Guy Warren, also known as Kofi Ghanaba was born Warren Gamaliel Kpakpo Akwei in Accra, Ghana on May 4, 1923. Educated at the Government Boys’ School, his interest in music had him playing in the school band. After passing with distinction he enrolled as a student/founder at Ordorgonno Secondary School in 1940 and also joined the Accra Rhythmic Orchestra under Yeboah Mensah as a drummer.
He won a government teacher training scholarship to Achimota College, Accra, in 1941 with the intention of becoming a teacher at his father’s school. By 1943 Warren had enlisted in the Office of Strategic Services, a branch of the United States Army that dealt with overt and covert operations in World War II. Returning to Accra he went on to become a reporter and then held various journalistic positions before beginning to broadcast jazz programmes while working at the Gold Coast Broadcasting Service under the name Guy Warren, which he continued using for the next three decades.
Teaming up with E. T. Mensah and others they formed The Tempos, considered the greatest jazz band in Africa. In 1955 Guy left for Chicago, Illinois to join the Gene Esposito Band as co-leader, percussionist and arranger. With them he recorded his first album, Africa Speaks, America Answers on the Decca label in 1956. And confirmed his reputation as the musician who established the African presence in jazz. During his American stay, he met and worked with Duke Ellington, Max Roach, Charlie Parker, Louis Armstrong and many other leading jazz musicians.
By 1974 he had returned to Ghana, and changed his name to Ghanaba. In the 1990s, he played a role in the film Sankofa, Ghanaba continued to make music until his death. Drummer Guy Warren, pioneer of the African renaissance and author of I Have A Story To Tell that chronicled his sojourn in America, passed away on December 22, 2008.
Thilo Berg was born April 23, 1959 in Dortmund, Germany and attracted attention in the 1980s, as a modern jazz drummer and big band leader. He has produced and organized more than 700 jazz, classical, R&B and soul events. Besides his own productions, he worked on large industry concerts as well as kick-off meetings and social events.
Berg completed studies as a classical percussionist with Herrmann Gschwendtner and held the position of solo timpanist and percussionist in the Southwest German Radio Symphony Orchestra and the German between 1981 and 2008. Having worked in various bands, in 1986 he formed his big band, performing with guest soloists such as Barbara Dennerlein, Ack van Rooyen, Jiggs Whigham, Barbara Morrison, Silvia Droste, Jim Snidero, Slide Hampton, Bob Mintzer, Art Farmer and Bill Ramsey.
Over seven year together they recorded three albums and the band saw coming through its ranks Till Brönner, Paul Heller, Peter Weniger, Ludwig Nuss, Mark Nightingale, Gerald Presencer, Martin Shaw, Hubert Nuss and Thilo Wagner.He also worked in smaller groups with Jack van Poll, Bobby Shew, Heiner Franz, John Gordon, Elaine Delmare and Curtis Fuller.
Drummer Thilo Berg founded the jazz and classical music label Mons Records in 1991, has worked as a music producer for Sony Music, BMG, Columbia and Universal, and continues to perform, record and produce.
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Daniel Richard Gottlieb was born in New York City on April 18, 1953. Taking lessons from Mel Lewis and Joe Morello, he graduated from the University of Miami in 1975. He became a member of the Gary Burton Quartet in 1976 with Pat Metheny, and then was one of the original members of The Pat Metheny Group from 1977–1983. Bassist Mark Egan, who was also in Metheny’s first group, teamed with Gottlieb and formed the band Elements. In 1984 he was a member of the Mahavishnu Orchestra led by guitarist John McLaughlin.
Gottlieb performed or recorded with dozens of musicians not limited to Bill Evans, Branford Marsalis, Jacqui Naylor, Chick Corea, Randy Brecker, Stan Getz, Clark Terry, Ernie Wilkins, Gerry Mulligan, Joanne Brackeen, Herbie Hancock, Hiram Bullock, Booker T and the MG’s, Hubert Laws, Lew Soloff, Jim Hall, Jimmy Haslip, Nnenna Freelon, John Scofield, Bobby McFerrin, Kenny Barron, Larry Coryell, Eddie Gómez, Mark Murphy, Miroslav Vitous, Naná Vasconcelos, Ali Ryerson, Nguyên Lê, Rufus Reid, Sting and Wayne Shorter, as well as the Carnegie Hall Jazz Orchestra, NDR Big Band, Trio, Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, Gil Evans Orchestra and WDR Big Band.
In 2004 he became the drummer for Gary Sinise’s Lt. Dan Band. He has performed on over 400 albums, earned nine Grammy Award nominations and four wins, is on the faculty of the University of North Florida as a full-time Professor of Jazz Studies. Drummer Danny Gottlieb has made over ten instructional DVDs, wrote the textbook The Evolution of Jazz Drumming, and continues to perform and record.
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Edward Soph was born on March 21, 1945, in Coronado, California and was raised in Houston, Texas. In 1963 he e enrolled at North Texas State University, now the University of North Texas, as a music major, but switched his concentration to English during his sophomore year. While at UNT, he performed with the One O’Clock Lab Band, as well as summer tenures with the Glenn Miller Orchestra and Stan Kenton. Graduating in 1968 he joined Woody Herman upon a recommendation from Cannonball Adderley.
Moving to New York City in 1971, Ed began performing and recording freelance with the bands of Clark Terry, Bill Watrous and Woody Herman, Bill Evans, Marvin Stamm, Randy Brecker, Joe Henderson, Pat LaBarbera, Bill Mays, Cedar Walton, Dave Liebman, Chris Potter, Carl Fontana and Slide Hampton, among others.
As an educator Soph pursued a teaching career on the faculty at The Jamey Aebersold Jazz Workshops, The National Stage Band Camps and The University of Bridgeport. Returning to Texas in 1987 he is currently a Professor in the Jazz Studies and Performance divisions of the College of Music at the University of North Texas in Denton, Texas. Some of his students have been Ari Hoenig, Keith Carlock, Joel Rosenblatt, Jason Sutter and Dave Weckl.
Drummer Ed Soph is currently an Artist Clinician for Yamaha Corporation, the Avedis Zildjian Company, Evans Drumheads and Innovative Percussion. He continues to perform and record.
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Allan Ganley was born on March 11, 1931 in Tolworth, Surrey, England and was a self-taught drummer. In the early 1950s Ganley played in the dance band led by Bert Ambrose. In 1953 he came to prominence as a member of Johnny Dankworth’s band, then the most popular modern jazz group in the UK. Throughout the 1950s, he worked with pianist Derek Smith, Dizzy Reece, clarinettist Vic Ash, Ronnie Scott and with visiting American musicians. Towards the end of the decade he was co-leader with Ronnie Ross of a small group known as the Jazzmakers.
By the early 1960s, Ganley was often performing with Tubby Hayes, with his small groups or occasionally assembling a big band. He was the house drummer at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club and played with numerous Americans including Dizzy Gillespie, Stan Getz, Jim Hall, Freddie Hubbard and Rahsaan Roland Kirk. By the early 1970s he took time out to study at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts, then returned to the UK to form and lead a big band, which he maintained sporadically for ten years.
Throughout the Seventies and ’80s and Nineties, Allan appeared on many broadcasts and recording dates, playing jazz and effortlessly slipping from traditional to post-bop to big band to mainstream, all the while swinging with great subtlety. He accompanied pianists as different as Teddy Wilson and Al Haig and for singers from Carol Kidd to Blossom Dearie.
As an arranger, he provided charts for many leading British jazzmen and for the BBC Radio Big Band, thus enhancing the enormous yet understated contribution he made to the British jazz scene over the years. Drummer and arranger Allan Ganley passed away on March 29, 2008.
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