Shigeharu Mukai was born on January 21, 1949 in Nagoya, Japan. While attending Doshisha University he played trombone in the big band and won the 1970 Yamaha Light Music Contest. A move to Tokyo in 1971 saw Shigeharu career taking off in the bands of Yoshio Otomo, Fumio Itabashi, Ryo Kawasaki, Terumasa Hino, Sadao Watanabe and Yosuke Yamashita and along with Hiroshi Fukamarau, he led a band with two trombones.
In 1972 he formed his own band with which he won the Shinjuki Jazz Festival prize. Dissolving the group in 1977/78 he lived in New York City, afterwards he returned to Japan, leading various bands and working with Kazumi Watanabe, Naoya Matsuoka, Akira Sakata and again with Yosuke Yamashita. He went on to play with Elvn Jone and Billy Hart.
In 1982, he performed along with Astrud Gilberto on the album So & So: Mukai Meets Gilberto on the Denon label. He later founded the quartet Hot Session with Ryojiro Furusawa, Fumio Itabashi and Mitsuaki Furuno, and toured Japan in 1991-92.
In 1992 he released his debut album as a leader Better Day Of Shigeharu Mukai on the Japanese subsidiary label of Columbia Records along with several others by 1997. In 2004 he made the album Super 4 Records sensation, in which he created the illusion of a big band with a “horn section” of alto and tenor saxophone, trombone and trumpet.
Designated by Leonard Feather and Ira Gitler as one of the most respected trombonist on the Japanese jazz scene, Shigeharu Mukai has won several critics’ prizes from 1975-1993 in reader surveys conducted by Japan’s Swing Journal. He continues to perform, record and tour also exhibiting his mastery of Latin, Brazilian and other ethnic rhythms.
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John Kirby was born John Kirk in Winchester, Virginia on December 31, 1908. His mother gave him up for adoption and was raised by Reverend Washington and Nancy Johnson. He was a student at the Winchester Colored School and started trombone lessons around nine years old under the guidance of Professor Powell Gibson. As a kid and that he learned to play music just as it was written and his formal education ended around 1923.
Kirby arrived in Baltimore around 1927 and met trombonist Jimmy Harrison, saxophonist Coleman Hawkins and composer Duke Ellington. It was Harrison who persuaded him to switch from trombone to tuba. He played tuba with Bill Brown and His Brownies, pianist Charlie Sheets and then with John C. Smith’s Society Band. He joined Fletcher Henderson in 1929, recorded tuba on a number of sessions, but switched to double-bass when tuba fell out of favor as jazz bands’ primary bass instrument.
In the early 1930s, John took bass lessons from legendary bassists Pops Foster and Wellman Braud, left Henderson to play with Chick Webb, then joined Lucky Millinder and briefly led a quartet in 1935, but was more often than not a sideman in other groups. He performed behind Billie Holiday and Teddy Wilson on their first recording date.
By 1936, Kirby was a successful sideman on the New York City jazz scene, secured a gig at the Onyx Club leading Charlie Shavers, Buster Bailey, Billy Kyle, Russell Procope and O’Neill Spencer, becoming one of the more significant small groups in the big band era. They recorded the Shaver’s classic Undecided, with Maxine Sullivan most often performing the vocal duties for the group.
Along with his orchestra, John had a 30-minute radio program, Flow Gently, Sweet Rhythm, also known as The John Kirby Show on CBS from April 1940 – January 1941. The program also featured Sullivan and the Golden Gate Quartet and they have been cited as the first black artists to host a jazz-oriented series.
He tended toward a lighter, classically influenced style of jazz often referred to as chamber jazz. He was very prolific and extremely popular from 1938-1941 but lost most of his group to World War II. Through the war years he was able to attract Dizzy Gillespie, Benny Carter, Ben Webster, Clyde Hart, Budd Johnson and Zutty Singleton to his small groups and club dates. As Kirby’s career declined, he drank heavily and was beset by diabetes.
After the war, Kirby got the surviving sextet members back together, with vocalist Sarah Vaughan but the reunion did not last. A concert at Carnegie Hall in December 1950, with Bailey plus drummer Sid Catlett, attracted only a small audience, crushing his spirit and badly damaging what little was left of his career. Double-bassist, trombonist and tubist John Kirby passed away on June 14, 1952 in Hollywood, California at age 43.
Ed Byrne was born on December 30, 1946 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and he worked for more than fifteen years on the New York City jazz scene as a soloist with Chet Baker, Joe Henderson, Herbie Hancock, Dizzy Gillespie, Maynard Ferguson, Billy Eckstine, Charles Mingus, Gerry Mulligan, Thad Jones/Mel Lewis, Archie Shepp, Mel Torme and the list continues. He also performed, composed, and arranged numerous recordings and toured the Americas, France, Germany and Sweden.
Ed was nominated Best Trombone Soloist by Latin New York magazine, as a leader was nominated for a Grammy Award for his Fenway Funk album, and won a Grammy for Eddie Palmieri’s Latin jazz album, Unfinished Masterpiece.
As an educator he hold a doctorate of Musical Arts in Jazz Studies from the New England Conservatory, has been on the faculties of Berklee College, Baruch College, University of the Arts, Greenfield Community College and the University of Rhode Island. Ed has published 42 texts on jazz improvisation and his Linear Jazz Improvisation Method, sold world-wide.
Trombonist, author, bandleader, composer, arranger and educator Ed Byrne is currently the leader of his Latin Jazz Evolution that released their first CD titled Conquistador, on Blue Truffle Records and continues to perform, record and tour.
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Mike Barone was born on December 27, 1936 in Detroit, Michigan. He started playing the trombone at age 12 and was taught by his trumpeter father Joe Barone, who played with the Bob Crosby Orchestra and other big bands. He graduated from Brush High School in Cleveland, Ohio in 1954 and studied trombone, guitar and arranging until 1956 until his acceptance into the West Point Army band studying with Louis Van Haney of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. After graduation he was stationed in Germany with the Special Services and formed his first jazz big band touring service clubs.
By 1959 Mike was back in California attending Valley College but left to tour with Sy Zentner and Louis Bellson Orchestra. He worked many years arranging, performing and recording with Louis and Pearl Bailey, recording with Lalo Schifrin’s New Continent and Dizzy Gillespie’s Quintet. He has performed with Dick Grove, Pete Jolly, Gabor Szabo, Oliver Nelson, Terry Gibbs, Gerald Wilson and many more. Twenty-seven of his arrangements have been recorded by Wilson and others, and the now classic Johnny Hartman album Unforgettable has 7 tunes were his arrangements.
He put together a quintet with Frank Rosolino, formed the Mike Barone Big Band, recorded with Bob Edmondson, John Williams and Shelly Manne, took session work for film including Harper, The Dirty Dozen, Kelly’s Heroes, Sweet Charity, Up the Down Staircase and The Thomas Crown Affair. On television he performed the theme Mission Impossible, Dynasty, Falcon Crest, The Grammys, The Midnight Special, Redd Foxx Show and the Johnny Carson Tonight Show among others.
Since 1997 Mike returned to Los Angeles, California after stints in Colorado and Vancouver, he formed a new band and performed at area clubs. Arranger, composer, trombonist Mike Barone, known for one of the best known West Coast big bands in the Sixties, continues to arrange, perform and tour.
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Kid Ory was born Edward Ory on December 25, 1886 in Woodland Plantation near La Place, Louisiana. He started playing music with home-made instruments in his childhood but by his teens was leading a well-regarded band in Southeast Louisiana. A banjo player during his youth, it is said that his ability to play the banjo helped him develop “tailgate”, a particular style of playing that has the trombone playing a rhythmic line underneath the trumpets and cornets.
He kept La Place as his base of operations due to family obligations until his twenty-first birthday, when he moved his band to New Orleans. While Kid was living on Jackson Avenue, he was discovered by Buddy Bolden, playing his first new trombone, instead of the old civil war model but his sister said he was too young to play with Bolden. With one of the best-known bands in New Orleans in the 1910s, he hired many of the great jazz musicians of the city, including cornetists Joe “King” Oliver, Mutt Carey, and Louis Armstrong.
In 1919 he moved to Los Angeles and he recorded Ory’s Creole Trombone and Society Blues there in 1921 with a band that included Mutt Carey, Dink Johnson and Ed Garland. They were the first jazz recordings made on the west coast by a Black jazz band from New Orleans. His band recorded with the recording company Nordskog and paying them for the pressings sold them under his own label of Kid Ory’s Sunshine Orchestra at a store in Los Angeles called Spikes Brothers Music Store.
Moving to Chicago in 1925 he was very active working and recording with Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton, King Oliver, Johnny Dodds, Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey and many others. He mentored Benny Goodman and later Charles Mingus. The Great Depression retired Kid from music, not playing again till 1943. From 1944 to about 1961 he led one of the top New Orleans style bands of the period working with Alvin Alcorn, Teddy Buckner, Darnell Howard, Jimmie Noone, Albert Nicholas, Barney Bigard, George Probert. Buster Wilson, Cedric Haywood and Don Ewell.
The Ory band was an important force in reviving interest in New Orleans jazz, making popular 1940s radio broadcasts, among them a number of slots on The Orson Welles Almanac program. In 1944–45 the group made a series of recordings on the Crescent Records label, founded by Neshui Ertegun for the express purpose of recording Ory’s band.
Retiring from music in 1966 he spent his last years in Hawaii with the assistance of Trummy Young. Trombonist and bandleader Kid Ory, one of the most influential trombonists of early jazz, passed in Honolulu on January 23, 1973.