Charlie Lee Byrd was born on September 16, 1925 in Suffolk, Virginia but grew up in Chuckatuck, Virginia and his father taught him to play the acoustic steel guitar at age 10. He went on to Virginia Polytechnic Institute, served in the Army and played in the Special Services band in Paris. Returning to New York he studied composition at Hamett National Music School, taking up classical guitar.
Charlie moved to Washington, D.C. in 1950 and studied classical guitar with Sophocles Papas, then with Andre Segovia. By 1957 he teamed up with bassist Keter Betts and started gigging around D.C. for two years, joined Woody Herman for a State Department goodwill tour.
Byrd was first introduced to Brazilian music by his friend radio host Felix Grant who was well known in Brazil in 1960. A subsequent tour of Brazil and he returned home with recordings from Joao Gilberto and Antonio Carlos Jobim. He met with Stan Getz who convinced Creed Taylor, then at Verve Records to produce the album, recording “Jazz Samba” in 1962 in a building adjacent to All Souls Unitarian Church because of the excellent acoustics found there. And his love affair with Brazilian music began.
Over the course of his career he has toured the world, performed at numerous festivals, played with such jazz legends as Les McCann, Zoot Sims, Vince Guaraldi, his brother bassist Joe Byrd, Chuck Redd, Herb Ellis, Barney Kessel and the list goes on.
Charlie Byrd died of lung cancer on December 2, 1999 at his home in Annapolis, Maryland. He was deemed a Maryland Art Treasure in 1997 and knighted by the government of Brazil as the Knight of the Rio Branco.
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Rodney Jones was born on August 30, 1956. Mastering his instrument during his youth he performed with Jaki Byard and recorded with Chico Hamilton. An underrated cool-toned guitarist best in straight-ahead settings, by the time he was in his early twenties he was working with Dizzy Gillespie.
After moving on from Gillespie, he began working with Lena Horne as her accompanist. Jones put on the leader hat in 1977 with his debut on the the Strata East label, “The Liberation of the Contemporary Jazz Guitar “. This was followed up with his “Articulation” on the Timeless label and then another four sessions took place through 2001 for Muse, R7R and Minor Music labels.
Rodney has been cited as a jazz guitarist who uses modern quartal harmony. He also believes his journey is also one of spiritual awakening that is not separated by theology or music. He investigates the relationship between the art and science of jazz and helps musicians discover their own doorways to development and evolution of their music. He continues to perform, study and tour.
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Born August 26, 1943, Dorival Tostes Caymmi, the son of famous Brazilian musicians Dorival Caymmi and Stella Maris. He began playing piano at age eight, studied music theory at the Conservatorio Lorenzo Fernandez and in 1959 made his professional debut accompanying his sister, Nana.
In 1960 Dori became a member of Groupo dos Sete, writing music for plays aired on Brazilian television. He co-directed and played viola in the play Opinião, an important transitional work between the styles of bossa nova and MPB and directed the play Arena Conta Zumbi. For a time he produced Edu Lobo, Eumir Deodato and Nara Leao, co-wrote the prize winning song “Saveiros” with Nelson Matta, a collaboration that lasted many years and produced some of Brazil’s biggest hits.
Caymmi played and toured with Paul Winter, arranged and directed albums by Caetano Veloso, Gal Costa and Gilberto Gil, and was involved with the tropicalia movement of the late 1960s, but did not record in this style himself due to his distaste for Euro-American pop music. He wrote scores for numerous films and television shows in the 1970s and 1980s, moved to Los Angeles, California in 1989 and has since played or recorded with Dionne Warwick, Toots Thielemans, Marilyn Scott, Oscar Castro-Neves, Eliane Elias, Richard Silveira and Edu Lobo; was a collaborator celebrating Tom Jobim at Carnegie Hall and arranged the music for Spike Lee’s film, Clockers.
Dori Caymmi has been nominated for Latin Grammys several times and is a two-time Grammy Award winner for Best Latin Song and Best Latin Samba Recording. The Brazilian singer, guitarist, songwriter, arranger, and producer has an extensive discography dating back to 1964 and he continues to perform and record.
Baden Powell de Aquino was born on August 6, 1937 in Varre-Sai in the state of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Simply known as Baden Powell, his father, a scouting enthusiast, named him after Robert Baden Powell founder of the boy scouts. Growing up in a Rio suburb from age three, proved profoundly influential, as his house was a stop for popular musicians. He started guitar lessons with Jayme Florence, a famous choro guitarist in the 1940s, and soon proved to be a young virtuoso, winning many talent competitions before he was a teenager. Fascinated by swing and jazz, his main influences were firmly rooted in the Brazilian guitar canon.
By fifteen, he was playing professionally, accompanying singers and bands in various styles. In 1955, Powell was playing with the Steve Bernard Orquestra at the Boite Plaza, formed the new Hotel Plaza Trio with Ed Lincoln and with their young musician friends took part in after-hours jam sessions, gaining notice in the growing Brazilian jazz scene.
Achieving much wider fame in 1959 by convincing Billy Blanco to put lyrics to one of his compositions resulted in a song called “Samba Triste” and quickly became very successful for Baden. In 1962, he met the poet-diplomat Vinicius de Moraes and began a collaboration that yielded some true classics of 1960s Brazilian music. Together they transcended the prevailing bossa nova by fusing Afro-Brazilian with samba. During those years he released several recordings on Brazilian French and German labels and his 1966 “Tristeza on Guitar”, is considered by many to be a high point in his career.
Powell would go on to be the house guitarist for Elenco Records, the guitarist on Elis Regina’s TV show “O Fino da Bossa”, partner with poet Paulo Cesar Pinheiro and produced another series of Afro-Brazilian inspired music, tour Europe and record profusely until his health began failing him due to alcohol and cigarette abuse and his star dimmed. Returning home to Brazil he continued to record and perform and a renewed public recognition of his work came around that time. However, after many years of abuse, and he fell terminally ill and on September 26, 2000 guitarist and vocalist Baden Powell passed away in Rio de Janeiro of pneumonia triggered by diabetes.
His recordings span five decades beginning with his first appearances as accompanist on a handful of big band and samba recordings from the 1950s. He recorded his first solo album in 1959, but it was released in 1961. H e leaves us with a discography of some 55 recordings as a leader and numerous more as a sideman. He was one of Brazil’s most prominent and celebrated guitarists.
Charlie Christian was born Charles Henry Christian on July 29, 1916 in Bonham, Texas but his family moved to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma when he was a small child. He started performing as a dancer with his father and brothers as buskers to make ends meet. His father would later teach him to play guitar and inherit all his instruments by age 12. Attending Douglass School he was further encouraged in music but a disagreement in instrument led him to leave music and excel in baseball.
By 1936 he was playing electric guitar and had become a regional attraction. He jammed with many of the big name performers traveling through Oklahoma City including Teddy Wilson, Art Tatum and Mary Lou Williams who turned him on to record producer John Hammond. This led to an audition, recommendation to Benny Goodman, subsequently gaining national exposure with the Benny Goodman Sextet and Orchestra from August 1939 to June 1941. By 1940 Christian dominated the jazz and swing guitar polls and was elected to the Metronome All Stars.
Christian was an important early performer on the electric guitar, and is cited as a key figure in the development of bebop and cool jazz. One of the best improvisational talents of the swing era, his single-string technique combined with amplification helped bring the guitar out of the rhythm section and into the forefront as a solo instrument.
Christian’s influence reached beyond jazz and swing, and in 1966, 24 years after his death, Christian was inducted into the Down Beat Hall of Fame. In 1990 he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and in 2006 Oklahoma City renamed a street in its Bricktown entertainment district Charlie Christian Avenue. On March 2, 1942, Charlie Christian passed away at age 25.
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