Ernie Freeman @alltime: One of so many interesting behind-the-scenes figures of early rock & roll, pianist and arranger Ernie Freeman played on numerous early rock and R&B sessions in the ’50s. He worked on dates for the L.A. indies Specialty, Modern, and Aladdin, as well as white artists such as Duane Eddy, Johnny Burnette, the Crickets, Bobby Vee, and Buddy Knox; his most memorable session appearance was probably on the Platters’ “The Great Pretender,” to which he contributed the stuttering piano riffs. Freeman also put out many instrumental records of his own, mostly for Imperial, and usually in a generic rocked-up jump R&B sort of style. “Jivin’ Around” and “Lost Dreams” were R&B hits for him in 1956, but he got his sole crossover pop smash with a cover of Bill Justis’ “Raunchy” in 1957, which made number four.
Lou Donaldson : During these memorable years, Lou had four distinct groups that he would use for the organ sound: one group was John Patton on organ, Bill Hardman on trumpet, Grant Green on guitar, and Ben Dixon on drums. Another group was Lonnie Smith on organ, Billy Kaye on drums, Mark Elf on guitar — and sometimes Melvin Sparks on guitar, and Joe Dukes on drums — the greatest organ drummer of all times. Later he had another group with Caesar Frazier on organ, Eric Johnson on guitar, and Billy Kaye on drums with Sweet Lou on alto. Another of Lou’s groups had Charles Earland on organ, Jimmy Ponder on guitar, Blue Mitchell on trumpet, and Idris Muhammad on drums. These groups played mostly the so-called “ghetto clubs” where the fans really got into their music and sometimes they were booked even for dancing. It was a very successful set up and several other people like Hank Crawford, Jack McDuff, Groove Holmes, Sonny Stitt, and even Dizzy found out about these clubs and had a good run following this idea.
Earl Bostic : Donaldson: I’m telling you, Earl Bostic was the greatest saxophone player I ever knew. I didn’t like him ‘cause sometimes he’d play stuff that I’d consider corny, [with] that wide vibrato and the sound of growling in the mouthpiece. But the man could play three octaves. I mean play ‘em, I don’t mean just hit the notes.
Bradley Leighton : Bradley Leighton has a unique and powerful sound bringing a fire and flair not usually heard nor expected from a flutist. Jim Santella of the LA Jazz Scene wrote, “he exhibits the musical virtuosity that has carried his career around the world.” His style of swing evolved from listening to the big, hi-octane bands of Kenton, Herman and Ferguson in the 60’s-70’s while his funkiness derives from years of listening to Tower of Power, Earth, Wind & Fire, the Brecker Brothers and countless other soul/R&B acts. With four highly respected recordings under the Pacific Coast Jazz label and numerous features on other artist’s CDs, Bradley has established himself as one of the worlds premier flute players.
Jonah Jones @Wikipedia : Jonah Jones was a jazz trumpeter who is perhaps best known for creating concise versions of jazz and swing standards that appealed to a mass audience. In jazz, he might be best appreciated for his work with Stuff Smith. He was sometimes referred to as “King Louis II,” a reference to Louis Armstrong.
Dinah Washington @npr : Singer Dinah Washington, the Grammy-winning “Queen of the Jukeboxes,” left her turbulent life behind at the tender age of 39. In that short period, a volatile mix of undeniable talent and deep-rooted insecurity took her to the heights of fame and the depths of self-doubt.
Johnny Hodges @starpulse : Possessor of the most beautiful tone ever heard in jazz, altoist Johnny Hodges formed his style early on and had little reason to change it through the decades. Although he could stomp with the best swing players and was masterful on the blues, Hodges’ luscious playing on ballads has never been topped. He played drums and piano early on before switching to soprano sax when he was 14. Hodges was taught and inspired by Sidney Bechet, although he soon used alto as his main ax; he would regretfully drop soprano altogether after 1940.
Buddy Rich : Born Bernard Rich to vaudevillians Robert and Bess Rich on September 30, 1917, the famed drummer was introduced to audiences at a very young age. By 1921, he was a seasoned solo performer with his vaudeville act, “Traps the Drum Wonder.” With his natural sense of rhythm, Rich performed regularly on Broadway at the age of four. At the peak of Rich’s early career, he was the second-highest paid child entertainer in the world.