James M. Knepper was born November 22, 1927 in Los Angeles, California. He began playing trombone at nine, started playing professionally at 15 and worked with the big bands Freddie Slack, Roy Porter, Charlie Spivak, Charlie Barnet, Woody Herman and Claude Thornhill during the late forties and early ‘50s.
A good friend and arranging/transcribing partner of bassist and composer Charles Mingus, Knepper was twice on the receiving end of Mingus’ legendary temper. The first incident was being a punch in the mouth while onstage at a memorial concert in Philadelphia, the second punch landed in Mingus’ apartment broke one of his teeth ruining his embouchure and resulting in the permanent loss of the top octave of his range on the trombone, thus ending their working relationship.
Throughout his career Jimmy worked with Lee Konitz, Stan Kenton, Herbie Mann, Gil Evans, Benny Goodman, Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra, toured Africa and the Soviet Union, and cut sessions as a leader several albums on Debut, Bethlehem, Blackhawk, Steeplechase and Criss Cross labels among others.
Knepper’s nimble technique enabled him to articulate the trombone more in the manner of a saxophone coupled with the slurs and tonal variations of his predecessors. His improvisation was filled with subtle surprises and his reputation has remained strong in the jazz world over the years. After a long battle with Parkinson’s disease, Jimmy Knepper passed away on June 14, 2003.
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Roswell Rudd, born Roswell Hopkins Rudd, Jr. on November 17, 1935, grew up in Sharon, Connecticut. Graduating from Yale University where he had played and recorded two albums of boisterous trad-jazz with Eli’s Chosen Six, a Dixieland band of Yale students that Rudd joined in the mid-’50s. But his landmark collaborations with Cecil Taylor, Archie Shepp, John Tchicai and Steve Lacy grew out of the lessons learned while playing rags and stomps in college.
In the 1960s, Rudd participated in key free jazz recordings with his ultra avant-garde New York Art Quartet, the soundtrack of the 1964 film New York Eye and Ear Control, Michael Mantler & Carla Bley’s 1968 Jazz Composer’s Orchestra-Communications with Cecil Taylor; and has collaborations with Don Cherry, Pharoah Sanders, Larry Coryell and Gato Barbieri. A major factor in his career has been his lifelong friendships with saxophonists Archie Shepp and Steve Lacy, recording and performing the music of Thelonious Monk numerous times with the later.
Roswell is skilled in a variety of jazz genres but is best known for his avant-garde contributions. Rudd has taught ethnomusicology at Bard College and the University of Maine. Over a period of three decades he has assisted with world music song style – Cantometrics and Global Jukebox projects. He has collaborated and recorded with Malian, Mongolian and with Hispanic New Yorkers.
The Grammy Award-nominated jazz trombonist and composer Roswell Rudd conducts master classes and workshops around the world and since 1962 Rudd has worked extensively with saxophonist Archie Shepp.
Clifton Anderson was born October 5, 1957 in Harlem, New York City, grew up surrounded by music and exhibited an affinity for music at an early age. His father was a church organist/choir director, his mother a singer and pianist. When he was just seven years old he got his first trombone, a gift from his uncle Sonny Rollins.
Clifton attended the prestigious Fiorello LaGuardia High School of Music and Art followed by a year at SUNY – Stony Brook in 1974, then matriculating through the Manhattan School of Music, along with his friends Angela Bofill and Kenny Kirkland. It was during this tenure that he became involved in jazz organizations, ensembles and workshops that led to his first recording date with Carlos Garnett in 1976.
By the time he graduated Anderson was established as one the young “in demand” trombonists on the New York scene. He became a part of Slide Hampton’s “World of Trombones” and played alongside folks like Steve Turre, Clifford Adams, Papo Vazquez, Frank Lacy, Conrad Herwig and Robin Eubanks among others. However, it was J.J. Johnson who remained Clifton’s greatest influence.
The early 1980’s found Clifton working with a “who’s who” of diverse musical giants: from Frank Foster, McCoy Tyner, Clifford Jordan, Stevie Wonder, Dizzy Gillespie, Merv Griffin and The Mighty Sparrow to Lester Bowie, Paul Simon, Muhal Richard Abrams, T.S. Monk and Dionne Warwick among others. During this period Clifton also played on the Broadway shows Dreamgirls and Nine.
In 1983 Anderson got the call to join his uncle, Sonny Rollins, touring worldwide and appearing on his recordings. As a leader he has recorded three albums “Landmarks”, “Decade” and “And So We Carry On”. Between musical and administrative duties, running Sonny’s merchandising company, he has given academia much, teaching both privately and publicly and as an artist in residence at Duke University. He continues to perform, tour and record.
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Steve Turre was born September 12, 1948 in Omaha, Nebraska but was raised in San Francisco, California to Mexican American parents. He began studying the violin but switched to trombone by age ten, later studying at the University of North Texas. By 1968 he was playing with Rahsaan Roland Kirk, went on to gig with Carlos Santana and toured with Ray Charles in 1972.
In 1970, encouraged by Kirk, Turre started playing conch and other seashells as musical lip-reed instrument. He has a collection of shells of various sizes, which he has picked up during his travels around the world. Turre leads “Sanctified Shells,” which is a “shell choir” made up of brass players who double on seashell releasing their first album in 1993.
Steve has had a long experience with Latin jazz he has become a skilled cowbell and Venezuelan maracas player. The internationally renowned trombonist, recording artist, arranger, and educator has won the Down Beat Reader’s poll for best trombonist in 1998, 1999, 2001, 2002 and 2006. He has been the trombonist for the Saturday Night Live band since 1985 and has taught jazz trombone at the Manhattan School of Music since 1988.
Turre has recorded 18 albums as a leader and has worked as a sideman on another 206 sessions with such luminaries as Monty Alexander, Carl Allen, Art Ensemble of Chicago, Frank Wess, Ray Barretto, Andy Bey, Art Blakey, Lester Bowie, Don Braden, Cecil Bridgewater, McCoy Tyner and Kenny Burrell among others. He continues to perform, record and tour.
Clyde Bernhardt, born July 11, 1905 in Gold Hill, North Carolina, grew up in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. He started playing trombone at 17 and in the Twenties performed in a series of lesser-known ensembles such as Bill Eady’s Ellwood Syncopators, Tillie Vennie, Odie Cromwell’s Wolverine Syncopators and The Whitman Sisters to name a few. In 1931 he worked with King Oliver and throughout the thirties played with Alex Hill, The Alabamians, Billy Fowler, Ira Coffey’s Walkathonians and Vernon Andrade.
In 1937 he joined the orchestra of Edgar Haye until 1942 then worked with Jay McShann, Cecil Scott, Luis Russell, Leonard Feather, Pete Johnson, Wynonie Harris, Claude Hopkins and the Bascomb brothers. He led his own ensemble, called the Blue Blazers, before returning to play with Russell from 1948-51. He recorded as a leader between 1946 and 1953, and on some of the recordings he sings under the pseudonym Ed Barron.
From 1952 to 1970 he played part-time with Joe Garland’s Society Orchestra followed with his leading the Harlem Blues and Jazz Band from 1972 and 1979 with sidemen Doc Cheatham, Charlie Holmes, Happy Caldwell, Tommy Benford and Miss Rhapsody. Shortly before his death he published his autobiography “I Remember” co-written with Sheldon Harris. As Bernhardt’s health began to fail in 1979, he gave up band leadership but played in Barry Martyn’s Legends of Jazz until his death on May 20, 1986 in Newark, New Jersey.
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