Ken Gregory was born on April 26, 1950 in Atlanta, Georgia and began playing trumpet at age nine, playing in the Northside Highlander Concert Band for three years beginning in 1960. After four years of private training, during his time in high school he sat 1st chair trumpet in the concert band from 1963 to 1968. He went on to work as conductor and lead trumpeter for the Six Flags Over Georgia orchestra until 1971, then learned to play guitar, electric bass and keyboards.
Gregory started playing the nightclub circuit in 1971 for the next nine years. By the Eighties as performance venues transitioned from clubs to private parties, he partnered with an electronics technician and moved into the professional studio business.
As a composer he has been commissioned to write for Warner Bros. Films, CNN, the Weather Channel, numerous radio and television advertisers, songwriters and lyricists. He has added trombone to his arsenal of instruments and has been recorded on thousands of studio sessions and has engineered audio and MIDI programming.
He performs original compositions with his band Solid State and has been featured on some of Atlanta’s best radio stations, on PBS Television’s Jazz Atlanta, and has performed at the Montreux Jazz, Atlanta Jazz and Inman Park festivals. Trumpeter and engineer Ken Gregory continues to be active in the professional music and record business in Atlanta.
George Edward “Ted” Heath was born March 30, 1902 in Wandsworth, England. After playing tenor saxophone at the age of six, encouraged by his father and leader of the Wandsworth Town Brass Band, he later switched to trombone.
Earning a living for his family in the post-war years Ted formed a band along with his brother Harold and three other musicians, played to commuters outside London Bridge Station and outside the Queen’s Hall Gardens venue. It was here that he was spotted and asked to play with the Jack Hylton Band who had a residence there. Though not having the experience required he did not last long, his professional career began and he went on to pursue a career as a professional musician.
His first real band gig was in the 1920s touring Europe with the American band called the Southern Syncopation Orchestra, followed by the Metro-Gnomes, a small band fronted by Ennis Parkes, then again joined Hylton’s theatre band. Heath played with the Kit Cat Club band led by American Al Starita, and heard Bunny Berrigan, Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey, and Paul Whiteman when they toured Europe.
By 1928 he joined Bert Ambrose’s orchestra at London’s Mayfair Hotel and stayed until 1935 when he moved on to Sydney Lipton’s orchestra at the Grosvenor House. But it was Ambrose who taught Heath how to be a bandleader during a time that Heath became the most prominent trombone player in Britain, renowned for his perfect tone. He played on numerous recordings. During the late ’30s and early ’40s, he played as a sideman on several Benny Carter sessions.
In 1940, Heath joined Geraldo’s orchestra and played numerous concerts and broadcasts and became one of the “boys” in Geraldo’s vocal group, ‘Three Boys and a Girl’. His composition That Lovely Weekend with Dorothy Carless on vocal became an immediate wartime hit. The royalties from this song and another composition Gonna Love That Guy allowed Heath to form his own band.
On D-Day 1944, the Ted Heath & His Music band was officially formed and played on the BBC radio. He went on to provide music for film, performed dates with Lena Horne and Ella Fitzgerald, toured Scandinavia, were regular Poll Winners in the Melody Maker and the New Musical Express and performed twice for King George VI. He held Sunday Night Swing Sessions at the London Palladium from 1947 to 1955.
During the Fifties he toured the U.S. that contracted to play Nat King Cole, June Christy and the Four Freshmen and consisted of 43 concerts in 30 cities in 31 days climaxing in a Carnegie Hall. So successful was the tour that after so many encore calls at the Carnegie Hall performance that Nat King Cole had to come out on stage and ask people to leave. Ted would later successfully tour the US again and also toured Australia and Europe.
In addition to Cole, Heath established close personal and professional relationships with Woody Herman, Count Basie, Marlene Dietrich, Johnny Mathis and Tony Bennett. He worked with Sarah Vaughan, Mel Torme, Donna Hightower and others. His band members included Ronnie Scott, Stan Tracey, Kenny Baker, Duncan Campbell, Don Rendell, Tommy Whittle, Don Lusher, Wally Smith, Jack Parnell, Ronnie Verrell, Johnny Hawksworth and singers Dickie Valentine, Lita Roza and Dennis Lotis. in the ’50s gave the band more teenage appeal.
He commissioned over 800 original scores and arrangements from Tadd Dameron, George Shearing, Reg Owen, John Keating, Kenny Graham, Ken Moule, Robert Farnon, Woolf Phillips, Ron Roullier, Bill Russo, Johnny Douglas, Ron Goodwin and Ralph Dollimore.
Trombonist, composer and bandleader Ted Heath, who led the greatest post-war big band and recording over 100 albums, passed away on November 18, 1969 at the age of 67.
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Abram Lincoln was born March 29, 1907 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, one of six brothers, and began playing trombone at age five, instructed by his cornet playing father John. His older brother Bud, would also become a professional musician, as would brothers Roy and Chet.
He began working professionally in the early 1920s and 1930s spending time playing with Adrian Rollini’s California Ramblers, replacing Tommy Dorsey. Lincoln also performed with Arthur Lange, Ace Brigode, Roger Wolfe Kahn, Paul Whiteman, and Ozzie Nelson.
As a studio musician, Abe most prominently performed occasional solos and dixieland-stylings during the musical portions on the Old Time Radio show on NBC. In the 1930s and into the 1940s he work primarily in Los Angeles, California studios as a sideman. He played on Fibber McGee and Molly from the mid-40s until 1953 with the Billy Mills Orchestra.
During the Dixieland revival of the 1950s Abe’s career saw a resurgence, playing with Wingy Manone, the Rampart Street Paraders, Red Nichols, Bob Scobey, Pete Fountain, Jack Teagarden, and Matty Matlock.
Lincoln played his trombone for music and sound effects for Walter Lantz Woody Woodpecker cartoons and some Buster Keaton comedies. He recorded with Wild Bill Davison and did freelance work into the 1970s, though he went into semi-retirement by the 1980s. Trombonist Abe Lincoln, who played weddings and special occasions, passed on June 8, 2000 in Van Nuys, California.
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Roy Williams was born on March 7, 1937 in Bolton, Lancashire, England and began his career as a trombonist during the British trad jazz movement of the 1950s. He played with trumpeter Mike Peters and clarinetist Terry Lightfoot in the early Sixties, then joined trumpeter Alex Welsh’s Dixieland outfit in 1965, replacing Roy Crimmins. While with Welsh, he played with visiting American jazz players as Wild Bill Davison, Bud Freeman, and Ruby Braff.
Williams left Welsh in 1978 and joined Humphrey Lyttlelton’s band, staying with the latter for four years. In the ’80s he began working freelance and soon became a first call trombone playing with clarinetist Peanuts Hucko, tenor saxophonist Scott Hamilton, trumpeter Bent Persson and clarinetist John Barnes. He performed with The World’s Greatest Jazz Band.
Among Roy’s recordings are Gruesome Twosome on the Black Lion label, and Interplay for Sine Records, both with Barnes. In 1998 he co-led a swing-oriented quintet date with saxophonist Danny Moss titled Steamers! on the Nagel-Heyer label. Though not as active as he was up through the Nineties, trombonist Roy Williams won numerous jazz polls, toured Europe and the United States and remains a popular presence when he’s on the British mainstream jazz scene.
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Robert Trowers was born on March 3, 1957 in Brooklyn, New York into a family of musicians that fostered a love for music at an early age. After the mandatory piano lessons during early childhood, he developed an interest in the trombone from listening to the music of the Swing Era. Among the bands that sparked his interest in jazz were those of Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Glenn Miller, and Artie Shaw. The trombonists that influenced Robert were Laurence Brown, “Tricky Sam” Nanton, Tyree Glenn, Tommy Dorsey, Glenn Miller and Jack Teagarden, J.J. Johnson, Jimmy Cleveland, Curtis Fuller, and Frank Rosolino.
During his college years Trowers played around New York City with Jaki Byard’s Apollo Stompers, Ray Abrams/Hank Doughty Big Band, Charles Byrd, Ray Draper, Cecil Payne, Harold Cumberbatch, Bill Hardman, Junior Cook, and Mario Escalera. His first European tour and Carnegie Hall date were with Abdullah Ibrahim’s band Ujammah in 1979.
In 1982, he joined Lionel Hampton for three and a half years, then a year freelancing in New York and teaching in the Public School system, before another European tour with Illinois Jacquet. Upon returning he joined the Count Basie Orchestra, under the direction of Frank Foster, playing the trombone in this band for the next eight years, leaving in 1995 to pursue other opportunities. The years with those stellar bands put him onstage with some of the greatest names in jazz, including Sarah Vaughan, Dizzy Gillespie, Billy Eckstine, Nancy Wilson, Cab Calloway, Jay McShann, Sonny Stitt, Benny Carter, Al Grey, Frank Sinatra, Joe Williams, Tony Bennett, Randy Weston, George Gee and many others.
He went on to record two albums as a leader, Synopsis and Point of View in the Eighties, toured with Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra led by Wynton Marsalis, and later became a member of the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band under Jon Faddis. Robert worked a short tour with T.S. Monk, did a European tour with a traveling theatre production of the Broadway show Black and Blue, and gained membership into the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra.
Along with Derrick Gardner and Frank Foster, he started a nonprofit arts organization named Progressive Artistry that promoted jazz in all its various forms in concerts and lecture/demonstrations in inner city neighborhoods until 2004. Most recently, trombonist Robert Trowers has been on the faculty of North Carolina Central University.
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