Jazzed About Your Birthday

Celebrating the great musicians of jazz on their special day!

July Birthdays

Erik Friedlander
1 July, 1960

Erik Friedlander is an American cellist and composer based in New York City. A veteran of New York City’s experimental downtown scene, Friedlander has worked in many contexts but is perhaps best known for his frequent collaborations with saxophonist John Zorn. Friedlander started playing guitar at age six and added cello two years later. Apart from his work with Zorn, Friedlander has worked with Laurie Anderson, Courtney Love, and Alanis Morissette, and is a member of the jazz/fusion quartet Topaz. He created the original music for the historical documentary Kingdom of David: The Saga of the Israelites.

Ahmed Jamal
July 2, 1930

“You’ve got a big, big problem if you get caught up in what people say. If you’re gonna live for what people say, you might as well lay down and forget it. Because it doesn’t work that way.”

Ahmed Jamal is an American jazz pianist, composer, bandleader, and educator. For five decades, he has been one of the most successful small-group leaders in jazz. His Pittsburgh roots have remained an important part of his identity and it was there that he was immersed in the influence of jazz artists such as Earl Hines, Billy Strayhorn, Mary Lou Williams, and Erroll Garner. Jamal also studied with pianist James Miller and began playing piano professionally at the age of fourteen, at which point he was recognized as a “coming great” by the pianist Art Tatum. When asked about his practice habits by a critic from The New York Times, Jamal commented that “I used to practice and practice with the door open, hoping someone would come by and discover me. I was never the practitioner in the sense of twelve hours a day, but I always thought about music. I think about music all the time.”

Lonnie Smith
3 July, 1942

Styled Dr. Lonnie Smith, is an American jazz Hammond B3 organist who was a member of the George Benson quartet in the 1960s. He recorded albums with saxophonist Lou Donaldson for Blue Note before being signed as a solo act. He owns the label Pilgrimage. He was born in Lackawanna, New York, into a family with a vocal group and radio program. Smith says that his mother was a major influence on him musically, as she introduced him to gospel, classical, and jazz music. He was part of several vocal ensembles in the 1950s, including the Teen Kings which included Grover Washington Jr., on sax, and his brother Daryl on drums. Art Kubera, the owner of a local music store, gave Smith his first organ, a Hammond B3.

Derrick Hodge
5 July, 1979

“In the long run, life, Karma, & God has a way of bringing great opportunities to you if you present.”

Derrick Hodge is an American bassist, composer, record producer, and musical director. He began studying electric guitar at the age of 7, inspired by the playing of West Philadelphia’s Beulah Baptist Church choir’s bassist, Joel Ruffiin. A year later, Hodge switched to electric bass guitar and began playing in the elementary school concert band and orchestra. In junior high, he was introduced to the upright contrabass. At the time, there were no bass instructors so Hodge learned the instrument by using his electric bass technique and by watching the 1st and 2nd violins sitting across from him. And for jazz band, he just played the upright bass as if it were an electric bass, disallowing the lack of instructional resources to be his hindrance. On August 6, 2013, his solo album, Live Today, was released with guest appearances by Common (“Live Today”), vocalist Alan Hampton (“Holding Onto You”), Robert Glasper (“Live Today”)

Tanya Kalmonovitch
5 July, 1970

“The thing about artistic practice is that you can’t fake it. You can’t fake your body being on stage; it’s irreducible. I’ve come to really appreciate embodied forms of practice – the transaction that happens between a performer and an audience member – as a form of radical truth-telling and truth-making.”

Tanya Kalmonovitch now lives in the spaces between modern jazz, classical music and free improvisation. Actively performing in New York City since 2004, she has been named “Best New Talent” by All About Jazz New York, while Time Out New York identified her from a small pool of suspects as “the Juilliard-trained violist who’s been tearing up the scene”. Tanya’s debut recording with her quartet Hut Five was hailed by the Montreal Gazette as “an exceptional recording, one of the more engaging recordings heard in some time”.

Louie Bellson
6 July, 1924 – 14 February, 2009

My father owned a music store when I was growing up in Rock Falls, Illinois. He could play all the instruments, which you had to do when you owned a music store back then. One day, when I was three years old, he took me to a parade. When the drums passed by, I got so excited I told him wanted to learn to play them.

Known by the stage name Louie Bellson (his own preferred spelling, although he is often seen in sources as Louis Bellson), was an American jazz drummer. He was a composer, arranger, bandleader, and jazz educator, and is credited with pioneering the use of two bass drums. Bellson was an internationally acclaimed artist who performed in most of the major capitals around the world. Bellson was a vice president at Remo, a drum company. He was inducted into the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame in 1985.

Ringo Starr
7 July, 1940

Ringo Starr is an English musician, singer, songwriter and actor who gained worldwide fame as the drummer for the Beatles. He occasionally sang lead vocals with the group, usually for one song on each album, including “Yellow Submarine”, “With a Little Help from My Friends” and their cover of “Act Naturally”. He also wrote and sang the Beatles’ songs “Don’t Pass Me By” and “Octopus’s Garden”, and is credited as a co-writer of others. Starr said his favourite drummer is Jim Keltner, with whom he first played at the Concert for Bangladesh in August 1971. The pair subsequently played drums together on some of Harrison’s recordings during the 1970s, on Ringo and other albums by Starr, and on the early All-Starr Band tours.

Joe Zawinul
7 July, 1932 – 9 November, 2007

“There is no luck; you’ve got to make your luck. You’ve got to always be prepared-without trying to.”

Joe Zawinul was an Austrian jazz keyboardist and composer. First coming to prominence with saxophonist Cannonball Adderley, Zawinul went on to play with Miles Davis and to become one of the creators of jazz fusion, a musical genre that combined jazz with rock. He co-founded the groups Weather Report and The Zawinul Syndicate. He pioneered the use of electric piano and synthesizer and was named “Best Electric Keyboardist” twenty-eight times by the readers of Down Beat magazine.

Herb Harris
8 July, 1968

Herb Harris began his musical journey on clarinet at age 12. Upon entering high school, he switched to alto saxophone, a more “manly” instrument in the marching band, then switched to tenor saxophone at age 17. His interest in jazz peaked when he heard a recording of John Coltrane’s Giant Steps. Early on, he admired the sound and style of Dexter Gordon. Other influences include Sonny Rollins, Sonny Stitt, and Charlie Parker.

Colin Bailey
9 July, 1934

Colin Bailey is British-born American jazz drummer. His first band was the Nibs, when he was 7, which consisted of two accordions, banjo and drums. He toured with Winifred Atwell from 1952-1956, and performed at the London Palladium for Queen Elizabeth (1952). He lived in Australia from 1958 into the early 1960s, playing in the staff band for Channel 9 TV. In Sydney he played with Bryce Rohde and the Australian Jazz Quartet, backing musicians such as Dizzy Gillespie and Sarah Vaughan. When the AJQ toured the U.S., Bailey was hired by Vince Guaraldi, With Monty Budwig on bass. This trio played with Jimmy Witherspoon, Ben Webster, and Gene Ammons for the Jazz Workshop in San Francisco. In 1970, Bailey became an American citizen. He spent six years as Ed Shaughnessy’s backup in The Tonight Show Band, and starred in Fernwood Tonight in a drumming/comedy role in 1977-78.

Ivie Anderson
10 July, 1905 – December, 1949

Ivie Anderson’s singing career started around 1921 when she performed in Los Angeles. In 1924 she went on tour with the musical Shuffle Along. By 1924 and 1925, she had performed in Cuba, the Cotton Club in New York City, and Los Angeles with the bands of Paul Howard, Curtis Mosby, and Sonny Clay. In 1928, she sang in Australia with Clay’s band and starred in Frank Sebastian’s Cotton Club in Los Angeles in April. Soon after, she began touring in the United States as a solo singe. In 1931, she became the first full-time vocalist in the Duke Ellington orchestra. Her career for the next dozen years consisted of touring in the United States with Ellington. She sang in Ellington’s first European performance in 1933. Her first appearance on record, “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)”, was a hit. In 1940, she recorded “Solitude”, “Mood Indigo”, and “Stormy Weather”.

Kirk Whalum
11 July, 1958

“I hope these songs impact peoples lives in the positive, make people think about love. If people can feel something more substantive and profound, through a beautiful song, like, Ill Make Love to You or I Said I Love You, even if for a moment, then I am happy. If they can touch that deeper place and feel a bit of what I felt when I played these songs, then Ive done my job.”

Kirk Whalum is an American jazz saxophonist and songwriter. He toured with Whitney Houston for more than seven years and soloed in her single “I Will Always Love You”, the best-selling single by a female artist in music history. Whalum has recorded a series of well-received solo albums and film soundtracks, with music ranging from pop to R&B to smooth jazz. His musical accomplishments have brought him a total of 12 Grammy nominations. He won his first Grammy award in 2011 for Best Gospel Song (“It’s What I Do”, featuring Lalah Hathaway) alongside lifelong friend and writer Jerry Peters.

Bill Carrothers
13 July, 1964

“When I was a kid, I hated piano lessons. Mom made me. So if you’re a kid and/or you hate the piano as much as I did, hit the “back” button on your browser now.”

Bill Carrothers is a jazz pianist and composer based in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. He has cited Clifford Brown, Shirley Horn, and Oscar Peterson as influences on his development as a musician. Carrothers performs without shoes to better feel the piano pedals and sits in a chair rather than on a traditional piano bench in order to achieve his preferred seating height. Carrothers was awarded the Grand Prix du Disque for Jazz in 2004 and was nominated for the Les Victoires du Jazz (French Grammy Award equivalent) in 2005 and 2011.

Lauren Sevian
14 July, 1979

“Jazz is such a powerful cultural statement that it’s almost as if it’s intertwined with society.”

Lauren Sevian has been performing professionally since the age of 12, first on the piano, then on the saxophone. At the age of 16 she won the Count Basie Invitational soloing competition, which led to a feature performance with the Basie Band. By the age of 17 she had already performed at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, & the Village Vanguard. In the fall of 1997, Lauren came to NYC to attend the prestigious Manhattan School of Music. She has received numerous awards throughout the years, nominated from 2008-present for the Downbeat Critics Poll “rising star” baritone saxophone, a SESAC jazz award for “Blueprint”, and is now a Grammy award winner for the Mingus Big Band’s “Live at the Jazz Standard.

Ron Kaplan
15 July, 1953

Ron Kaplan’s musical style is reminiscent of the great singers of the 1950’s continuing the tradition of performing songs from the Popular and Jazz Standards of the Great American Songbook. Critics note Kaplan’s phrasing, tone, diction, relaxed style, and his ability to get to the heart of a song with his own mark of musicianship, while featuring superb musicians in his live performances and on his recordings, enjoyed around world.

Anton Schwartz
16 July, 1967

“I always aim to write the music I’d like to hear. A lot of great music out there doesn’t hold my attention the way Stevie Wonder does. I like music that goes someplace. I write for my own impoverished attention span, and it seems to serve me well.”

Anton Schwartz is an American jazz saxophonist and composer based in Seattle. He left the program to become a full-time musician, but not before earning a Master of Science degree along the way. He has released five CDs as a leader, on his own Antonjazz label. They have garnered extensive national radio play and strong reviews. Recent performances by Schwartz include an hourlong concert of unaccompanied saxophone for the 2013 San Francisco Jazz Festival and as a soloist with the Boston Pops Orchestra at Boston Symphony Hall (2014).

David King
18 July, 1965

David King has been playing guitar since he was 8 but it became a serious concern when, in his teens he started going to gigs at Glasgow’s legendary venue The Apollo in the early eighties witnessing guitar hero’s galore including Alex Lifeson, Angus Young, and Andy Summers. Having exhausted all possibilities in various bands he returned to his home studio and gained a degree in Media Music Composition recognized by the Film Music Institute of Los Angeles. David has just completed his debut album of guitar instrumentals encompassing some smooth jazz grooves with a hint of fusion and just for the hell of it the occasional big rock solo to!

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