Teddy Charles was born Theodore Charles Cohen on April 13, 1928 in Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts. He began his musical career studying at Julliard School of Music as a percussionist. Later he started recording and making personal appearances as Teddy Cohen with various bands as a vibraphonist, writing, arranging and producing records and in 1951 he changed his last name to Charles.
He was one of many jazz musicians who hung out at an apartment building at 821 Sixth Avenue in New York City known as the Jazz Loft rented by photographer and artist David X. Young who in turn sublet an apartment to Charles’ mentor, Hall Overton. Teddy developed into a skillful musician not only on vibraphone but piano and drums as well and was known for his open-minded approach to more advanced sounds as well as his playing.
Known as an innovator, his main body of work was recorded in the 1950s. Teddy also did session work with musicians and singers as varied as Miles Davis, Oscar Pettiford, Roy Eldridge, Slim Gaillard, Artie Shaw, Benny Goodman, Buddy De Franco and Dion. From 1953-55 he was a member of the Jazz Composer’s Workshop along with Charles Mingus and Teo Macero. This collaboration opened his style to the influences of classical music and freer improvising.
An avid seaman, Charles is the Captain of the Skipjack Pilgrim out of Greenport, Long Island, New York where he performs music locally. After spending years at sea, vibraphonist Teddy Charles started performing again until his passing on April 16, 2012 in Riverhead, New York.
Steve Gadd was born April 9, 1945 in Irondequoit, New York and when he was seven his drummer uncle encouraged him to take lessons. By eleven he had sat in with Dizzy Gillespie. After graduating from Irondequoit’s Eastridge High, he attended the Manhattan School of Music for two years before transferring to the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, playing in wind ensembles and concert bands.
After matriculation in the late ’60s, Steve played regularly with Chuck and Gap Mangione, making his recording debut on Gap’s solo album, “Diana in the Autumn Wind” in 1968. Drafted into the Army he spent the next three years drumming in the Army Music Program as a part of the Jazz Ambassadors. Discharged, Gadd returned to Rochester, formed a band and traveled to New York City where eventually the trio split. Gadd stayed on finding work as a studio musician that led to his short tenure with Chick Corea and Return To Forever.
During the ’70s and ‘80s, he toured internationally, recorded with Paul Simon and also with Al Di Meola’s Electric Rendezvous Band. In 1976, Gadd and other session musicians in New York City, including Richard Tee, Eric Gale and Cornell Dupree formed the group Stuff. Their work included appearances on NBC’s Saturday Night Live.
By the end of the 1970s, Steve Gadd was an accomplished drummer bringing orchestral and compositional thinking, great imagination and a great ability to swing to his playing. In 2005 he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Music degree from Berklee College of Music for outstanding contributions to contemporary music. He is one of the highest paid session drummers in popular music.
Roy Owen Haynes was born March 13, 1925 in the Roxbury section of Boston, Massachusetts and made his professional debut at the age of seventeen in his native Boston. He began his full time professional career in 1945. From 1947 to 1949 he worked with Lester Young, and from 1949 to 1952 was a member of Charlie Parker’s quintet. He recorded at the time with Bud Powell, Wardell Gray and Stan Getz.
In 1953 Roy toured with Sarah Vaughan for the next five years and then went on to work with more experimental musicians, like John Coltrane, Eric Dolphy, Andrew Hill and Chick Corea.
Haynes extracted the rhythmic qualities from melodies and created unique new drum and cymbal patterns in an idiosyncratic, now instantly recognizable style. Rather than using cymbals strictly for effect, Haynes brought them to the forefront of his unique rhythmic approach. He also established a distinctively crisp and rapid-fire sound on the snare; this was the inspiration for his nickname, “Snap Crackle”.
Over the course of his 60+ career of hard swinging since 1944, Roy is among the most recorded drummers in jazz playing in a wide range of styles ranging from swing and bebop to jazz-fusion and avant-garde. He has recorded or performed with Gary Burton, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Christian McBride, Jackie McLean, Pat Metheny, Thelonious Monk, Gerry Mulligan, Art Pepper, Sonny Rollins, Horace Tapscott and many, many others.
As a bandleader Haynes has also led his own groups, some performing under the name Hip Ensemble and his most recent recordings as a leader are “Fountain of Youth” and “Whereas”, both of which have garnered Gammy nominations. In 2010, the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences bestowed upon him a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. Drummer, percussionist and bandleader Roy Haynes continues to record and perform worldwide.
Henry Threadgill was born February 15, 1944, in Chicago, Illinois and first performed as a percussionist in his high school marching band before taking up the baritone saxophone and later a large portion of the woodwind instruments. He soon settled upon the alto saxophone and flute as his main instruments.
He was one of the original members of the legendary AACM – Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians in Chicago, working under the guidance of Muhal Richard Abrams before leaving to tour with a gospel band. In 1967, he enlisted in the Army, playing with a rock band in Vietnam through 1968. Discharged in 1969 he returned to Chicago, formed a trio that eventually became “Air”, one of the most celebrated and critically acclaimed avant-garde jazz groups of the 1970s and 1980s.
Threadgill had moved to New York City and began pursuing his own musical visions, exploring musical genres in innovative ways with his first nonet X-75. In the early Eighties, Threadgill created the Henry Threadgill Sextet, his first critically acclaimed ensemble as a leader, with two drummers as a single unit. He has recorded three albums under X-75 for About Time Records, reformed his sextet and released three albums on the Novus label.
Since the 90s Threadgill has continued to compose, create, perform and record music with various group configurations such as “Very Very Circus” and “Zooid” utilizing electric guitars, French horn, Latin percussion, accordion, cello and tuba.
Edmund Leonard Thigpen was born on December 28, 1930 in Chicago, Illinois but was raised in Los Angeles, California where he attended the same high school, Thomas Jefferson, as fellow jazz greats Dexter Gordon, Art Farmer and Chico Hamilton. He majored in sociology at Los Angeles City College, left for East St. Louis to pursue music while living with his father, also a drummer, who played with Andy Kirk’s Clouds of Joy.
Ed first worked professionally in New York City with the Cootie Williams orchestra in 1951 at the Savoy Ballroom, during this decade he played with musicians such as Dinah Washington, Gil Melle, Oscar Pettiford, Eddie Vinson, Paul Quinichette, Charlie Rouse, Lennie Tristano, Jutta Hipp, Johnny Hodges, Dorothy Ashby, Bud Powell and Billy Taylor.
In 1959 he replaced guitarist Herb Ellis in the Oscar Peterson Trio in Toronto, Canada, recorded with Teddy Edwards-Howard McGhee in 1961, led his own 1966 session “Out of the Storm” for Verve, and went on tour with Ella Fitzgerald for five years beginning in 1967.
A move to Copenhagen in 1974 saw Thigpen collaborating with several other American expatriate jazz musicians who over the past two decades had settled in the city such as Kenny Drew, Ernie Wilkins, Thad Jones, along with native Danes Mads Vinding, Niels-Henning Orsted Pederson, Alex Riel and Sven Asmussen. He also worked with visiting musicians Clark Terry, Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis, Milt Jackson and Monty Alexander.
Ed Thigpen, a drummer with over 50 albums to his credit as a leader and sideman, passed away peacefully after a brief period in Copenhagen’s Hvidovre Hospital on January 13, 2010 at the age of 80.