Tag: jazz pianists

University of Pittsburgh Acquires Archives of Jazz Pianist Erroll Garner

Garner
Jazz Legend Erroll Garner (photo via jbhe.com)

The University of Pittsburgh announced that it has acquired the professional archives of jazz pianist Erroll Garner.

Garner was born in Pittsburgh in 1921. He began playing piano at age 3 and by the age of seven was performing on the radio. In 1944, Garner moved to New York City where he became a leading performer and composer. He wrote the score for several films and Broadway plays. His ballad “Misty” became a major hit of Johnny Mathis was the featured in the 1971 Clint Eastwood film Play Misty for Me.

To see video of his signature song, click below:

 

The archives were assembled by Garner’s long-time agent and manager, the late Martha Glaser and were donated to the university by Glaser’s estate. Included in the collection are correspondence, performance and recording contracts, sheet music, awards, audio and video recordings, photographs, and memorabilia.

Erroll Garner died in 1977 at the age of 55.

original article via jbhe.com; additions by Lori Lakin Hutcherson 

R.I.P. Composer, Pianist and Jazz Crusader Joe Sample

Joe Sample at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 2011. His last solo album, “Children of the Sun,” is to be released this fall. (Credit: Jean-Christophe Bott/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images)

Joe Sample, who became a jazz star in the 1960s as the pianist with the Jazz Crusaders and an even bigger star a decade later when he began playing electric keyboards and the group simplified its name to the Crusaders, died on Friday in Houston. He was 75.

The cause was mesothelioma, said his manager, Patrick Rains.

The Jazz Crusaders, who played the muscular, bluesy variation on bebop known as hard bop, had their roots in Houston, where Mr. Sample, the tenor saxophonist Wilton Felder and the drummer Nesbert Hooper (better known by the self-explanatory first name Stix) began performing together as the Swingsters while in high school.

Mr. Sample met the trombonist Wayne Henderson at Texas Southern University and added him, the bassist Henry Wilson and the flutist Hubert Laws — who would soon achieve considerable fame on his own — to the group, which changed its name to the Modern Jazz Sextet.

The band worked in the Houston area for several years but did not have much success until Mr. Sample, Mr. Felder, Mr. Hooper and Mr. Henderson moved to Los Angeles and changed their name to the Jazz Crusaders, a reference to the drummer Art Blakey’s seminal hard-bop ensemble, the Jazz Messengers. Their first album, “Freedom Sound,” released on the Pacific Jazz label in 1961, sold well, and they recorded prolifically for the rest of the decade, with all four members contributing compositions, while performing to enthusiastic audiences and critical praise.

In the early 1970s, as the audience for jazz declined, the band underwent yet another name change, this one signifying a change in musical direction. Augmenting their sound with electric guitar and electric bass, with Mr. Sample playing mostly electric keyboards, the Jazz Crusaders became the Crusaders. Their first album under that name, “Crusaders 1,” featuring four compositions by Mr. Sample, was released on the Blue Thumb label in 1972.

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Born On This Day in 1919: Legendary Jazz Musician and Singer Nat King Cole

Nat ColeNathaniel Adams Coles (March 17, 1919 – February 15, 1965), known professionally as Nat King Cole, was an American singer and musician who first came to prominence as a leading jazz pianist. He owes most of his popular musical fame to his soft, baritone voice, which he used to perform in big band and jazz genres.

Cole was one of the first African Americans to host a television variety show, The Nat King Cole Show, and has maintained worldwide popularity since his death from lung cancer in February 1965, based on his classic renditions of  “Unforgettable,” “Mona Lisa,” “Laura,” and “The Christmas Song.”  Learn more about his life and music here, and watch his uncomparable version of “Nature Boy” below:

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson

Born On This Day in 1933: Jazz Singer and Activist Nina Simone

ninasimoneEunice Kathleen Waymon (February 21, 1933 – April 21, 2003), born in Tyron, North Carolina and better known by her stage name Nina Simone, was an American singer, songwriter, pianist, arranger, and civil rights activist widely associated with jazz music. Simone studied at the Julliard School of Music in New York and worked in a broad range of styles including classical, jazz, blues, folk, R&B, gospel, and pop.  Among Simone’s most popular recordings were “My Baby Just Cares For Me”, “I Put A Spell On You”, “I Loves You, Porgy” “Feeling Good” and the civil rights protest song “Mississippi Goddam.”  Learn more about this amazing musician’s life and music here and watch her live performance of  “Ain’t Got No… I Got Life” below:

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson