Horace Silver was born Horace Ward Martin Tavares Silva on September 2, 1928 in Norwalk, Connecticut to a mother from Connecticut and a father from Maio, Cape Verde. He began playing the piano as a child, receiving classical music lessons and Cape Verde folk music from his father. When he turned 11 he became interested in becoming a musician, after hearing the Jimmie Lunceford Orchestra.
From ninth grade Silver played tenor saxophone in the Norwalk High School band and orchestra, influenced by Lester Young. He played gigs locally on both instruments while still at school and around 1946 he moved to Hartford, Connecticut, taking a regular job as house pianist in a nightclub. His big break came around 1950, backing saxophonist Stan Getz at a Hartford club. Liking what he heard, Getz took Silver’s band on the road. With Getz he made his recording debut on the Stan Getz Quartet album, along with bassist Joe Calloway and drummer Walter Bolden.
The following year Horace left Getz, moving to New York City and worked at Birdland on Monday nights. During that year, he met the executives of Blue Note Records, eventually signed with them, and remained there until 1980. He also co-founded the Jazz Messengers with Art Blakey.
From 1951 he free-lanced around New York, recorded mostly his own compositions with his trio, featuring Blakey on drums and Gene Ramey, Curly Russell or Percy Heath on bass. Throughout his career he would record with Clifford Brown, Lou Donaldson, Kenny Dorham, Hank Mobley, Junior Cook, Blue Mitchell, Louis Hayes, Carmell Jones, Joe Henderson, Woody Shaw, Tyrone Washington, Michael and Randy Brecker, Lee Morgan, Benny Golson, Donald Byrd and Miles Davis All Stars.
He music reflected the social and cultural upheavals of the 60s and 70s as he briefly played electric piano and including lyrics in his compositions, and his interested in spiritualism also came into his music.
He received a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters Award, recorded his final studio session in 1998 titled Jazz Has A Sense of Humor, was awarded the President’s Merit Award by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, penned his autobiography Let’s Get to the Nitty Gritty: The Autobiography of Horace Silver and published by University of California Press, and many of his compositions have become jazz standards.
Horace Silver, whose early influences were Bud Powell, Art Tatum, Teddy Wilson, Nat King Cole and Thelonious Monk, and who and influence for Bobby Timmons, Le McCann, Ramsey Lewis and Cecil Taylor, passed away of natural causes in New Rochelle, New York on June 18, 2014. The pianist and composer known for his distinctive playing style and pioneering compositional contributions to hard bop, featured surprising tempo shifts from aggressively percussive to lushly romantic merged with funk long before that word could be used in polite company.
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Keith Tippett was born Keith Graham Tippetts on August 25, 1947 in Bristol, England. He attended Greenway Boys Secondary Modern School in Southmead where he studied piano and formed his first jazz band called The KT7 whilst still at school, performing numbers popular at the time by The Temperance Seven. In the late 1960s, he led a sextet with saxophonist Elton Deanon, trumpeter Mark Charig and Nick Evanson on trombone.
By the early Seventies, Tippett formed the big band Centipede that brought together much of a generation of young British jazz and rock musicians. As well as performing some concerts, limited economically by the size of the band, they recorded one double-album, Septober Energy.
Keith, along with Harry Miller and Louis Moholo, put together a formidable rhythm section at the centre of some the most exciting combinations in the country, including the Elton Dean Quartet and the Elton Dean Ninesense. Around the same time, he was also in the vicinity of King Crimson and contributed piano to several of their records and appeared with them on Top of the Pops. His own groups, such as Ovary Lodge, leaned towards a more contemplative form of European free improvisation.
Pianist and composer Keith Tippett has recorded and performed on over 100 albums in variety of settings including duets with Stan Tracey, his wife Julie Tippetts, and solo performances. He continues to perform with the improvising ensemble Mujician and Work in Progress.
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Ike Quebec was born Ike Abrams Quebe on August 17, 1918 in Newark, New Jersey and was both an accomplished dancer and pianist. He switched to tenor sax as his primary instrument in his early twenties, and quickly earned a reputation as a promising player. His recording career started in 1940, with the Barons of Rhythm and from 1944 and 1951 he worked intermittently with Cab Calloway.
Over the course of his career Quebec recorded or performed with Frankie Newton, Hot Lips Page, Roy Eldridge, Trummy Young, Ella Fitzgerald, Benny Carter, Sonny Clark, Dodo Green, Jimmy Smith and Coleman Hawkins. He recorded as a leader for Blue Note records in the Forties era, and also served as a talent scout for the label, helping pianists Thelonious Monk and Bud Powell come to wider attention. Due to his exceptional sight-reading skills, he was also an un-credited impromptu arranger for many Blue Note sessions.
His struggles wit drug addiction and the fading popularity of big band music forced Ike to record only sporadically during the 1950s, though he still performed regularly. He kept abreast on new developments in jazz, and his later playing incorporated elements of hard bop, bossa nova and soul jazz. He occasionally recorded on piano, as on his 1961 Blue & Sentimental album, where he alternated between tenor and piano, playing the latter behind Grant Green’s guitar solos.
In 1959 he began what amounted to a comeback with a series of albums on the Blue Note label. Blue Note executive Alfred Lion, though always fond of his music, was unsure how audiences would respond to the saxophonist after a decade of low visibility. So in the mid-to-late 1950s, they issued a series of singles for the juke-box market and audiences ate them up, leading to a number of warmly-received albums. However, his comeback was short-lived when Ike Quebec, the tenor saxophonist with the big breathy sound, passed away from ling cancer on January 16, 1963.
William John Evans was born August 16, 1929 in Plainfield, New Jersey and grew up in a turbulent household of abuse. While staying with his aunt family somewhere between age 3 and five he soon began to play what he had heard during his brother’s class and soon he would also receiving piano lessons. At age 7, Bill began violin lessons and also flute and piccolo but eventually dropped those instruments, though it is believed they later influenced his keyboard style.
From age 6 to 13 Evans would only play classical music scores of Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert. During high school he was exposed to Stravinsky and Milhaud but also the jazz of Tommy Dorsey and Harry James. At 13 he stood in for a sick pianist in Buddy Valentino’s rehearsal band where he got his first deviation from the written music, in an arrangement of Tuxedo Junction, leading him to listen to Earl Hines, Coleman Hawkins, Bud Powell, George Shearing, Stan Getz and Nat King Cole among others.
Bill was soon playing dances and weddings throughout New Jersey and then formed his own trio, met Don Elliott, and bassist George Platt who taught him the harmonic principles of music. He would go on to study at Southeastern Louisiana University and in 1955 he moved to New York City where he worked with bandleader and theorist George Russell. In 1958, he joined the Miles Davis Sextet, where he was to have a profound influence. In 1959, the band, then immersed in modal jazz recorded Kind of Blue, the best-selling jazz album of all time.
In late 1959, Evans left the Miles Davis band and began his career as a leader with Scott LaFaro and Paul Motian, a group now regarded as a seminal modern jazz trio. In 1961, ten days after recording the highly acclaimed Sunday at the Village Vanguard and Waltz for Debby, LaFaro died in a car accident. After months of seclusion he re-emerged with bassist Chuck Israel. In 1963, Evans recorded his first innovative solo project Conversations with Myself, and in ’66 met bassist Eddie Gomez who he would work with for eleven years.
He would work with Don Elliott, Tony Scott, Mundell Lowe, Jerry Wald, Lucy Reed, George Russell, Dick Garcia, Art Farmer, Barry Galbraith, Milt Hinton, Joe Puma, Charles Mingus, Oliver Nelson, Eddie Costa, John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderley, Paul Chambers, Philly Joe Jones, Sam Jones, Marc Johnson, Tony Bennett, Marty Morell, Joe LaBarbera and the list goes on.
Despite his success as a jazz artist, Bill suffered personal loss and struggled with drug abuse. Both his girlfriend Elaine and his brother Harry committed suicide, and he was a long time user of heroin and later cocaine. As a result, his financial stability, personal relationships and musical creativity all steadily declined during his later years.
On September 15, 1980 pianist, compose and arranger Bill Evans who played in the modal, third stream cool and post-bop genres, passed away at age 51in New York City from complications due to peptic ulcer, cirrhosis, bronchial pneumonia and untreated hepatitis. His recordings for Riverside, Fantasy and Verve record labels left a seminal collection for the avid and casual listener, he was inducted in the Down Beat Jazz Hall of Fame, was nominated for 31 Grammys, winning seven awards, and was posthumously awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
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Ben Hirsh Sidran was born in Chicago, Illinois on August 14, 1943 and raised in Racine, Wisconsin. Attending the University fo Wisconsin he became a member of The Ardells along with Steve Miller and Boz Scaggs. When Miller and Scaggs left Wisconsin for the West Coast and stardom, he stayed behind to earn a degree in English literature. After graduating in 1966, he enrolled in the University of Sussex, England to pursue a PhD degree in American Studies.
Sidran rejoined Miller in an English recording studio the next year, playing on the album Children of the Future and while in England, he was a session musician for Eric Clapton, The Rolling Stones, Peter Frampton and Charlie Watts. When Scaggs and Jim Peterman departedfrom Miller’s band in 1969, he joined as a full-time keyboardist. After a brief stint in Los Angeles, where he began his career as a recording artist, he returned to Madison in 1971 and has kept the university town as a home-base ever since, playing often with such Madison-based talents as drummer Clyde Stubblefield and his keyboardist-composer son, Leo.
Over the years, while continuing to travel, perform and produce, he taught the business of music courses at the University and, beginning in 1981, hosted a variety of jazz programs for NPR, including the Peabody Award Winning “Jazz Alive” series and for VH1 television where his “New Visions” series in the early 1990s won the Ace Award.
As a musician and a producer Ben has released thirty-four solo recordings and collaborated with jazz and pop artists that include Mose Allison, Van Morrison, Diana Ross and Rickie Lee Jones. His written works include the book “Black Talk,” (on the sociology of black music in America), the memoir “A Life in the Music,” “Talking Jazz,” a collection of his historic interviews with jazz musicians.
He authored “There Was a Fire: Jews, Music and the American Dream,” a cultural history of the Jewish contribution to American popular music during the 20th century and a finalist for the 2012 National Jewish Book Award. He has recorded 33 albums for Capitol, Blue Thumb, Arista, Bluebird/RCA, Horizon, Polystar, Island, Go Jazz, Nardis and Bonsai record labels. Pianist, organist, vocalist, writer and educator Ben Sidran continues to expand his legacy or performance and education.
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