Bobby Scott was born Robert William Scott on January 29, 1937 in Mount Pleasant, New York and began his studies at the La Follette School of Music under Edvard Moritz at age 8, and by 11 was working professionally. He became a pianist, vibraphonist and singer, but could also play the accordion, cello, clarinet and double bass.
In 1952 he began touring with Louis Prima, and also performed with Gene Krupa and Tony Scott in the 1950s. In 1956 he hit the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 with the song “Chain Gang”, peaking at #13. (not the same Sam Cooke song) It sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc.
As a bandleader, he recorded sessions for Verve, ABC-Paramount, Bethlehem and Musicmasters. Booby won a Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Composition for the song “A Taste of Honey”, and co-wrote the song “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother”.
In the 1960s he became a music teacher and studied again under Moritz, but occasionally recorded as well, including a Nat King Cole tribute album released in the 1980s. He also arranged for jazz and easy listening musicians.
Musician, songwriter and record producer Bobby Scott died of lung cancer on November 5, 1990, at the age of 53. He left a catalogue of twenty-seven recordings from 1953 to 1990 that include performing on soundtracks such as The Pawnbroker, Joe, Slaves, In The Heat of the Night and The Color Purple.
Oli Bott was born January 16, 1974 in Hofheim am Taunus, Germany. He learned his trade on the vibraphone first in his native town under the tutelage of drummer Detlef Biedermann. Subsequent study in music was at the Berklee College of Music in Boston with Gary Burton, Bob Brookmeyer, Phil Wilson, Greg Hopkins, John LaPorta and Hal Crook, completing in 1996 with a diploma in Jazz Composition.
As a freelance musician in Berlin he has received several grants from the Berlin Senate and composition commissions for his own jazz orchestra. Bott’s awards include the NDR music prize for jazz directors, 1st prize at the Leipzig Improvisation competition, the Europ Jazz Contest and the Wayne Shorter Award.
Vobraphonist Oli Bott is currently active as a musician in various bands. In addition to his work as a composer and conductor for his twelve-headed “Oli Bott Orchestra”, he is also leads a quartet “Vibratanghissimo”. It is a project with original compositions as well as those by Astor Piazzolla, originally composed for bandoneon. They are now being reinterpreted on the vibraphone, part of the repertoire of this group. With his partner, guitarist Thomas Wallisch, he also performs his own compositions on “Thomas Wallisch & Oli Bott Duo”.
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Bobby Timmons was born Robert Henry Timmons on December 19, 1935 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Studying piano from the age of six by the age of 19 he was moving to New York, playing with the likes of Kenny Dorham’s Jazz Prophets, Chet Baker, Sonny Stitt and Maynard Ferguson. He became a member of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers from 58-59 touring Europe and became well known for his composition “Moanin”.
He joined Cannonball Adderley for a year, recorded two soul-jazz compositions that became hits “This Here” and “Dat Dere” and rejoined Blakey for a brief stint in the Sixties. Over the course of his career he recorded some 16 albums for Riverside, Milestone and Prestige record labels and recorded another twenty-three as a sideman with Art Blakey, Hank Mobley, Lee Morgan, Donald Byrd, Curtis Fuller, Nat Adderley, Kenny Burrell and the Young Lions.
However sophisticated and versatile a pianist he proved to be, Timmons’ success of his compositions, which have become jazz standards, could not compensate for his artistic frustrations and his battle with alcoholism. Pianist and composer Bobby Timmons passed away from cirrhosis at the age of 38 on March 1, 1974.
Eddie Harris was born on October 20, 1934 in Chicago, Illinois to a Cuban father and New Orleans mother. He studied music at DuSable High School, then Roosevelt University becoming proficient on piano, vibraphone and tenor saxophone and playing professionally with Gene Ammons.
After graduating and a stint in the 7th Army Band playing alongside Leo Wright, Don Ellis and Cedar Walton, he worked in New York City prior to his Chicago return. He signed with Vee Jay Records and released his debut “Exodus To Jazz” and his jazz arrangement of the theme to Exodus was so heavily played on radio, it became the first jazz record ever to be certified gold.
Throughout his career he recorded for Columbia and Atlantic Records, ventured into electric piano and Varitone saxophone mixing jazz with funk on albums like “The Electrifying Eddie Harris” and crossing into rhythm and blues markets. By 1969 he would perform with Les McCann at Montreux with an unrehearsed band that produced the seminal work Swiss Movement that became one of the best selling jazz albums ever.
In the early to mid ‘70s Harris experimented with altering instruments like his reed trumpet with a sax mouthpiece, saxobone with a trombone mouthpiece and guitorgan, a guitar/organ combination. He also forayed into singing blues, played with jazz-rock, and comic R&B consisting of mostly stand-up comedy all of which ultimately declined his popularity.
He would work with Horace Silver in the ‘80s, record regularly well into the 1990s, tour and perform in Europe and return to hard bop. His move to Los Angeles in the mid-1970s allowed him the opportunity to provide much of the music for The Bill Cosby Show.
Eddie Harris, tenor saxophonist and multi-instrumentalist and composer of “Freedom Jazz Dance” popularized by Miles Davis in the Sixties and also the tune “Listen Here”, passed away from bone cancer and kidney disease at the age of 62 on November 5, 1996.
Dave Samuels was born on October 9, 1948 in Illinois. He started his musical career on the drums at age six, attended the New Trier High school in Winnetka, Illinois, known for its superb arts and music programs. He graduated from Boston University with a psychology degree but by this time he was studying mallet instruments.
Samuels next matriculated through Berklee College of Music where he studied under Gary Burton. The vibraphonist first worked with guitarist Pat Metheny and John Scofield while in Boston, then toured with Gerry Mulligan and played with various groups early in his career such as Timepiece, Double Image and Frank Zappa.
In 1979 Dave began recording with Spyro Gyra but it wasn’t until seven years later that he became a member of the group and one of the soloists. His recordings as a leader have been commercial but since leaving Spyro Gyra in the 90s and taking a slot in the Grammy-winning Latin jazz music group Caribbean Jazz Project, one can witness some very impressive output.
Vibraphonist Dave Samuels has worked with Eddie Palmieri in tribute to Cal Tjader, Andy Narrell and Paquito D’Rivera among others. He has taught at his alma mater, Berklee School of Music and continues to perform, record and tour.
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