Christopher Stephen Botti was born October 12, 1962 in Portland, Oregon and raised in Corvallis, although he also spent two years of his childhood in Italy. His earliest musical influence was his mother, a classically trained pianist and part-time piano teacher and started playing the trumpet at nine-years-old, and committing to the instrument at age 12 after hearing Miles Davis play My Funny Valentine.
1981 saw Chris selected as a member of McDonald’s All American High School Jazz band which marked his first Carnegie Hall performance. At 17, he enrolled at Mount Hood Community College in Gresham, Oregon, by convincing his high school to allow him to fulfill his remaining senior year credits there which allowed him to play Portland clubs at night. Mount Hood’s band under Larry McVey, was a proving ground and regular stop for Stan Kenton and Mel Tormé when they were looking for new players.
After graduating from high school, Botti studied at the Indiana University School of Music, received two NEA grants and studied with trumpeter Woody Shaw and saxophonist George Coleman during two consecutive summer breaks. Leaving Indiana University during his senior year for short touring stints with Frank Sinatra and Buddy Rich, in 1985, he moved to New York City to hone his craft as a studio musician.
The Nineties had him in a decade long touring and recording relationship with Paul Simon and where he also performed/recorded with Aretha Franklin, Natalie Cole, Bette Midler, Joni Mitchell, Natalie Merchant, Scritti Politti, Roger Daltrey and others. He also met saxophonist Michael Brecker, co-produced a track on the Brecker Brothers’ Out of the Loop titled Evocations, and the album won a 1995 Grammy for Best Contemporary Jazz Performance.
His solo debut, First Wish,released in 1995 began a succession of recordings on the Verve record label. He became a member of the experimental, jazz fusion-oriented group Bruford Levin Upper Extremities, composed the score and recorded a soundtrack for the 1996 film Caught and closed out the century touring with Sting as a featured soloist that ultimately changed the course of his career.
In 2001 Chris signed with Columbia Records through an introduction by Bobby Colomby, drummer and founding member of Blood, Sweat & Tears, who also became his producer and manager. As his career advanced another succession of releases proved his jazz/pop crossover appeal, he played Oprah Winfrey’s Legends Ball weekend honoring her African American heroines, and in 2006, Billy Childs, Gil Goldstein and Heitor Pereira won the Grammy for Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s) for What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life? with Sting from Botti’s album To Love Again – The Duets.
He has performed and recorded with Andrea Bocelli, the Boston Pops Orchestra, Yo-Yo Ma, Steven Tyler, Josh Groban, Katharine McPhee, John Mayer, Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra, Burt Bacharach, Gladys Knight, Jill Scott and Renee Olstead, among others. Trumpeter Chris Botti has hosted a radio show for several years where smooth meets cool jazz as he continues to perform, record, produce, compose and tour.
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Nicholas Payton was born on September 26, 1973 in New Orleans, Louisiana to bassist and sousaphonist Walter Payton. He took up the trumpet at the age of four and by age nine was sitting in with the Young Tuxedo Brass Band alongside his father. He began his professional career at ten years old as a member of James Andrews’ All-Star Brass and was given his first steady gig by guitarist Danny Barker at The Famous Door on Bourbon Street. He enrolled at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts and then at the University of New Orleans.
After touring with Marcus Roberts and Elvin Jones in the early Nineties, Payton signed with Verve Records and his first album as a leader, From This Moment was released in 1994. In 1996 he performed on the soundtrack of the movie Kansas City, and in 1997 received a Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Solo for his recording Doc Cheatham & Nicholas Payton.
After seven albums on Verve, Nicholas moved to Warner Bros. Records, and has collaborated with among others Trey Anastasio, Ray Brown, Ray Charles, Daniel Lanois, Dr. John, Stanley Jordan, Herbie Hancock, Roy Haynes, Zigaboo Modeliste, Marcus Roberts, Jill Scott, Clark Terry, Allen Toussaint, Nancy Wilson, Dr. Michael White, and Joe Henderson.
He is a founding member of the SFJAZZ Collective, joined The Blue Note 7 honoring the 70th Blue Note Records anniversary and formed a 21-piece big band ensemble called the Television Studio Orchestra. In addition he recorded and released Bitches, a love narrative on which he played every instrument, sang, and wrote all of the music, the Czech National Symphony Orchestra commissioned and debuted his first full orchestral work, The Black American Symphony and formed his own record label, BMF Records. Payton has been a Distinguished Artist and Visiting Lecturer at Tulane University and belongs to a growing group of race scholars and activists committed to social justice. His writings are provocative as witnessed with his most notable pieces On Why Jazz isn’t Cool Anymore describes the effects of cultural colonization on music.
Trumpeter Nicholas Payton has recorded sixteen albums as a leader, another eight as a sideman wth Eric Alexander, Elvin Jones, Joanne Brackeen, Jimmy Smith and Allen Toussaint among others and continues to perform, compose, write and record,
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Gracie Cole was born Grace Elizabeth Agnes Annie Cole on September 8, 1924 in Rowlands Gill, County Durham, England. Her father Albert moved to Yorkshire in search of work as a miner when she was two years old. He played cornet in colliery bands, and taught her to play the cornet at the age of 12. She went on to play with local brass bands in her teens, including the Firbeck Colliery Band alongside her father. In 1939 at 15, she made her first broadcast on the BBC Radio for Children’s Hour.
From 1940, Cole appeared as a guest soloist in two concerts with the Besses o’ th’ Barn brass band, and played with various other bands including the Grimethorpe Colliery Band. In 1942 she became the first woman to compete for the Alexander Owen memorial scholarship and won by an unprecedented 21-point margin. That same year Cole switched to being a dance band trumpeter, initially joining Gloria Gaye’s All Girls Band, who toured playing theatres and forces entertainment shows organised by the Entertainments National Service Association.
Following WWII playing with Rudy Starlita’s All-American Band entertaining American G.I.s, she joined Ivy Benson’s band as lead trumpet and soloist, and toured Britain, Europe and the Middle East with them for the next five years. The Fifties saw her joining the George Evans Band, then joined the Squadronaires, but finding male prejudice uncomfortable, Gracie left to form her own all-female band in 1952 for the next four years. She would work with singers like Carol Carr and Cleo Laine and front an all-male band at Mecca Ballrooms.
From the 1960s she concentrated on bringing up her two daughters and played on a freelance basis. She was active in encouraging local brass bands, and was made a freeman of the City of London in 1990 Toward the end of the decade cornetist, trumpeter and bandleader Gracie Cole developed Alzheimer’s disease and passed away on December 28, 2006 in Westcott, Surrey, United Kingdom at the age of 82.
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Max Kaminsky was born on September 7, 1908 in Brockton, Massachusetts and started his career in Boston, Massachusetts in 1924. By 1928 he was working in Chicago, Illinois with George Wettling and Frank Teschemacher at the Cinderella Ballroom and in New York for a brief time in 1929 with Red Nichols.
From about 1933-1938, he worked in commercially oriented dance bands, and recorded with Eddie Condon and Benny Carter’s Chocolate Dandies, with Mezz Mezzrow. He played with Tommy Dorsey, Artie Shaw, and performed and recorded with Bud Freeman. He worked again with Shaw from 1941 to 1943, who led a navy band with which Kaminsky toured the South Pacific.
From 1942 he took part in important concerts in New York City that were organized by Condon at Carnegie Hall and Town Hall, and from the following year he played Dixieland with various groups. He also worked in the 1940s with Sidney Bechet, George Brunis, Art Hodes, Joe Marsala, Willie “The Lion” Smith, and Jack Teagarden.
Moving into television, Max led Jackie Gleason’s personal band for several seasons, then toured Europe with Teagarden and Earl Hines’ All Stars in 1957, and performed at the Metropole and Ryan’s in New York at intervals from the late 1960s to 1983, the Newport Jazz Festival and the 1964 New York World’s Fair.
In 1963 he published My Life in Jazz with V. E. Hughes, in 1975 and 1976 he recorded as a leader that well illustrate his style, which is full-toned, economical and swinging in the manner of King Oliver, Freddy Keppard and Louis Armstrong. At one time he played with the Original Dixieland Jass Band.
Trumpeter Max Kaminsky, known for his Dixieland and whose legacy lives on at the Hogan Jazz Archives at Tulane University, passed away on September 6, 1994, one day before what would have been his 86th birthday.
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Rowland Charles Wentworth Greenberg was born on August 28, 1920 in Oslo, Norway who first began as one of the country’s leading cyclists. He was Oslo champion at 17 and the following year he won the team championships at the junior National Championships. Turning to music he fashioned his trumpet style was inspired by the English trumpeter Nat Gonella, and by 1939 he was guesting in leading orchestras such as the Hot Dogs and Funny Boys.
Making several trips to England between 1938 and 1939 with Vic Lewis and George Shearing, he was a central part of Oslo’s swing-jazz milieu. He led his own Rowland Greenberg Swing Band from 1939 to 1941 with Arvid Gram Paulsen on sax, Lulle Kristoffersen on piano and Pete Brown on drums. He also led his Rowland Greenberg Rytmeorkester from 1940 to 1944 with tenor saxophonist Gordon Franklin, Arvid Gram Paulsen on alto sax, Robert Normann on guitar, Kjell Bjørnstad, Frank Hansen, Lyder Vengbo on trombone, Fred Lange-Nielsen on bass. He release an album in 1942 that was banned by the German regime, and he was jailed for breaching the Rytmeklubbforbundet by viewing jazz films 1943.
After his release Rowland became active in Sweden with Cecil Aagaard, Thore Erling and Malte Johnson and in England with Jimmie Woode and Sam Samson. He toured Norway with his own band for two years beginning in 1948 playing bebop to the country. He was a part in the All-Star Trumpets session at the 1949 Paris Jazz Festival with Miles Davis, Bill Coleman, Jimmy McPartland and Aime Barelli, played with Charlie Parker, Louis Armstrong, and Down Beat gave him the first chart placing of his career. During the Fifties he played extensively in the orchestras led by Egil Monn-Iversen, Leiv Flisnes and Terje Kjær, led his own orchestras including Mikkel Flagstad on piano, Totti Bergh on saxophone, Knut Young on bass, Ivar Wefring on piano, Bjørn Krokfoss on drums until 1981, and played with Ben Webster and Teddy Wilson.
Trumpeter Rowland Greenberg recorded three albums as a leader and won two jazz awards before passing away on April 2, 1994.
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