Friday 19 April 2024

Bee Houston born 19 April 1938

Bee Houston (19 April 1938 – 19 March 1991) was an exciting performer whose style blended elements of Texas shuffle blues and Southern gospel-tinged soul. 

Born Edward Wilson Houston in San Antonio, Texas, Bee lived a long time in the shadow of his taller and handsome twin brother Bo (Wilson Edward Houston). Bee played bugle and Bo the drums in their School’s drum and bugle corps. Later Bee bought a guitar and for a time his other brother “Honey” (Wilson Vincent Houston) played drums and Bee and Bo did an act where Bee played the treble strings and Bo the bass strings of the guitar. 


Bee, like all good blues artists, developed a unique style even to the point where he kept some strings slightly bent, even when tuning! His earthly voice made a fine complement to his strong guitar work and his Texas roots were noticeably evident. Music became Bee’s life and soon his group were the back-up band for “name” artists like Brook Benton, Little Willie John, Junior Parker, and Bobby Bland, when these singers were booked by Henderson Glass to tour the Southwest in the late 50’s and 60’s.

After a two-year army stint, bee and his wife decided to try their luck on the West Coast. He toured and recorded frequently with Big Mama Thornton in the '60s and became known as her guitarist during the waning years of her career. He also accompanied several visiting blues players during West Coast visits including the Simms Twins, Mc Kinley Mitchell and Little Johnny Taylor. Houston recorded for Arhoolie in the '60s and '70s, and also made several festival appearances and club dates. Bee Toured again with Junior Parker but preferred to stay in Los Angeles close to his family and continued to play the local R&B circuit until he died there on 19 March 1991 a month before his 53rd birthday. 

(Scant information edited from liner notes by Chris Strachwitz & AllMusic)

Thursday 18 April 2024

Little Brother Montgomery born 18 April 1906

Little Brother Montgomery (April 18, 1906* – September 6, 1985) was an American jazz, boogie-woogie and blues pianist and singer. Largely self-taught, Montgomery was an important blues pianist with an original style. He was also versatile, working in jazz bands, including larger ensembles that used written arrangements. He did not read music but learned band routines by ear. 

Eurreal Wilford "Little Brother" Montgomery was born in Kentwood, Louisiana, United States, a sawmill town near the Mississippi border, across Lake Pontchartrain from New Orleans, where he spent much of his childhood. Both his parents were of African-American and Creek Indian ancestry. As a child he looked like his father, Harper Montgomery, and was called Little Brother Harper. The name evolved into Little Brother Montgomery, and the nickname stuck. He started playing piano at the age of four, and by age 11 he left home for four years and played at barrelhouses in Louisiana. His main musical influence was Jelly Roll Morton, who used to visit the Montgomery household. 

Early in his career he performed at African-American lumber and turpentine camps in Louisiana, Arkansas, and Mississippi. He then played with the bands of Clarence Desdunes and Buddy Petit. He lived in Chicago from 1928 to 1931, regularly playing at rent parties and Chicago was where he made his first recordings in 1930 for Paramount. From 1931 through 1938, he led a jazz ensemble, the Southland Troubadours, in Jackson, Mississippi (also called the Collegiate Ramblers), that played in ballrooms throughout the South. They never recorded, but as a solo pianist or with only one accompanist, Montgomery cut twenty-two blues sides, all released on singles on the Bluebird label, in 1935-36, including the original versions of his standards “Shreveport Farewell” and “The First Time I Met the Blues.” 


Montgomery, hailed in Down Beat magazine in 1940 as “the greatest piano man that ever invaded Dixie,” spent time in Yazoo City, Hattiesburg, and Beaumont, Texas, before permanently settling in Chicago in 1942. His graceful New Orleans-style swing and uncommonly wide repertoire that encompassed blues, boogie-woogie, ragtime, popular songs, and jazz standards, made him a popular pianist in traditional jazz groups. In 1948 he played in Kid Ory’s Dixieland band at Carnegie Hall. He also accompanied classic blues singer Edith Wilson, but he appeared most often as a solo performer or leader of his own groups. 

Otis Rush benefited from his sensitive accompaniment on several of his 1957-1958 Cobra dates, while Buddy Guy recruited him for similar duties when he nailed Montgomery's "First Time I Met the Blues" in a supercharged revival for Chess in 1960. That same year, Montgomery cut a fine album for Bluesville with guitarist Lafayette "Thing" Thomas that remains one of his most satisfying sets. 

Montgomery toured Europe several times in the 1960s and recorded some of his albums there. He appeared at many blues and folk festivals during the following decade and was considered a living legend, a link to the early days of blues in New Orleans. Among his original compositions are "Shreveport Farewell", "Farrish Street Jive", and "Vicksburg Blues". His instrumental "Crescent City Blues" served as the basis for a song of the same name by Gordon Jenkins, which in turn was adapted by Johnny Cash as "Folsom Prison Blues." 

In 1968, Montgomery contributed to two albums by Spanky and Our Gang, Like to Get to Know You and Anything You Choose b/w Without Rhyme or Reason. His fame grew in the 1960s, and he continued to make many recordings, some of them on his own record label, FM Records, which he formed in 1969 (FM stood for Floberg Montgomery, Floberg being the maiden name of his wife). 

In 1975, Folkways issued an album of Monrtgomery’s “Church Songs”, which enhanced his reputation for turning his hand and voice to many styles. This brought his output of albums to over 30. He gave many interviews about his life in the Blues and his endless stream of stories made him a one-man-repository of Blues  history, as his remarkable memory gave us insights into the story of the Blues from it’s origins into the digital age. 

Montgomery died on September 6, 1985, in Champaign, Illinois, and was interred in the Oak Woods Cemetery. In 2013  he was posthumously inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame. 

(Edited from Wikipedia, All Music, Britannica, All About The Blues & Mississippi Blues Trail) (*birth year possibly a year or two later according to some documents) 


Wednesday 17 April 2024

Marta Eggerth born 17 April 1912

Marta Eggerth (17 April 1912 – 26 December 2013) was a Hungarian actress and singer from "The Silver Age of Operetta”. 

Eggerth was born in Budapest, the daughter of Tilly (née Herzog) a dramatic coloratura soprano, and Paul Eggerth, a bank director. Eggerth began singing during her early childhood. Her mother dedicated herself to her daughter, who was called a "Wunderkind" at the age of 11 making her theatrical debut in the operetta Mannequins. It was during this time and the years that followed that Eggerth began singing the most demanding coloratura repertoire by composers including Rossini, Meyerbeer, Offenbach and Johann Strauss II. 

While still a teenager, Eggerth embarked on a tour of Denmark, Holland and Sweden before arriving in Vienna at the invitation of Emmerich Kálmán. Kálmán invited her to Vienna to understudy Adele Kern, the famous coloratura of the Vienna State Opera, in his operetta Das Veilchen vom Montmartre (The Violet of Montmartre). Eggerth eventually took over the title role to great critical acclaim after Kern suddenly became indisposed. Subsequently, Eggerth performed the role of Adele in Max Reinhardt's famous 1929 Hamburg production of Die Fledermaus at the age of 17. 

During the early 1930s, Eggerth was discovered by the film industry, and her career took off resulting in international fame. She made more than 40 films in five languages: Hungarian, English, German, French and Italian. It was on the set of the 1934 film Mein Herz ruft immer nach dir (My Heart is Calling You, music Robert Stolz) that she met and fell in love with the young Polish tenor, Jan Kiepura. They were married in 1936 and together became known as Europe's Liebespaar (Love Pair) causing a sensation wherever they appeared. 


While Kiepura toured the United States, Eggerth was signed by the Shubert Theatre on Broadway to appear in Richard Rodgers' musical Higher and Higher. She subsequently signed a contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in Hollywood and, during the early 1940s, made two movies with Judy Garland: For Me and My Gal in 1942 and Presenting Lily Mars in 1943. In Chicago, Eggerth and Kiepura performed together on the operatic stage in La bohème to rave reviews. 

They also starred together on Broadway at the Majestic Theater in a revised production of Lehár's The Merry Widow, with Robert Stolz conducting and choreography by George Balanchine. They would eventually perform The Merry Widow more than 2,000 times, in five languages throughout Europe and America. In 1945, they were back on Broadway together in the musical Polonaise. After World War II, they returned to France touring and making films, before bringing The Merry Widow to London's Palace Theatre in 1954. 

Throughout her career, Eggerth maintained active recital tours throughout Europe, Canada and the United States, combining her extensive repertoire of lieder, opera, film songs, and especially Viennese operetta. In London, Eggerth and Kiepura gave two sold-out concerts in one week at the Royal Albert Hall in 1956. The couple continued singing throughout the 1950s and 1960s with more productions of The Merry Widow in the United States, concerts and other productions in Europe. In 1965 they brought The Merry Widow back to Berlin for yet another successful run. 

Kiepura died in 1966. Eggerth stopped singing at this time for several years. Finally, persuaded by her mother, she decided to revive her career. In the 1970s she began to make regular television appearances, and to actively perform concerts in Europe. In 1982, she returned to the American stage to co-star in the Tom Jones/Harvey Schmidt musical Colette opposite Diana Rigg in Seattle and Denver, and later in Stephen Sondheim's Follies in Pittsburgh. 

In 1999, at the age of 87, she sang on the stage of the Vienna State Opera in a special televised matinée concert hosted by opera impresario and historian Marcel Prawy, to mark that opera house's first production of Lehár's The Merry Widow. She sang a medley from the operetta in four languages and received a spontaneous standing ovation. She repeated this medley in 2000, at a gala to mark the 200th anniversary of Vienna's Theater an der Wien. 

In 2001, Eggerth returned to London for "An Interview-in-Concert" at an absolutely sold-out Wigmore Hall. She continued to tour and give recitals up to her last performance at the age of 99 in 2011. Eggerth was awarded many major artistic decorations from Austria, Germany, Poland, and Italy in recognition of her accomplishments in operetta, theatre and film. Her final recognitions included the Knights Cross of the Order of the Merit of the Republic of Poland, Knights Cross of the Order of the Merit of the Republic of Hungary, her native land's highest honour, and the Erwin Piscator Life Achievement Award for her legendary achievements. 

She taught at the Manhattan School of Music until her death following a brief illness on 26 December 2013 in Rye, New York. She was 101 years old. (Edited from Wikipedia) 

Tuesday 16 April 2024

Bennie Green born 16 April 1923

Bennie Green (April 16, 1923 – March 23, 1977) was one of the most dexterous and velvet-toned modern American trombonists. 

Bennie Green was born in Chicago and his family was a musical one. With his brother Elbert who later played tenor saxophone with Roy Eldridge he attended the famous DuSable High School whose musical director was the celebrated Walter Dyett.  In these early formative years Bennie’s acknowledged influences were Trummy Young, Lawrence Brown, J.C.Higginbotham, Tommy Dorsey and Bobby Byrne. Much later of course J.J.Johnson was added to the mix. 

Thanks to a recommendation from Budd Johnson, Bennie joined Earl Hines’s band in the summer of 1942 just as James Petrillo’s AFM announced a strike preventing union members from recording for major labels. This was a great pity because that particular edition of the band boasted Dizzy Gillespie, Benny Harris, Charlie Parker, Shadow Wilson and Sarah Vaughan among its members. 

Green became very friendly with Dizzy Gillespie often visiting him at the trumpeter’s house where Dizzy would accompany him on the piano. These sessions were invaluable insights into the new harmonic and rhythmic discoveries and Bennie later described them as “Going to school”. Drafted into the military he was discharged in 1946 and later that year he recorded with Charlie Ventura for the first time on a big band date playing Neal Hefti and Stanley Baum arrangements. Green returned to Hines again until 1948 when he joined the legendary Gene Ammons who had just had a big hit with Red Top which was his wife Mildred’s nickname. 

In the summer of 1948 Charlie Ventura invited Bennie to join the new group he was forming to be called ‘Bop For The People’. With this high profile group making regular radio broadcasts and concert appearances Bennie’s reputation as a superior soloist was now established. Ventura’s group was breaking attendance records at the Royal Roost and was voted the No.1 bebop group by the readers of Down Beat and Metronome magazines. They ultimately recorded no less than 61 titles (some on obscure labels) and their brilliant but quite outrageous interpretation of I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles became something of a commercial success. The leader disbanded a few months after their famous Pasadena concert in May 1949. 


Later that year on the 24th. December Green was part of a ‘Stars Of Modern Jazz’ concert at Carnegie Hall compered by Symphony Sid with Sarah Vaughan and the Charlie Parker quintet as headliners. In 1950 he recorded four titles with Gene Ammons and a seven piece group featuring Sonny Stitt on baritone. In 1952 Bennie recorded four titles with strings demonstrating elements of Jack Teagarden especially in his immaculate control of the upper register on Embraceable You and Stardust. 

In 1953 he recorded an extrovert, foot-tapping date for Decca with Cecil Payne and Frank Wess where they pulled out all the stops on a simple but very effective Blow Your Horn. It has elements of rhythm and blues with one of his favourite call and response devices and became quite a juke-box hit. In 1955 he recorded ‘Bennie Green Blows His Horn’ with Charlie Rouse together with the redoubtable Cliff Smalls and Candido in the rhythm section. 

In 1959 the trombonist recorded ‘Bennie Green Swings The Blues’ with Jimmy ‘Night Train’ Forrest and Sonny Clark. As the title implies the repertoire mostly consists of jazz music’s most basic harmony but with such gifted performers there is no chance of monotony. It does include though one of Bennie’s favourite standards – Pennies From heaven – which had been his feature with Charlie Ventura back in the forties. He only made one further LP as a leader in 1961 because the sixties was a difficult decade especially for his generation of jazz musicians. Clubs like Birdland were closing and the emergence of the Beatles and Rolling Stones reflected a definite change in popular music taste. The revolutionary concepts of the jazz avant-garde movement didn’t help matters either. 

Bennie was always popular in his home-town of Chicago and he continued to lead small bands there throughout the sixties as well as travelling as a single, sitting-in with house rhythm sections. He settled in Las Vegas in the late '60s, working in hotel bands. He worked for a time with Duke Ellington’s orchestra in 1968, playing on his second sacred concert. Green was also featured on recordings made at the Newport in New York festival in the early '70s. He recorded as a leader for Jubilee, Prestige, Blue Note, Enrica, Time, and Vee Jay. 

After a long illness Bennie Green died of cancer on March 23rd. 1977, in San Diego.

(Edited mainly from Jazz profiles)

Monday 15 April 2024

Wally Deane born 15 May 1936

Wally Deane (May 15, 1936 - April 5, 1986) was an American Rock 'n' Roll singer 

Wally was born in Washington D.C (1) to John Wallace Deane and Grace Talmedge Van Riper.  John Wallace Deane was a reporter for the New York Times, and Washington Post. Grace Deane was a church organ player, medical stenographer, and pianist. Her father George Van Riper was well to do in real estate and his inventions. 


Little is known regarding Wally’s early life, but his recording career started when he was discovered in Miami, Florida by Tex Dean, (no relation)  a recording artist for Trumpet Records. Tex Dean brought Wally to Lillian McMurray as a new artist, and she really liked his style and musical ability. 

She saw Wally as her answer to Sun Records Elvis Presley! Wally recorded three sides which included  “Wabash Cannonball” & “I’m Losing You” , but these unfortunately were unissued. He did however sign a contract with Globe records in 1956 and recorded four sides which included “Cool Cool Daddy”. 

He then issued a handful of recordings as Wally Dean (dropping the “e”) on the Arctic, Artic and Acadia (2) Record labels until 1962. With his backing band the Flips, Wally played in Halls, Lounge bars and Hotels in Miami Beach such as the Shoremede, Belmar, Cadallac, and many more in the surrounding areas. He was also known as the “Elvis of Miami Beach” . 

He died on April 5, 1986, shortly before his 50th birthday. Wally was inducted into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame in 2006. 

(Edited from the Wally Deane website, Rocky 52 & the Rocknroll schallplatten forum) 

(1) Some sources give Bivins, Texas as birthplace

(2) The Arcadia label was based in Canada so this might be a different Wally Dean.

Sunday 14 April 2024

Monty Waters born 14 April 1938

Monty Waters (April 14, 1938 - December 23, 2008) was an American jazz saxophonist, flautist and singer.

Born in Monville Charles Waters  in Modesto, California, he received his first musical training from his aunt and first played in the church. After his education in college, he was a member of a Rhythm & Blues band. Monty studied music at Modesto High and cut his teeth in the vibrant R&B scene in the late 50's touring with the bands of B.B King, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Little Richard, James Brown and others before switching coasts to play in New York with the likes of Woody Shaw, Jaki Byard. 

 In San Francisco he played with King Pleasure and initiated in the early 1960s, a "Late Night Session" at the club Bop City. There he came into contact with musicians such as Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Art Blakey, Red Garland and Dexter Gordon, who visited this club after their concerts. In addition, he and Pharoah Sanders, Dewey Redman and Donald Garrett formed a big band. In 1969 he moved to New York City and went with Jon Hendricks on a concert tour. 

During the 1970s he participated in the "Loft Jazz" scene. Like many other jazz musicians, he moved in the 1980s to Paris, where he worked with Chet Baker, Pharoah Sanders and Johnny Griffin. Following Mal Waldron and Marty Cook, he came to Munich, Germany and continued to work with musicians such as Embryo, Götz Tangerding, Hannes Beckmann, Titus Waldenfels, Suchredin Chronov or Joe Malinga.

Since 1995, one of Waters' main projects has been a duo with the German guitarist Titus Waldenfels, presenting a mixture of jazz and blues (with Monty not only playing saxophone but also singing) to audiences of renowned jazz festivals and in notable jazz clubs (such as the Unterfahrt in Munich). Monty's latest CD, "Moonlight in Slovakia", issued on Ladybug in 1999, has him playing with the L'ubo Šamo Quintet, a Sloviakian group - consisting of violinist L'ubo Šamo, pianist Peter Adamkovic, bassist Martin Marincak and drummer Gejza Szabados plus guitarist Titus Waldenfels - and features two of Waters' duo recordings with Waldenfels. 

He died in Munich, Germany in December 22nd 2008. Another of Jazz's unsung heroes, his death went virtually unnoticed by the international jazz community, as indeed had most of his career. The saxophonist didn't even rate a mention in the All Music Guide To Jazz and most of the standard reference books. This is indeed regrettable as Monty was clearly an artist of consummate talent in both his playing and writing ability. 

(Scant information edited from Wikipedia)

Saturday 13 April 2024

Roy Dunn born 13 April 1922

 Roy Dunn (13 April 1922 - 2 March 1988) was an American blues guitarist and singer. He was also credited as a major source of information and contacts by researchers into the blues of the east coast states. 

Roy Sidney Dunn, born in Eatonton, Georgia, a town in Putnam County, was one of twelve children of Willie and Estelle Dunn. He moved to Kelly in Jasper County when near the age of nine and started messing around with the guitar, being first taught by one Jim Smith. A later move to Covington put Roy in contact with Curley Weaver and Jonas Brown – it was the former that taught him to tune a guitar himself – who played at times then with fiddle-player Ollie Griffin and guitarist Cliff Lee. This was about 1935. 

He stayed around Curley until 1938, when he left Newton Co. Music was definitely a part of the rather large Dunn family, and among the relatives so inclined were uncles as well as his father and a few of his aunts. There definitely was some music around. Through the influence of his choir-leading father, a singing group was formed from the family, logically called the Dunn Brothers and made up of Roy, Fred, Oscar, and Edward. Quartet singing was to play an important part in Roy’s musical life, and its influence can be heard in his excellent singing. On top of all this, there was the influence of the ubiquitous phonograph record – Blind Blake, Jimmie Rogers, Barbecue Bob, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Buddy Buy Hawkins, Willie Walker, and Lonnie Johnson are all older names well-remembered. More recently, the influences were the many Atlanta artists he heard, as well as records from Blind Boy Fuller, and Lightnln’ Hopkins. 


For some ten years, Roy traveled through the southern states, going into Alabama and Tennessee, and some further west – Atlanta was just a stopping-off place for these years. Much of the time on the road was with quartets, either traveling with a particular group or joining one in an area . . . among them were the All National Independents, the Victory Bond Spiritual Singers, the Rainbow Gospel Four, the Galilee Four, the Keystone Four, and the Golden Gospel Singers. When in Atlanta, he played often with Blind Willie McTell, Curley Weaver, or Buddy Moss (of the known artists) and he claims to have seen Blind Boy Fuller one time in the Atlanta area, a possibility pointed to by others. 

Among the “unknowns” that Roy has known or played with over the years are Paul McGuiness, Bunny Tiller, Glenn Gates (known as “Baltimore” and a cousin of the Rev.), Eddie Lee Johnson, Connie Jackson, Link Paul, “Bo Weavil”, “Popcorn”, William Jolly, Buddy Keith, R.W. Lawson, and Edward “Chicken” Knowles. One of the major talents of the man is not only his recall of the names of musicians, but also when and where he saw them last and often what kind of car they were driving! Rather an Atlanta encyclopedia with two legs. 

Roy settled back into the Atlanta area again about the time of the Korean War, staying with his parents who ran a cafe on the corner of Butler and Decatur Sts. He was there when Buddy Moss got back into town, but it was not too long afterwards that Roy got into trouble and spent four years in jail for manslaughter, where he was made a trustee. In jail, he worked on his guitar technique, and also learned how to drive heavy equipment – this latter being useful after his release in 1960. Prior to this, he had been a peripatetic jack-of-all-trades, but now he was able to get steady work on the machines building highways through the central part of the state. 

Running the big stuff was the main thing, with music a weekend affair, until Christmas of I968 when a lady plowed into the driver’s side of Roy’s car. He suffered a broken back, arms, collarbones, right leg and foot, and a skull fracture; his wife Myrtis had her jaw broken and her teeth knocked out, and their baby was killed. It took him a good year to recover from the damages after which he and his wife (and four new children) had been subsisting on state disability payments and whatever else he could scrape from what light work that he could handle. Weak-limbed from all this, Roy was never able to return to work.

He was still able to play music, however, and in the early 70s, he recorded an album, and appeared at a number of blues festivals also performing in clubs around Georgia and North Carolina. He still performed occasionally up until his death in Atlanta on March 2, 1988.  (Edited from article by Peter Blowry)