February 5, 2013 |
As 16-year-old Alex Wood plays the jazz standard "Misty" on the piano, bassist Buster Williams hangs on every note. But it is the absence of sound he is listening for. "Allow the space and the air in the music to be part of the improvisation," says Williams - brow furrowed, bass resting on his shoulder - in the auditorium of Abington Friends School. Williams, 70, is a living legend of jazz, a sideman who has jammed with the likes of Miles Davis, Count Basie, Herbie Hancock, Sarah Vaughan, and Nancy Wilson.
May 25, 2012 |
WHEN THE late Frank Rizzo was Philadelphia police commissioner, he wanted Donald Wilson to be his bodyguard. Although Don was fond of Rizzo, he had to turn him down. "I'm sorry," he said, "but I have music to play. " Don was a devoted cop for 22 years, but his first love was music — jazz, to be specific. He was a virtuoso on the piano and trumpet, and played in the police band and at the jazz clubs that once flourished in Philly, performing with John Coltrane and other notables of the jazz world.
October 3, 2011 |
THIS TOWN has laid claim to many a jazz legend - from John Coltrane, Stan Getz and Dizzy Gillespie on down - and it used to be crawling with night spots where the talents could hone their chops. Today, you can count the clubs on one hand. Yet, there are still "at least 500 jazz musicians in the area, of all ages, trying to find work. " So says Suzanne Cloud, executive director and co-founder of the Jazz Bridge Project, now Philadelphia's most prolific nonprofit presenter of jazz and blues.
November 28, 2009 |
Jazz drummer Billy James, 73, who began playing with the Lionel Hampton Orchestra at 15 and went on to entertain fans across the nation before finally settling in Philadelphia, died at Mercy Hospital Nov. 20. Death was caused by complications from asthma, according to Danita Garrison Lyburn, his longtime companion. Mr. James played with jazz greats such as Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis and Sonny Stitt, and was a longtime mainstay at Philadelphia jazz clubs, including Ortlieb's Jazzhaus and Chris' Jazz Cafe.
April 24, 1998 |
Saxophonists Sam Reed and Stan Wilson carry strong Philly credentials. Reed hails from South Philadelphia, where he hung out with friends such as drummer Albert "Tootie" Heath, trumpeter Ted Curson and pianist Bobby Timmons. Wilson, comes from North Philly, a product of the Simon Gratz High School band, friend to players like trumpeter Lee Morgan and bassist Reggie Workman. On Sunday, Reed, 62, and Wilson, 60, are the focus of "Last Man Standing," a show billed as "a stomp-down, drag-out, call-the-cops Battle of the Tenor Saxes.
November 21, 1997 |
When you reach a certain age, "new" becomes boring and "old" becomes enticing - as it was when new. And it's in the old where Tommy Flanagan flourishes on "Sea Changes," his recent release from Evidence Music Inc., the Conshohocken jazz and blues label. Flanagan, 67, the best bebop pianist working today, reaches back 40 years to re-record tunes from the first album he recorded as a leader, 1957's "Overseas. " It's paradoxical that a pianist so dedicated to making others sound good - he was a sideman for, among others, Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane, and accompanied singers Tony Bennett and Ella Fitzgerald - could still carve out a signature sound that combines elegance with finger-popping swing.
October 10, 1997 |
Among the artists appearing on Tony "TNT" Jones' first CD, "Beyond the Dream," are Sister Sledge. You may know all the words to "We Are Family," but do you remember the Sisters' names? Come up with them and we'll send you a Big Fat Friday T-shirt. Mail or bring your entry to Big Fat Friday Contest, Philadelphia Daily News, Box 7788 (400 N. Broad St.), Philadelphia, Pa. 19101. (Or fax: 215-854-5852.) Entries must be received by next Thursday; 10 winners will be selected. You must include your name, address and phone number to be eligible.
October 6, 1997 |
John Wesley Farrell, a jazz musician and teacher, died of complications of cancer Sunday. He was 80 and lived in South Philadelphia. John Farrell was also known as John Ferrell and Omar Kane Bey. His family called him "Buster. " He played bass and guitar with the Eddie Cole [brother of Nat King Cole] Trio for several years, traveling throughout the country. He also performed with Charlie Parker, Frank Mobley, Mary Lou Williams, Sonny Stitt, the Mills Brothers and the Ink Spots.
March 9, 1993 |
Singer-bandleader Billy Eckstine made beautiful music and music history during his more than 50-year career. The 78-year-old singer and bandleader died yesterday at Montefiore Hospital. He had suffered a stroke last month. Eckstine's warm baritone graced a string of 40's and 50's hits, such as "I Apologize" and "Prisoner of Love. " Known to his fans as "Mr. B," Eckstine sang romantic ballads in a strong, vibrant baritone, with impeccable diction. He was one of America's most popular singers in the late 1940s and early 50's, and the first black singer to make the cover of Life magazine and to become a national sex symbol.
March 9, 1993 |
Billy Eckstine, 78, the prototypical romantic crooner whose robust baritone made every song a moment of trembling, heart-wrenching trauma, died of cardiac arrest yesterday in Pittsburgh's Montefiore Hospital. During the height of his popularity in the late '40s and early '50s, Eckstine was known for his smooth vocals and sex-symbol image. Many young men imitated his style of dress (shirts with rolled collars, jackets draped casually over the frame). "He was a dandy man, a matinee idol who set a trend in the style of menswear," singer Abbey Lincoln said yesterday.