18 November

Cindy Blackman
Drums, b.1959, Yellow Springs, OH
She an American jazz and rock drummer. She is most well-known for recording and touring with Lenny Kravitz. Blackman has recorded several straight-ahead jazz albums under her own name, and has performed with acclaimed jazz and rock artists, including Pharoah Sanders, Ron Carter, Buckethead, Bill Laswell and Joe Henderson. Tony Williams is her main drumming influence.
Her website is at http://www.cindyblackman.com/

Don Cherry
Trumpet, b.1936 d.1995, Oklahoma City, OK
He was an innovative jazz trumpeter probably best known for his long association with saxophonist Ornette Coleman.
Cherry was born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and raised in Los Angeles, California.
Cherry became well known in jazz in 1958 when he performed with Ornette Coleman, first in a quintet with pianist Paul Bley and later in what became the predominantly piano-less quartet which recorded for Atlantic Records. Cherry appeared in a variety of settings with the leading musicians of the day through the 1960s: he co-led the Avant-Garde session with John Coltrane, recorded and toured with Sonny Rollins, co-led the New York Contemporary Five in Manhattan, recorded and toured with Albert Ayler and with bandleader and composer George Russell.
He then lived for a number of years in Paris and Sweden.
In addition to bebop, Cherry incorporated influences of Middle Eastern, traditional African, and Indian music into his playing. His album Relativity Suite was notable in that respect.
He appeared on Coleman’s 1971 LP Science Fiction, and from 1976 to 1987 he reunited with Coleman alumni Dewey Redman, Charlie Haden, and Ed Blackwell in the band Old And New Dreams.[1] The “world jazz” group Codona, consisting of Cherry, percussionist Nana Vasconcelos and sitar and tabla player Collin Walcott, recorded albums for ECM and Black Saint.
He continued to seize a wide range of playing opportunities, whether with Carla Bley’s Escalator Over The Hill project or recordings with Lou Reed, Ian Dury, Rip Rig & Panic and Sun Ra.
During the 1980s, he also recorded again with the original Ornette Coleman Quartet on In All Languages, as well as recording El Corazon, a duet album with Ed Blackwell.
Don Cherry died in Málaga, Spain.
His stepdaughters Neneh Cherry and Titiyo and his son Eagle-Eye Cherry are also musicians.
For More info go to http://www.jazzinstitut.de/Jazzindex/index-cherry-don.htm#cherryus

Eddie Graham
Drums, b.1937, New York, NY

Sheila Jordan (Sheila Jeanette Dawson)
Vocal, b.1928, Detroit, MI
She is an American Jazz singer and songwriter. Sheila Jordan grew up in Summerhill, Pennsylvania before returning to her birthplace in 1940/41 playing the piano and singing semi-professionally in Detroit clubs. She was influenced by Charlie Parker and was part of a trio called Skeeter, Mitch and Jean (she was Jean) which composed lyrics to Parker’s Arrangements.
In 1951 she moved to New York and started studying harmony and music theory taught by Lennie Tristano and Charles Mingus. From 1952 to 1962 she was married to the Parker’s pianist Duke Jordan. (SteepleChase) In the early 1960´s she had gigs and sessions in the Page Three Club in Greenage Village and was working in different clubs and bars in New York. In 1962 she was discovered by George Russell (Blue Note) who did a recording called “You Are My Sunshine” with her on his album Outer View (Riverside). Later that year she recorded the Portrait of Sheila album (recorded in Sepember 19th and October 12th, 1962) which was sold to Blue Note.
Later in the decade she sang jazz liturgies in different churches such as Cornell and Princeton, NYC. Jordan played with Don Heckman (1967-68), Lee Konitz (1972), Roswell Rudd (1972-75) and began her long working relationship with Steve Kuhn around this time.
In 1974 she was “Artist in Residence” at the City College and was teaching there in 1975. On the 12th of July 1975 she recorded “Confirmation”. One year later she did the duet album simply called Sheila with Arild Andersen (Bass) for SteepleChase in the end of ´76. In 1979 she founded a quartet with Kuhn, Harvie Swartz and Bob Moses. During the 1980´s she was working with Harvie Swartz as a duo and played on several records with him. Until 1987 she worked in an advertising agency and recorded Lost and Found in 1989.
Sheila Jordan is a well-known songwriter and is able to work in both bebob and free jazz. In addition to the musicians referred to, she has recorded with the George Gruntz Concert Jazz Band (TCB, ECM), Herbie Swartz (MA Recordings), Carla Bley and Steve Swallow. In addition to Blue Note her led recordings issued by for Eastwind, Grapevine, SteepleChase, Palo Alto, Blackhawk and Muse.
For more info go to http://www.sheilajordanjazz.com/

John Herndon “Johnny” Mercer
Lyricist, Vocal, b.1909 d.1976, Savannah, GA
He is regarded as one of America’s greatest songwriters.
Born in Savannah, Georgia, on November 18, 1909, Mercer liked music as a small child. His aunt told him he was humming music when he was six-months old. He never had formal musical training but he listened to all the music he could and by the time he was 11 or 12 he had memorized almost all of the songs he had heard. He once asked his brother who the best songwriters were, and his brother said Irving Berlin, among the best of Tin Pan Alley.
Mercer moved to New York in 1928, when he was 19. His first few jobs were as an actor but he soon gravitated toward singing and lyric writing. He was eventually hired as a singer and lyricist for Paul Whiteman’s Band. His first lyric appeared in a musical revue in 1930 and after than he met many writers and composers, including Hoagy Carmichael. Later he quit working altogether to concentrate on writing songs exclusively. He met Siggie Nordstrom who was recently widowed and forming a sister act with her sister Dagmar and the pair used several of his songs in their routine in 1939 at the Ritz in London.[citation needed]
This was the golden age of the sophisticated popular song, like those of Cole Porter. Songs were put into revues without much regard for integrating the song into the plot. Mercer was generally a lyricist; to him the song was the thing. Mercer felt confined by the Tin Pan Alley formula which had long relegated authentic southern vernacular to comedy songs. Mercer was a naturally casual lyricist, preferring to use regional colloquialisms.[2] During the 1930s there was a shift in musical theatre from musical revues to musicals that used the song to further the plot. There was less of a demand for the pure stand-alone song. After the success of Oklahoma!, Broadway began to shut out lyricists like Mercer who thought in terms of the song rather than its integration into the show. When Mercer was offered a job in Hollywood to write songs and act in low-budget musicals for RKO, he took it. [3]
It was only when Mercer moved to Hollywood in 1935. His first big song “I’m an Old Cow Hand” was used by Bing Crosby in a film and from there his career as a lyicist took off. He found himself writing more and performing less.
In 1941 Mercer met an ideal musical collaborator in the form of Harold Arlen whose compositions mixed with jazz and blues provided Mercer’s sophisticated, slangy lyrics a perfect musical vehicle. Now his lyrics began to display the combination of sophisticated wit and southern regional venacular that characterize some of his best songs. Their first hit was “Blues in the Night” (1941). They went on to craft “That Old Black Magic” (1942), “One for My Baby (and One More for the Road)” (1943), “Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive” (1944), and “Come Rain Or Come Shine” (1946) among others.[2]
In Hollywood he was able to collaborate with a remarkable number of composers, including Richard Whiting, Harry Warren, Jerome Kern, Harold Arlen, Jimmy Van Heusen, Henry Mancini, Dorothy Fields, and Hoagy Carmichael. He was adaptable in his style, listening carefully and absorbing a tune and then transforming it into his own style. He said he preferred to have the music first, taking it home and working on it. He claimed composers had no problem with this method as long as he came back with the lyrics.
After the death of his friend and collaborator, Paul Whiting, he began working with Harry Warren, one of the best composers in the film business. He also had an immensely productive collaborative relationship with Harold Arlen on and off starting in the late 1930s.
Mercer was often asked to write new lyrics to already popular tunes. The lyrics to “Laura,” “Midnight Sun,” and “Satin Doll” were all written after the melodies had become hits. He was also asked to write English lyrics to foreign songs, the most famous example being “Autumn Leaves,” based on the French “Les Feuilles Mortes.”
Occasionally, Mercer wrote both music and lyrics. “Something’s Gotta Give” is probably the best-known song in this category.
Mercer wrote for some MGM films, which include Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954) and Merry Andrew (1958). He wrote the lyrics to “Moon River” for Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. (Henry Mancini wrote the music.) In 1969, Mercer helped publishers Abe Olman and Howie Richmond found the National Academy of Popular Music’s Songwriters Hall of Fame.
A good indication of Mercer’s high esteem is the fact that, in 1964, he became the only lyricist to have his work recorded as a volume of Ella Fitzgerald’s celebrated ‘Songbook’ albums for the Verve label. But he always remained humble about his work, attributing much to luck and timing. He was fond of telling the story of how he was offered the job of doing the lyrics for The Sandpiper on which he worked, only to have the producer turn his lyrics down. The producer got another lyricist and the result was “The Shadow of Your Smile” which became a huge hit.[1]
Born in the South, Mercer grew up listening to records of Tin Pan Alley songs but also to so-called “race” records, marketed to blacks. His later songs merged his southern roots with his urban knowledge of sophisticated songwriters. It was his southern roots that enable him to be one of the few lyicists able to skillfully write lyrics set to the jazz melodies of composers such as Hoagy Carmichael. For years Mercer had to ignore those roots to fit the requirements of Tin Pan Alley standard terms.
“Moon River”, with its remarkable phrase “my huckleberry friend” would never have passed muster in the Tin Pan Alley years.
Well-regarded also as a singer, with a folksy singing quality, he was a natural for his own songs such as “Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate The Positive”, “On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe”, “One for My Baby (and One More for the Road)”, and “Lazybones.” He was considered a first-rate performer of his own work.[1]
It has been said that he penned “One for My Baby (and One More for the Road)”, one of the great torch laments of all times, on a napkin while sitting at the bar at P. J. Clarke’s when Tommy Joyce was the bartender. The next day he called Tommy to apologize for the line “So, set ’em up, Joe,” “I couldn’t get your name to rhyme.” Mercer, like Cole Porter before him, was more interested in the words than the emotion in lyric. This may be why “One for My Baby (and One More for the Road)” was sung more effectively by him than other singers who often turned it into a tear-jerker.
The war years saw Mercer’s beginnings as an entertainment tycoon. In the 1940s Mercer was introduced by the Nordstrom Sisters to backers and in 1942, he was part of the founding trio of Capitol Records which became an industry giant. He started Capitol because he was not satisfied with recording quality in the then current crop of western studios and tired of travelling all the way to NY. One more brilliant thing he did was bury two facing seventy-five foot horns under the Capitol building parking lot to create an echo chamber effect in the studio. The quality of Capitols’ records were the direct result of the effort and skill of Mr. Mercer. While running Capitol, Mercer’s skills as a talent scout attracted Nat Cole, Stan Kenton, Jo Stafford, Peggy Lee and Margaret Whiting and others to the label. Of course, he released many of his hits on his own label.
In his last year, Mercer became extremely fond of pop singer Barry Manilow, in part because Manilow’s first hit record was of a song titled “Mandy,” which was also the name of Mercer’s daughter. After Mercer’s death, his widow, Ginger Mehan Mercer, arranged to give some unfinished lyrics he had written to Manilow to possibly develop into complete songs. Among these was a piece titled “When October Goes,” a melancholy remembrance of lost love. Manilow applied his own melody to the lyric and issued it as a single in 1984, when it became a top 10 Adult Contemporary hit in the United States. The song has since become a jazz standard, with notable recordings by Rosemary Clooney, Nancy Wilson, and Megon McDonough, among other performers.
Mercer was a direct descendant of Revolutionary War General Hugh Mercer, and through him was also a distant cousin of General George S. Patton.
Another Mercer’s ancestors was General Hugh W. Mercer in the American Civil War.
His family home in Savannah was later the home of Jim Williams, whose trial for murder was the centerpiece of John Berendt’s book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.
His mother was Lillian Barbara Ciucevich. Born in America she was the daugther of Croatian migrants who came to America in the 1870s.
He was honored by the United States Postal Service with his portrait placed on a stamp in 1996. His star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1628 Vine Street is outside the Capitol Records building.
He died in Bel Air, California.
There is a theatre named after him in Savannah’s Civic Center.
There is a pier named after him in Wilmington N.C.
For more info go to http://www.johnnymercerfoundation.org/intro.html

Boots Mussulli
Alto Sax, b.1917 d. 1967, Milford, MA

Victor Sproles
Bass, b.1927, Chicago, IL

Bennie Wallace
Tenor Sax, b.1946, Chattanooga, TN

Claude Berkeley Williamson Piano, b.1926, Brattleboro, VT
He is a jazz pianist. He studied at the New England Conservatory of Music before moving to jazz. He first worked with Red Norvo, Charlie Barnet, and June Christy. Later he worked with Max Roach, Art Pepper, and others. Aquarium is a popular composition by him. After this period he worked in different trios and then gained renewed attention in Japan, hence some of his albums are on Japanese labels, in the 1970s and 1980s. His brother is trumpeter Stu Williamson.

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