Anthony Braxton was born June 4, 1945 in Chicago, Illinois. He studied philosophy at Roosevelt University and early in his career he led a trio with violinist Leroy Jenkins and trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith. He was involved with the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) founded in his birthplace.
In 1969, Braxton recorded the double album For Alto, the first full-length album for unaccompanied saxophone. The album’s tracks were dedicated to Cecil Taylor and John Cage among others. The album influenced other artists like soprano saxophonist Steve Lacy and trombonist George Lewis, who would go on to record their own solo albums.
Joining pianist Chick Corea’s trio with bassist Dave Holland and Barry Altschul they form the short-lived avant garde quartet Circle around 1970. When Corea broke up the group to form Return To Forever, Holland and Altschul remained with Braxton for much of the 1970s as part of a quartet, rotating Kenny Wheeler, George Lewis and Ray Anderson. With Sam Rivers they recorded Holland’s This group recorded for Arista Records and the core trio with saxophonist Sam Rivers recorded Holland’s Conference of the Birds on ECM. In the 1970s he recorded duets with Lewis and with synthesizer player Richard Teitelbaum. In 1975, he released Muhal with the Creative Construction Company featuring Richard Davis, Steve McCall, Muhal Richard Abrams, Wadada Leo Smith and Leroy Jenkins. He would oo on to record through the 70s, 80s and early 90s wth Marilyn Crispell, Mark Dresser and Gerry Hemingway.
He performed at the Woodstock Jazz Festival, was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship, composed his Ghost Trance Music released on his now defunct Braxton House label, and the final Ghost House live recordings at the New York City Iridium club were released by Firehouse 12 label in 2007. He recorded a prodigious series of multi-disc sets of standards during the 1990 and early 2000s
Besides playing saxophone, Braxton also plays clarinet, flute and piano, performs and records in the avant-garde, improvisation, bebop and mainstream genres, composes operas, orchestral and classical compositions, and is an avid chess player. He is the author of multiple volumes explaining his theories and pieces, such as the philosophical three-volume Triaxium Writings and the five-volume Composition Notes.
Composer and instrumentalist Anthony Braxton has released well over 100 albums since the 1960s, has taught at Mills College in the Eighties, was Professor of Music at Wesleyan University from the 1990s until his retirement at the end of 2013, and in 2013, was named a 2014 National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master.
Walter Dewey Redman was born May 17, 1931 in Fort Worth, Texas. He attended I.M. Terrell High School and played saxophone in the school band with Ornette Coleman, Prince Lasha and Charles Moffett. After high school he briefly enrolled in the electrical engineering program at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama but became disillusioned with the program and returned home to Texas. In 1953, he earned a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Arts from Prairie View Agricultural and Mechanical University and while attending switched from clarinet to alto saxophone, eventually to tenor.
Following his degree, Redman served for two years in the Army and upon his discharge he began working on a master’s degree in education at the University of North Texas. While there he taught music to fifth graders in Bastrop, Texas and worked as a freelance saxophonist at night and on weekends around Austin, Texas. By 1957 he graduated in Education with a minor in Industrial Arts.
1959 saw him moving to San Francisco, California as result of an early collaboration with clarinetist Donald Rafael Garrett. He would go on to perform with Ornette Coleman, from 1968 to 1972 and recording New York Is Now!, among others. Dewey was also a part of Keith Jarrett’s American Quartet from 1971 – 1976, whose album The Survivors’ Suite was voted Jazz Album of the Year by Melody Maker in 1978.
In the mid-70s Redman formed the quartet Old And New Dreams with Coleman alumni Don Cherry, Charlie Haden and Ed Blackwell. They recorded four albums in the period to 1987. He performed and recorded as an accompanying musician with jazz musicians who performed in varying styles within the post-1950s jazz idiom, including drummer Paul Motian, Pat Metheny, Jane Bunnett, Anthony Cox, Cameron Brown, Billy Hart, Matt Wilson, Roswell Rudd, Randy Weston, Clifford Thornton, Jon Ballantyne, Michael Boclan, David Bond, Leroy Jenkins, Dane Belany and Michel Benita.
As a leader with more than a dozen recordings, Dewey established himself as one of the more prolific tenor players of his generation. Though generally associated with free jazz, he would also play standards and ballads reminiscent of the blues and post-bop mainstream and would sometimes hum into his sax while performing.
Tenor saxophonist Dewey Redman, who occasionally played alto saxophone, the Chinese suona and clarinet mainly in the free jazz genre, passed away from liver failure in Brooklyn, New York, on September 2, 2006. He was the subject of an award-winning documentary film Dewey Time and recorded two albums with his son Joshua.
Woody Herman was born Woodrow Charles Thomas Herman on May 16, 1913 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. His father had a deep love for show business and this influenced him at an early age. As a child he worked as a Vaudeville singer and tap-dancer, then started to play the clarinet and saxophone by age 12.
1936 saw him joining the Tom Gerun band and his first recorded vocals were Lonesome Me and My Heart’s at Ease. He also performed with the Harry Sosnick Orchestra, Gus Arnheim and Isham Jones, the latter writing numerous popular songes including It Had To Be You. When Jones retired Woody acquired the orchestra, which became known for its orchestrations of the blues. They first recorded for the Decca label as a cover band, eventually getting their first hit with Woodchopper’s Ball in 1939.He went on to have hits with The Golden Wedding and Blue Prelude.
As bebop was gradually replacing swing Herman commissioned Dizzy Gillespie as an arranger and he provided him three arrangements of Woody‘n You, Swing Shift and Down Under in 1942, heralding a change in the music. By 1945 Herman was with Columbia Records, recording the First Herd, the very successful Laura, the theme song to the 1944 movie of the same name. That group became famous for its progressive jazz that was heavily influenced by Duke Ellington and Count Basie. By the end of 1946 the big band era was over and he disbanded his only financially profitable group.
In 1947, Herman organized the Second Herd that remained together until 1987. This band was also known as The Four Brothers Band derived from the song and featured three tenor and one baritone saxophone of Zoot Sims, Serge Chaloff, Herbie Steward and Stan Getz. In the band was also Al Cohn, Gene Ammons, Lou Levy, Oscar Pettiford, Terry Gibbs and Shelly Manne and they had hits with Early Autumn and The Goof and I.
Herman would go on to perform in movies with Billie Holiday and Louis Armstrong, record for RCA, Capitol, MGM and Verve record labels, put together his Third Herd and variations of the New Thundering Herd and by the Seventies was touring and working more in jazz education by offering workshops and taking on younger sidemen.
The 1980s saw Herman’s return to straight-ahead jazz, dropping some of the newer rock and fusion approaches he had used the previous decade. He continued to perform with his health in decline, chiefly to pay back taxes that were owed because of his business manager’s bookkeeping in the 1960s. Herman owed the IRS millions of dollars and was in danger of eviction from his home. He eventually passed leadership duties to reed section leader Frank Tiberi.
Clarinetist, alto and soprano saxophonist, singer and big band leader Woody Herman was awarded two Grammys for Best Big Band Jazz Album for Encore and Giant Steps, The Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, had won Down Beat, Esquire and Metronome polls. He was the feature of a documentary film titled Woody Herman: Blue Flame- Portrait of a Jazz Legend, and was a featured half-time performer at Super Bowl VII. He passed away on October 29, 1987.
Richard Edwin Morrissey was born May 9, 1940 in Horley, England. Better known to the world as Dick Morrissey, he was self-taught and started playing clarinet in his school band, The Delta City Jazzmen, at the age of sixteen with fellow pupils Robin Mayhew, Eric Archer, Steve Pennells, Glyn Greenfield and young brother Chris on tea-chest bass. He then joined the Original Climax Jazz Band. This stint he followed with becoming a member of the Gus Galbraith Septet and was introduced to Charlie Parker by alto-sax player Peter King. This prompted him to begin specializing on tenor saxophone.
Making his name as a hard bop player, Dick appeared regularly at the Marquee Club in 1960 and recorded his first solo album for Fantana Records It’s Morrissey, Man! the next year at the age of 21. It featured pianist Stan Jones, drummer Colin Barnes, and The Jazz Couriers founding member bassist Malcolm Cecil.
Spending most of 1962 in Calcutta, India as part of the Ashley Kozak Quartet, he played three 2-hour sessions seven days a week. Returning to the UK Dick formed a quartet with Harry Smith, Phil Bates, Bill Eyden, Jackie Dougan or Phil Seamen. They recorded three albums between 1963 and 1966,played regular gigs at The Bull’s Head and Ronnie Scott’s, and played with Ian Hamer, South and
During this time he also played extensively in bands led by Ian Hamer and Harry South, The Six Sounds, performed briefly with Ted Heath’s Big Band, John Dankworth and his Orchestra, was a part of Eric Burdon and The Animals Big Band with Stan Robinson, Al Gay, Paul Carroll, Ian Carr, Kenny Wheeler and Greg Brown.
He would go on to tour and/or record with visiting musicians Brother Jack McDuff, Jimmy Witherspoon, J. J. Jackson, Sonny Stitt and Ernest Ranglin. He would win many Melody Maker Jazz Polls, toured and recorded with Average White Band, team up with guitarist Jim Mullen of Brian Auger’s Oblivion Express and released seven albums of their 16-year association.
Throughout his career as a leader of his own combos, Morrissey he was an in-demand musician playing with Tubby hayes, Bill LeSage, Roy Budd, Charlie Watts, Georgie Fame, Anie Ross, Dusty Springfield, Paul McCartney, Freddie Mack, Orange Juice, Herbie Mann, Shakatak, Peter Gabriel, David Fathead Newman, Boz Scaggs, Johnny Griffin, David Sanborn, Steve Gadd, Richard Tee, Billy Cobham, The Brecker Brothers, Sonny Fortune, Teddy Edwards and the list of players goes on and on. He is known for playing the haunting saxophone solo on the Vangelis composition Love Theme for the 1982 film Blade Runner.
Tenor saxophonist Dick Morrissey, who also played soprano saxophone and flute, passed away on November 8, 2000, aged 60, in Kent, England after many years battling various forms of cancer.
Herbie Steward was born Herbert Bickford Steward on May 7, 1926 in Los Angeles, California. He was widely known for being one of the tenor saxophones in the Four Brothers, alongside Stan Getz, Zoot Sims and Serge Chaloff in Woody Herman’s Second Herd.
Having a nice tone, Steward interacted well and was an above-average soloist. He also played alto saxophone, soprano saxophone and clarinet and was active from the 1940s to the Sixties and played in the swing and big band jazz genres. During his active years he recorded or performed with Earle Spencer, Smith Dobson, Tecumseh “Tee” Carson, Eddie Duran, John Mosher, Eddie Moore, Gene DiNovi, Sir Charles Thompson, David Young, Yukio Kimura, Kohnosuke Saijoh, Al Cohn, Stan Kenton, Chaloff and Sims.
Tenor saxophonist Herbie Steward, who has only a few albums as a leader in print at present, passed away on August 9, 2003 in Clearlake, California.
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