Joe Maini was born on February 8, 1930 in Providence, Rhode Island. Early in his career he played alto saxophone in the big bands of Alvino Rey, Johnny Bothwell and Claude Thornhill. He moved to Los Angeles, California and found work as a session musician and continued working in big bands, usually holding the lead alto chair.
Some of the leaders Joe worked with over the course of his career were Terry Gibbs, Onzy Matthews, Gerald Wilson, Bill Holman, Louis Bellson, Jack Montrose, Dan Terry, Johnny Mandel and Shelly Manne. He recorded in small group settings with Clifford Brown and Max Roach, Zoot Sims, Jack Sheldon, Red Mitchell, Lin Halliday, Kenny Drew and Jimmy Knepper. He also worked with his close friend, comedian Lenny Bruce.
Alto saxophonist Joe Maini passed away at age 34 in Los Angeles on May 7, 1964. History states it was while playing Russian roulette as the cause, but family and witnesses contend it was simply a firearms accident. Forty-four years after his death, Lone Hill Jazz issued a four-CD set with many of his small group recordings.
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Stanley Getz was born on February 2, 1927 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania but moved to New York City with his parents during The Depression. In school he was a straight A student finishing 6th grade close to the top of his class but his major interest was in musical instruments, and he felt a need to play every instrument in sight.
He played a number of them before his father bought him his first saxophone at the age of 13 and began practicing eight hours a day. Attending James Monroe High School, got accepted in the All City High School Orchestra of New York City, giving him a chance to receive private, free tutoring from the New York Philharmonic’s bassoonist, Simon Kovar.
By 1943 at age 16, he was accepted into Jack Teagarden’s band, becoming his ward because of his age. Getz also played along with Nat King Cole and Lionel Hampton, and after playing for Stan Kenton, Jimmy Dorsey, and Benny Goodman he became the Woody Herman’s soloist for two years in The Second Herd. Known as The Four Brothers alongside Serge Chaloff, Zoot Sims and Herbie Steward, he gained notoriety. Leaving Herman to strike out on his solo career, he led almost all of his recording sessions after 1950. However, it was during this period that having become involved with drugs and alcohol while a teenager, he was arrested in 1954 while attempting to rob a pharmacy to get a morphine fix.
Stan’s reputation was greatly enhanced by his featured status on Johnny Smith’s album Moonlight In Vermont and the single became a hit, staying on the charts for months. He went on to further popularity playing cool jazz with Horace Silver, Smith, Oscar Peterson and others. In his various bands were Roy Haynes, Al Haig, Tommy Potter, Dizzy Gillespie, Herb Ellis, Ray Brown and Max Roach.
In 1961 Getz became a central figure in introducing bossa nova to the American audience, teaming with guitarist Charlie Byrd who had just returned from Brazil. His album Jazz Samba with Charlie Byrd and Antonio Carlos Jobim became a hit, winning him a Grammy for Best Jazz Performance for Desifinado in 1963 that became his first million-copy seller. He would record Big Band Bossa Nova and Jazz Samba Encore! with Luiz Bonfa and get his second gold disc.
He recorded the album Getz/Gilberto with Jobim, Joao Gilberto and Astrud Gilberto winning two more Grammys for The Girl From Ipanema. What could have been a long partnership with his love affair with Astrud Gilberto, moving him away from bossa nova and back to cool jazz. By 1972, he recorded in the fusion idiom with Chick Corea, Tony Williams and Stanley Clarke.
In the mid-1980s he worked regularly in the San Francisco Bay area and taught at Stanford University as an artist-in-residence at the Stanford Jazz Workshop. In 1986, he was inducted into the Down Beat Jazz Hall of Fame. Tenor saxophonist Stan Getz died of liver cancer on June 6, 1991.
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Julius Arthur Hemphill was born on January 24, 1938 in Fort Worth, Texas and attended M. Terrell High School, studied clarinet with John Carter before taking up the saxophone due to the early influence of Gerry Mulligan.
Hemphill joined the Army in 1964, served for several years, and later, for a brief period, performed with Ike Turner. In 1968 he moved to St. Louis, Missouri and co-founded the multidisciplinary arts collective. This brought together saxophonists Oliver Lake and Hamiet Bluiett, trumpeters Baikida Carroll and Floyd LeFlore and writer/director Malinke Robert Elliott.
A move to New York City in the mid-1970s witnessed Julius thriving in the free jazz community. He gave saxophone lessons to David Sanborn, and Tim Berne among others. He founded the World Saxophone Quartet in 1976 after collaboration with Anthony Braxton. He remained a member until the early 1990s and then formed a saxophone quintet.
Hemphill recorded over twenty albums as a leader and another ten records with the World Saxophone Quartet and recorded or performed with Bjork, Bill Frisell, Jean-Pau Bourelly and others. Late in his life his ill-health including diabetes and heart surgery, forced Hemphill to stop playing saxophone, but he continued writing music. His saxophone sextet, led by Marty Ehrlich, also released several albums of Hemphill’s music, but without Hemphill playing. The most recent is entitled The Hard Blues, posthumously recorded live in Lisbon.
Prior to his death on April 2, 1995 in new York City, composer and alto saxophonist and flautist recorded a multi-hour interview on his life and music for the Smithsonian Institute and it is held at the archive center of the National Museum of American History in Washington D.C.
Jerry Blake was born Jacinto Chabania on January 23, 1908 in Gary, Indiana and grew up in Nashville, Tennessee. He began his musical education playing violin before switching to reeds.
In 1924 he toured with the Sells-Fioto Circus Band but was left stranded in Chicago. Making the best of the situation, he joined Al Wynn’s band, then played with Bobby Lee and Charlie Turner. He then toured Europe in 1928-29 as a member of Sam Wooding’s ensemble.
Back in the States in the 1930s Jerry played in the US with Chick Webb,Zack Whyte and Don Redman, then was off to Europe again with Willie Lewis from 1934 to 1935. After his return home he spent time performing with Claude Hopkins, Fletcher Henderson and Cab Calloway, acting as the latter’s musical director during his 1938-42 stint.
In the early 1940s Blake played with Count Basie, Earl Hines, Lionel Hampton and Redman again. Sometime around 1943 he had a mental breakdown and never played again for the rest of his life, most of which he spent in institutions. Alto saxophonist and clarinetist Jerry Blake, who never recorded as a leader, passed away on December 31, 1961.
Michał Urbaniak was born on January 22, 1943 in Warsaw, Poland. He started his music education during high school and continued from 1961 in Warsaw in the violin class of Tadeusz Wronski. Learning to play the saxophone he first played in a Dixieland band, and later with Zbigniew Namyslowski and the Jazz Rockers, performing during the 1961 Jazz Jamboree festival.
The following year Michal played with Andrzej Trzaskowski band, The Wreckers, touring festivals and clubs in the USA in Newport, San Francisco, Chicago, Washington and New York City. A return to Poland saw him working with the Krzysztof Komeda Quintet from 1962 to 1964, touring Scandinavia and remaining to form his own band with Wojciech Karolak, that became starting point for the famous Michał Urbaniak Fusion.
Urbaniak returned to Poland and the violin, and created the self-named Michał Urbaniak Group, to which he invited, among others, vocalist Urszula Dudziak, pianist Adam Makowicz, bassist Pawel Jarzebski and on drums Czeslaw Bartowski. Their debut recording on the international scene was in 1970 with Parathyphus B, and during the Montreux ’71 festival, he was awarded “Grand Prix” for the Best Soloist and a scholarship to the Berklee Colege of Music, though he declined to attend.
He played his final concert in Poland in 1973 and emigrated with Urszula Dudziak to the United States, signed with Columbia Records, formed the band Fusion and released Super Constellation. His 1978 Urbanizer project fused rap, hip-hop and a R&B vocal quartet. By 1995 he was engaging a 60-piece full symphony with jazz group, rapper and Apple computer in concert and recorded both CD and DVD.
Over the course of his career he has performed and recorded with Steve Jordan, Marcus Miller, Kenny Kirkland, Tony Bun, Omar Hakim, Victor Bailey, Weather Report, Freddie Hubbard, Elvin Jones, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, George Benson, Billy Cobham, Joe Zawinul, Ron Carter, Kenny Barron, Buster Williams and Quincy Jones.
Violinist Michal Urbaniak played on the 1985 session of the Miles Davis Tutu album and in 2012 appeared in the Polish film My Father’s Bike. He hs recorded thirty-eight albums to date and continues to perform, record and compose.