Larry Coryell was born April 2, 1943 in Galveston, Texas moved to Washington as a child. After graduating from Richland High School in eastern Washington, he moved to Seattle to attend the University of Washington.
In 1965, Coryell moved to New York City where he became part of Chico Hamilton’s quintet replacing Gabor Szabo. In the Sixties he recorded with Gary Burton, played with The Free Spirits and extended his musical landscape to include influences of rock, jazz and eastern music.
He formed his own group, “The Eleventh House” in 1973 and following the break-up of this band, Coryell played mainly acoustic guitar but returned to electric guitar later in the 1980s.
In 1979, Coryell formed “The Guitar Trio” with jazz-fusion guitarist John McLaughlin and flamenco guitarist Paco de Lucia. The group toured Europe, released “Meeting of Spirits” recorded at Royal Albert Hall in London, however, his drug addiction led to his being replaced by Al Di Meola.
By the turn of the century he settled back into a more mainstream style of playing releasing “Cedars of Avalon”, “Monk, Trane, Miles & Me”, “Tricycles”, and “Power Trio: Live In Chicago”. In 2007, Coryell published an autobiography titled “Improvising: My Life in Music”. Guitarist Larry Coryell remains active in the music industry performing, touring and recording.
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Remo Palmier was born Remo Paul Palmieri on March 29, 1923 in New York City, later dropping the “i” at the end of his name. He was taught himself to play guitar and began his professional career with the Nat Jaffe Trio in New York in 1942. In the early part of his career he played with Coleman Hawkins, Billie Holiday, Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker, establishing his own reputation as a swinging and inventive jazz guitarist.
Remo was known to a wider television audience as the guitarist on The Arthur Godfrey Show, a position he held for 27 years from 1945. He went on to work with Red Norvo, pianists Phil Moore and Teddy Wilson, Barney Bigard and Sarah Vaughan in the mid-1940s.
After a hiatus from music, Palmier returned to active jazz playing in the early 1970s, working with the likes of Vic Dickenson, Bobby Hackett, and as an occasional stand-in for Bucky Pizzarelli in Benny Goodman’s small group.
He recorded and released the albums “Windflower” with guitarist Herb Ellis and “Remo Palmier”, and continued to perform into the 90s, including recordings with Louis Bellson, Joe Wilder, and concerts with Benny Carter. Suffering from leukemia and lymphoma, jazz guitarist Remo Palmier passed away in New York City on February 2, 2002.
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Melvin Sparks was born on March 22, 1946 in Houston, Texas. He got his first guitar when he was eleven and two years later he was sitting in with B.B. King. By 1963 he had joined the “Upsetters”, an R&B show band that backed Little Richard, Sam Cooke and other big names. Following this he did a year stint with Jack McDuff from 1966-67, then became quite in demand for his ability to improvise.
Sparks released his first album as a leader on Prestige in 1970 followed by a number of recording dates for the Prestige and Savant record labels and also appeared as a sideman and guest artist on several recordings with musicians including Lou Donaldson, Houston Person, Jimmy McGriff, Hank Crawford, Charles Earland, Sonny Stitt, Leon Spencer and Johnny Hammond Smith.
His Grant Green influenced guitar style placed him firmly in the soul jazz, hard bop and jazz blues genres. Melvin Sparks died on March 13, 2011 in Mount Vernon, New York from complications from diabetes.
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Bobby Hackett was born January 31, 1915 and raised in Providence, Rhode Island. At an early age he played the ukulele and by the time he was twelve, he was playing guitar, violin and had bought his first cornet. Leaving high school after his freshman year he took a steady job with a band that performed seven days a week at the Port Arthur and playing guitar regularly at the Rhodes and Arcadia ballrooms that often broadcasted on Providence radio and when Cab Calloway arrived short-handed and invited him to fill in.
In the fall of 1932 Bobby was recruited by The Herbie Marsh Orchestra, spent the summer of 1933 playing with Payson Re’s band, met Pee Wee Russell, by 1934, and playing college gigs with his band The Harvard Gold Coast Orchestra on weekends between Providence and Boston throughout 1935 and 36.
He worked with a new band at Nick’s in Greenwich Village, with Benny Goodman, Eddie Condon, Jack Teagarden and Teddy Wilson, played the new York World’s Fair in 1939, did the club circuit in New York, toured, recorded with his own band on MCA, took a seat with the Horace Heidt Musical Knights and recorded on the soundtrack of Fred Astaire vehicle “Second Chorus”.
After a dental surgery Bobby’s lip was in bad shape making it difficult for him to play, however, Glenn Miller offered him a job as a guitarist with the Miller Band and playing short trumpet solos. During the 1950s, he made a series of albums of ballads with a full string orchestra, produced by Jackie Gleason, in the Sixties toured with singer Tony Bennett, and by the early 1970s, Hackett performed separately with Dizzy Gillespie and Teresa Brewer. In his later years, he continued to perform in a Dixieland style even as trends in jazz changed.
Trumpeter Bobby Hackett passed away on June 7, 1976 from a heart attack. In 2012, he was selected to be inducted into the Rhode Island Music Hall of Fame.
Henry Johnson was born January 28, 1954 in Chicago, Illinois and began playing at age twelve. While spending some formative time in Memphis, he started playing gospel music at age thirteen. By fourteen, Johnson was playing in R&B groups and although Johnson’s parents brought him up hearing the music of Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Joe Williams, and other artists of that era, it was not until 1967 that Johnson was formally introduced to jazz by hearing Wes Montgomery.
In 1969, his family moved back to Chicago where Henry’s reputation on the south side as a good local jazz guitarist flourished. In 1976, he went on the road with jazz organist Jack McDuff, and then he got the call to work with Donny Hathaway in 1977.
In 1979, Johnson began playing with Ramsey Lewis and some six years later Joe Williams added Johnson to his regular group. Henry’s musical roots run deep into gospel, blues, and jazz with his strongest and earliest influences were along with Wes Montgomery, guitarists Kenny Burrell and George Benson but also the music of Herbie Hancock, Oscar Peterson, Freddie Hubbard, Miles Davis, big bands, and jazz orchestras were integral forces to shape his sound and style.
His debut album “You’re The One” went #1 for two months on two charts, received a five star rating from Downbeat magazine, and was nominated for a Grammy. His follow-up albums also received wide recognition and in addition to his other projects, Henry has recorded and/or performed with Vanessa Ruben, Richie Cole, Nancy Wilson, Marlena Shaw, Angela Bofill, Dizzy Gillespie, the Boston Pops, Sonny Stitt, Freddie Hubbard, Grover Washington Jr., Stanley Turrentine, Dr. Billy Taylor, Jimmy Smith, James Moody, David “Fathead” Newman, Terry Gibbs, Bobby Watson, Nicholas Payton, Javon Jackson, Donald Harrison, and many other great jazz artists.
Guitarist Henry Johnson continues to re-invent himself as he records performs and tours worldwide.
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