Ranee Lee was born October 26, 1942 and raised in Brooklyn, New York. She performed as a singer while in high school and after graduation she began her professional career as a dancer, and during the Seventies began playing drums and saxophone with various touring groups in the U.S. and Canada.
Settling in Montreal she turned to the stage starring in Lady Day as Billie Holiday, winning a Dora Mavor Moore Award and singing took over her past musical endeavors. She began recording and released her first album Deep Song in 1989 with bassist Milt Hinton and Oliver Jones followed up with her sophomore project Jazz On Broadway with Red Mitchell.
Over the years with numerous releases Ranee has become one of Canada’s most popular jazz vocalists and was named a member of the Order of Canada in 2006, the second highest order of merit. Her music appears in the animated short film, Black Soul, and has won a 2010 Juno Award for her album Ranee Lee Lives Upstairs.
An accomplished author, Lee has written children’s books, has performed on stage, television, film and jazz festivals, has sat on the faculty of the University of Laval in Quebec City for seven years and The Schulich School of Music of McGill University. She continues to record, perform and tour.
J. C. Heard was born James Charles Heard on October 8, 1917 in Dayton, Ohio. A very supportive drummer, versatile enough to fit comfortably into swing, bop and blues settings, he landed his first important professional job with Teddy Wilson in 1939. This kicked off a long and fruitful career.
By 1946 he was recording with top bop musicians such as Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and Dexter Gordon. Heard would go on to lead his own groups and in the Fifties spent a few years in Japan. Late in the decade he returned to New York and freelanced, even reuniting with Teddy Wilson in ’61.
Throughout his career J. C. would play, record and tour with Lena Horne, Coleman Hawkins, Cab Calloway, Benny Carter, Erroll Garner, Jazz At The Philharmonic, Pete Johnson, Sir Charles Thompson and Roy Eldridge among others.
In 1966 J.C. Heard moved to Detroit, worked as a bandleader and a mentor to younger musicians into the mid-’80s and passed away on September 27, 1988 in Royal Oak, Michigan.
More Posts: drums
Sherrie Maricle was born Sharon Lee Maricle on September 2, 1963 in Buffalo, New York. She began playing drums professionally performing locally with Slam Stewart while studying music at SUNY-Binghamton. She then attended New York University where she completed a Masters in Jazz Performance and a Doctorate of Philosophy in Jazz Performance and Composition.
Maricle directed Saturday jam sessions at the Village Gate from 1987 until the venue closed in 1993. Beginning in 1987, she also began collaborating and leading small groups with Peter Appleyard. In the late 1980’s, she was appointed director of percussion studies at NYU.
By the 1990’s Sherrie was performing with the New York Pops, Clark Terry, Al Grey and began working with the group DIVA, currently leading the DIVA Jazz Orchestra, the DIVA Jazz Trio, and the quintet Five Play.
As an educator she teaches on the jazz faculty of the New York State Summer Music Festival, as well as running her own private drum and percussion studio. In 2009, she received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival. Drummer Sherrie Maricle continues to perform, tour and record.
More Posts: drums
Lex Humphries was born on August 22, 1936 in New York City and passed away on July 11, 1994 in his hometown. A jazz drummer, he worked with two musicians known for mixing world music with jazz: Sun Ra and Yusef Lateef. As a member of Sun Ra’s “Arkestra” he appeared in the film Space Is The Place.
Humphries played on the Giant Steps sessions with John Coltrane. The renditions he and Cedar Walton recorded with Coltrane were released as alternative tracks in 1974. He was also the first drummer in the Art Farmer and Benny Golson Jazztet, appearing on their first album titled Meet The Jazztet in 1960.
Between 1959 and 1973 Lex also played and recorded albums with Donald Byrd, John Coltrane including The Heavyweight Champion: The Complete Atlantic Recordings, Dizzy Gillespie, Yusef Lateef, Wes Montgomery, Duke Pearson, Sonny Red, Chet Baker, Junior Mance, Sonny Stitt, McCoy Tyner and Doug Watkins among numerous others.
The understated drummer and solid bebopper cited Philly Joe Jones as his only influence. He was also a member of the band that accompanied Leon Thomas, and amassed a catalogue of over 70 sessions and was a steady collaborator. Though his reputation was firmly established, Lex Humphries, however, only rated a mere five lines in Leonard Feather’s Encyclopedia of Jazz.
More Posts: drums
Alvin Queen was born in the Bronx, New York on August 16, 1950. He studied drums as a child and at 16 played for Ruth Brown, Don Benny Green and guitarist Tiny Grimes in 1969. He was asked to replace Billy Cobham and started his tenure in the Horace Silver Quintet.
He has played with the George Benson Quartet and worked with Charles Tolliver on several occasions, rejoining him in 1971. During the Seventies, he lived in Canada, before settling in Switzerland in 1979 and creating the label Nilva, an anagram of his first name.
Over the course of his career he has played with the likes of Michael Brecker, Kenny Drew, Bennie Wallace, Johnny Griffin, Eddie Lockjaw Davis, Pharaoh Sanders, John Patton and George Coleman among others. His who’s who list continues with Ray Drummond, John Hicks, Billy Saxton, Dusko Goykovich and James Spaulding as well as a host of European players in recent years.
Drummer, composer and bandleader Alvin Queen continues to perform and record, to date having nine albums under his belt as a leader.
More Posts: drums