Producer, composer and arranger Thom Bell was one of the prime originators of the Sound of Philadelphia, creating hits with the Delfonics such as "La La La Means I Love You" and "Didn't I Blow Your Mind." Bell was born in Jamaica and moved to Philadelphia at age 5. He planned to become a classical conductor, but in his early 20s, he was signed by Cameo Records to create a Philadelphia version of Motown.
Conductor, arranger and musical historian John McGlinn frequently stripped classic musicals to their roots by returning to original orchestrations and reinstating lost songs. McGlinn died on Feb. 14; Fresh Air remembers him with interviews from 1989 and 1992.
Trumpeter, composer, and arranger Gerald Wilson turned 88 years old Monday. He grew up in Mississippi, and got his start playing with Jimmy Lunceford's band in New York City. He later worked with Benny Carter's band and formed his own. As a composer-arranger, he worked for the Count Basie and Dizzy Gillespie bands. And he accompanied Billie Holiday on her tour of the South in 1949. He's arranged music for Ella Fitzgerald, Ray Charles, Sarah Vaughan, Bobby Darin, and Carmen McRae. His most recent CD was released last year, In My Time.
Musician, producer, arranger, composer Quincy Jones has a new autobiography, Q: The Autobiography of Quincy Jones, (Doubleday) and a 4-CD boxset collecting his work, Q: The Musical Biography of Quincy Jones (Rhino). In his fifty year career hes worked with just about anyone who is anybody in the music business. As a teenager he played backup for Billie Holiday, along with his 16 year old friend, Ray Charles. At 18 he began playing the trumpet in Lionel Hamptons band beside Clifford Brown.
Rock historian Ed Ward looks back on the career of the New Orleans-based musician. Bartholomew -- who's still playing today -- arranged songs for several other artists, and made many excellent novelty records of his own.
Jazz Critic Kevin Whitehead profiles trombonist and composer Rod Levitt. Levitt, who wrote for marching bands and played in the pit at Radio City Music Hall, drew from every musical style available in the 50s.
Jazz Critic Kevin Whitehead pays tribute to Benny Carter, the elder statesman of the alto saxophone. He reviews the new American Jazz Orchestra recording of Carter compositions, featuring Carter, pianist John Lewis and bassist Ron Carter, among others.
Jazz composer and arranger Manny Albam currently teaches at Glassboro College in New Jersey in addition to taking commissions. Albam will be doing some work for the Philly Pops. A new collection of his work "Manny Albam: The Jazz Workshop," has recently been released. Albam joins the show to discus his career and share records.
In 1952 jazz singer Cleo Laine joined The John Dankworth Band; in 1958, she and Dankworth married. They continue their collaboration: Dankworth produces and arranges Laine's albums and manages her career. Their latest effort is the album "Smilin' Through," which features Dudley Moore on piano. The English couple began touring the United States and Canada in the 1970s and Laine has sung in many prestigious venues. Dankworth has also written the scores for several films. The two are in town to perform at the Valley Forge Music Fair.