Pops Mohamed was born Ismail Mohamed-Jan on December 10, 1949 in Benoni, Gauteng, South Africa. His career in music was the logical outcome of an early exposure at Dorkay House to the likes of Abdullah Ibrahim and Kippie Moeketsi. He started his first band The Valiants at 14.
Known by fans as the Minister of Music, Pops plays a wide variety of instruments, African mouth bow, bird whistle, berimbau, didgeridoo, guitar, keyboard, kora, and the thumb piano. He is also known for his wide range of musical styles which include jazz, kwela, pop, and soul. He produced Finding One’s Self, the late Moses Taiwa Molelekwa’s award-winning album.
His recorded his debut album Kalamazoo in 1991 and has since recorded eleven more, his last to date being 205’s Mood Africa. He performs regularly with and sits on the board of the Johannesburg Youth Orchestra Company. Multi-instrumentalist, jazz musician and producer Pops Mohamed continues to pursue his career in music.
Egberto Amin Gismonti was born December 5, 1947 in Carmo, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil into a musical family. His mother was from Sicily and his father was from Beirut, Lebanon. At the age of six, he started learning the piano at Conservatório Brasileiro de Música. After 15 years of studying the classical repertoire, he went to Paris to delve into modern music under Nadia Boulanger and composer Jean Barraqué encouraged him to write the collective Brazilian experience into his music.
An autodidact guitarist, Egberto returned to Brazil and designed guitars with more than six strings, expanding the possibilities of the instrument. Approaching the fretboard as if it were a keyboard, he gives the impression that there is more than a single guitar player.
His musical career spans five decades of composing, recording and performing with his Brazilian group Academia de Danças, that included Mauro Senise on saxophone and flutes, Zeca Assumpção on bass and Nenê Realcino Lima Filho on drums and percussion. He also performs in a duo setting with percussionist Naná Vasconcelos, and a trio configuration with the late bassist Charlie Haden and saxophonist Jan Garbarek. Dança das Cabecas, the first ECM record, was nominated by Stereo Review for Album of the Year and was awarded the 1977 Großer Deutscher Schallplattenpreis.
He has recorded more than three dozen albums as a leader, produced and arranged Vasconcelos Saudades album and guested on others. Composer, guitarist and pianist Egberto Gismonti continues to perform, compose and record.
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Dale Bruning was born on November 8, 1934 in Carbondale, Pennsylvania and as a small child played piano. When he was in high school he moved to the guitar and went on to become adept at playing tuba, double bass, vibraphone and drums. He was influenced by a wide range of jazz and classical musicians and composers. It was on guitar, however, that he went on the road with various small groups before playing for four years in US Navy bands.
In 1961, he led the house band on The Del Shields Show on NBC in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania that attracted him considerable attention. He performed during the Fifties and following decades were Dennis Sandole, his mentor and principal tutor, Jim Hall, Red Norvo, Dave McKenna, Dizzy Gillespie, Erroll Garner, Marian McPartland, Michael Moore, Gus Johnson, Bill Frisell, and Chet Baker.
He also recorded with bassist Ted Alexander, Nicky DeMatteo and Tony Luis in the late 1950s to early Sixties, and with Rich Chiaraluce in the early 70s. Moving to Denver, Colorado for domestic reasons, he has remained a resident and became an educator in 1960. His playing is inventive in conception and fluid in execution albeit regional in recognition. Though he won many awards, it was not until the late NIneties that Bruning’s reputation began to spread both nationally and internationally.
His book published in 1997, The Dale Bruning Jazz Guitar Instruction Book Series, Vol. I: Phrasing and Articulation, along with new albums received critical acclaim. His profile rose with a series of theme concerts, conceived in collaboration with writer-producer Jude Hibler, that celebrated the music of Duke Ellington, Hoagy Carmichael, Harold Arlen, Harry Warren, Johnny Mandel, Michel Legrand, Cole Porter and Kurt Weill, among others.
Guitarist Dale Bruning continues to educate, has also composed several songs, is an accomplished arranger and continues to perform.
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Carl Kress was born on October 20, 1907 in Newark, New Jersey and started on piano before picking up the banjo. Beginning in 1926, he played guitar during his brief time as a member of the Paul Whiteman orchestra. For most of his career, he was a studio musician and sideman buried in large orchestras, and his name was little known.
During the 1920s and 1930s Carl worked recording sessions with The Boswell Sisters, The Dorsey Brothers, Bix Beiderbecke, Hoagy Carmichael, Miff Mole, Red Nichols, Adrian Rollini, and Frankie Trumbauer.
Outside of orchestras, Kress played in several guitar duets with Eddie Lang and Dick McDonough in the Thirties, Tony Mottola in 1941, and George Barnes in the Sixties. The late Thirties saw him recording as a solo with Peg Leg Shuffle, Helena, Love Song, Sutton Mutton and Afterthoughts. During the 1940s, he played Dixieland jazz with Bobby Hackett, Pee Wee Russell, and Muggsy Spanier.
Moving to New York City with his wife Helen who sang with the Satisifiers, Perry Como, Frank Sinatra and Jo Stafford. Guitarist Carl Kress continued a career as a bandleader and session player until his passing away of a heart attack on June 10, 1967 while he was on tour in Reno, Nevada.
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Howard Vincent Alden was born in Newport Beach, California on October 17, 1958. Growing up in Huntington Beach, he played piano, harmonica, the four-string tenor guitar, and then four-string banjo at age ten. After hearing recordings of Barney Kessel, Charlie Christian, Django Reinhardt and other jazz guitar greats, he got a six-string guitar and started teaching himself to play.
As a teenager he played both instruments at venues in the Los Angeles area and studied guitar with Jimmy Wyble when he was 16. In 1977 he studied jazz guitar for a year at the Guitar Institute of Technology (GIT) in Hollywood with Herb Ellis, Joe Pass, and Howard Roberts. While there he assisted Roberts in organizing and preparing curriculum materials, then conducted some of his own classes at GIT.
Making his first trip to the east coast in the summer of 1979, he played in the trio led by vibraphonist Red Norvo for 3 months at Resorts International in Atlantic City. Moving to New York City in 1982, Howard played an extended e engagement at Café Carlyle with jazz pianist/songwriter Joe Bushkin. Soon afterwards, he was discovered by Joe Williams and Woody Herman. 1983 saw him collaborating with Dick Hyman, appearing with him and a host of other musicians at Eubie Blake’s 100th birthday concert.
With Dan Barrett he formed the Alden-Barrett Quintet in 1985 which played in the swing idiom, as he has done for most of his career. He also began partnerships with Kenny Davern and Jack Lesberg, joined George Van Eps, innovator of the seven-string guitar, on tour and recorded albums with him, switching to the seven-string himself in 1992.
Alden has recorded the guitar performances for Sean Penn’s character Emmet Ray in the Woody Allen 1999 film Sweet and Lowdown, and taught Penn how to mime the performances for the film. He has received Best Emerging Guitar Talent by JazzTimes, Talent Deserving Wider Recognition, from Down Beat four times, named Guitar Player of the Year by American Guitar Museum and included on the Down Beat list of Top 75 Guitarists. He continues to perform and compose.
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