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Ellis Marsalis, Jr.

Jazz pianist and music professor Ellis Louis Marsalis, Jr., was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, on November 14, 1934. As a youth, Marsalis played clarinet. From the age of eleven, he studied the clarinet at Xavier University's Junior School of Music (New Orleans), a preparatory course for the university. He would later ask his mother to get him a tenor saxophone so he could begin playing Rhythm "n Blues, the popular music of the day. He added piano to his studies while still in high school.

Marsalis entered Dillard University (New Orleans) in 1951 as a Freshman music major. In 1955, Marsalis earned his B.A. degree in music education. For the next year he worked as an assistant manager in his father’s motel business while continuing to freelance with the American Jazz Quintent which consisted of Alvin Batiste, tenor saxophonist Harold Battiste, Ed Blackwell on drums and Richard Payne on bass. The group found little work in New Orleans, but they persevered.

In 1956, Ornette Coleman sent for Edward Blackwell to hoin him in Los Angeles and after a conversation with Harold Battiste, he and Marsalis decided to go with Blackwell to Los Angeles. While there, Marsalis and Blackwell played with Ornette Coleman for a short time. But by the end of the summer, Marsalis received a draft notice so he had to return home for a physical. In January of 1957, he joined the U.S. Marine Corps for a two-year stint. Marsalis spent all of his military service stationed in southern California, where he played piano for a weekly CBS television show, the Marine-sponsored "Dress Blues," and a radio show called "Leather Songbook," also sponsored by the Marince Corps. After his military service, Marsalis returned to New Orleans and married Delores Ferdinand. Eventually, the two would have six sons: Brandford, Wynton, Ellis III, Delfeayo, Miboya and Jason.

In 1964, Marsalis moved his wife and family to the small town of Breaux Bridge, Louisiana where he served as the band and choral director of Carver High School. In 1966, Marsalis returned to New Orleans and led the house trio at the Playboy Club. After leaving the Playboy Club, Marsalis was asked to join the Al Hirt band from 1967 to 1970, he had the piano chair in Al Hirt's Dixieland group.

In 1974, Marsalis joined the staff at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts High School (NOCCA), where he worked for the next twelve years. There, he would influence the careers of countless musicians, including trumpeter Terence Blanchard, pianist Harry Connick Jr., saxophonist Donlad Harrison, and his four musician sons, Wynton, Branford, Delfeayo and Jason. In 1986, Marsalis earned his M.M. degree from Loyola University New Orleans.

From 1986 to 1989, he taught at the Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, where he spent two years as coordinator of Jazz Studies. In 1989, Marsalis received an Honorary Doctorate degree from his alma mater, Dillard University, and that same year, he joined the faculty of the University of New Orleans. Marsalis served as Director of Jazz Studies until his retirement in 2001. He would be the recipient of honorary degrees from Tulane University (2007), The Juilliard School, Ball State and Virginia Commonwealth University in 2010. Marsalis has served as panelist, grant evaluator and board member for the National Endowment for the Arts and the Southern Arts Federation. On December 7, 2008, Marsalis was inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame.

Ellis Marsalis was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on June 10, 2010.

Accession Number

A2010.048

Sex

Male

Interview Date

6/10/2010

Last Name

Marsalis

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Occupation
Schools

Gilbert Academy

F.P. Ricard School

Danneel Public School

Gaudet High School

Dillard University

Loyola University New Orleans

First Name

Ellis

Birth City, State, Country

New Orleans

HM ID

MAR13

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Louisiana

Favorite Vacation Destination

Savannah, Georgia; Baltimore, Maryland

Favorite Quote

What Are You Prepared To Do?

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Louisiana

Birth Date

11/14/1934

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New Orleans

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Salmon

Short Description

Jazz pianist Ellis Marsalis, Jr. (1934 - ) directed Jazz Studies at the University of New Orleans from 1989 to 2001. He was inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame on December 7, 2008.

Employment

Carver High School

Al Hirt’s Dixieland group

New Orleans Center for Creative Arts High School (NOCCA)

Virginia Commonwealth University

University of New Orleans

Favorite Color

Sky Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Ellis Marsalis, Jr.'s interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. describes his mother's personality and siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. describes his maternal grandparents, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. talks about his mother's Creole heritage

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. describes his maternal grandparents, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. talks about his mother's education and occupation

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. talks about his father's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. remembers his paternal grandmother

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. talks about his paternal grandparents' courtship

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. remembers his father's motel

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. describes his father's personality

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. recalls his father's money management

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. talks about how his parents met

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. describes his earliest childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. remembers the Danneel Public School in New Orleans, Louisiana

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. recalls his early academic interests

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. remembers his community in New Orleans, Louisiana, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. remembers his community in New Orleans, Louisiana, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. describes his schooling in Shrewsbury, Louisiana

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. remembers the F.P. Ricard School in New Orleans, Louisiana

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. describes his early musical instruction, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. describes his early musical instruction, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. remembers Gaudet High School in New Orleans, Louisiana

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. remembers playing with the Groovy Boys in New Orleans, Louisiana

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. describes the development of his musical style, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. recalls learning to play bebop

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. describes the development of his musical style, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. remembers forming the American Jazz Quintet

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. remembers Dillard University in New Orleans, Louisiana

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. recalls his decision to move to Los Angeles, California

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. recalls teaching at Xavier University Preparatory School in New Orleans, Louisiana

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. remembers enlisting in the U.S. Marine Corps

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. describes the founding of AFO Records

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. describes the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in Parris Island, South Carolina

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. recalls his experiences at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, California

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. remembers playing with the Corps Four, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. remembers playing with the Corps Four, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. recalls recording with the Ellis Marsalis Quartet

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. talks about the development of jazz music

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. describes his style of jazz

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. remembers meeting his wife

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. talks about his sons

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. recalls recording an album with the Adderley brothers

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. talks about the early record industry

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. remembers moving to Breaux Bridge, Louisiana

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. recalls his work for the Southern Rep Theatre in New Orleans, Louisiana

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. remembers the Playboy Club in New Orleans, Louisiana

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. recalls joining Al Hirt's band in New Orleans, Louisiana

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. recalls the celebrity patrons of his father's motel in New Orleans, Louisiana

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. describes the Storyville Jazz Band

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. describes the creation of the ELM Music Company

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. talks about his master's degree from Loyola University New Orleans

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. recalls joining the faculty of Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia

Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. talks about his recordings with Columbia Records and Eddie Harris

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. remembers his sons' starts as musicians

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$7

DAStory

4$1

DATitle
Ellis Marsalis, Jr. describes the development of his musical style, pt. 2
Ellis Marsalis, Jr. remembers his sons' starts as musicians
Transcript
A part of it, kind of on the periphery of that, there was a record shop on South Rampart Street [New Orleans, Louisiana]. I can't remember the formal name, I don't remember it, but we used to call it the Bop Shop because at that time all of the, the great musicians, Charlie Parker, Max Roach, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, they were all issuing recordings sometimes once a month but they was 78s [78 rpm record] so you had two recordings, on--one on either side of the 78, so we would go and there was a lady that worked there and she had like a phone tree so she would call up different ones of us and say look, we got a new whatever, Charlie Parker, a new Miles Davis, a new Lester Young and like we'd go down there--and sometimes we'd meet each other, sometimes we wouldn't but we knew, we'd go down and get it. You know and then we'd call up each other and say, "Hey did you get the so and so?" "Yeah," and we'd talk about it on the phone, and it was a learning process. Now one thing I miss one person that I miss bringing in when I went to that school, F.P. Ricard [F.P. Ricard School, New Orleans, Louisiana]. I met Alvin Batiste who would become fantastic clarinetist. He was playing clarinet and when we gradu- when we left elementary school, he went to Booker Washington [Booker T. Washington High School, New Orleans, Louisiana] that had a great band, great band director. Didn't have anything to do with jazz but, but you know it was a very, very good band, concert band, and all the marching bands was basically the same. So we kept, kept in touch 'cause he eventually went to Southern University [Southern University and Agricultural and Mechanical College] in Baton Rouge [Louisiana] while I was at Dillard [Dillard University] in New Orleans [Louisiana]. But in the summertime, we would get together and, and play and I was starting to learn how to write--compose music. And bit by bit I started writing tune here. And this book that I was telling you that Harold just issued--just released ['Unfinished Blues: Memories of a New Orleans Music Man'], he was like a mentor for us--he's three years older than me, but he was writing music also. He's a good tenor player but he prefers like writing music. So after the Groovy Boys, which kind of dissipated and--when were at college, early years in college, I would play with [HistoryMaker] Harold Battiste and whenever we kick it with Alvin, because Alvin was going up to Southern University in Baton Rouge, but he was writing songs, Harold was writing songs, I was writing songs and we were playing with a drummer named Edward Blackwell [Ed Blackwell] who eventually left around 1960 and went up to New York [New York] and stayed there. But we would play all these original compositions which you--which is recorded. You could get 'em now.$You talked a little bit about your sons and recording with them, but let's step back a little bit and, and tell me when your, your children began to start playing, and tell me what instruments they play.$$All right Branford [Branford Marsalis] started to play on a clarinet because I had one. And while I was with Al Hirt's band, he gave me--this is a kind of interesting story too. We were playing at the Riverboat [Mark Twain Riverboat] in New York [New York], the Al Hirt band and during the intermission, Miles Davis and Clark Terry were there and Al and I went and sat at the table. So I asked Al for an advance since we were in New York 'cause I wanted to get a trumpet for Wynton [Wynton Marsalis] because it was a little less expensive than in New York. And Miles Davis said, "Man, don't get him no trumpet, that's too hard. Let him play something else," (laughter). But Al said, "Well don't worry about it, when we get home," he said this--the company that he endorsed, he said, "I got trumpets. I'll give you one." So he gave me a trumpet to give to Wynton and it sat in the closet for (laughter) about six years before Wynton got serious and started to practice. I don't know how Delfeayo [Delfeayo Marsalis] started playing trombone; that's still kind of mysterious to me. Jason started playing drums I think almost immediately. He--it's just something about him and drums that worked out. But we were living about six or eight blocks from an elementary school that had a Saturday string program and the first thirty-five people could get a violin for the cost of the insurance which was ten bucks [dollars] a year so I was one of them first thirty-five to get that, that instrument and, and Jason played the violin from that point until he was about--well we went up to Richmond [Virginia] and the, the last year in Richmond, he discovered when they promoted him to a middle orchestra, he discovered that they had percussion in a orchestra; he didn't know that. So at the end of that year, we came back to New Orleans [Louisiana], the violin went in a case and that was the end of that. But he had been playing snit--or snare drum, I mean a set all the while since he was about six years old. You see and now he's concentrating on vibes, vibraphone, as well as the drums. In fact he's in Jackson, Mississippi on a gig tonight playing vibraphone with his group.$$What's the name of his group?$$Huh (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) The name of his group?$$I guess the Jason Marsalis quartet [Jason Marsalis Vibes Quartet] I guess (laughter).

Ramsey Lewis

World-famous jazz musician and composer Ramsey Emmanuel Lewis, Jr. was first given piano lessons at age four. He was born in Chicago on May 27, 1935, to hard-working, self-educated Southern farm workers who met in church.

Lewis attended Chicago Music College Preparatory School from 1947 to 1954. He credits his music teacher, Dorothy Mendelsohn, with teaching him how to listen with his inner ear. Other than his father’s Duke Ellington, Art Tatham and Mead Lux Lewis records, Lewis had no special exposure to jazz. After graduating from Wells High School in 1954, Lewis’ first music job was as an accompanist at the Zion Hill Baptist Church. He enrolled in Chicago Music College, but left at age eighteen to marry. In 1956, he formed the Ramsey Lewis Jazz Trio and signed with Chess Records in 1957 for the Trio’s first album. The Trio, composed of Eldee Young and Red Holt, played in famous New York jazz clubs and toured as full-time jazz musicians. Lewis recorded for Columbia Records from 1971 to 1974 and signed with GRP Records in 1991. He is the winner of three Grammy Awards, and from 1967 to 1976 earned five gold records. His major hits include “The In Crowd,” “Wade in the Water” and “Hang On Sloopy.”

Since 1957, Lewis has performed concerts in all the major clubs, jazz festivals and summer venues in the United States and with more than twenty-five symphony orchestras. He has a daily radio show, The Ramsey Lewis Morning Show in Chicago and a weekly syndicated jazz show. From 1990 to 1999, he hosted BET’s Jazz Central. He was named artistic director of the Ravinia Jazz Festival in 1992.

Lewis is on the board of the Merit Music Program, which provides free music lessons to youth; Cycle, an inner-city self-help high school program; and the Ravinia Mentor Program. He serves as honorary chairman of the Cares for Kids Foundation. He was named 2000’s Radio Personality of the Year.

Residing in Chicago, Lewis has been married to Janet Tamillow Lewis since 1990 and is the father of seven children, grandfather of twelve and great-grandfather of one.

Accession Number

A2001.040

Sex

Male

Archival Photo 1
Interview Date

12/12/2001 |and| 6/29/2004 |and| 12/20/2004

Last Name

Lewis

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Wells Community Academy High School

Speakers Bureau

No

First Name

Ramsey

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

LEW02

Favorite Season

All Seasons

Sponsor

Mark D. Goodman

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Paris, France

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

5/27/1935

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Vegetables

Short Description

Jazz pianist Ramsey Lewis (1935 - ) formed the Ramsey Lewis Trio in 1956. The Trio, composed of Eldee Young and Red Holt, played in famous New York jazz clubs and toured as full-time jazz musicians. Lewis has a daily radio show, 'The Ramsey Lewis Morning Show' in Chicago and a weekly syndicated jazz show. He was named artistic director of the Ravinia Jazz Festival in 1992.

Main Sponsor
Favorite Color

Gray

DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Ramsey Lewis interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Ramsey Lewis's favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Ramsey Lewis describes his mother's background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Ramsey Lewis remembers his father's background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Ramsey Lewis discusses his family life

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Ramsey Lewis shares memories of his early musical training

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Ramsey Lewis recalls his home life

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Ramsey Lewis describes his childhood personality and interests

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Ramsey Lewis recalls his childhood environs, Chicago's Near North Side

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Ramsey Lewis describes his school experience

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Ramsey Lewis reflects on his father's musical ambitions

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Ramsey Lewis recalls his father's love for gospel and jazz music

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Ramsey Lewis discusses music and math and recalls his first piano teacher

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Ramsey Lewis remembers his musical mentor, Dorothy Mendelsohn and his musical development in his early teens

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Ramsey Lewis begins to discuss members of his first musical group, the Cleffs

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Ramsey Lewis recalls joining the Cleffs and learning to play jazz from Wallace Burton

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Ramsey Lewis talks about combining college academics with musical training

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Ramsey Lewis details the Ramsey Lewis Trio's introduction to music executive Phil Chess

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Second slating of Ramsey Lewis interview

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Ramsey Lewis recalls the Ramsey Lewis Trio's first Chess recordings

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Ramsey Lewis remembers Holmes 'Daddy-O' Daylie's support during the early years of the Ramsey Lewis Trio

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Ramsey Lewis recalls the Ramsey Lewis Trio's first record deal

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Ramsey Lewis reviews the life of the Ramsey Lewis Trio

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Ramsey Lewis discusses the Ramsey Lewis Trio's hit song, 'The In Crowd'

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Ramsey Lewis details the break-up of the Ramsey Lewis Trio

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Ramsey Lewis recalls the Ramsey Lewis Trio's 1959 New York performances

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Ramsey Lewis describes the musical influences of the Ramsey Lewis Trio

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Ramsey Lewis remembers Chicago music label Chess Records' foray into jazz with their Argo subsidiary

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Ramsey Lewis remembers his own early jazz influences

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Ramsey Lewis discusses the Ramsey Lewis Trio's hit, 'Hang on Sloopy'

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Ramsey Lewis describes his association with Maurice White and the recording of the hit 'Sun Goddess'

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Ramsey Lewis details changing relationships with band members in the Ramsey Lewis Trio

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Ramsey Lewis comments on Earth, Wind and Fire

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Ramsey Lewis discusses his collaborations with arranger and producer Charles Stepney

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Ramsey Lewis describes performing with orchestras and at large venues

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Ramsey Lewis details his years on the Columbia Records music label

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Ramsey Lewis gives an overview of his hit records

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Ramsey Lewis describes changes in his musical ensemble

George Duke

George Duke was born George Mac Duke on January 12, 1946, in San Rafael, California. Duke was raised in Marin City, a working class section of Marin County. After his mother took him to see Duke Ellington perform, he started studying the piano and began absorbing the roots of black music in his local Baptist church. Duke attended Tamalpais High School in Mill Valley. By the age of sixteen, Duke was playing with a number of high school jazz groups. He received his B.A. degree in music from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, majoring in trombone and composition with a minor in contrabass. He then obtained his M.A. degree in composition from San Francisco State University.

Duke first captured the attention of the jazz world with his collaboration with Jean-Luc Ponty and the album The Jean-Luc Ponty Experience with the George Duke Trio. In the early 1970s, Duke became known for his solo work as well as for his collaborations with other musicians, particularly Frank Zappa. Duke joined veteran jazzman Julian "Cannonball" Adderley in 1971. Through “Cannonball”, he was given the opportunity to meet and work with artists such as Nancy Wilson, Joe Williams, Dizzy Gillespie, Stanley Clarke, Flora Purim and Airto Moriera. In 1973, Duke rejoined Zappa and brought Jean-Luc Ponty with him. That band stayed together for the next three years, until Duke left to join forces with drummer Billy Cobham. In 1976, Duke became a solo artist and enjoyed success with a series of fusion-oriented LP's such as, From Me To You. In 1978, Duke’s funk heavy album Reach For It went gold and propelled him to the top of the music charts. A year later, he recorded his best known album, A Brazilian Love Affair. About the same time, Duke decided to begin a career in music producing. His breakthrough in producing came with an album by A Taste of Honey. The single, "Sukiyaki," went to Number 1 on the pop, adult contemporary and R & B charts, ultimately selling over two million copies. Duke went on to produce and collaborate with such artists as Jeffrey Osborne, Deniece Williams, Stanley Clarke, Barry Manilow, Smokey Robinson, The Pointer Sisters, Gladys Knight and Anita Baker. In addition, Duke has acted as musical director for numerous musical television specials, including the Soul Train Music Awards. During the 1990s, Duke also established a career in television and film scoring, working on the music for such films as The Five Heartbeats, Karate Kid III, Leap Of Faith, Good Fences and Never Die Alone. In 2001, Duke won a Grammy Award for producing the Best Jazz Vocal Album: Dianne Reeves’ In The Moment. In 2005, Duke served as artist and emcee for a special series of concerts in India as part of a delegation of American jazz musicians sent on a State Department tour to promote HIV/AIDS awareness.

Duke continues to both produce and release new albums, his latest being Dukey Treats in 2008. Duke is the recipient of numerous awards including multiple Grammy nominations, the Edison Life Time Achievement Award, and Keyboard Magazine’s "R&B Keyboardist of The Year."

George Duke passed away on August 5, 2013.

Accession Number

A2008.112

Sex

Male

Interview Date

9/17/2008

Last Name

Duke

Maker Category
Organizations
Schools

Tamalpais High School

San Francisco Conservatory of Music

First Name

George

Birth City, State, Country

San Rafael

HM ID

DUK03

Favorite Season

Summer

State

California

Favorite Vacation Destination

Home

Favorite Quote

Be Still, And Know That I Am God.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

1/12/1946

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Pasta

Death Date

8/5/2013

Short Description

Jazz pianist and music producer George Duke (1946 - 2013 ) won multiple Grammy Awards. He worked with Frank Zappa and Jean-Luc Ponty before becoming a solo artist. Duke then collaborated with artists like Barry Manilow, The Pointer Sisters, Gladys Knight and Smokey Robinson. Duke composed film and television scores, and was musical director of the Soul Train Music Awards.

Employment

George Duke Productions

Epic Records

MPS Records

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:2475,63:7725,168:11550,252:11925,260:13050,278:29400,497:30040,583:37720,674:49574,839:56198,972:74095,1270:89820,1528:92784,1591:110554,1919:112845,1963:113398,1979:116242,2024:116716,2031:122009,2217:132687,2379:136968,2539:172540,3009:193895,3380:212347,3736:213400,3761:229750,4071:234950,4189:236630,4221:243006,4319:253818,4490:273280,4762$0,0:300,20:4875,149:5250,155:17686,353:28614,558:39627,712:42386,773:52455,1172:59595,1301:61125,1342:82150,1494:87460,1639:93726,1705:103798,1843:110428,2093:110740,2098:121146,2215:121458,2221:122004,2231:126294,2335:129492,2438:144460,2710:149465,2779:149850,2785:163670,2932:164144,2991:170701,3176:173390,3187
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of George Duke's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - George Duke lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - George Duke describes his mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - George Duke describes his mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - George Duke talks about the lynching of his maternal great-grandmother

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - George Duke describes his mother's education

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - George Duke describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - George Duke remembers his father's alcoholism

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - George Duke describes how he takes after his mother

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - George Duke talks about his maternal relatives, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - George Duke talks about his maternal relatives, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - George Duke remembers seeing Duke Ellington in concert

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - George Duke remembers his early exposure to jazz

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - George Duke describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - George Duke describes the community of Marin City, California

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - George Duke talks about the instruments he played as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - George Duke remembers Tamalpais High School in Mill Valley, California

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - George Duke recalls enrolling at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - George Duke remembers the San Francisco Conservatory of Music

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - George Duke talks about the importance of musicianship

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - George Duke remembers the jazz scene in the San Francisco Bay Area, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - George Duke remembers the jazz scene in the San Francisco Bay Area, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - George Duke remembers his collaborations with Jean-Luc Ponty

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - George Duke talks about working with Frank Zappa and Cannonball Adderley

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - George Duke remembers meeting Brazilian musicians

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - George Duke remembers his collaborations with Billy Cobham

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - George Duke describes his early musical influences

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - George Duke remembers his early records

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - George Duke recalls his foray into funk music

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - George Duke remembers his transition to music production

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - George Duke remembers producing 'Let's Hear It for the Boy'

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - George Duke recalls working with Anita Baker and Luther Vandross

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - George Duke remembers his career in music production

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - George Duke remembers producing songs for Dianne Reeves and Miles Davis

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - George Duke remembers Miles Davis

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - George Duke reflects upon the significance of lyrics, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - George Duke remembers Bootsy Collins

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - George Duke reflects upon the significance of lyrics, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - George Duke remembers composing film scores

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - George Duke recalls composing music for television programs

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - George Duke talks about the jazz music industry

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - George Duke reflects upon his life

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - George Duke reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - George Duke talks about his family

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - George Duke describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - George Duke narrates his photographs

DASession

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DATape

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DAStory

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DATitle
George Duke remembers his transition to music production
George Duke remembers producing songs for Dianne Reeves and Miles Davis
Transcript
I started doing records with Stanley Clarke. Came up with the idea of this song called "Sweet Baby," which became the biggest hit I've ever had overall. It's kind of like a pop song. And of course my relationship with Stanley has developed over the years. We've done, what, three albums to the present, solo records. But at the same time--you see, all of this was going on kind of simultaneously--I began producing records. And so what happened is essentially I began by--early on, in 1968, actually, working with a group of Filipino girls. There were five of them. And they were like s- eleven to seventeen, and they were called The Third Wave. They have a record called 'Here And Now,' and I produced an album for them which came out only in Germany. And I said, man, I think I got a future in this. And so, fortunately I was able to do a record with, from--what's his name? [HistoryMaker] Larkin Arnold, who was then at Capitol Records, asked me to produce this guy who was a trombone player. I said, would be great. His name was Raul de Souza. And I had been working with Raul de Souza with Flora Purim. So I said, "I'd love to do it." So I did two albums with Raul. And I was a trombone player, so I understood. We, we, kind of had, we had a hit record, man. It was a thing called 'Sweet Lucy' in Germany, and became a big record, you know. And so we got a chance to do a second record. And then I was asked by a guy named Don Mizell to produce a vocal act who was [HistoryMaker] Dee Dee Bridgewater, which was the first vocal act I'd ever produced outside of The Third Wave, the vocal group. I really wasn't ready to do that. You know, musically I'd never done it, and I wasn't sure. And I apologized to Dee Dee over the years. But we did what we did. And then the big break came, I mean, the real big break, by a guy named Bobby Colomby, who was a former drummer with Blood, Sweat and Tears, who actually offered me to produce A Taste of Honey, which was a big disco group. Now, disco had become very strong at this time, and the funk thing had kind of died down. So I figured this whole producing thing might be a way for me, an alternate way for me to make a living.$$So this is like in the late '70s [1970s]?$$This is '80 [1980] now.$$Eighties [1980s], '80s [1980s]. Okay, Taste of Honey.$$Yeah, Taste of Honey, right after--what year did that record come out? It would have been seventy--I would say '78 [1978]. Yeah, yeah, '79 [1979] or '80 [1980], '78 [1978], '79 [1979], '80 [1980]. And they already had 'Boogie Oogie Oogie,' which was their big hit. So, Bobby Colomby, we were going to produce this record together, he decided to bow out. He said, "Yeah, I got other things to do. I'm a big record exec. You do this. You can do this." I was scared to death. I mean here I am working with a platinum selling artist, platinum. I had never--you know, I'm working with jazz artists; you don't sell those kind of numbers. So I walk in the studio, scared to death. Do the song. First single comes out, nothing happens. The second single comes out, nothing happens. So I'm like, oh, god, I've blown my career. Third single--Janice [Janice Marie Johnson], who was the bass player, kind of leader of the group, was a song called "Sukiyaki," which became a huge hit. It sold 2 million records. She says, "I know this is a hit record." And she had, she made the company sign a paper or something saying that if these first two singles come out and they don't happen, you must agree to put this record out, because I know it's a hit record. They said, "You're out of your mind." I thought she was out of her mind. Record came out and became a huge hit, and launched my production career. All of a sudden when you have a record--you know, it was a single--comes out and you sell those kind of numbers, the phone starts ringing. I got a call from Jeffrey Osborne. Jeffrey says, "I want you to come produce my album, man. I'm leaving L.T.D." And I'd known Jeffrey because we'd done some dates together, you know, with one of those funk tours, you know, where they have all of the R and B bands. And I was kind of the only kind of jazz R and B band in that, that crew. So, we did several records. One was 'On the Wings of Love,' (unclear) love, those kind of records, which were very strong for Jeffrey. I did 'Stay with Me Tonight,' and one other record after that. So we did three very, very, strong records, all of them Gold records. I think one of them went Platinum, or two. Don't remember now. Deniece Williams, we got, I started working with her. We did a song called, "Let's Hear It for the Boy," which became a huge hit. Thirteen million records later, now my phone's even ringing more.$And of course, I've always enjoyed working with my cousin, Dianne [HistoryMaker Dianne Reeves]. Now Miles was deep, too, producing these tracks for Miles Davis. You know, Miles called me on the phone one day and said, "Hey, hey, George [HistoryMaker George Duke]." I said, "Who is this?" He said, "This is Miles." And then he swore at me. I won't swear right now. He swore at me. I said, "Okay, what's up?" He says, "I want you to write me a song." I said, "Okay." He said, "I'm going to send you a tape, and I want you to write me something like that. Bye." And hung up. And he sent me this tape, and I listened to the tape. And I did this thing-- interesting thing. I did this thing, and I was working on it and Dianne Reeves walks in. She says, "What's that?" I said, "It's a track I'm putting together for Miles." She said, "Oh, no, no, no, this is going on my album." She said, "I need a track like this on my album." I said, "No, I'm writing this for Miles." She said, "Well, you got to call and tell him he can't have it. We family." I said, "You call Miles and tell him he can't have it." And so she said, "Come on, come on now." She put that Burrell charm on me. So I went out, called Miles on the phone. I said, "Miles?" He said, "Yeah. You finish my song?" I said, "Yeah, man, I got it. But there's only one problem." He says, "What?" I said, "You know Dianne Reeves? You know she's a--you know, she's a--." "Yeah, I know her." I said, "Well, she heard me while I was working on it." I said, "I got this other song for you." I said, "But this one, she really wants to use." He said, "Tell that bitch to get her own song." I said, "You know, Miles, look, this is family." I said, "Can you--?" Shit. Oh, he went off on her, you know, and then finally he gave it up. I said, "I got this," I said, "I got this other song, I'm going to send it to you later. If you don't like it, then I'll get this other song back for you." So he said, okay, he hung up. I gave the song to Dianne, it was nominated for a Grammy [Grammy Award], actually, a song called "Fumilayo." It didn't win, but it was nominated. And then I sent Miles the other song and he wound up using that, which was called "Backyard Ritual," which was a song that was on the 'Tutu' album, which kind of set the tone for what that album was going to be. Because he was looking, Miles was looking for something. And though that was a demo--you know, I sent it to him in a demo form. And I thought we'd go in the studio and record it, and Miles--I said, I asked him when he was going to go and record it, and he said, "I'm done." I said, "Done?" I said, "We ain't recorded it yet." I said, I said, "What I sent you was a demo." He said, "I like it, because it sound funny." I said, "Yeah, Miles, but that's, that's a demo," you know, those little old stupid saxophone synthesizer sound. He said, "I like it, it sounds funny. I'm going to leave it like that." So I was like, oh, my god. My first time--my hero, working with Miles Davis, and he's putting a demo on the album. I couldn't believe it. And that's exactly what happened. So, it was an odd experience.

Ghalib Ghallab

Jazz pianist Ghalib Ghallab was born in Chicago, Illinois to Juanita and Kay Thomas. Ghallab attended Harlan High School on Chicago’s south side, playing tuba in the marching band and listening to such jazz stars as Ramsey Lewis and George Shearing. In 1968, Ghallab graduated from high school and attended the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago, Illinois, where he took lessons from the world-renowned pianist Willie Pickens.

After a period in the United States military, Ghallab relocated to San Francisco, California, studying music at Napa Junior College and San Francisco State University. He also became involved in the local music scene, performing with such luminaries as McCoy Tyner and Ahmad Jamal and spending hours listening to jazz at the Keystone Korner Club. In 1980, Ghallab released his first record, an LP entitled Morning Sunrise, which explored the sounds of jazz fusion. In 1985, Ghallab released Milestone in My Life, showcasing the influence of R&B in his work. The following year, he married Toya Ghallab, and soon returned to Chicago. Ghallab spent much of the rest of the 1980s in Chicago, performing in The Back Room , a local jazz club, alongside artists Paul Taylor and Daryl Jones.

Ghallab performed in Las Vegas for the first time in 1989, drawing audiences that included Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and James Brown and performing at a multitude of venues, including the Jazz Underground and Aladdin Hotel. He eventually moved to Las Vegas, forming the Ghalib Ghallab Experience alongside his middle son, Jihad Ghallab, a drummer, and bass player Blaise Sison. The group performs throughout Las Vegas, in such venues as Caesar’s Palace. Ghallab lives in Las Vegas and has three children, Ghalib II, Jihad, and Khalid.

Ghallab passed away on June 12, 2018.

Ghalib Ghallab was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on November 3, 2007.

Accession Number

A2007.320

Sex

Male

Interview Date

11/3/2007

Last Name

Ghallab

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

John M. Harlan Community Academy High School

Gillespie Elem School

Napa Valley College

San Francisco State University

First Name

Ghalib

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

GHA01

Favorite Season

Ramadan

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Chicago, Illinois

Favorite Quote

Information Is Raw Materials For New Ideas.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Nevada

Birth Date

7/25/1950

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Las Vegas

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Fried Chicken

Death Date

6/12/2018

Short Description

Jazz pianist Ghalib Ghallab (1950 - 2018 ) formed the Ghalib Ghallab Experience, a jazz band that performed in Las Vegas, Nevada at such venues as Caesar's Palace. Ghallab recorded many albums including Milestone in My Life.

Employment

Ghalib Ghallab Experience

Ghallab Musical Productions Inc.

Favorite Color

Blue, Red

Timing Pairs
0,0:13203,276:18873,369:36826,688:58930,1018:62585,1082:77412,1276:92234,1471:103820,1661$0,0:245600,3738
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Ghalib Ghallab's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Ghalib Ghallab lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Ghalib Ghallab talks about his mother

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Ghalib Ghallab talks about his stepfather

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Ghalib Ghallab talks about his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Ghalib Ghallab talks about his maternal grandmother

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Ghalib Ghallab talks about his maternal step-grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Ghalib Ghallab describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Ghalib Ghallab talks about growing up on Chicago's Near West Side

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Ghalib Ghallab describes the sounds, sights, and smells of his childhood in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Ghalib Ghallab talks about his elementary school years

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Ghalib Ghallab talks about his siblings, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Ghalib Ghallab talks about his siblings, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Ghalib Ghallab describes growing up in the Lutheran church

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Ghalib Ghallab talks about attending Harlan High School in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Ghalib Ghallab talks about high school courtship

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Ghalib Ghallab talks about playing music during high school

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Ghalib Ghallab describes his exposure to different music genres through his stepfather

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Ghalib Ghallab talks about playing the piano

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Ghalib Ghallab talks about gangs in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Ghalib Ghallab talks about living in Detroit, Michigan as a teenager, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Ghalib Ghallab talks about living in Detroit, Michigan as a teenager, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Ghalib Ghallab talks about returning to Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Ghalib Ghallab talks about joining the U.S. Air Force

Tape: 2 Story: 13 - Ghalib Ghallab talks about the music he played while enlisted in the U.S. Air Force

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Ghalib Ghallab talks about his life prior to joining the U.S. Air Force

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Ghalib Ghallab talks about events of the 1960s and the Contract Buyers League

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Ghalib Ghallab describes working in at Carson Pirie Scott in Chicago, Illinois before joining the U.S. Air Force

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Ghalib Ghallab talks about returning to Chicago, Illinois after leaving the U.S. Air Force and meeting Lonnie Smith

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Ghalib Ghallab talks about his move to California

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Ghalib Ghallab talks about sound equipment from the military

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Ghalib Ghallab talks about attending Napa Junior College in Napa, California

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Ghalib Ghallab talks about beginning to play piano seriously, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Ghalib Ghallab talks about beginning to play piano seriously, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Ghalib Ghallab talks about meeting Ahmad Jamal

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Ghalib Ghallab recalls a story from Ahmad Jamal, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Ghalib Ghallab recalls a story from Ahmad Jamal, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Ghalib Ghallab describes his return to Vallejo, California and his turn to Islam

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Ghalib Ghallab describes deciphering Ahmad Jamal's story of the hawk and the jackrabbit

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Ghalib Ghallab talks about becoming a member of the Nation of Islam and forming a jazz ensemble in Vallejo, California

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Ghalib Ghallab talks about his return to Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Ghalib Ghallab reflects on changes in jazz

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Ghalib Ghallab talks about his name change

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Ghalib Ghallab talks about studying with Willie Pickens and playing jazz in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Ghalib Ghallab talks about musicians who visited the Bulls Night Club in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Ghalib Ghallab talks about meeting his wife, Toya Ghallab, and her work

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Ghalib Ghallab talks about performing in Europe and moving to Las Vegas, Nevada without his family

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Ghalib Ghallab talks about his family's move and his work in restaurants and casinos in Las Vegas, Nevada

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Ghalib Ghallab reflects on his personal growth in the early 2000s

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Ghalib Ghallab talks about his son, Jihad Ghallab

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Ghalib Ghallab talks about the current state of the jazz scene

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Ghalib Ghallab reflects on his success as a musician

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Ghalib Ghallab offers advice to those going into the entertainment industry

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Ghalib Ghallab reflects on his hopes for his future

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Ghalib Ghallab describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Ghalib Ghallab reflects upon his life

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Ghalib Ghallab reflects upon his legacy and how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Ghalib Ghallab narrates his photographs

DASession

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DATape

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DAStory

13$10

DATitle
Ghalib Ghallab talks about the music he played while enlisted in the U.S. Air Force
Ghalib Ghallab talks about meeting Ahmad Jamal
Transcript
Now, so after you get out of the military [U.S. Air Force], were you doing any music in the military now?$$I was. I was playing piano in a couple of different bands and that's when it began to increase. I met this sergeant at one of the bases I was working at, this African American trumpet player, can't remember his name, but he introduced me to, he was into Miles Davis and they needed a piano player. They had a drummer, had a bass player but they needed a piano player. Well, hey, I had such a good ear for music and he bought me these tunes he wanted me to learn and I started learning the tunes. He wanted me to learn the technique of the songs and I didn't want to learn the technique. I told him I could hear the songs and I could play 'em. Ended up playing those tunes for the band and we ended up doing a lot of officers' parties, doing holidays and working officers' clubs, doing a lot of gigs around the base there and off the base and I learned some songs by watching. There was one guy up there that was the drummer in the band and he knew some Horace Silver pieces at piano and I would watch him play those tunes and I picked it up from him. The next thing I know I'm playing A Song for My Father, Jacky Yang and some other tunes by Horace Silver and including, too, "So What", all blues, you know, and I sang too so that was the other difference to the whole thing. They could take advantage of me singing. So I sang some blues and some other things. I joined a--$$So now the music is getting' kind of serious for you, now?$$Oh, yeah, it was, it was happening. It was really going on and I started getting recognition as a pianist.$And so one night, Jimbo [Sudan, also known as Jimmy Boyden] said to me, "Ghalib, let's go over to San Francisco [California]." I said, okay. I said, "Where we going?" "We're going to Keystone Korner." I said, "Okay, man, let's go. Who's playing?" Ahmad Jamal. We go over to Keystone Korner, man, we drive from the Bay Area to the, from Vallejo, which is about, about, an hour and some, an hour and fifteen minutes from Vallejo, crossing great, the Bay Bridge going to the, to get over there. So we get over there and we go in and I could hear the band playing, man, and we're coming in, he got Jamil Sulieman [Jamil Nasser] on bass, Frank Gadd on drums and, of course, McCourt, McCourt, you got--$$Ahmad Jamal--$$--Ahmad Jamal on piano. So we pull up, the guy knew Jimbo 'cause he had always been in there, Sudan, so Jimbo took us up and he took us right up to the front, set me right in front of the piano and as soon as, and mind you, we had drove over there and smoked a joint, I had me a glass of burgundy on it, 'cause see I was very refined then.$$Right.$$--you know, burgundy wine was the, so we sit down and so I'm drinking my burgundy and enjoying this and then the next thing I know it, I look up and this piano player's staring at me. Man, he played to me, not to the audience. We locked in on each other and he played to me. He knew he had me and he had me. I mean, whatever he wanted to do musically, I was going with him.$$"Poinciana".$$Ah, it, whatever he was playing during that time, and mind you, Ahmad Jamal could go outside and stay inside at the same time and he was pretty young during that time. So he's like 74 now.$$Uh-hum.$$Mind you, and then I'm 20, 22, 23 years old. So he and I were locked in on each other and he continues, I mean, he wouldn't let me out of his eye sight, man, I couldn't turn my head away. I couldn't look to, we had eye to eye contact, feeling to feeling, spirit to spirit. Whatever was happening there, mind to mind, was a marriage that was going on between Ahmad Jamal and I and people were watching us. I look away and everybody's looking at me, you know. I couldn't figure it out but it was a good feeling. So, and mind you, I didn't drink that burgundy and I had sobered up, listening to this man's music. So after he did that first set, I said, man, I said, "Jimbo, I think I better, I need to go back here and talk to him, man. I want to know, you know, how can I get to this performance level? What do I do to learn this?" So, he said, "Go on back there." I said, "I don't know, they may not let me back there." He said, "Oh, they'll let you back there, they know me." So sure enough, I got up from the table and I walked around toward the back. I said, do you mind if I go back and speak to Ahmad Jamal? They said, no problem. I went back in the back and he was sitting down at a table, by himself, and I walked down and said, "Mr. Jamal, do you mind if I ask you a couple of questions?" He said, "No, come on in, son." I said, "I'm a young aspiring pianist, is there some, something you can tell me what I need to do in order to, to get to that level that you are in terms of performance?" He said, come on in and sit down, son. And mind you, I could do, I was so skinny, man, I could do the hula hoop in a cheerio, okay, I was like, you know, I didn't think about eating, for me it was just about, you know, it wasn't about getting high and drinking, but it was about trying to find knowledge, you know, at that time, during that period of time. Everybody was trying to get heavy, trying to figure out what was going on in the world.$$There was an awareness.$$Yes, you know.$$As there is now, like a resurgence of that, so.$$It is, definitely.

Bertha Hope

Jazz pianist Bertha Hope-Booker was born on November 8, 1936, to Corinne Meaux and Clinton Rosemond. Raised in western Los Angeles, California, Hope-Booker attended Manual Arts High School. As a youth, she performed in numerous Los Angeles clubs. Hope-Booker studied piano at Los Angeles Community College and later received her B.A. degree in early childhood education from Antioch College.

In her youth, Hope-Booker played music with and learned from other young musicians in her neighborhood. Some of them became famous later, including Richie Powell and Elmo Hope, the latter becoming her husband in 1957. She moved with Elmo Hope to the Bronx, New York, where she worked at a telephone company during the day while performing at night. After her husband’s passing in 1967, she continued to present his music and remained an active force in improvised music within the New York jazz scene. Hope-Booker served as an artist-in-residence under the auspices of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. Through this program, she performed in statewide New Jersey music workshops with Dizzy Gillespie, Frank Foster, Nat Adderley and Philly Joe Jones.

Hope-Booker later married Walter Booker, Jr., and the two worked to keep the music of Elmo Hope alive through Hope-Booker’s tribute ensemble called ELMOllenium and The Elmo Hope Project. She also plays with another group, Jazzberry Jam. In addition, Hope-Booker is the leader of The Bertha Hope Trio, which has toured extensively throughout Japan. She is a composer and arranger with several recordings under her name, including In Search of Hope and Elmo’s Fire (Steeplechase); Between Two Kings (Minor Records) and her latest on the Reservoir label, Nothin’ But Love. Hope-Booker has also taught an advanced jazz ensemble at The Lucy Moses School and an Introduction to Jazz program at Washington Irving High School in New York City, which was sponsored by Bette Midler. The Seattle-based trio, New Stories, has recorded a CD of Hope-Booker's music entitled, Hope Is In the Air.

Bertha Hope-Booker was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on November 1, 2007.

Accession Number

A2007.315

Sex

Female

Interview Date

11/1/2007 |and| 11/29/2007 |and| 12/5/2017

Last Name

Hope

Maker Category
Marital Status

Widow

Occupation
Schools

Manual Arts High School

Antioch College

Los Angeles City College

Birdielee V. Bright Elementary School

James A. Foshay Learning Center

First Name

Bertha

Birth City, State, Country

Vicksburg

HM ID

HOP02

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Mississippi

Favorite Vacation Destination

St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands

Favorite Quote

Education Is Not A Preparation For Life. It Is Life.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

11/8/1936

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Crawfish

Short Description

Jazz pianist Bertha Hope (1936 - ) was the leader of the Bertha Hope Trio. She served as an artist-in-residence under the auspices of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, and was the leader of a tribute ensemble, ELMOllenium, and the Elmo Hope Project, in honor of her late husband and jazz musician, Elmo Hope.

Employment

Kaufman Music Center's Lucy Moses School

Washington Irving High School

Favorite Color

Turquoise

Timing Pairs
0,0:12338,140:13970,158:15218,174:38065,444:39395,486:39965,493:44145,630:55925,784:101938,1238:140658,1610:158934,1859:162030,2041:170458,2228:170888,2234:177854,2380:189272,2471:190152,2482:190504,2487:190856,2492:234970,2862:269363,3261:285556,3426:298830,3588:304734,3632:323074,3877:331890,4043$0,0:4420,88:7820,158:8160,163:9095,177:10880,209:17680,336:18360,347:20485,371:22865,393:23205,398:31892,444:112723,1342:116257,1383:116629,1388:123716,1478:126554,1544:136370,1605:136658,1610:136946,1615:137378,1627:145443,1770:156630,1864:157550,1876:163802,1916:166462,1970:169958,2049:170414,2057:170718,2062:172542,2123:172998,2132:174062,2156:182570,2206:186342,2267:186894,2274:187814,2286:189194,2309:196620,2373:197340,2384:197790,2390:199590,2430:203640,2480:210580,2511:211064,2570:218307,2644:218692,2650:222080,2713:222388,2718:225468,2779:227239,2813:227778,2822:232658,2859:233168,2885:238064,3041:274760,3349:284180,3451:286340,3494:294674,3575:295414,3588:300860,3641
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Bertha Hope's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Bertha Hope lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Bertha Hope describes her mother's dance career, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Bertha Hope describes her mother's dance career, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Bertha Hope describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Bertha Hope describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Bertha Hope remembers her home in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Bertha Hope describes her father's U.S. Army service

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Bertha Hope describes her father's career in show business, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Bertha Hope describes her father's career in show business, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Bertha Hope describes her mother's decision to retire from dancing

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Bertha Hope remembers her paternal grandfather

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Bertha Hope describes her mother's role in the community

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Bertha Hope talks about her relationship with her father

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Bertha Hope remembers her family's garden

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Bertha Hope talks about West Coast jazz

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Bertha Hope lists her siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Bertha Hope remembers her chores

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Bertha Hope describes her relationship with her siblings

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Bertha Hope describes the sights, sounds, and smells of her childhood

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Bertha Hope remembers the 36th Street School in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Bertha Hope recalls her early music lessons

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Bertha Hope describes the Westminster Presbyterian Church of Los Angeles

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Bertha Hope recalls her performances at James A. Foshay Junior High School in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Bertha Hope recalls Manual Arts High School in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Bertha Hope remembers the Dunbar Hotel in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Bertha Hope recalls her early work as a pianist in Los Angles, California

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Bertha Hope recalls meeting Marian Anderson and Dinah Washington

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Bertha Hope describes her musical contemporaries in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Bertha Hope recalls her introduction to bebop music

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Bertha Hope talks about her interest in harmonization

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Bertha Hope remembers studying piano under Richie Powell

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Bertha Hope remembers Los Angeles City College in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Bertha Hope recalls her first marriage

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Bertha Hope remembers Eric Dolphy

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Bertha Hope remembers the Clifford Brown and Max Roach Quintet's rehearsals

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Bertha Hope describes the differences between bebop and swing music

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Bertha Hope talks about the emergence of bebop

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Bertha Hope recalls the pioneers of bebop music

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Bertha Hope reflects upon the popularity of bebop music

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Bertha Hope talks about listening to music as a musician

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Bertha Hope remembers Los Angeles City College in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Bertha Hope recalls the discrimination against African American musicians

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Bertha Hope remembers the deaths of Richie Powell and Clifford Brown

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Bertha Hope talks about jazz musicians' classical training

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Bertha Hope describes Johann Sebastian Bach's influence on jazz

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Bertha Hope talks about the emergence of jazz institutions

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Bertha Hope talks about contemporary jazz education

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Bertha Hope remembers meeting her husband, Elmo Hope

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Bertha Hope remembers meeting Elmo Hope

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Bertha Hope describes her fellow musicians' perception of her gender

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Bertha Hope remembers her decision to marry Elmo Hope

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Bertha Hope remembers moving to New York City

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Bertha Hope describes the jazz community in New York City

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Bertha Hope recalls her performances in New York City

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Bertha Hope recalls the prevalence of drug use in New York City

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Bertha Hope reflects upon her move to New York City

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Bertha Hope remembers the effects of her drug use

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Bertha Hope remembers her husband's death

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Bertha Hope describes her efforts to preserve her husband's music

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Bertha Hope remembers teaching in New York City

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Bertha Hope recalls teaching a jazz education workshop

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Bertha Hope reflects upon the healing effects of music

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Slating of Bertha Hope's interview, session 3

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Bertha Hope describes her reasons for moving to New York City

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Bertha Hope talks about her husband's ban from playing on the East Coast

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Bertha Hope describes how she came to work for the American Bell Telephone Company

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Bertha Hope remembers performing with Jeni LeGon

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Bertha Hope talks about the influence of Johann Sebastian Bach's music on jazz

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Bertha Hope describes the history and styles of bebop music

Tape: 9 Story: 8 - Bertha Hope recalls her early experiences with jazz music

Tape: 9 Story: 9 - Bertha Hope describes her early music lessons

Tape: 10 Story: 1 - Bertha Hope talks about the different instruments she played

Tape: 10 Story: 2 - Bertha Hope remembers meeting her husband

Tape: 10 Story: 3 - Bertha Hope recalls playing with Jimmy Castor and the Johnny Otis Orchestra

Tape: 10 Story: 4 - Bertha Hope talks about the gender inequalities in the music industry

Tape: 10 Story: 5 - Bertha Hope remembers experiencing sexual harassment within the music industry

Tape: 10 Story: 6 - Bertha Hope talks about the differences between the East Coat and West Coast music scenes

Tape: 10 Story: 7 - Bertha Hope remembers her husband's drug addiction and death

Tape: 10 Story: 8 - Bertha Hope describes the musical style of Elmo Hope

Tape: 10 Story: 9 - Bertha Hope recalls her fight with depression following the death of her first husband

Tape: 11 Story: 1 - Bertha Hope describes her work at the Goddard Riverside Community Center in New York City

Tape: 11 Story: 2 - Bertha Hope remembers performing with the Kit McClure Band

Tape: 11 Story: 3 - Bertha Hope talks about the formation of her first band with Cobi Narita

Tape: 11 Story: 4 - Bertha Hope remembers Cobi Narita

Tape: 11 Story: 5 - Bertha Hope talks about the formation of Jazzberry Jam

Tape: 11 Story: 6 - Bertha Hope talks about her second husband, Walter Booker

Tape: 11 Story: 7 - Bertha Hope describes the musical career of her second husband, Walter Booker

Tape: 11 Story: 8 - Bertha Hope talks about the ELMOllenium project

Tape: 12 Story: 1 - Bertha Hope talks about the musical legacy of Elmo Hope

Tape: 12 Story: 2 - Bertha Hope describes her solo albums

Tape: 12 Story: 3 - Bertha Hope reflects upon the state of jazz music

Tape: 12 Story: 4 - Bertha Hope talks about her daughter's career

Tape: 12 Story: 5 - Bertha Hope talks about her plans for the future

Tape: 12 Story: 6 - Bertha Hope reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 12 Story: 7 - Bertha Hope reflects upon her life

Tape: 12 Story: 8 - Bertha Hope shares her advice for aspiring musicians

DASession

1$2

DATape

3$7

DAStory

9$1

DATitle
Bertha Hope recalls her early work as a pianist in Los Angles, California
Bertha Hope remembers meeting Elmo Hope
Transcript
My own experience in the city [Los Angeles, California]--I can't remember this man's name. I don't know why, and may--and I can't remember anybody who would remember how to remember him, but he was a blues player. He--and I used to go to this club, and he was playing there. I sat in one night, and he asked me if I would be interested in working with him. I was underage for one thing (laughter). I wasn't supposed to be in there, but my mother [Corinne Meaux]--but I had told my mother that I had, had been there, and he came home with me to ask my mother if I could work with him on--I think it was--it wouldn't interfere with anything that I was doing, but like one night a week, Friday night, and, and I could--and I wanted to because here was a chance to work with a blues person, but I didn't have any business in this bar. So my mother said to him, "You know, I'm not supposed to let this child do this, so I'm, I'm putting her in your and God's hands. If anything happens to her, do you know you're going to jail?" (Laughter) And he said, "Yes, ma'am." He had his hat in his hand. "Okay, so we'll try it 'cause if she comes in here with liquor on her breath, or smelling like cigarettes, you going to jail. I know she wants to play this music, but you're going to jail." And she didn't say, "I'm coming with you," either. She didn't say, "You can do it but I'm coming with you." She told me I could, and she told him if anything happened to me, he was going to jail, so (unclear) (laughter).$$And he was hiring you to play piano?$$(Nods head) And he did. Boy, he--as soon as I got off that piano, he had a little place for me in the back, and he said, "Don't you move, don't you move," (laughter). But my mother let me do that, and I got a lot of ex- I mean it was a lot of experience. I guess maybe I was, I was about to graduate.$$Were you (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) I was maybe fifteen, sixteen, you know, but I wasn't supposed to be in a bar, that's for sure. And then--I'm trying to think of one of the first people--well, my father [Clinton Rosemond] was the first person to hire me away from the jazz scene, but I played church concerts for him, and the very first one was he, he paid me seven dollars to play 'Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho' and 'Balm in Gilead' ['There Is A Balm in Gilead], and all of those black spirituals that were arranged by Hall Johnson. Then I was hired by--now, I'm getting a little closer to be--to graduating from high school [Manual Arts High School, Los Angeles, California]--Teddy Edwards, who was a tenor saxophone player, and a woman named Vi Redd, who's still active on the West Coast. I think she's teaching now, but she might even be in administration, but she's still, she's still playing. Vi Redd hired me, and--who else? Vernon Slater was another tenor player, and the rooms that I played in were like--there was the Root Yacht [ph.], the Oasis--the Club Oasis [Los Angeles, California]; I worked with Johnny Otis Big Band, with Little Esther Phillips, in the Oasis, and she must have been about--I guess we were both about the same age, maybe 14, 15, 16. There was a room called The Purple Onion [San Francisco, California], and then there was another room owned by Kenny Dennis. Kenny Dennis--I think he was married to [HistoryMaker] Nancy Wilson--real pretty room. I played solo piano in there, and I can't remember the name of that room. It was a real pretty room up in Hollywood [Los Angeles, California]. Where else? Oh, the club, Troubadour [West Hollywood, California], was another room that I worked in, and it was kind of like a coffee house that was a little--maybe '52 [1952], '53 [1953], '54 [1954], and I can't think of any more rooms that I worked when I was a kid.$$Did your folks--clearly, your friends probably weren't supposed to be in the bar either, but did your folks ever come and see you play?$$My mother [Corinne Meaux] never came to see me play until she came to New York [New York]. She didn't come. She didn't like bars.$So, you've heard Elmo Hope before you actually meet him--$$Yeah.$$--and you meet him at this [HistoryMaker] Sonny Rollins date. Now, we also wanna hear just like what happened when you met him. The show was over and you went--I mean tell me--let's get the anecdotal--the real deal (laughter).$$The real deal? Well, the real deal was that I was pretty awkward and shy, really, really, but I knew that I was gonna figure out a way to meet him without looking too awkward and silly, so at the end of the first set, I went up to the bandstand. I got my nerve together and went up to the bandstand and I introduced myself and I told him I really loved his music and I had been taking lessons from Bud Pow--from Bud Powell's brother [Richie Powell], and he was sort of looking at me askance, you know? Oh, yeah--you know, sort of (laughter). And that I had been listening to his music and Thelonious' [Thelonious Monk] music and that I was trying to learn a little bit of all of it, and that I had picked this one song of his that--to learn on the piano. So then he went, "You trying to play my music?" And I said, "I really am." So then he told Sonny 'cause they were all at the table together. He said, "Sonny, this young lady says she's trying to play my music, you know?" So Sonny was polite, and I was getting more and more nervous because now I, I was really sorry that I said that. I should've just sat there and, you know, had a drink (laughter). I didn't drink, actually. I didn't drink at that--I think I was having a Coke or something.$$Do they give--$$(TAPE INTERRUPTION)$$--and I--so they went back on the stand and I think they had another set to go. I had a car. In L.A. [Los Angeles, California], that's the--that was a--that was big among the musical community 'cause I had another job at that time--I was a kid. And, and so I--I al- I always took musicians home if I was at the club, as long as I didn't have to get--you know, as long as it wasn't gonna take me too far out of--I would take them home but I didn't wanna have to wait around 'cause I had to get up early in the morning and go to work and school. I was going to school and work. So (laughter)--so, I offered to take him--I--first of all I, I wanted him to hear that I was really playing his music, so I offered to take him home if he didn't have a way home, but I wanted him to come by my place because I wanted (laughter) to play his music for him and I thought--I didn't think about that 'til years later how bold that was to ask him to come to my house to play the piano, really play the piano. So, he--I did, not that night; I think it was the first night that I went, but I went every night to hear them, and at that time they came out for like six--when it was either one-week engagement or two, and it was six nights a week. So the last night--and I went every night. On the last night, I, I offered to take him by my house first to--so--because I really wanted him to hear that I was not kidding, and so I did. So I brought him by my house and I had a Wurlitzer Spinet at the time, and I played this piece for him. He used to smoke Pall Mall cigarettes and he had this cigarette hanging outta the side of his mouth over here, and he said, "Oh, you're not kidding; you really are serious. I didn't believe you, you know." And I was--I mean that just really vindicated the whole thing--that I had really worked hard enough to, to get the song played and to convince him to come over my house and hear it, you know, and then take him home you know (laughter). So--so that was the beginning of, of our--of my seeing him more and more.

Billy Taylor

Pianist, composer, and recording artist Billy Taylor was born in Greenville, North Carolina, on July 24, 1921, to a dentist father and schoolteacher mother. As a youth, Taylor and his family moved to Washington, D.C.; it was there that he began to study music. During his teenaged years, Taylor was heavily influenced by the sounds of the Big Bands that were popular. Young Taylor experimenting with many instruments, including drums, guitar and the saxophone, before he found his niche with the study of classical piano. Aside from actively pursing his musical education through independent means, Taylor also remained active in academia, graduating from Virginia State College in 1942 with his B.A. degree in Music.

Taylor moved to New York City in 1944, where he began his professional music career playing piano with Ben Webster's Quartet on 52nd Street. Taylor eventually became the house pianist at the legendary Birdland jazz club, where played alongside musical greats such as Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, and Miles Davis. Taylor continued on in the New York circuits, until the 1950s, when he began to lead and record with his own trio.

Taylor entered the realm of television in the 1970s, when he took on the role of musical director for The David Frost Show, which broadcast on the U.S. Westinghouse Corporation television stations. In addition to his activities with The David Frost Show, Taylor also acted as the musical director for Tony Brown’s Black Journal Tonight, a weekly show on PBS. Later in his television career, Taylor hosted his own jazz piano show on the Bravo network called Jazz Counterpoint. Despite his forays into visual media, Taylor remained closely tied to the world of audio by hosting a variety of radio both locally in New York, and syndicated nationally by National Public Radio. Perhaps his widest radio audience was reached when Taylor became the arts correspondent for CBS Sunday Morning in the early 1980s.

In addition to becoming a well respected musician of international fame, Taylor also went on to become a successful music educator. Taylor received his Masters and Doctorate degrees in Music Education from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and went on to serve as the Duke Ellington Fellow at Yale University. Subsequent to these academic achievements, Taylor received several honorary doctoral degrees over the course of his career.

Recipient of numerous awards and appointments throughout his career, Taylor became one of only three jazz musicians at the time to be appointed to the National Council of the Arts. In addition to serving on the National Council of the Arts, Taylor was also appointed the artistic advisor on jazz for the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, where he developed a run of widely acclaimed series, including the Louis Armstrong Legacy series, and the annual Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival.

For his performances and professional activities, Taylor received two Peabody Awards; an Emmy; a Grammy; and a place in the Hall of Fame for the International Association of Jazz Educators. At the time of his interview in 2005, Taylor was still professionally active; touring and recording with his Trio, playing concert dates, appearing in television and radio engagements, writing music, and lecturing.

Taylor passed away on December 28, 2010.

Accession Number

A2005.210

Sex

Male

Interview Date

8/29/2005

Last Name

Taylor

Maker Category
Organizations
Schools

Lucretia Mott Elementary School

Shaw Middle School at Garnet-Patterson

Paul Laurence Dunbar High School

Virginia State University

First Name

Billy

Birth City, State, Country

Greenville

HM ID

TAY08

Favorite Season

Fall, Winter

State

North Carolina

Favorite Vacation Destination

Africa, South America

Favorite Quote

Jazz Is America's Classical Music.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

7/24/1921

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

None

Death Date

12/28/2010

Short Description

Music professor, jazz pianist, and music composer Billy Taylor (1921 - 2010 ) has enjoyed a long and prolific career as an educator, recording artist, and touring musician. Taylor played with such musicians as Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, and Miles Davis, in addition to becoming a national and international name for his performances, television musical directing, and television and radio hosting activities.

Employment

Birdland

CBS

Favorite Color

None

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Billy Taylor's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Billy Taylor lists his favorites, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Billy Taylor lists his favorites, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Billy Taylor describes his mother's background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Billy Taylor describes his father and his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Billy Taylor lists his mother's siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Billy Taylor describes his father's background

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Billy Taylor remembers his Sunday routine

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Billy Taylor describes his paternal grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Billy Taylor describes his maternal grandfather's storytelling

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Billy Taylor describes his father and paternal uncle's relationship

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Billy Taylor describes the importance of community building, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Billy Taylor recounts switching majors at Virginia State College in Petersburg, Virginia

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Billy Taylor describes moving from Greenville, North Carolina to Washington, D.C.

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Billy Taylor describes his early musical interests

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Billy Taylor describes his first piano teacher, Elmira Street

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Billy Taylor remembers listening to new music on the radio

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Billy Taylor describes his educational experiences in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Billy Taylor describes his mentors at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Billy Taylor remembers playing in the orchestra at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Billy Taylor describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Billy Taylor describes his early jazz gigs in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Billy Taylor remembers the African American professional community in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 2 Story: 13 - Billy Taylor describes his father's athletic involvement

Tape: 2 Story: 14 - Billy Taylor describes Virginia State College in Petersburg, Virginia

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Billy Taylor recalls different responses from white and black audiences in the 1930s

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Billy Taylor recalls segregated train travel

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Billy Taylor remembers jamming with white musicians in the 1930s

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Billy Taylor describes Mary Lou Williams

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Billy Taylor recounts his musical experiences at Virginia State College in Petersburg, Virginia

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Billy Taylor recalls playing with local bands in Petersburg, Virginia

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Billy Taylor describes his friends' career paths after college

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Billy Taylor remembers meeting Count Basie and Jo Jones in Petersburg, Virginia

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Billy Taylor remembers meeting Ben Webster at Minton's Playhouse in Harlem

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Billy Taylor remembers meeting Art Tatum at the Three Deuces in New York City

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Billy Taylor recalls meeting Coleman Hawkins at the White Rose Bar in New York City

Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Billy Taylor remembers meeting Dizzy Gillespie

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Billy Taylor describes his interest in playing melodies

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Billy Taylor remembers playing with Dizzy Gillespie in New York City

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Billy Taylor remembers influential musicians he performed with

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Billy Taylor describes segregation in the music business

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Billy Taylor describes Erroll Garner

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Billy Taylor describes the transition from big band to bebop, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Billy Taylor describes the transition from big band to bebop, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Billy Taylor remembers performing with Billie Holiday in Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Billy Taylor describes recording with Savoy Records

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Billy Taylor recalls playing on Broadway's 'Seven Lively Arts'

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Billy Taylor describes the Afro-Cuban influences on his music

Tape: 4 Story: 12 - Billy Taylor recounts becoming house pianist at Birdland in New York City

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Billy Taylor describes his early writings about jazz

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Billy Taylor differentiates between jazz styles

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Billy Taylor remembers playing for Duke Ellington's opening night at Birdland in New York City

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Billy Taylor remembers musicians he performed with at New York City's Birdland

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Billy Taylor recalls the premiere of his 'Suite for Jazz Piano and Orchestra' at Salt Lake City's Mormon Tabernacle

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Billy Taylor describes teaching and studying composition

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Billy Taylor recalls his time as the band leader on 'The David Frost Show'

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Billy Taylor remembers his CBS segment on HistoryMaker Quincy Jones

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Billy Taylor describes being jazz correspondent for 'CBS Sunday Morning'

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Billy Taylor remembers performing with HistoryMaker Ramsey Lewis

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Billy Taylor describes his NEA and Grammy awards

Tape: 5 Story: 12 - Billy Taylor describes his piano student, Eldar Djangirov

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Billy Taylor recalls lessons from his international travels

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Billy Taylor describes his songs inspired by Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Billy Taylor describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Billy Taylor describes opportunities for young black musicians

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Billy Taylor reflects upon changes to jazz music and jazz instruction

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Billy Taylor describes the importance of community building, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Billy Taylor describes the limitations of Ken Burns' 'Jazz' series

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Billy Taylor reflects upon media representations of jazz musicians

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Billy Taylor shares an anecdote about Art Tatum

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$4

DAStory

9$2

DATitle
Billy Taylor remembers playing in the orchestra at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School in Washington, D.C.
Billy Taylor remembers playing with Dizzy Gillespie in New York City
Transcript
So when you look back over your years at [Paul Laurence] Dunbar High School [Paul Laurence Dunbar Senior High School, Washington, D.C.], what sort of stands out for you?$$Well Dunbar was a place where I really began to realize that I wanted to play jazz and I wanted to--we had--I played in the orchestra and I played saxophone in the orc- very badly. I fooled around with cello and a couple of other instruments and--but I was fortunate in that because of the nature of black schools in those days, we had in addition to the traditional--we had saxophone. We had other instruments in the orchestra you know and, because they were available and people had them and it was all inclusive so you got to play what you could on that instrument. One of the reasons I didn't play piano was because one of the great classical pianists and I'm embarrassed right now. I'm trying desperately to remember his name. I can see his face right in front of me. But he was--we were in high school together. He was about a year younger than I and this guy was playing [Sergei] Rachmaninoff. He was playing all, I mean he was playing it. He was beautiful, you know. I said well (laughter)--.$$(Laughter).$$--okay. Let me try a little more Teddy Wilson and--but I really, I didn't chalk that up as a loss maybe because I always wanted to play both. I always wanted to play jazz but I wanted to play with some of the things that I had begun to listen to and learn from Henry Grant.$Just going back to where we left off with Dizzy [Gillespie], and take--you having the opportunity to play. So that night he was missing a piano player?$$When Dizzy Gillespie opened at the Onyx Club [New York, New York] at this time he just didn't have a piano player. So there was--he had hoped to have Bud Powell who was supposed--he was billed as the person who would be there. He, for whatever reason he couldn't make it and didn't make it. And so as soon as we found that there was no, the piano seat was vacant, somebody--everybody jumped, I jumped up there, other guys jumped up there and said, "Hey let me"--because we all wanted to learn how to play bebop. And bebop was the new music, and we wanted to see what, you know, what are these guys doing? Dizzy Gillespie was a wonderful teacher. I mean he would reach over me like this and say, "Billy [HistoryMaker Billy Taylor], it go"--and he'd play what the chords were and so forth. And I mean he was not only a good teacher, but he taught by example. I mean he could not only play all those things but he could show you why he was doing it and how he did this thing. And it was just a great opportunity, one that I really cherish. Because two, it did two things for me: it showed me what a great teacher Dizzy was and what he was like as a person. I mean, because, you know, many of the older guys and he was just a couple of years older than I. But many of the guys would take that and say, "Well man, you know, let me--where's Bud? Find somebody. Find somebody," you know. And he would just take the time and say, "No, no, this is what we need," you know. And that went on from that time 'til he died I mean we always had a great relationship. I mean I would, I remember being, coming to a club over by Columbia University [New York, New York], and I went in just to see Dizzy. And so I--the place was jammed I mean you know because he didn't play uptown very much and here he was right on campus. And so I went in to say, "Hey," you know, "how's it going?" He said, "Come on, come on, come on." Said, "What do you mean come on?" He said, "Come on up here." So I went up front and I said, "There's no seat up here." He said, "Yes there is. Piano," (laughter) so I sat in for him, with him for the rest of the night. So on a couple of occasions he had many years later that happened where I got to sit in because he didn't have a piano player.

McCoy Tyner

Phenomenal jazz pianist McCoy Tyner was born December 11, 1938, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, of parents with roots in North Carolina. Tyner attended Martha Washington Grade School and Sulzberger Jr. High School. Tyner, with the encouragement of his teacher Ms. Addison and his mother, Beatrice Stephenson Tyner, began taking beginning piano lessons from a neighbor, Mr. Habershaw. Later, a Mr. Beroni taught Tyner classical piano. Although inspired by the music of Art Tatum and Thelonius Monk, it was his neighborhood Philadelphia musicians that pushed Tyner’s musical development. He engaged in neighborhood jam sessions with Lee Morgan, Bobby Timmons and Reggie Workman. Tyner was hand picked by John Coltrane in 1956, while still a student at West Philadelphia High School. Around this same time, Tyner converted to Islam.

After high school, Tyner toured with Bennie Golson and Art Farmer, and can be heard on their hit record, Killer Joe and the album Meet The Jazztet. In 1960, he became a part of John Coltrane’s legendary quartet that included Elvin Jones and Jimmy Garrison. Later, the group included Eric Dolphy, Pharoah Sanders and others exploring themes of spirituality and African identity. Tyner can be heard on Africa Brass, A Love Supreme, My Favorite Things and Kulu Se’ Mama. He also recorded as a leader on Impulse! Records’ Inception, Night of Ballads, Blues, Live at Newport and several others.

Leaving Coltrane in 1965, Tyner played with a who’s who of jazz greats including: Joe Henderson, Freddie Hubbard, Gary Bartz, Ron Carter, Billy Cobham, Roy Haynes, Stanley Clarke, Sonny Rollins, and many others. He can be heard on a number of albums, including: The Real McCoy, 1967, Asante, 1970, Sahara, 1972, Trident, 1975, The Greeting, 1978, Inner Voices, 1990, and Infinity, 1995, displaying his variety and flexibility as a jazz musician. An innovator, Tyner performed with strings on 1976’s Fly With The Wind and with a big band on The Turning Point , 1991. With over eighty albums to his credit and five Grammy Awards, Tyner was nominated at the 45th Grammy Awards for Best Instrumental Jazz Recording for McCoy Tyner Plays John Coltrane: Live at the Village Vanguard, and in 2004, Tyner’s Illuminations won a Grammy for Best Jazz Album, Individual or Group. Like John Coltrane, Tyner strives to elevate his listeners’ consciousness.

Tyner’s energetic style embraces African, Latin, Eastern and bebop rhythms, which he plays in bright clusters. His block chords, pentatonic scales and modal structures have earned him international recognition among the top jazz pianists of all time. Tyner is the recipient of numerous honors including the National Endowment of the Arts’ Jazz Master Award in 2002 and the 2003 Heroes Award from the Philadelphia Chapter of the Recording Academy. In 2005, Tyner received an honorary doctorate of music from Berklee College in Boston, Massachusetts.

Accession Number

A2004.164

Sex

Male

Interview Date

9/16/2004

Last Name

Tyner

Maker Category
Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Martha Washington Elementary School

Mayer Sulzberger Junior High School

West Philadelphia High School

West Philadelphia Music School

Granoff School of Music

Mayer Sulzberger Middle School

First Name

McCoy

Birth City, State, Country

Philadelphia

HM ID

TYN01

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Pennsylvania

Favorite Vacation Destination

Caribbean

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

12/11/1938

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Vegetables, Fruit, Fish, Japanese, Indian Food

Short Description

Jazz pianist McCoy Tyner (1938 - ) is a legendary jazz musician and was a member of the famed John Coltrane Quartet. Tyner has made over eighty recordings and has won five Grammy Awards.

Favorite Color

None

DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of McCoy Tyner interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - McCoy Tyner lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - McCoy Tyner talks about his mother's background and his family tree

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - McCoy Tyner talks briefly about his maternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - McCoy Tyner talks about his father's background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - McCoy Tyner recalls the summers of his youth picking tobacco in North Carolina

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - McCoy Tyner recalls his mother's personality and her nurturing qualities

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - McCoy Tyner talks about his father's personality

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - McCoy Tyner remembers his strong, loving family when he was a child

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - McCoy Tyner describes his childhood neighborhood in Philadelphia

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - McCoy Tyner describes his childhood personality and friendships

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - McCoy Tyner talks about his mother's encouragement towards his musical talent

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - McCoy Tyner shares his experiences in grade school

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - McCoy Tyner details his musical education in junior high school

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - McCoy Tyner recalls his early exposure to jazz music

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - McCoy Tyner discusses his music schooling

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - McCoy Tyner talks about forming a music group in his teens and meeting Bud Powell

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - McCoy Tyner recalls jamming with famous musicians as a teen in Philadelphia

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - McCoy Tyner talks about the musical and historical legacy of Philadelphia

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - McCoy Tyner talks about musicians from Philadelphia area high schools

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - McCoy Tyner talks about his network of musicians and meeting Miles Davis

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - McCoy Tyner talks about the musical relationship between John Coltrane and Miles Davis

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - McCoy Tyner talks about his experiences in John Coltrane's band

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - McCoy Tyner recalls drummer Elvin Jones and their friendship

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - McCoy Tyner talks about his musical relationship with John Coltrane

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - McCoy Tyner recalls life on the road with the John Coltrane Quartet

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - McCoy Tyner discusses the origins of John Coltrane's 'A Love Supreme'

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - McCoy Tyner details the negative influences surrounding musicians

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - McCoy Tyner describes his admiration for Malcolm X and the Islamic faith

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - McCoy Tyner discusses leaving the John Coltrane Quartet

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - McCoy Tyner talks about establishing his own musical voice

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - McCoy Tyner shares his thoughts on John Coltrane's death

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - McCoy Tyner describes his many successful recordings during the 1970s

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - McCoy Tyner shares his thoughts on personal expression through music

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - McCoy Tyner talks about touring and the reception jazz receives abroad

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - McCoy Tyner details the creative process behind his music

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - McCoy Tyner describes his favorite jazz pianists

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - McCoy Tyner hopes the African American community will continue to embrace its musical heritage

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - McCoy Tyner ponders his choices in life

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - McCoy Tyner considers his legacy and how he would like to be remembered