albums with his wife Bonnie Eisele. DeMerle has led big bands and made a series of albums on the Origin label including a tribute album to the classic Blue Note Records, Hittin’ the Blue Notes.
Les DeMerle is one of the few drummers who sings. He has accompanied Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Tony Bennett, Sarah Vaughan, Mel Tormé and Eddie Jefferson. He continues to perform, record and tour.