Teddy Brannon was born Humphrey Brannon on September 27, 1916 in Moultrie, Georgia. He began learning piano at age nine and played in dance bands in high school while working locally in Newark, New Jersey nightclubs from 1937 – 1942.
Between 1942 to 1945 he was a member of Benny Carter’s ensemble, after which he freelanced on 52nd Street in New York City. The 1950s and 1960s saw Brannon working in the studios with doo wop groups and though he never recorded as a leader, he recorded as a leader with his orchestra in the late Forties and played extensively in the jazz idiom with but not limited to Don Byas, Roy Eldridge, Buddy Rich, Bennie Green, Johnny Hodges, Jonah Jones, Don Newcomb and Illinois Jacquet.
An accomplished accompanied he performed and recorded with such singers as Dinah Washington, Ruth Brown, Billie Holiday, and Babs Gonzales, who was Brannon’s cousin. Pianist Teddy Brannon passed away on February 24, 1989 in Newark, New Jersey.
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Rio De Gregori was born on September 22, 1919 in Zurich, Switzerland. He began taking classical piano lessons at the age of seven and at fourteen he began buying records by Duke Ellington and other jazz musicians. Although his parents wanted to make him a classical pianist, his interest were leaning towards jazz.
Rio first played with Willie Mac Allen in 1939, then with James Boucher, The Lanigiros, Jo Grandjean and René Weiss during the early to mid Forties. He was with the big band of Fred Böhler until 1945 when he founded his own dance orchestra bringing with him some of the best Swiss jazz musicians, Stuff Combe, Bob Jaquillard, Jean Pierre Dupuis, Luc Hoffmann, Raoul Schmassmann and Kurt Weil. He also featured Glyn Paque as a guest soloist.
He disbanded his big band and worked in a trio setting or as a soloist. Performing in Ascona, Switzerland, he met vocalist Suzanne Doucet and composed and arranged for her. Moving to Munich, Germany De Gregori played under the name Rio Gregory and opened a nightclub.
Because of his harmonious flair De Gregori enjoyed an excellent reputation as a pianist recordings. As an arranger he was commissioned by Fred Böhler and other orchestral conductors. He recorded four albums as a leader over the course of his career. Pianist and vocalist Rio De Gregori passed away on May 22, 1987 in Munich, Germany.
Atzko Kohashi was born on September 21st in Japan and studied classical piano from an early age. Her sights were not set on jazz until her early teens. A self-taught jazz pianist, while studying law at Kelo University in Tokyo, she was a member of the big band, Kelo Light Music Society. Post graduation she began playing in local jazz clubs in quintets until she formed her own trio.
In 1994 Kohashi moved to New York City and studied under Steve Kuhn, who had a big influence on her playing. In 2001 she moved back to Tokyo, played the clubs and composed music for C.G. animation for children and radio dramas. During this period she arranged jazz for the piano-violin duo Rosco.
2005 saw Atzko moving to Amsterdam, Netherlands and releasing her first album as a leader Amstel Delight followed by her 2009 sophomore album Amstel Moments with bassist Frans van der Hoeven. She recorded her third album live titled Turnaround with bassist Yosuke Inoue. In 2012 she went back into the studio with Dutch drummer Sebastiaan Kaptein. Her next duo recording was in 2013 with bassist van der Hoeven, making their critically acclaimed second duo album, Waltz For Debby and garnering success on the concert trail.
Along with van der Hoeven and Kaptein, she has released her latest 2016 record Lujon on the Japanese label Cloud. Pianist Atzko Kohashi, also writes and interviews for a monthly column ‘Amsterdam Report’ on a web magazine for Japanese jazz lovers, continues to compose, arrange, perform and record and is scheduling a Japan tour in November.
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Lovie Austin was born Cora Calhoun on September 19, 1887 in Chattanooga, Tennessee and grew up with eight brothers and sisters. She studied music theory at Roger Williams University and Knoxville College which was uncommon for African American woman and jazz musicians alike during the time.
In 1923, Lovie Austin decided to make Chicago, Illinois her home, living and working there for the rest of her life. She was often seen elegantly dressed, racing around town in her Stutz Bearcat with leopard skin upholstery. Her early career was in vaudeville, playing piano and performing in variety acts. Accompanying blues singers was Lovie’s specialty, and can be heard on recordings by Ma Rainey – Moonshine Blues, Ida Cox – Wild Women Don’t Have the Blues, Ethel Waters – Craving Blues, and Alberta Hunter – Sad ‘n’ Lonely Blues.
She led her own band, the Blues Serenaders, which usually included trumpeters Tommy Ladnier, Bob Shoffner, Natty Dominique, or Shirley Clay on cornet, Kid Ory or Albert Wynn on trombone, and Jimmy O’Bryant or Johnny Dodds on clarinet, along with banjo and occasional drums. The Blues Serenaders developed their own unique sound within the jazz genre, straying away from the typical jazz band paradigm.
Austin worked with many other top jazz musicians of the 1920s, including Louis Armstrong. They worked on a song together that was called Heebie Jeebies. Her skills as songwriter can be heard in the classic Down Hearted Blues, co-written with Alberta Hunter. Singer Bessie Smith turned the song into a hit in 1923. She was also a session musician for Paramount Records and recorded with the Blues Serenaders in 1923.
When the classic blues craze waned in the early 1930s, Lovie became the musical director for the Monogram Theater in Chicago where all the T.O.B.A. acts played. She worked there for 20 years and during wartime, she was reported to be working as a security guard at a defense plant to support herself.
After World War II she became a pianist at Jimmy Payne’s Dancing School at Penthouse Studios, and performed and recorded occasionally.
In 1961, nearly forty years after participating in her first recordings, Lovie recorded Alberta Hunter with Lovie Austin’s Blues Serenaders, as part of Riverside Records’ “Living Legends” series, produced by radio WHAT-FM disc jockey and jazz critic Chris Albertson. Austin’s songs included Sweet Georgia Brown, C Jam Blues and Gallon Stomp.
Pianist Lovie Austin, who is cited as Mary Lou Williams greatest influence and one of the best pianists during the Harlem Renaissance, retired in 1962 and passed away on July 10, 1972 in Chicago.
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Oliver Jones was born Oliver Theophilus Jones on September 11, 1934 in Little Burgundy, Montreal, Quebec, Canada. He began his career as a pianist at the age of five, studying with Mme Bonner in Little Burgundy’s Union United Church, made famous by Trevor W. Payne’s Montreal Jubilation Gospel Choir. He continued developing his talent through studies with Oscar Peterson’s sister Daisy Peterson Sweeney starting at eight years old. In addition to church, as a child he performed at the Cafe St. Michel, other clubs and theaters in the Montreal area.
He started his early touring in Vermont and Quebec with a band called Bandwagon, and in 1953–63 played mainly in the Montreal area, with tours in Quebec. From 1964 to 1980 Jones was music director for the Jamaican calypso singer Kenny Hamilton, based out of Puerto Rico. By late 1980 he teamed up with Montreal’s Charlie Biddle, working in and around local clubs and became the resident pianist at Charlie’s jazz club Biddles from 1981 to 1986. He recorded his debut album, Live at Biddles in 1983, and was the first record on the Justin Time record label.
By the mid-1980s he was travelling throughout Canada, appearing at festivals, concerts and clubs, either as a solo artist or with the trio of Skip Bey, Bernard Primeau and Archie Alleyne. His travels also took him to Europe during this period, then on to a tour of Nigeria that became the subject of a 1990 National Film Board of Canada documentary, Oliver Jones in Africa.
Oliver is also an educator having taught music at Laurentian University, McGill University and mentored jazz artist Dione Taylor through the Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards Mentorship Program. He was named an Officer of the Order of Canada and has been bestowed the National Order of Québec, with the rank of Chevalier (Knight). He has won a Juno, four Felix awards, voted keyboardist of the year, received the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award and became the second recipient of the Oscar Peterson Award after Oscar himself.
Pianist, composer and bandleader Oliver Jones has recorded twenty-four albums as a leader, worked with Ranee Lee, Herb Ellis, Ray Brown, Clark Terry and Oscar Peterson, among others, and continues to perform and tour.
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