Jorge Dalto was born on July 7, 1948 in Roque Pérez, Argentina. During the mid-80s Jorge led the InterAmerican Band featuring his wife, Adela, on vocals. He continued to build his internationally-flavored sound, and collaborations with his wife blended their Latin and Brazilian backgrounds. He served as arranger for the Percussion Jazz Ensemble with Tito Puente, Carlos “Patato” Valdes and Alfredo De La Fe.
As a leader he recorded six albums since his debut recording Chevere in 1976 and another dozen as a sideman performing and recording with Tito Puente, Grover Washington, Fuse One, Spyro Gyra, George Benson, Dizzy Gillespie and Machito, Grant Green, Heaven and Earth, Willie Colón, Gato Barbieri, Bernard Purdie, Ronnie Foster, Tom Malone, Jerry Dodgion, Ernie Royal, Victor Paz, Rubén Blades, David Sanborn, Eric Gale, Steve Gadd, Bob Mintzer, Alan Rubin, Dave Valentin, Jay Beckenstein, Carlos Valdes, Buddy Williams, Stanley Banks, Phil Upchurch, Hubert Laws, Michael Brecker, Randy Brecker, Anthony Jackson, Harvey Mason and Frank Malabé.
Pop, jazz and Afro-Cuban pianist and former George Benson musical director Jorge Dalto passed away of cancer at the age of 39 on October 27, 1987.
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Seger Ellis was born on July 4, 1904 in Houston, Texas. He began his career as pianist playing live for a local Houston radio station KPRC in the early 1920s. In 1925 he was added to the orchestra of Lloyd Finlay for a “field trip” recording session for Victor Records and was also allowed to cut two piano solos.
The recordings led to Ellis being invited to Victor’s regular recording studio in Camden, New Jersey to cut a number of piano solos, all or most of them compositions of his own. These were among the earliest records Victor made using the new electric microphone and recording equipment, a technique that was yet not perfected which probably explains why only four of the titles were eventually issued. Of these the coupling Prairie Blues and Sentimental Blues became a minor hit.
After his first recording experiences Seger returned to Houston and radio work as well as playing in vaudeville theaters. During this period he started adding singing to his piano playing and was well received by audiences. In 1927 he was invited to New York to make vocal test recordings, his first issued vocal record was Sunday on the Columbia label. This was followed by a string of records for Okeh Records and he chose the best musicians to play with him such as Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey, Joe Venuti, Eddie Lang, Andy Sannella and Louis Armstrong.
His first recording career ended in 1931, however towards the end of the decade he returned with a big band of his own, the Choirs of Brass Orchestra with himself conducting and taking occasional vocals and featuring his wife, Irene Taylor as a vocalist. In 1939 Ellis reorganized and his new band featured the conventional four-man reed section but disbanded in 1941 and enlisted in the Army-Air Force in 1942.
A move back to Texas saw him being less active as a performer and more involved in songwriting. Many of compositions were recorded by Harry James, Gene Krupa, Bing Crosby, Count Basie and the Mills Brothers. Pianist and vocalist Seger Ellis gradually retired and took up residence in Houston where he passed away in a retirement home on September 29, 1995.
Ralph Jose P. Burns was born on June 29, 1922 in Newton, Massachusetts and began playing the piano as a child. In 1938, he attended the New England Conservatory of Music, learning the most about jazz by transcribing the works of Count Basie, Benny Goodman and Duke Ellington. While a student, Burns lived in big band singer Frances Wayne’s home. Her brother, bandleader Nick Jerret began working with him and found himself in the company of performers such as Nat King Cole and Art Tatum.
After a move to New York in the early 1940s, he met Charlie Barnet and the two began working together. By 1944, he joined the Woody Herman band with members Neal Hefti, Bill Harris, Flip Phillips, Chubby Jackson and Dave Tough. Together, the group developed a powerful and distinctive sound. For 15 years, Ralph wrote or arranged many of the band’s major hits including Bijou, Northwest Passage and Apple Honey, and on the longer work “Lady McGowan’s Dream” and the three-part Summer Sequence.
Burns worked with tenor saxophonist Stan Getz on his Early Autumn solo that launched Getz’s solo career. He also worked in a small band with soloists including Bill Harris and Charlie Ventura. He went on to collaborate with Billy Strayhorn, Lee Konitz and Ben Webster to create both jazz and classical recordings. He wrote compositions for Tony Bennett and Johnny Mathis, Aretha Franklin and Natalie Cole, and arranged the introduction of a string orchestra on two of Ray Charles’s biggest hits Come Rain or Come Shine and Georgia on My Mind.
In the 1960s he began arranging/orchestrating for Broadway including the major show Chicago, Funny Girl, No, No, Nanette, and Sweet Charity, arranged for Woody Allen’s film Bananas, worked with film-director Bob Fosse and in 1972 won the Academy Award as music supervisor for Cabaret. He composed the film scores for Lenny, New York, New York and All That Jazz for which he also won an Academy Award in 1979. He went on to win an Emmy Award for Baryshnikov on Broadway, and won the Tony Award for Best Orchestrations in 1999 for Fosse and posthumously in 2002 for Thoroughly Modern Millie
Burns arranged music for Mel Tormé, John Pizzarelli and Michael Feinstein and was inducted into the New England Jazz Hall of Fame in 2004. Bebop pianist, songwriter, bandleader, composer, conductor and arranger Ralph Burns passed away on November 21, 2001 Los Angeles, California.
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Otmaro Ruíz was born June 27, 1964 in Caracas, Venezuela. He began his formal musical studies at the age of eight on piano, classical guitar, harmony, history and aesthetics. He was exposed to other artistic activities such as drawing and acting and at the same time he studied organ.
Otmaro pursued a scientific career as a biologist at the Simón Bolívar University, but kept playing keyboards on the side, landing his first professional work in a pop group in 1980. Deciding to focus entirely on music, he dropped out of school in 1983, playing in his native Venezuela. He toured and recorded with local and visiting musicians, and also became a busy studio musician as a jingles composer and arranger.
By 1989 Ruíz had moved to Los Angeles, California, where he finished his academic training at CalArts, obtaining a master’s degree in jazz performance in 1993. He played with percussionist Alex Acuña, appearing in two albums during the early 1990s. He later recorded with Arturo Sandoval, which was followed in 1996 by a world tour supporting Gino Vanelli. The rest of the decade, he worked with Jon Anderson, Robbie Robertson, Herb Alpert and John McLaughlin. In the new millennium, he has recorded with Hubert Laws, Jing Chi and Jimmy Haslip among others and has recorded and toured with Dianne Reeves.
Pianist, keyboardist, composer and arranger Otmaro Ruíz remains active up to the present day, generally recording and touring with L.A.-based groups and vocalists, and commanding his own projects.
He has also participated in an international jazz-project “JB Project” with American bassist Brian Bromberg and Japanese drummer Akira Jimbo. They released two studio albums: Brombo, followed by Brombo II. In 2012, the Shepherd University at the Cornel School of Contemporary Music awarded Otmaro Ruiz with an Honorary Doctorate in Music Arts.
Baptiste Trotignon was born on June 17, 1974 near Paris, France. He started playing the violin at the age of 6 and the piano three years later attending the Nantes Conservatory. While there he won prizes for both piano and harmony. During his teen years he discovered and taught himself jazz and improvisation, playing his first concerts at the age of sixteen.
In 1994 he appeared in the movie Le Nouveau Monde as both actor and musician. Four years later he formed his own trio with bassist Clovis Nicolas and drummer Tony Rabeson. In 2000 he recorded his debut album Fluide winning the Django d’Or for Best First Album. His sophomore release Sightseeing picked up the Prix Django Reinhardt. He recorded his debut solo piano album was in 2003 titled Solo.
Over the course of his career he has performed with Eric Harland, Fabrizio Bosso, Russell Malone, Jeremy Pelt, Tom Harrell, Jeanne Added, Melody Gardot, onica Passos, Miossec, Donald Harrison, Billy Hart, Bireli Lagrene, Kenny Wheeler, Jeff “Tain” Watts, Gregory Hutchinson, Ari Hoenig, Brad Mehldau, David Murray, Stefano di Batista, Milton Nascimento, Didier Lockwood, Archie Shepp and the list goes on and on.
Pianist Baptiste Trotignon continues to compose music and and perform, often playing classical music as well as his own compositions and interpretations of music from Led Zeppelin and Bob Dylan to Edith Piaf.
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