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Posts Tagged ‘Herbie Hancock’

RIP, Alphonse Mouzon (December 26, 2016) Jazz Fusion Pioneer

Posted by themusicsover on December 26, 2016

Alphonse Mouzon
November 21, 1948 – December 26, 2016

Alphonse Mouzon was a jazz drummer who came to be one of the architects of American jazz fusion during the late ’60s and early ’70s.  Born in Charleston, SC, Mouzon realized in high school that he had what it took to make a living as a musician.  Upon graduation, he moved to New York City where he studied music and drama.  Mouzon’s first gig of note was playing percussion in the Broadway show, Promises, Promises.   He then went to work with jazz great, McCoy Tyner, and spent about a year in Weather Report before being signed to Blue Note Records as a solo artist in 1972.  In 1973, he joined up with Larry Coryell‘s Eleventh House, one of the premiere fusion bands of its time.  He played with Coryell for about two years and can be heard on such albums as Introducing The Eleventh House and Level One.  Throughout his career, which spanned over 45 years, Mouzon also recorded or performed with the likes of Donald Byrd, Herbie Hancock, Miles Davis, Roberta Flack, Robert Plant, Stevie Wonder, and Eric Clapton – to name a few.  Alphonse Mouzon died from neuroendocrine carcinoma on December 26, 2016.  He was 68.

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RIP, Leon Russell (November 13, 2016) Legendary Musician, Songwriter & Producer

Posted by themusicsover on November 13, 2016

Leon Russell (Born Claude Russell Bridges)
April 2, 1942 – November 13, 2016

Photo by Carl Lender

Photo by Carl Lender

Leon Russell was a celebrated musician, singer, songwriter and producer whose early work as a session player alone was enough to rightfully find him a home in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Add to that his credits as a songwriter, and you have one of the most respected artists we have ever known.  Born in Oklahoma, Russell began playing the piano at just four years old.  By high school, he and schoolmate David Gates, of future Bread fame, had a band together. Over the next couple of years Russell needed a fake ID to play the clubs of Tulsa. And then, at just 16 years old, he headed to Los Angeles to take a crack at becoming a session musician. Russell quickly built a solid reputation and became one of the first people called into the studio or on stage to lend his talents.  The list of artists or their producers that mad that call is staggering – it includes the Byrds, Frank Sinatra, Bob Dylan, B.B. King, the Rolling Stones, Barbra Streisand, and the Beach Boys.  And as part of the famed Wrecking Crew of L.A. studio musicians, the list goes on. Russel’s first hit as a songwriter came by way of Joe Cocker‘s 1969 recording of his “Delta Lady.”  As the ’70s dawned, Russell began making his own albums while producing others.  And thanks in part to the success of “Delta Lady,” he became a go-to songwriter for hopeful pop and rock stars.  In 1970, he released his self-titled debut. The album spawned one of his most famous songs, “A Song For You” which has been covered by a diverse list of artists that includes Ray Charles, Zakk Wylde, Andy Williams, Herbie Hancock with Christina Aguilera, Whitney Houston, Willie Nelson, and Amy Winehouse. Russell spent the rest of the ’70s on a seemingly endless recording and touring cycle. He eventually slowed down, but became no less productive and influential.  The next three decades found him working with the likes of New Grass Revival and Bruce Hornsby while releasing several more of his own albums which leaned more bluegrass and country than much of his ’70s output. In 2010, Elton John (who called Russell his biggest influence as a pianist, singer and songwriter) and Bernie Taupin partnered with Russell on The Union, which resulted in a return-to-the-charts for both. The outstanding album, produced by T-Bone Burnett, and credited equally to both John and Taupin, entered the Billboard charts at No. 3, Russell’s highest charting album since 1972 and John’s highest since 1976.  Rolling Stone called it one of the best 30 albums of 2010.  The new-found exposure for Russell found him touring heavily up through the first half of 2016 when a heart attack sidelined him. Not discouraged, plans were being made to hit the road again in 2017.  Unfortunately, while still recovering from the heart attack, Leon Russell died quietly in his sleep on November 14, 2016.  He was 74.

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Died On This Date (February 4, 2013) Donald Byrd / Jazz Great

Posted by themusicsover on February 4, 2013

Donald Byrd
December 9, 1932 – February 4, 2013

Photo by William Claxton

Photo by William Claxton

Donald Byrd was an influential jazz trumpeter who successfully brought jazz into R&B, funk, and later hip hop.  Born in Detroit, Michigan, Byrd was proficient at his instrument at a young age.  In fact, he performed with Lionel Hampton before graduating from high school.  After serving in the United States Air Force where he played in the band, Byrd earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music. While pursuing his master’s in New York City, he was hired by Art Blakey to play in his Jazz Messengers.  After leaving Blakey in 1956, Byrd played with some of the greatest names jazz has ever known.  That list includes Eric Dolphy, John Coltrane, Herbie Hancock, and Thelonious Monk.  During the ’70s, Byrd steered his horn toward fusion and R&B.  Although he had been recording influential albums for Blue Note Records as far back as 1959, it wasn’t until 1973’s Black Byrd that he delivered what would become the label’s biggest selling album.  He continued to release best sellers for many years to come.  Byrd was also an educator, having taught at Rutgers, NYU, and Howard University, to name a few.  In all, Byrd earned three Master’s degrees, a Doctorate and law degree.  During the ’90s, Byrd collaborated with hip hop great, Guru of Gang Starr fame on the latter’s Jazzmatazz Vol. 1 which was one of the first albums to back rap with live jazz musicians  and give it a hip hop production.  The landmark album was followed by a second volume that also featured Byrd.  He also contributed to the evolution of hip hop through the use of sampling.  Pieces of his music can be heard in cuts by the likes of A Tribe Called Quest, Public Enemy, and Naughty By Nature.  Donald Byrd was 80 when he passed away on February 4, 2013.  Cause of death was not immediately released.

Thanks to Harold Lepidus from Bob Dylan Examiner for the assist.

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Died On This Date (March 3, 2012) Ronnie Montrose / Rock Guitar Great

Posted by themusicsover on March 3, 2012

Ronnie Montrose
November 29, 1947 – March 3, 2012

Photo by David Plastik – Click To Order Quality Prints – Discount code: 10OFF

Ronnie Montrose was an American guitarist who, since the early 1970’s, has built a reputation as one of hard rock’s leading players.  Montrose was playing in a band called Sawbuck in when he was offered the chance to play with Van Morrison.  He can be heard on Morrison’s Tupelo Honey and Saint Dominic’s Preview.  Within a year or two, he was in the Edgar Winter Group before starting his own band, Montrose, in 1973.  The group, which included then-unknown Sammy Hagar on lead vocals, went on to release such hard rock staples as “Bad Motor Scooter” and “Rock Candy.”  Their self-titled debut sold over a million copies and has been called the first American heavy metal album.  Montrose later formed Gamma who is perhaps best known for “Fight To The Finish” and “Meanstreak.”  As an in-demand session player, Montrose played on records by the likes of Gary Wright, Boz Scaggs, the Beau Brummels, Nicolette Larson, Herbie Hancock, and the Neville Brothers.  Montrose continued to record, tour , and produce well into the 2000s.  Initial reports indicated that Ronnie Montrose died of prostate cancer on March 3, 2012. It was later revealed, however, that he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.  He was 64.

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Died On This Date (January 25, 2012) Dick Kniss / Bassist For Peter, Paul & Mary and John Denver

Posted by themusicsover on January 25, 2012

Dick Kniss
DOB Unknown – January 25, 2012

Dick Kniss was a talented bassist who is best remembered for his tenure with both singer-songwriter, John Denver,  and legendary folk trio Peter, Paul & Mary, with whom he played for the better part of 50 years.  As a member of Denver’s first band during the ’70s, Kniss co-wrote one of his biggest hits, “Sunshine On My Shoulder.”  The list of artists he also worked with includes jazz luminaries Woody Herman and Herbie Hancock.  Dick Kniss died of pulmonary disease on January 25, 2012.  He was 74.



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