Arranger and baritone saxophonist Gerry Mulligan died Saturday, January 20th, from complications due to surgery. He was 68. We will rebroadcast a 1989 interview with him. Mulliagn was an innovator in modern jazz orchestration. Early in his career he was staff arranger for Gene Krupa's big band. In 1949 he collaborated with Gil Evans and Miles Davis in the Nonet. The nine-piece band shook up jazz arrangers and launched the era of so-called cool jazz. He achieved international acclaim when he started a "pianoless" quartet with trumpeter Chet Baker in the early 1950's.
We remember band leader and composer Mercer Ellington, the son of Duke Ellington. He perpetuated the big band tradition his father made famous as head of the Duke Ellington Band. When he was a young man, Mercer Ellington had hoped to break into his father's band on the saxophone. But after years of frustration, he could see that he would never crack the legendary Ellington reed section. He finally was accepted as a trombone player and later played french horn and trumpet. With the death of his father in 1974, Mercer Ellington took over his father's orchestra.
We remember jazz drummer Tony Williams, who died of a heart attach Sunday at the age of 51. As a teen prodigy, Williams played with the Miles Davis Quintet, and later drummed with Jimi Hendrix and John Coltrane. (REBROADCAST from 5/25/90)
We remember jazz vocalist Betty Carter with a 1990 interview. She was considered one of jazz's great singers, composers and arrangers. She was known for her work with small groups, her control of tempo, and her vocal improvisations. In 1961 she recorded what became a classic album, "Ray Charles and Betty Carter." In 1993 she began the Jazz Ahead series at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Last year she received the National Medal of Arts. She died on Saturday of pancreatic cancer. She was 69. (REBROADCAST from 11/28/90)
We remember jazz singer Joe Williams who died yesterday at the age of 80. Williams begin singing professionally at age 17, influenced by Erskine Tate, Jimmy Noone and Coleman Hawkins. In 1954, he became Count Basie's number one singer and was perhaps the principal reason the band was the dominate big band of the 50s and 60s. His hits include "Every Day (I Have the Blues)" and "All Right, Ok, You Win." He started performing as a soloist in 1961. (REBROADCAST from 6/20/89)
We remember jazz musician Art Farmer. He died on Monday at the age of 71 from heart failure. Farmer was an important second-generation be-bop musician, and also known for his warm tone and lovely ballads on the trumpet and fluegelhorn. He worked with bands led by Wardell Gray, Horace Silver, and Gerry Mulligan. In the 1950s he formed the Jazztet, a sextet with saxophonist Benny Golson, and they wrote many compositions together. (REBROADCAST from 7/21/87)
Vibraphonist Milt Jackson died from liver cancer. He played with Earl Hine's big band, and Dizzy Gillespie's. He took his style not from another vibraphonist but from Charlie Parker, and was the first bona fide bebop musician on the vibraphone. Jackson also recorded music with Thelonious Monk. And in 1952 he co-founded the Modern Jazz Quartet, pulled from Gillespie's rhythm section, which stayed together for over 20 years. (REBROADCAST from 1983)
We remember jazz trumpeter Lester Bowie. He died Monday at the age of 58 from liver cancer. Bowie was a founding member of the Art Ensemble of Chicago, founded in 1969. Bowie was known for his flamboyant performing, his sense of humor and theatrics, and his off kilter interpretations of R&B classics. (REBROADCAST from 11/3/89) (THIS INTERVIEW CONTINUES AFTER THE FLOATER).