Antonio Hart was born on September 30, 1968 in Baltimore, Maryland. He attended the Baltimore School for the Arts initially trained as a classical musician. After graduating he attended and studied with Andy McGhee at Berklee College of Music and his interest turned to jazz. This was followed by a master’s degree from Queens College, city University of New York.
He gained recognition for his work with Roy Hargrove and has performed an recorded with Robin Eubanks, Dave Holland, McCoy Tyner, and Dee Dee Bridgewater. He has recorded nine albums as a leader
Alto saxophonist Antonio Hart is a member of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity and currently continues to perform, record and tour in conjunction with his serving as a. full-time professor of jazz studies in Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College City University of New York.
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John Gilmore was born on September 28, 1931. Growing up in Chicago, Illinois he played clarinet from the age of 14 and took up the tenor saxophone while serving in the United States Air Force from 1948 to 1952. He then pursued a musical career, playing briefly with pianist Earl Hines before encountering Sun Ra in 1953.
For the next four decades, he recorded and performed almost exclusively with Sun Ra. This was puzzling to some, who noted Gilmore’s talent, and thought he could be a major star like John Coltrane or Sonny Rollins. Despite being five years older than Gilmore, Coltrane was impressed with his playing, and took informal lessons from him in the late 1950s. His epochal, proto-free jazz “Chasin’ the Trane” was inspired partly by Gilmore’s sound.
In 1957 he co-led with Clifford Jordan a hard bop Blue Note date Blowing In from Chicago with Horace Silver, Curly Russell and Art Blakey providing the rhythm section. In the mid-1960s John toured with the Jazz Messengers and participated in recording sessions with Paul Bley, Andrew Hill, Pete La Roca, McCoy Tyner, Freddie Hubbard, Elmo Hope, Phil Upchurch and others. By 1970 he was co-leading a recording with Jamaican trumpeter Dizzy Reece. Throughout his years of playing he mainly focused on the avant-garde with the Sun Ra Arkestra.
Gilmore’s devotion to Sun Ra was due, in part, to the latter’s use of harmony which he considered both unique and a logical extension of bebop. He occasionally doubled on drums and also played bass clarinet until Sun Ra hired Robert Cummings as a clarinet specialist in the mid-1950s. However, the tenor saxophonist made a huge contribution to Sun Ra’s recordings and was the Arkestra’s leading sideman, being given solos on almost every track on which he appeared.
John is known for his straight ahead post-bop running changes and fluency with a rhythmic and motive approach in addition to his long passages based exclusively on high-register squeals in the more abstract. His fame shrouded in the relative anonymity of Sun Ra’s Arkestra membership, his straight ahead post-bop talents are exemplified in his solo on the Arkestra’s rendition of “Blue Lou,” as seen on Mystery, Mr. Ra. Avant-garde tenor saxophonist John Gilmore led the Arkestra for a few years after SunRa’s death and up until his own of August 19, 1995.
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Hank Levy was born Henry Jacob Levy September 27, 1927 in Baltimore, Maryland. He studied composition with George Thaddeus Jones at Catholic University in Washington, DC. He became interested in odd meters used by Maurice Ravel, Paul Hindemith and Igor Stravinsky, pre-dating Dave Brubeck’s 1959 Time Out album.
A prolific arranger of jazz standards, though few of them were published during his lifetime, Hank was especially fond of the music of the Broadway stage as it came through bebop by composers Cole Porter, George Gershwin and Jerome Kern. However, in his last years, he more frequently turned to bebop originals by Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and Tadd Dameron, sans odd meters but displaying distinctive creativity.
Levy began his full-time college teaching career at Towson State University in late 1967 creating The Towson State Jazz Ensemble. By 1970, his hard work and passion for teaching brought the band to national prominence when his Towson State Jazz Ensemble competed and won the outstanding band honors at the Notre Dame Jazz Festival. They recorded “2 + 2 = 5”, an album of six of his compositions and would go on to recorded several others over the years. Upon retirement in 1992 he founded the Hank Levy Legacy Band and recorded two albums for Sonority Records, Hank At Home and An Odd Time Was Had By All.
The 2014 jazz film Whiplash takes its title from Levy’s composition which originally appeared on the 1973 album Soaring by Don Ellis and portions of which are played several times during the course of the picture by the classroom Big Band ensemble. Composer, arranger and saxophonist Hank Levy, best known for his work with Stan Kenton and Don Ellis Orchestras, passed away in Parkville, Maryland on September 18, 2001.
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Gary Bartz was born on September 26, 1940 in Baltimore, Maryland. E graduated from the Baltimore City College High School and Juilliard School and got his break playing saxophone into the music industry in his father’s club with Art Blakey, making his debut recording on Blakey’s 1965 Soul Finger album.
Bartz joined the Charles Mingus Jazz Workshop from 1962-1964 where he worked with Eric Dolphy and McCoy Tyner. This was followed with stints with Abbey Lincoln and Max Roach in the mid-Sixties. By ’68 he was a part of McCoy’s Expression band.
Gary has played with Jackie McLean, and with Miles Davis on his Live-Evil project. He formed the group Ntu Troop, and has combined soul, funk, African music, hard bop and avant-garde jazz. He has recorded more than 40 solo albums and over 200 as a guest artist with the likes of the Rance Allen Group, Gene Ammons, Kenny Burrell, Donald Byrd, Norman Connors, Antonio Hart, Phyllis Hyman, Barney McAll, Alphonse Mouzon, Grachan Moncur III, Rare Silk, Pharoah Sanders and Woody Shaw amongst others.
Post-bop alto saxophonist Gary Bartz who also plays soprano saxophone and clarinet has won a Grammy Award in 2005 for his playing on McCoy Tyner’s Illuminations and currently teaches at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Ohio when not touring and recording.
Sil Austin was born September 17, 1929 in Dunnellon, Florida. He taught himself to play saxophone when he was 12, won the Ted Mack Amateur Hour in St. Petersburg, Florida in 1945 playing Danny Boy and his performance got him a contract with Mercury Records. He moved to New York City and studied for a time at the Juilliard School of Music.
Austin briefly played with Roy Eldridge in 1949, with Cootie Williams in 1951-52 and Tiny Bradshaw from 1952-54, before setting up his own successful touring group. He recorded over thirty albums for Mercury, and had a number of Top 40 hits with popular tunes like Danny Boy, that became his signature song, My Mother’s Eyes and Slow Walk, the latter hitting #17 on the charts.
After leaving Mercury in the 1960s, he recorded with a few other labels, including SSS, owned by Shelby Singleton, and recorded a few albums in Japan in the 1970s. Saxophonist Sil Austin, who regarded Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young and Sonny Stitt as his major influences, passed away of prostate cancer on September 1, 2001.
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