sábado, 20 de agosto de 2011

Stanley Cowell

Stanley Cowell (born May 5, 1941 in Toledo, Ohio) is an American jazz pianist and founder of the Strata-East Records label. He played with Roland Kirk while studying at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, and later with Marion Brown, Max Roach, Bobby Hutcherson, Clifford Jordan, Harold Land, Sonny Rollins and Stan Getz. Cowell played with trumpeter Charles Moore and others in the Detroit Artist's Workshop Jazz Ensemble in 1965-66. During the late 1980s Cowell was part of a regular quartet led by J.J. Johnson. Cowell teaches in the Music Department of the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey.



Stanley Cowell (Toledo, Ohio, 5 de mayo de 1941) es un pianista, teclista y compositor estadounidense de jazz. Con Charles Tolliver, el empeza Strata-East Records, un sello discográfico de jazz excelencia.


Percy Heath

Percy Heath (April 30, 1923 – April 28, 2005) was an American jazz bassist, brother to tenor saxophonist Jimmy Heath and drummer Albert Heath, with whom he formed the Heath Brothers in 1975.
Heath also worked with Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Wes Montgomery and Thelonious Monk.
Heath was born in Wilmington, North Carolina and spent his childhood in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His father played the clarinet and his mother sang in the church choir. He started playing violin at age 8 and also sang locally. He was drafted into the Army in 1944, becoming a member of the Tuskegee Airmen, but saw no combat.
Deciding after the war to go into music, he bought a stand-up bass and enrolled in the Granoff School of Music in Philadelphia. Soon he was playing in the city's jazz clubs with leading artists. In Chicago in 1948, he recorded with his brother on a Milt Jackson album as members of the Howard McGhee Sextet. After moving to New York in the late 1940s, Percy and Jimmy Heath found work with Dizzy Gillespie's groups. Around this time, he was also a member of Joe Morris's band, together with Johnny Griffin.

It transpired that other members of the Gillespie big band, pianist John Lewis, drummer Kenny Clarke, Milt Jackson, and bassist Ray Brown, decided to form a permanent group; they were already becoming known for their interludes during Gillespie band performances that, as AllMusic.com says, gave the rest of the band much-needed set breaks---that would eventually become known as the Modern Jazz Quartet. When Brown left the group to join his wife Ella Fitzgerald's band, Heath joined and the group was officially begun in 1952, with Connie Kay replacing Clarke soon afterward. The MJQ played regularly until it disbanded in 1974; it reformed in 1981 and last recorded in 1993.
In 1975, Percy Heath and his brothers formed the Heath Brothers with pianist Stanley Cowell. He would sometimes play the cello instead of the bass in these later performances.
In 2003, at the age of 80, he released his first album as bandleader through the Daddy Jazz label. The album, titled A Love Song, garnered rave reviews and served as a fitting coda for Heath's illustrious career. It featured brother Albert Heath on drums, bassist Peter Washington and pianist Jeb Patton.
He died, after a second bout with bone cancer, two days short of his 82nd birthday, in Southampton, New York.



Percy Heath (30 de abril de 1923 - 28 de abril de 2005) fue un bajista de jazz estadounidense, hermano del saxofonista tenor Jimmy Heath y del batería Albert Heath, con quienes formó la banda Heath Brothers en 1975. Heath también trabajó junto a Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Wes Montgomery y Thelonious Monk.
Heath nació en Wilmington, Carolina del Norte y se crió en Filadelfia, Pensilvania. Su padre fue clarinetista y su madre cantaba en el coro de la iglesia. Comenzó a tocar el violín a los ocho años. Se unió al ejército estadounidense en 1944, ingresando en el cuerpo de Tuskegee Airmen, aunque nunca llegó a entrar en combate.
Después de la guerra decidió dedicarse de forma profesional a la música, por lo que se compró un contrabajo y se unió a la escuela de música Granoff School of Music de Filadelfia. Al poco tiempo tocaba en los clubs de jazz de la ciudad. Grabó en Chicago en 1948 junto a su hermano un álbum para Milt Jackson como miembros del sexteto de Howard McGhee. Después de mudarse a Nueva York a finales de los años 1940, Percy y Jimmy Heath comenzaron a tocar con bandas de Dizzy Gillespie. En esta época, también fue miembro de la banda de Joe Morris, junto a Johnny Griffin.

Cuando algunos miembros de la big band de Gillespie, como el pianista John Lewis, el batería Kenny Clarke, Milt Jackson, y el bajista Ray Brown, se marcharon, decidieron montar una banda; ya comenzaban a ser conocidos por sus interludes durante las actuaciones de la banda de Gillespie, que como dice AllMusic.com, servían para que el resto de la banda descansase. La banda se llamó Modern Jazz Quartet. Cuando Brown abandonó para unirse a la banda de su esposa Ella Fitzgerald, Heath se unió y la banda dio comienzo oficialmente en 1952, con Connie Kay reemplazando a Clarke poco después. MJQ tocó de forma regular hasta su disolución en 1974; la banda se volvió a unir en 1981 y grabaron por última vez en 1993.
En 1975, Percy Heath y sus hermanos formaron Heath Brothers junto al pianista Stanley Cowell. A menudo tocaba el violonchelo en lugar del contrabajo.
En 2003, a los 81 años de edad, lanzó su primer disco como líder de banda a través de la discográfica Daddy Jazz. El álbum, titulado A Love Song, recibió muy buenas crítica. Su hermano Albert Heath tocó batería en el disco, junto al bajista Peter Washington y el pianista Jeb Patton.
Murió de un cáncer de huesos dos días antes de cumplir los 82 años de edad, en Southampton, Nueva York.

Milt Jackson


Milton "Bags" Jackson (January 1, 1923 - October 9, 1999) was an American jazz vibraphonist, usually thought of as a bebop player, although he performed in several jazz idioms. He is especially remembered for his coolly swinging solos as a member of the Modern Jazz Quartet and his penchant for collaborating with several hard bop and post-bop players.
A very expressive player, Jackson differentiated himself from other vibraphonists in his attention to variations on harmonics and rhythm. He was particularly fond of the 12-bar blues at slow tempos. He preferred to set the vibraphone's oscillator to a low 3.3 revolutions per second (as opposed to Lionel Hampton's speed of 10 revolutions per second) for a more subtle vibrato. On occasion, Jackson would also sing and play piano professionally.
He was discovered by Dizzy Gillespie, who hired him for his sextet in 1946 and also kept him for larger ensembles. He quickly acquired experience working with the most important figures in jazz of the era, including Woody Herman, Howard McGhee, Thelonious Monk, and Charlie Parker.

In the Gillespie big band, Jackson fell into a pattern that led to the founding of the Modern Jazz Quartet: Gillespie maintained a former swing tradition of a small group within a big band, and his included Jackson, pianist John Lewis, bassist Ray Brown, and drummer Kenny Clarke (the arguable pioneer of the ride cymbal timekeeping that became the signature for bop and most jazz to follow) while the brass and reeds took breaks. When they decided to become a working group in their own right around 1950, the foursome was known at first as the Milt Jackson Quartet, becoming the Modern Jazz Quartet in 1952, by which time Percy Heath had replaced Ray Brown.
Known at first for featuring Jackson's blues-heavy improvisations almost exclusively, the group came in time to split the difference between that and Lewis's more ambitious musical ideas (Lewis had become the group's musical director by 1955, the year Clarke departed in favour of Connie Kay), boiling the quartet down to a chamber jazz style that highlighted the lyrical tension between Lewis's mannered but roomy compositions (as committed as he was to formalising the group's style, Lewis always left room enough for improvisation, whether his own spare piano style or Jackson's bluesy style) and Jackson's unapologetic swing.

The MJQ had a long independent career of some 20 years until disbanding in 1974, when Jackson split with Lewis, partially in an attempt to make more money on his own and more likely because he sought the improvisational freedom he once enjoyed. However, the group reformed in 1981 and continued until 1993, after which Jackson toured alone, performing in various small combos, though not saying no to periodic MJQ reunions, either.
From the mid-70s to the mid-80s, Jackson recorded for Norman Granz's Pablo Records, including Jackson, Johnson, Brown & Company (1983), featuring Jackson with J. J. Johnson on trombone, Ray Brown on bass, backed by Tom Ranier on piano, guitarist John Collins, and drummer Roy McCurdy.
He also guested on recordings by many leading jazz, blues and soul artists, such as B.B. King, John Coltrane, Wes Montgomery, and Ray Charles.
His composition "Bags' Groove" is a jazz standard ("Bags" was a nickname given to him by a bass player in Detroit. "Bags" referred to the bags under his eyes from his habit of staying up all night.[citation needed]). He has been featured on the NPR radio program Jazz Profiles. Some of his other signature compositions include "The Late, Late Blues" (for his album with Coltrane, Bags & Trane), "Bluesology" (a Modern Jazz Quartet staple), and "Bags & Trane."
He died on October 9, 1999, aged 76, and was interred at Woodlawn Cemetery, Bronx, NY. Milt Jackson was a resident of Teaneck, New Jersey.



Milt Jackson (Detroit, 1 de enero de 1923 - 9 de octubre de 1999), conocido como Bags, fue un vibrafonista estadounidense de jazz que sobrepasó en relevancia a las dos principales figuras históricas del instrumento, Lionel Hampton y Red Norvo, y que se mantuvo durante cincuenta años en lo más alto de la popularidad, por encima incluso de estrellas emergentes como Bobby Hutcherson y Gary Burton. Su ámbito estilístico fue enormemente variado, abarcando bop, blues y las baladas más tradicionales.
Milt Jackson empezó tocando la guitarra a los siete años de edad y el piano a los once. Pocos años después, se cambió al vibráfono. Su debut profesional se produjo cantando en un grupo gospel.
Dizzy Gillespie lo descubrió en Detroit y le ofreció un trabajo en su sexteto y más tarde en un orquesta de 1946. Jackson grabó con el trompetista y en poco tiempo se hizo popular y solicitado por otros músicos. A lo largo de 1948 y 1949 trabajó con Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, Howard McGhee, y la orquesta de Woody Herman. Tras tocar con el sexteto de Gillespie durante 1950-1952, en el que también tocó John Coltrane, Jackson grabó con un cuarteto que contaba con John Lewis, Percy Heath y Kenny Clarke (1952), que pronto se convirtió en un grupo regular denominado the Modern Jazz Quartet.

Aunque grabó habitualmente como líder (incluyendo sesiones en los años cincuenta con Miles Davis y Thelonious Monk, Coleman Hawkins, John Coltrane y Ray Charles), Milt Jackson se mantuvo con el MJQ hasta 1974, convirtiéndose en parte indispensable de su sonido. A mediados de los cincuenta, Lewis se convirtió en el director musical y el formato impuesto por él pudo restringir el talento musical de Jackson.
Sin embargo, en 1974, una frustración de origen fundamentalmente financiero, llevó a Jackson a abandonar el grupo. A partir de ese momento, grabó con el sello Pablo a lo largo de los setenta junto a numerosas figuras del jazz y tras siete años de ausencia el MJQ regresó en 1981.
Además de sus grabaciones con el grupo, Milt Jackson realizó grabaciones como líder a lo largo de toda su carrera para numerosas compañías, entre las que se incluyen Savoy, Blue Note (1952), Prestige, Atlantic, United Artists, Impulse, Riverside, Limelight, Verve, CTI, Pablo, Music Masters y Qwest.
Murió a causa de un cáncer a los 76 años.

Thelonious Monk


Thelonious Sphere Monk (October 10, 1917 – February 17, 1982) was an American jazz pianist and composer considered "one of the giants of American music". Monk had a unique improvisational style and made numerous contributions to the standard jazz repertoire, including "Epistrophy", "'Round Midnight", "Blue Monk", "Straight, No Chaser" and "Well, You Needn't". Monk is the second most recorded jazz composer after Duke Ellington, which is particularly remarkable as Ellington composed over 1,000 songs while Monk wrote about 70.
Often regarded as a founder of bebop, Monk's playing later evolved away from that style. His compositions and improvisations are full of dissonant harmonies and angular melodic twists, and are consistent with Monk's unorthodox approach to the piano, which combined a highly percussive attack with abrupt, dramatic use of silences and hesitations.
Monk's manner was idiosyncratic. Visually, he was renowned for his distinctive style in suits, hats and sunglasses. He was also noted for the fact that at times, while the other musicians in the band continued playing, he would stop, stand up from the keyboard and dance for a few moments before returning to the piano. One of his regular dances consisted of continuously turning clockwise, which has drawn comparisons to ring-shout and Sufi whirling.
He is one of five jazz musicians to have been featured on the cover of Time (the other four being Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Wynton Marsalis, and Dave Brubeck) as of 2010.
Thelonious Monk was born October 10, 1917 in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, the son of Thelonious and Barbara Monk, two years after his sister Marion. A brother, Thomas, was born in January 1920. In 1922, the family moved to 243 West 63rd Street, in Manhattan, New York City. Monk started playing the piano at the age of six. Although he had some formal training and eavesdropped on his sister's piano lessons, he was largely self-taught. Monk attended Stuyvesant High School, but did not graduate.

He toured with an evangelist in his teens, playing the church organ, and in his late teens he began to find work playing jazz.
In the early to mid 1940s, Monk was the house pianist at Minton's Playhouse, a Manhattan nightclub. Much of Monk's style was developed during his time at Minton's, when he participated in after-hours "cutting competitions" which featured many leading jazz soloists of the time. The Minton's scene was crucial in the formulation of bebop and it brought Monk into close contact with other leading exponents of the emerging idiom, including Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Christian, Kenny Clarke, Charlie Parker and later, Miles Davis. Monk is believed to be the pianist featured on recordings Jerry Newman made around 1941 at the club. Monk's style at this time was later described as "hard-swinging," with the addition of runs in the style of Art Tatum. Monk's stated influences included Duke Ellington, James P. Johnson, and other early stride pianists. In the documentary Thelonious Monk: Straight, No Chaser, it is stated that Monk lived in the same neighborhood in New York City as Johnson and knew him as a teenager.
Mary Lou Williams, among others, spoke of Monk's rich inventiveness in this period, and how such invention was vital for musicians since at the time it was common for fellow musicians to incorporate overheard musical ideas into their own works without giving due credit. "So, the boppers worked out a music that was hard to steal. I'll say this for the `leeches', though: they tried. I've seen them in Minton's busily writing on their shirt cuffs or scribbling on the tablecloth. And even our own guys, I'm afraid, did not give Monk the credit he had coming. Why, they even stole his idea of the beret and bop glasses.

In 1944 Monk made his first studio recordings with the Coleman Hawkins Quartet. Hawkins was among the first prominent jazz musicians to promote Monk, and Monk later returned the favor by inviting Hawkins to join him on the 1957 session with John Coltrane. Monk made his first recordings as leader for Blue Note in 1947 (later anthologised on Genius of Modern Music, Vol. 1) which showcased his talents as a composer of original melodies for improvisation. Monk married Nellie Smith the same year, and in 1949 the couple had a son, T. S. Monk, who is a jazz drummer. A daughter, Barbara (affectionately known as Boo-Boo), was born in 1953.
In August 1951, New York City police searched a parked car occupied by Monk and friend Bud Powell. The police found narcotics in the car, presumed to have belonged to Powell. Monk refused to testify against his friend, so the police confiscated his New York City Cabaret Card. Without the all-important cabaret card he was unable to play in any New York venue where liquor was served, and this severely restricted his ability to perform for several crucial years. Monk spent most of the early and mid-1950s composing, recording, and performing at theaters and out-of-town gigs.
After his cycle of intermittent recording sessions for Blue Note during 1947–1952, he was under contract to Prestige Records for the following two years. With Prestige he cut several highly significant, but at the time under-recognized, albums, including collaborations with saxophonist Sonny Rollins and drummers Art Blakey and Max Roach. In 1954, Monk participated in a Christmas Eve session which produced most of the albums Bags' Groove and Miles Davis and the Modern Jazz Giants by Miles Davis. Davis found Monk's idiosyncratic accompaniment style difficult to improvise over and asked him to lay out (not accompany), which almost brought them to blows. However, in Miles Davis' autobiography Miles, Davis claims that the anger and tension between Monk and himself never took place and that the claims of blows being exchanged were "rumors" and a "misunderstanding".

In 1954, Monk paid his first visit to Europe, performing and recording in Paris. Backstage Mary Lou Williams introduced him to Baroness Pannonica "Nica" de Koenigswarter, a member of the Rothschild family and a patroness of several New York City jazz musicians. She would be a close friend for the rest of Monk's life, including taking responsibility for him when she and Monk were charged with marijuana.
At the time of his signing to Riverside, Monk was highly regarded by his peers and by some critics, but his records did not sell in significant numbers, and his music was still regarded as too "difficult" for mass-market acceptance. Indeed, with Monk's consent, Riverside had managed to buy out his previous Prestige contract for a mere $108.24. He willingly recorded two albums of jazz standards as a means of increasing his profile. The first of these, Thelonious Monk Plays the Music of Duke Ellington, featuring bass innovator Oscar Pettiford and drummer Kenny Clarke, included Ellington pieces "Caravan" and "It Don't Mean A Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)".
On the 1956 LP Brilliant Corners, Monk recorded his own music. The complex title track, which featured tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins, was so difficult to play that the final version had to be edited together from multiple takes. The album, however, was largely regarded as the first success for Monk; according to Orrin Keepnews, "It was the first that made a real splash.
After having his cabaret card restored, Monk relaunched his New York career with a landmark six-month residency at the Five Spot Cafe in New York beginning in June 1957, leading a quartet with John Coltrane on tenor saxophone, Wilbur Ware on bass, and Shadow Wilson on drums. Unfortunately little of this group's music was documented due to contractual problems, Coltrane being signed to Prestige at the time. One short studio session was made for Riverside (only released later by its subsidiary Jazzland in 1961) and a larger group recording featuring Coltrane was split between that album and Monk's Music; an amateur tape from the Five Spot (not the original residency, but a later September 1958 reunion with Coltrane sitting in for Johnny Griffin) was issued on Blue Note in 1993; and a recording of the quartet performing at a Carnegie Hall concert on November 29, previously "rumoured to exist", was recorded in high fidelity by Voice of America, rediscovered in the collection of the Library of Congress in 2005 and released by Blue Note.

"Crepuscule With Nellie", recorded in 1957, "was Monk's only, what's called through-composed composition, meaning that there is no improvising. It is Monk's concerto, if you will, and in some ways it speaks for itself. But he wrote it very, very carefully and very deliberately and really struggled to make it sound the way it sounds. [... I]t was his love song for Nellie," said biographer Kelley in an interview.
The Five Spot residency ended Christmas 1957, Coltrane left to rejoin Miles Davis's seminal sextet, and the band was effectively disbanded. Monk did not form another long-term band until June 1958, when he began a second residency at the Five Spot, again with a quartet, this time with Griffin (and later Charlie Rouse) on tenor, Ahmed Abdul-Malik on bass, and Roy Haynes on drums.
On October 15, 1958, the residency having ended and en route to a week-long engagement for the quartet at the Comedy Club in Baltimore, Maryland, Monk and de Koenigswarter were detained by police in Wilmington, Delaware. When Monk refused to answer the policemen's questions or cooperate with them, they beat him with a blackjack. Though the police were authorized to search the vehicle and found narcotics in suitcases held in the trunk of the Baroness's car, Judge Christie of the Delaware Superior Court ruled that the unlawful detention of the pair, and the beating of Monk, rendered the consent to the search void as given under duress. Monk was represented by Theophilus Nix, the second African-American member of the Delaware Bar Association.
After extended negotiations, Monk signed in 1962 to Columbia Records, one of the big four American record labels of the day along with RCA Victor, Capitol, and Decca. Monk's relationship with Riverside had soured over disagreements concerning royalty payments and had concluded with a brace of European live albums; he had not recorded a studio album since 5 by Monk by 5 in June 1959.
Working with producer Teo Macero on his debut for the label, the sessions in the first week of November had a stable line-up that had been with him for two years, tenor saxophonist Charlie Rouse (who worked with Monk from 1959 to 1970), bassist John Ore, and drummer Frankie Dunlop. Monk's Dream, his earliest Columbia album, was released in 1963.

Columbia's resources allowed Monk to be promoted more widely than earlier in his career. Monk's Dream would remain the best-selling LP of his lifetime, and on February 28, 1964, Monk appeared on the cover of Time magazine, being featured in the article, "The Loneliest Monk". He continued to record a number of well-reviewed studio albums, particularly Criss Cross, also from 1963, and Underground, from 1968. But by the Columbia years his compositional output was limited, and only his final Columbia studio record Underground featured a substantial number of new tunes, including his only waltz time piece, "Ugly Beauty".
As had been the case with Riverside, his period with Columbia Records contains many live albums, including Miles and Monk at Newport (1963), Live at the It Club and Live at the Jazz Workshop, both recorded in 1964, the latter not being released until 1982. After the departure of Ore and Dunlop, the remainder of the rhythm section in Monk's quartet during the bulk of his Columbia period was Larry Gales on bass and Ben Riley on drums, both of whom joined in 1964, Along with Rouse, they remained with Monk for over four years, his longest-serving band.
According to biographer Kelley, the 1964 Time appearance came because "Barry Farrell, who wrote the cover story, wanted to write about a jazz musician and almost by default Monk was chosen, because they thought Ray Charles and Miles Davis were too controversial. ... [Monk] wasn't so political. [...O]f course, I challenge that [in the biography]," said Kelley.
Monk had disappeared from the scene by the mid-1970s, and made only a small number of appearances during the final decade of his life. His last studio recordings as a leader were made in November 1971 for the English Black Lion label, near the end of a worldwide tour with "The Giants of Jazz," a group which included Dizzy Gillespie, Kai Winding, Sonny Stitt, Al McKibbon and Art Blakey. Bassist Al McKibbon, who had known Monk for over twenty years and played on his final tour in 1971, later said: "On that tour Monk said about two words. I mean literally maybe two words. He didn't say 'Good morning', 'Goodnight', 'What time?' Nothing. Why, I don't know. He sent word back after the tour was over that the reason he couldn't communicate or play was that Art Blakey and I were so ugly." A different side of Monk is revealed in Lewis Porter's biography, John Coltrane: His Life and Music; Coltrane states: "Monk is exactly the opposite of Miles [Davis]: he talks about music all the time, and he wants so much for you to understand that if, by chance, you ask him something, he'll spend hours if necessary to explain it to you.

The documentary film Thelonious Monk: Straight, No Chaser (1988) attributes Monk's quirky behaviour to mental illness. In the film, Monk's son, T. S. Monk, says that his father sometimes did not recognize him, and he reports that Monk was hospitalized on several occasions due to an unspecified mental illness that worsened in the late 1960s. No reports or diagnoses were ever publicized, but Monk would often become excited for two or three days, pace for days after that, after which he would withdraw and stop speaking. Physicians recommended electroconvulsive therapy as a treatment option for Monk's illness, but his family would not allow it; antipsychotics and lithium were prescribed instead. Other theories abound: Leslie Gourse, author of the book Straight, No Chaser: The Life and Genius of Thelonious Monk (1997), reported that at least one of Monk's psychiatrists failed to find evidence of manic depression or schizophrenia. Another physician maintains that Monk was misdiagnosed and prescribed drugs during his hospital stay that may have caused brain damage.
As his health declined, Monk's last six years were spent as a guest in the New Jersey home of his long-standing patron and friend, Baroness Pannonica de Koenigswarter, who had also nursed Charlie Parker during his final illness. Monk didn't play the piano during this time, even though one was present in his room, and he spoke to few visitors. He died of a stroke on February 17, 1982, and was buried in Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, New York. In 1993, he was posthumously awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, and in 2006, Monk was posthumously awarded a Pulitzer Prize Special Citation.
Art Blakey reports that Monk was excellent at both chess and checkers (draughts).



Thelonious Sphere Monk (Rocky Mount (Carolina del Norte), 10 de octubre de 1917 - Weehawken (Nueva Jersey), 17 de febrero de 1982), Thelonious Monk, pianista y compositor estadounidense de jazz.
Su estilo interpretativo y compositivo, formado plenamente en 1947, apenas varió en los 25 años siguientes. Pianista fundador del bebop, tocó también bajo el influjo del hard bop y del jazz modal. Es conocido por su estilo único de improvisación, así como por haber compuesto varios temas clásicos del repertorio jazzístico, destacando "Round About Midnight", "Straight No Chaser", "52nd Street Theme" y "Blue Monk".
Nacido en Rocky Mount, en Carolina del Norte, su familia se trasladó poco después a Manhattan, en Nueva York; en ese apartamento viviría siempre hasta el final de sus días. Comenzó a tocar el piano a la edad de seis años, y, aunque recibió alguna educación musical, fue esencialmente un autodidacta; sus primeras influencias fueron dos de los grandes pianistas de corte stride, James P. Johnson y Willie 'the lion' Smith. Durante su adolescencia comenzó a trabajar en algunos rent parties tocando el órgano y el piano en la iglesia baptista. Estudió en el instituto Stuyvesant, si bien nunca llegó a graduarse.
En 1935 decidió irse de viaje a recorrer mundo acompañando con el piano a un predicador evangelista. Después de dos años, regresó a su ciudad y formó su propio cuarteto, actuando en diversos clubes hasta que en 1941 el baterista Kenny Clark lo eligió como pianista de la casa para tocar en el Minton's Playhouse, el legendario club de Manhattan en el que se engendraría el bebop.

Su estilo en la época es descrito como "hard-swinging", con marcadas influencias de Art Tatum, Duke Ellington, James P. Johnson y otros pianistas.
Durante su estancia en Minton's, Monk fue perfeccionando su estilo único, participando en sesiones llamada "cutting competitions", con los más renombrados solistas de la época. Durante esos años, Monk entró en contacto con músicos como Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins, Milt Jackson y John Coltrane, que estaban sentando las bases del bebop. En 1944 realizó sus primeras grabaciones con el Coleman Hawkins Quartet. En 1947 grabó por primera vez como líder de su propia banda, y publicó su LP de debut, Genius of Modern Music, Vol. 1, que mostraba su talento tanto para la composición como para la improvisación. Ese mismo año se casó con Nellie Smith, y en 1949 el matrimonio tuvo un hijo, T.S. Monk, que sería baterista de jazz. Su hija Barbara nació en 1953.
En agosto de 1951, fue arrestado por la policía de Nueva York, acusado de posesión de narcóticos, pues se negó a denunciar a su amigo, el también pianista Bud Powell, al que presumiblemente pertenecía la droga. Se le retiró el permiso para actuar en locales nocturnos en que se despachase alcohol (una autorización, el "New York City Cabaret Card", que era expedida por la policía). Pasó la primera mitad de los años 50 componiendo, grabando discos y actuando en teatros y giras fuera de la ciudad.
Tras grabar varios discos para Blue Note entre 1947 y 1952, firmó un contrato con Prestige, para la que grabó entre 1952 y 1954 algunos de sus discos más importantes, incluyendo colaboraciones con el saxofonista Sonny Rollins y con el baterista Art Blakey. El productor Orrin Keepnews, de Riverside Records, le persuadió de que grabase un disco con temas de Duke Ellington y otro con estándares, para que su música se hiciese más accesible al público medio de jazz. En 1956 grabó el clásico Brilliant Corners y a partir del año siguiente los cambios en su vida se sucedieron.
Monk fue contratado por el Five Spot y allí formaría parte de un cuarteto que contaría con el saxofonista John Coltrane. Como consecuencia de estas actuaciones, la crítica y el público de jazz lo reconocerían por fin como un maestro. El hasta entonces carácter único de su música, que tan difícil era de asumir por una audiencia que tenía como modelo a Bud Powell, se convirtió en 1957 en un motivo de admiración. De repente, Monk se convirtió en una celebridad y su estatus no cambiaría hasta el final de su carrera.

En 1959, su cuarteto contó con la participación del saxofonista tenor Johnny Griffin en 1959 apareció con una orquesta en el Town Hall; en 1962 firmó con Columbia y dos años después fue portada de la revista Time. Un segundo concierto con orquesta fue celebrado en 1962, resultando mejor que el primero, por lo que Monk estaría constantemente de gira durante los años sesenta con su cuarteto, ahora con el tenor Charlie Rouse.
Tocó con los Giants of Jazz durante 1971-1972, y en 1973, repentinamente, se retiró. Monk padecía de una enfermedad mental y, aparte de unas apariciones especiales a mediados de los setenta, vivió recluido el resto de su vida.

Sonny Stitt


Edward "Sonny" Stitt (b. February 2, 1924, Boston, Massachusetts – d. July 22, 1982, Washington, D.C.) was an American jazz saxophonist of the bebop/hard bop idiom. He was also one of the most well-documented saxophonists of his generation, recording over 100 albums in his lifetime.
He was nicknamed the "Lone Wolf" by jazz critic Dan Morgenstern in tribute to his relentless touring and his devotion to jazz. He is considered the greatest disciple of Charlie Parker. Although his playing was at first heavily inspired by Charlie Parker and Lester Young, Stitt eventually developed his own style, one which influenced John Coltrane. Stitt was especially effective with blues and with ballad pieces such as "Skylark".
Stitt was born in Boston, Massachusetts and grew up in Saginaw, Michigan. Stitt had a musical background; his father was a college music professor, his brother was a classically trained pianist, and his mother was a piano teacher.
In 1943, Stitt first met Charlie Parker, and as he often later recalled, the two men found that their styles had an extraordinary similarity that was partly coincidental and not merely due to Stitt's emulation. Stitt's improvisations were more melodic/less dissonant than those of Parker. Stitt's earliest recordings were made in 1945 with Stan Getz and Dizzy Gillespie. He had also experienced playing in some swing bands, though he mainly played in bop bands. Stitt featured in Tiny Bradshaw's big band in the early forties. Stitt replaced Charlie Parker in Dizzy Gillespie's band in 1945.

Stitt played alto saxophone in Billy Eckstine's big band alongside future bop pioneers Dexter Gordon and Gene Ammons from 1945 until 1956, when he started to play tenor saxophone more frequently, in order to avoid being referred to as a Charlie Parker emulator. Later on, he notably played with Gene Ammons and Bud Powell. Stitt spent time in a Lexington prison between 1948–49 for selling narcotics.
Stitt, when playing tenor saxophone, seemed to break free from some of the criticism that he was imitating Charlie Parker's style, although it appears in the instance with Ammons above that the availability of the larger instrument was a factor. Indeed, Stitt began to develop a far more distinctive sound on tenor. He played with other bop musicians Bud Powell and Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, a fellow tenor with a distinctly tough tone in comparison to Stitt, in the 1950s and recorded a number of sides for Prestige Records label as well as albums for Argo, Verve and Roost. Stitt experimented with Afro-Cuban jazz in the late 1950s, and the results can be heard on his recordings for Roost and Verve, on which he teamed up with Thad Jones and Chick Corea for Latin versions of such standards as "Autumn Leaves."
Stitt joined Miles Davis briefly in 1960, and recordings with Davis' quintet can be found only in live settings on the tour of 1960. Concerts in Manchester and Paris are available commercially and also a number of concerts (which include sets by the earlier quintet with John Coltrane) on the record Live at Stockholm (Dragon), all of which featured Wynton Kelly, Jimmy Cobb and Paul Chambers. However, Miles fired Stitt due to the excessive drinking habit he had developed, and replaced him with fellow tenor saxophonist Hank Mobley. Stitt, later in the 1960s, paid homage to one of his main influences, Charlie Parker, on the album Stitt Plays Bird, which features Jim Hall on guitar and at Newport in 1964 with other bebop players including J.J. Johnson.

He recorded a number of memorable records with his friend and fellow saxophonist Gene Ammons, interrupted by Ammons' own imprisonment for narcotics possession. The records recorded by these two saxophonists are regarded by many as some of both Ammons and Stitt's best work, thus the Ammons/Stitt partnership went down in posterity as one of the best duelling partnerships in jazz, alongside Zoot Sims and Al Cohn, and Johnny Griffin with Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis. Stitt would venture into soul jazz, and he recorded with fellow tenor saxophonist Booker Ervin in 1964 on the Soul People album. Stitt also recorded with Duke Ellington alumnus Paul Gonsalves in 1963 for Impulse! on the Salt And Pepper album in 1963. Around that time he also appeared regularly at Ronnie Scott's in London, a live 1964 encounter with Ronnie Scott, The Night Has A Thousand Eyes, eventually surfaced, and another in 1966 with resident guitarist Ernest Ranglin and British tenor saxophonist Dick Morrissey. Stitt was one of the first jazz musicians to experiment with an electric saxophone (the instrument was called a Varitone), as heard on the albums What's New in 1966 and Parallel-A-Stitt in 1967.
In the 1970s, Stitt slowed his recording output slightly, and in 1972, he produced another classic, Tune Up, which was and still is regarded by many jazz critics, such as Scott Yanow, as his definitive record. Indeed, his fiery and ebullient soloing was quite reminiscent of his earlier playing. He also recorded another album with Varitone, Just The Way It Was - Live At The Left Bank in 1971 which was released in 2000.
Stitt joined the all-star group Giants of Jazz, which also featured Art Blakey, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, Kai Winding and bassist Al McKibbon) and made albums for Atlantic Records, Concord Records and Emarcy Records. His last recordings were made in Japan. In 1982, Stitt suffered a heart attack, and he died on July 22.



Edward Stitt (Boston, 2 de febrero de 1924 - Washington, 22 de julio de 1982), conocido como Sonny Stitt, fue un saxofonista (alto y tenor) estadounidense de jazz. Se trata de uno de los principales seguidores de Charlie Parker, de cuya estela pudo empezar a separarse al empezar a usar el saxo tenor, momento en que la influencia de Parker fue compensada con la de Lester Young. A su vez, fue una relativa influencia para John Coltrane.
Nacido en una familia de músicos (su padre era compositor y profesor; su madre y su hermano tocaban el piano; sus hermanas eran cantantes), elige a los siete años el clarinete para iniciarse en el mundo de la música. Inspirado por Rudy Williams, se pasa al saxo.
A comienzos de los cuarenta, tocó en la orquesta de Tiny Bradshaw como saxo alto, y luego se unió a la primera big band de Billy Eckstine en 1945, tocando junto a emergentes estrellas del bebop como Gene Ammons y Dexter Gordon. Más tarde, Stitt tocó en la big band y en el sexteto de Dizzy Gillespie.
Adoptó el tenor y barítono en 1949, y en ocasiones tocó a dúo con Gene Ammons. Grabó con Bud Powell y J.J. Johnson para Prestige en 1949, y con otros para Prestige, Argo y Verve en los cincuenta y sesenta. Lideró muchos combos en los cincuenta y se reunió de nuevo con Gillespie durante un breve periodo de tiempo a finales de los cincuenta.

Tras una pequeña colaboración con Miles Davis en 1960, se juntó otra vez con Ammons y durante un tiempo tocó con él y con James Moody.
Durante los sesenta, Stitt grabó también para Atlantic; entre sus grabaciones más celebradas está Stitt Plays Bird. Continuó liderando orquestas, y a comienzos de los setenta se unió a los Giants of Jazz, grupo en el que tocaban Gillespie, Art Blakey, Kai Winding, Thelonious Monk y Al McKibbon. Stitt trabajó en los setenta para sellos como Cobblestone, Muse y otros, grabando otro disco importante, Tune Up.
Continuó grabando y tocando hasta comienzos de los ochenta, cuando murió de un ataque al corazón.

Art Blakey


Arthur "Art" Blakey (October 11, 1919 – October 16, 1990), known later as Abdullah Ibn Buhaina, was an American Grammy Award-winning jazz drummer and bandleader. He was a member of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.
Along with Kenny Clarke and Max Roach, he was one of the inventors of the modern bebop style of drumming. He is known as a powerful musician and a vital groover; his brand of bluesy, funky hard bop was and continues to be profoundly influential on mainstream jazz. For more than 30 years his band, Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers included many young musicians who went on to become prominent names in jazz. The band's legacy is thus not only known for the often exceptionally fine music it produced, but as a proving ground for several generations of jazz musicians; Blakey's groups are matched only by those of Miles Davis in this regard.
Blakey was inducted into the Jazz Hall of Fame (in 1982), the Grammy Hall of Fame (in 2001), and was awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005.

Blakey was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. By the time he was a teenager, he was playing the piano full-time, leading a commercial band. Shortly afterwards, reputedly because he thought he would be unable to compete with the emerging pianist Erroll Garner, he taught himself to play the drums in the aggressive swing style of Chick Webb, Sid Catlett and Ray Bauduc. He joined Mary Lou Williams as a drummer for an engagement in New York in autumn 1942. He then toured with the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra (1939–1942). During his years with Billy Eckstine’s big band (1944–7), Blakey became associated with the bebop movement, along with his fellow band members Miles Davis, Dexter Gordon, Fats Navarro and others.
By the late forties and early fifties, Blakey was backing musicians such as Miles Davis, Bud Powell and Thelonious Monk — he is often considered to have been Monk's most empathetic drummer, and he played on both Monk's first recording session as a leader (for Blue Note Records in 1947) and his final one (in London in 1971), as well as many in between.
He claimed that he then travelled to Africa during 1948–49; however, no documentation has been uncovered that supports this claim.[citation needed] He did though convert to Islam during this period and took the name Abdullah Ibn Buhaina (which led to the nickname "Bu"). In the early 1950s he performed and broadcast with such musicians as Charlie Parker and Miles Davis
From his earliest recording sessions with Eckstine, and particularly in his historic sessions with Monk in 1947, Blakey exuded power and originality, creating a dark cymbal sound punctuated by frequent loud snare- and bass-drum accents in triplets or cross-rhythms. Although Blakey discouraged comparison of his own music with African drumming, he adopted several African devices, including rapping on the side of the drum and using his elbow on the tom-tom to alter the pitch. His much-imitated trademark, the forceful closing of the hi-hat on every second and fourth beat, was part of his style from 1950 to '51. A loud and domineering drummer, Blakey also listened and responded to his soloists. His contribution to jazz as a discoverer and molder of young talent over three decades was no less significant than his very considerable innovations on his instrument.

In 1947 Blakey organized the Seventeen Messengers, a rehearsal band, and recorded with an octet called the Jazz Messengers. The use of the Messengers tag only stuck with the group co-led at first by both Blakey and pianist Horace Silver, though the name was not used on the earliest of their recordings. Blakey and Silver recorded together on several occasions, including live at Birdland with trumpeter Clifford Brown and alto-saxophonist Lou Donaldson in 1954 for Blue Note, having formed in 1953 a regular cooperative group with Hank Mobley and Kenny Dorham.
The "Jazz Messengers" name was first used for this group on a 1954 recording nominally led by Silver, with Blakey, Mobley, Dorham and Doug Watkins — the same quintet would record The Jazz Messengers at the Cafe Bohemia the following year, still functioning as a collective. Donald Byrd replaced Dorham, and the group recorded an album called simply The Jazz Messengers for Columbia Records in 1956. Blakey took over the group name when Silver left after the band's first year (taking Mobley, Byrd and Watkins with him to form a new quintet with a variety of drummers), and the band was known as "Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers" from then onwards with Blakey being the sole leader, and he remained associated with it for the rest of his life. It was the archetypal hard-bop group of the 1950s, playing a driving, aggressive extension of bop with pronounced blues roots. Towards the end of the 1950s, the saxophonists Johnny Griffin and Benny Golson were in turn briefly members of the group. Golson, as music director, wrote several jazz standards which began as part of the band book such as "I Remember Clifford", and "Blues March" was regularly revived by later editions of the group. "Along Came Betty" and "Are You Real" were other Golson compositions for Blakey.

From 1959 to 1961 the group featured Wayne Shorter on tenor saxophone, Jymie Merritt, Lee Morgan, and Bobby Timmons. The second line-up (1961–1964) was a sextet that added trombonist Curtis Fuller and replaced Morgan and Timmons with Freddie Hubbard and Cedar Walton, respectively. Shorter was now the musical director of the group, and many of his original compositions such as "Lester Left Town" remained repertoire staples later on. (Other players over the years made permanent marks on Blakey's repertoire — Timmons, composer of "Dat Dere" and "Moanin'", and later, Bobby Watson.) Shorter's more experimental inclinations pushed the band at the time into an engagement with the 1960s "New Thing", as it was called: the influence of Coltrane's contemporary records on Impulse! is evident on Free For All (1964), often cited as the greatest document of the Shorter-era Messengers (and certainly one of the most fearsomely powerful examples of hard bop on record).
Up to the 1960s Blakey also recorded as a sideman with many other musicians: Jimmy Smith, Herbie Nichols, Cannonball Adderley, Grant Green, and Jazz Messengers graduates Lee Morgan and Hank Mobley, amongst many others. However, after the mid-1960s he mostly concentrated on his own work as a leader.Blakey also made a world tour in 1971–2 with the Giants of Jazz (with Dizzy Gillespie, Kai Winding, Sonny Stitt, Thelonious Monk and Al McKibbon).
Blakey went on to record dozens of albums with a constantly changing group of Jazz Messengers — he had a policy of encouraging young musicians: as he remarked on-mike during the live session which resulted in the A Night at Birdland albums in 1954: "I'm gonna stay with the youngsters. When these get too old I'll get some younger ones. Keeps the mind active."

After weathering the fusion era in the 1970s with some difficulty (recordings from this period are less plentiful and include attempts to incorporate instruments like electric piano), Blakey's band got revitalized in the early 1980s with the advent of neotraditionalist jazz. Wynton Marsalis was for a time the band's trumpeter and musical director, and even after Marsalis's departure Blakey's band continued as a proving ground for many "Young Lions" like Johnny O'Neal, Philip Harper, Terence Blanchard, Donald Harrison and Kenny Garrett.
Blakey continued performing and touring with the group into the late 1980s; Ron Wynn notes that Blakey had "played with such force and fury that he eventually lost much of his hearing, and at the end of his life, often played strictly by instinct." Some reports suggest Blakey had hearing problems as early as 1959. Blakey died in 1990 in New York City, leaving behind a vast legacy and approach to jazz which is still the model for countless hard-bop players.



Art Blakey (Pittsburgh, 11 de octubre de 1919 - Nueva York, 16 de octubre de 1990) fue un baterista estadounidense de jazz encuadrado en los estilos del bop y hardbop.
Lideró varios grupos, entre los que destaca el quinteto Jazz Messengers, del que tomó las riendas durante tres decenios tras la marcha de Horace Silver, actuando y grabando bajo el nombre de Art Blakey and The Jazz Messengers. La formación fue cuna de algunos de los mejores artistas de jazz de la historia y se convirtió en la representación por antonomasia del estilo hard bop y funky jazz.
La primera educación musical recibida por Blakey fue en forma de lecciones de piano; empezó a tocar profesionalmente muy joven, en su propia banda. Se pasó pronto a la batería, aprendiendo a tocar al estilo fuerte de Chick Webb y Sid Catlett.
En 1942, tocó con la pianista Mary Lou Williams en Nueva York. Recorrió el sur de Estados Unidos en una gira con la banda de Fletcher Henderson durante los años 1943 y 1944. Luego lideró en Boston una big band antes de unirse al nuevo grupo formado por el cantante Billy Eckstine, con el que estaría entre 1944 y 1947. La big band de Eckstine fue la famosa "cradle of modern jazz" e incluyó, en diferentes ocasiones, a figuras de enorme relevancia en el futuro como Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis y Charlie Parker.
Cuando el grupo se disolvió, Blakey formó su propia banda llamada los Seventeen Messengers. Grabó también con un octeto, la primera de sus bandas que recibió el nombre de Jazz Messengers.
A comienzos de la década de los cincuenta, Blakey comenzó una asociación con el pianista Horace Silver. En 1955, formaron un grupo con Hank Mobley y Kenny Dorham, llamado "Horace Silver and the Jazz Messengers". Los Messengers materializaron en forma de grupo el naciente movimiento del hard bop, enfatizando los ritmos primarios de la música y la esencia armónica. Un año después, Silver abandonó el grupo y Blakey se convirtió en su líder.

Desde ese momento, los Messengers fueron el vehículo expresivo habitual de Blakey, aunque continuase colaborando individualmente con otros artistas. Son destacables, en este sentido, su colaboración de 1963 para la compañía Impulse con McCoy Tyner, Sonny Stitt y Art Davis; una gira mundial en la que participó durante 1971-1972 con "the Giants of Jazz", un grupo de grandes estrellas entre las que se encontraban Thelonious Monk, Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Stitt y Al McKibbon; y una extraordinaria actuación con otros tres grandes baterías (Max Roach, Elvin Jones y Buddy Rich) en el Newport Jazz Festival de 1964.

Lucky Thompson


Eli "Lucky" Thompson (June 16, 1924, Columbia, South Carolina — July 30, 2005, Seattle, Washington) was a United States jazz tenor and soprano saxophonist. While John Coltrane usually receives the most credit for bringing the soprano saxophone out of obsolescence in the early 60s, Lucky Thompson, along with Steve Lacy, played it in a more advanced bebop format.
After playing with the swing orchestras of Lionel Hampton, Don Redman, Billy Eckstine, Lucky Millinder, and Count Basie, he worked in rhythm and blues and then established a career in bop and hard bop, working with Kenny Clarke, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie and Milt Jackson. Thompson was an inspired soloist capable of a very personal style in which the tradition of Coleman Hawkins, Ben Webster and Don Byas was intelligently mixed with a modern grasp of harmony. He showed these capabilities as sideman on many albums recorded during the mid-1950s, such as Stan Kenton's Cuban Fire!, and those under his own name. He appeared on Charlie Parker's Los Angeles Dial Records sessions and on Miles Davis’s hard bop Walkin' session. Thompson recorded albums as leader for ABC Paramount and Prestige and as a sideman on records for Savoy Records with Milt Jackson as leader.

He lived in Lausanne, Switzerland in the late 1960s and recorded several albums there including A Lucky Songbook in Europe. He was married to Thelma Thompson, who died in 1963. He taught at Dartmouth College in 1973 and 1974, then left the music business completely, because of the racist treatment he received from record companies and clubs. In his last years he lived in the Pacific Northwest and suffered from Alzheimer’s disease. His son, guitarist Daryl Thompson, played with Peter Tosh and Black Uhuru before embarking on a jazz career in the late 1980s.



Eli "Lucky" Thompson (16 de junio de 1924 -30 de julio de 2005) fue un saxofonista estadounidense de jazz, vinculado estilísticamente al bebop. Tocó tanto el tenor como el soprano.
Tras tocar en las bandas de swing de Lionel Hampton, Slam Stewart,1 Don Redman, Lucky Millinder, y Count Basie. Asimismo, fue miembro de la banda de Billy Eckstine que también incluía a Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie y Art Blakey. Thompson tocó rhythm and blues antes de desenvolverse en el bop y hard bop con Kenny Clarke, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie y Milt Jackson.

Además de sus grabaciones como líder para ABC Paramount y Prestige, como sideman aparece en el Cuban Fire de Stan Kenton', las grabaciones de Charlie Parker para Dial Records, el Walkin' de Miles Davis, y los álbumes de Milt Jackson para Savoy Records.