Jerome Harris was born April 5, 1953 in Flushing, New York and was already a skilled musician by the time he entered Harvard University with the intent of becoming a psychiatrist. During his college years he became known as a guitarist on campus who played in a variety of bands, from R&B to free jazz, including a fusion band with fellow student, drummer Akira Tana.
After graduation he decided to focus on music full-time and first began appearing on recordings during the late ’70s. He came to prominence in 1978 playing bass guitar and guitar with tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins, with whom he would perform and record intermittently until the mid-1990s. Jerome went on to work with drummers Jack DeJohnette, Paul Motian, Bob Moses, David Krakauer, Ray Anderson, Amina Claudine Myers, Don Byron and Marty Ehrlich among others.
He has recorded four albums as a bandleader for Muse, Polygram, New World and Stereophile record labels. His recording sideman duties have been wth Robert Dick, Bill Frisell, Julius Hemphill, Hank Roberts, Pheeroah Aklaff, Kenny Werner, Malias, Ned Rothenberg, George Russell and Bob Stewart, to name a few.
In addition to performing he played a major role in a 1999 New York City tribute concert to Joni Mitchell, in which he wrote many of the transcriptions and arrangements. He has toured internationally in various ensembles to Japan with Rollins, the Middle East and India with Jay Hoggard, Africa with Oliver Lake and the United States with Bob Previte’s Latin for Travelers. Guitarist and bassist Jerome Harris continues to perform, record and tour.
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Jackie King was born on March 22, 1944 in San Antonio, Texas and took his first music lessons from his guitarist father, starting on mandolin and quickly switching to guitar, playing left handed. By the time he was 12, he was performing professionally around his hometown.
In the 1960s, childhood friend Doug Sahm convinced him to join him in San Francisco’s burgeoning psychedelic music scene. With saxophonist Martin Fierro, he formed the Shades of Joy, a jazz-rock fusion group that released a pair of albums, including music for the soundtrack of the cult film El Topo.
In demand as a sideman and session player, King backed Chet Baker and Sonny Stitt and recorded on albums by Merl Saunders and other artists. At the invitation of jazz guitarist and educator Howard Roberts, he joined the teaching staff of the Guitar Institute of Technology in Los Angeles, California. A year later he started his own Southwest Guitar Conservatory in San Antonio. And after seven years, he closed the school to devote more time to his performing career as a soloist and with Nelson’s band.
Jackie received an honorary master’s degree from San Francisco State University, served on the board of the Music Teachers’ Association of California, taught jazz guitar clinics, lectured at the Berklee School of Music and was featured in a series of instructional books and DVDs. He also wrote articles in Jazz Times, All About Jazz and Just Jazz Guitar.
During his career, he shared stages with such guitarists as Jerry Garcia, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Les Paul, Barney Kessel, Tal Farlow, Pat Martino, Herb Ellis and Lenny Breau. In 1999, he released the solo album “Moon Magic” and recorded an as yet unreleased album with jazz pianist Marian McPartland.
Guitarist, songwriter and educator Jackie King, who was equally at home playing jazz, rock or country music, passed away on January 27, 2016 after suffering a heart attack at his home in San Rafael, California. He was 71.
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Bill Frisell was born William Richard Frisell on March 18, 1951 in Baltimore, Maryland, but spent most of his youth in the Denver, Colorado area. He studied clarinet with Richard Joiner of the Denver Symphony Orchestra as a youth, graduated from Denver East High School, and went to the University of Northern Colorado to study music. His original guitar teacher in Denver was Dale Bruning, then after studying with Johnny Smith and graduating from Northern Colorado, Bill went to Berklee College of Music and studied with Jon Damian and Jim Hall.
Frisell’s major break came when guitarist Pat Metheny was unable to make a recording session, and recommended Frisell to Paul Motian who was recording Psalm in 1982 for ECM Records. This led to his becoming ECM’s in-house guitar player, and worked on several albums. His first solo release was In Line, featuring solo guitar and duets with bassist Arild Andersen.
Frisell’s first group to receive much acclaim was a quartet with bassist Kermit Driscoll, drummer Joey Baronon and Hank Roberts on cello. Many other albums with larger ensembles were recorded with this trio as the core after the departure of Roberts.
In the 1980s he lived in Hoboken, New Jersey and his access to New York City had him active in the city’s music scene. He forged an early partnership with John Zorn, was a member of the quick-change band Naked City, and became known for his work in Motian’s trio, along with saxophonist Joe Lovano. By 1988 he moved to Seattle, Washington and in the early 1990s Bill made two of his best-reviewed albums: his survey of Americana with Have A Little Faith and This Land, a complementary set of originals.
Frisell has recorded with Jan Garbarek, Douglas Septemberon, Ryuchi Sakamoto, Rickie Lee Jones, Elvis Costello, Suzanne Vega, Arto Lindsay, Loudon Wainwright III, Vic chestnut, Van dyke Parks, Buddy Miller, Ron Sexsmith, Chip Taylor, Fred Hersch, John Pizzarelli, Matt Chamberlain, Tucker Martine and Lee Townsend among others.
He has branched out by performing soundtracks to silent films of Buster Keaton, provided music for his friend Gary Larson’s TV version of The Far Side, contributed music to the 2000 film Finding Forrester, and has won a Grammy in 2005. Over the past decade guitarist Bill Frisell, who also plays clarinet and tenor saxophone, has continuously performed, recorded and toured.
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Gábor Szabó was born Szabó Gábor István on March 8, 1936 in Budapest, Hungary and began playing guitar at the age of 14, inspired by jazz music heard on Voice of America. He escaped Hungary in 1956, the year of the attempted revolt against Soviet dominated Communist rule, and moved to the United States. Once there he attended the Berklee School of Music.
In 1958, he was invited to perform at the Newport Jazz Festival. He then went on to perform with the quintet of Southern California drummer Chico Hamilton from 1961 to 1965, playing what has been described as chamber jazz, with “a moderate avant-gardism. In 1962 and 1963, Hamilton’s bands cut two albums consisting entirely of saxophonist Charles Lloyd compositions. The title track of Man From Two Worlds featured Szabó’s guitar on top of a propulsive beat, parrying with Lloyd’s tenor sax.
Throughout the Sixties and Seventies he cut a span of albums as a leader for Impulse! Record label, co-founded the short-lived Skye Records with Cal Tjader and Gary McFarland, recorded an album with Lena Horne, and performed and recorded with The California Dreamers, Ron Carter, Paul Desmond and Bobby Womack. His playing also influenced guitarist Carlos Santana witnessed by Szabó’s mid-1960s jazz/gypsy guitar work in his Gypsy Queen and Santana’s Black Magic Woman.
He would go on to be label mates with George Benson at CTI, became affiliated with the Church of Scientology and signed in November 1978 with their Vanguard Artists International that brought its own set of troubles to his career, eventually ended uo with cross-suits aimed at both parties. He recorded twenty-four albums as a leader, and also worked with Steve Allen, Coke Escovedo and Santana, infusing jazz, pop-rock and his native Hungarian music.
Despite his influence on jazz music and the caliber of players with whom he performed, Gábor Szabó, who felt he was never fully accepted as a jazz artist in the United States, passed away on February 26, 1982 in his hometown, Budapest.
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Ron Mathewson was born 19 February 1944 Lerwick, Shetland Isles, Scotland into an unusually musical household. At eight years old he was studying classical piano, continuing his studies and performing classical piano until he reached sixteen. A year earlier he started playing bass guitar and his talent was noted and encouraged by Shetland musician, Peerie Willie Johnson.
In 1962, Mathewson was in Germany playing professionally with a Scottish Dixieland band, then in London he also performed with various jazz and R&B bands through to the middle of the decade. Around this time he was also a member of the Kenny Clarke-Francy Boland Big Band.
By1966 Ron became a member of the Tubby Hayes band, with which he performed until 1973. From 1975 on in to the 1990s, he was frequently a participant in various Ronnie Scott recordings and concerts.
In 1983, he appeared on Dick Morrissey’s solo album After Dark with Jim Mullen, John Critchenson, Martin Drew and Barry Whitworth. In 2007 a benefit concert was held for him after he had an accident that left him recovering from two broken hips, a broken wrist and a burst artery.
Best known for his years spent with Scott, the double bassist and bass guitarist has recorded with Stan Getz, Joe Henderson, Ben Webster, John Taylor, Gordon Beck, Philly Joe Jones, Roy Eldridge, Tony Oxley, Kenny Wheeler, Oscar Peterson, John Stevens, Terry Smith, Bill Evans, Phil Woods and His European Rhythm Machine, Acoustic Alchemy, Ian Carr, Spontaneous Music Ensemble, Ray Nance and Charles Tolliver, among numerous others.