Celebrating the great musicians of jazz on their special day!
1 June, 1929
“I was always interested in composing and writing; I wrote music as a young teenager. I had always heard advanced chords, listening to my sister and father play romantic era music.”
Lennie Niehaus is an American alto saxophonist, arranger, and composer on the West Coast jazz scene. He has played with the Stan Kenton big band, Ray Vasquez Trombonist and Vocalist, Phil Carreon Orchestra, and various other jazz bands on the West Coast of the U.S. Niehaus also arranged and composed for motion pictures, including several produced by Clint Eastwood.
2 June, 1970
“For me, playing the bass is not a thing of having to fight or think about so much anymore. Basically, it’s like… you reach for it and see what happens. And the feedback that I’ve gotten from people is really helpful. People really appreciate things that happen on the instrument and what different players bring to it. And it just feels great to be a part of that tradition.”
Matthew Garrison is an American jazz bassist. Since 2011, he has run ShapeShifter Lab in Brooklyn, New York, with Fortuna Sung. Described by the New York Times as “an electric bass virtuoso”, he has toured with Herbie Hancock. His 2000 debut album, Matthew Garrison, was described by Bass Player magazine as having “raised the bar” for electric bass players. He is considered one of the most technically gifted jazz musicians of his generation. In 2010, Garrison toured with R&B singer Whitney Houston during her Nothing but Love World Tour.
2 June, 1941
Irene Schweizer is a Swiss jazz and free improvising pianist. She was born in Schaffhausen. She has performed and recorded numerous solo piano performances as well as performing as part of the Feminist Improvising Group, whose members include Lindsay Cooper, Maggie Nichols, Georgie Born and Sally Potter. She has also performed a series of duets with drummers Pierre Favre, Louis Moholo, Andrew Cyrille, Günter Sommer, Han Bennink, Hamid Drake, as well as in trio and quartet sessions with others, including John Tchicai, Evan Parker and Peter Kowald. With Yusef Lateef, Uli Trepte and Mani Neumeier she performed at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1967. One of her most enduring collaborations is with the improvising musician Rüdiger Carl de.
3 June, 1932 – 10 April, 2007
Dakota Staton was an American jazz vocalist. She released several critically acclaimed albums in the late 1950s and early 1960s, including The Late, Late Show (1957), whose title track was her biggest hit, In the Night (1958), a collaboration with pianist George Shearing, Dynamic! (1958) and Dakota at Storyville (1962), a live album recorded at the Storyville jazz club in Boston. In the mid-1960s Staton moved to England, where she recorded the album Dakota ′67. Returning to the US in the early 1970s, she continued to record semi-regularly, her recordings taking an increasingly strong gospel and blues influence.
5 June, 1954
Peter Erskine is an American jazz drummer who was a member of the jazz fusion groups Weather Report and Steps Ahead. His professional music career started in 1972 when he joined the Stan Kenton Orchestra. After three years with Kenton, he joined Maynard Ferguson for two years. In 1978 he joined Weather Report, joining Jaco Pastorius in the rhythm section. After four years and five albums with Weather Report and the Jaco Pastorius big band Word of Mouth, he joined Steps Ahead. In 1983, he performed on the Antilles Records release Swingrass ’83. He toured the US in 1992 with Chick Corea. Erskine splits his time as a musician and a professor at the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California.
8 June, 1956
“There’s a certain warmth, a certain community feeling, a feeling that people can really enjoy themselves listening to music together and playing music for other people and working on music and arguing about music and it’s okay because there are so many different styles and so many different musicians. I just enjoyed everything about it. I love thinking about it, I love playing it.”
Uri Caine is an American classical and jazz pianist and composer. Caine began playing piano at seven and studied with French jazz pianist Bernard Peiffer at 12. He later studied at the University of Pennsylvania, where he came under the tutelage of George Crumb. He also gained a greater familiarity with classical music in this period and worked at clubs in Philadelphia. Caine played professionally after 1981, and by 1985 had his recording debut with the Rochester-Gerald Veasley band. In the 1980s, he moved to New York City, where he continues to live. His solo recording debut was in 1992.
9 June, 1891 – 15, October 1964
Cole Porter was an American composer and songwriter. Many of his songs became standards noted for their witty, urbane lyrics, and many of his scores found success on Broadway and in film. Born to a wealthy family in Indiana, Porter defied his grandfather’s wishes and took up music as a profession. Classically trained, he was drawn to musical theatre. After a slow start, he began to achieve success in the 1920s, and by the 1930s he was one of the major songwriters for the Broadway musical stage.
11 June, 1920 – 2 October, 1981
“Who ever walked behind anyone to freedom? If we can’t go hand in hand, I don’t want to go.”
Hazel Scott was a Trinidadian-born jazz and classical pianist, singer, and actor. She was a critically acclaimed performing artist and an outspoken critic of racial discrimination and segregation. She used her influence to improve the representation of black Americans in film. Scott was a child musical prodigy, as she received scholarships to study at the Juilliard School when she was eight. In her teens, she performed in a jazz band. She was prominent as a jazz singer throughout the 1930s and 1940s. In 1950, she became the first black American to host her own TV show, The Hazel Scott Show.
12, June 1941
“Every time I see a musician – it doesn’t matter what age – that inspires me, there’s always a secret little wish that maybe we’ll play together, because that’s how I learn and grow and so forth, you know. But hopefully there’s a lot more.”
Chick Corea is an American jazz pianist/electric keyboardist and composer. His compositions “Spain”, “500 Miles High”, “La Fiesta” and “Windows”, are considered jazz standards. As a member of Miles Davis’s band in the late 1960s, he participated in the birth of jazz fusion. In the 1970s he formed the fusion band Return to Forever. With Herbie Hancock, McCoy Tyner, Keith Jarrett and Bill Evans, he has been described as one of the major jazz piano voices to emerge in the post-John Coltrane era.
13 June, 1905 – 2 June, 1997
Doc Cheatham was a jazz trumpeter, singer, and bandleader. He abandoned his family’s plans for him to be a pharmacist (although retaining the medically inspired nickname “Doc”) to play music, initially playing soprano and tenor saxophone in addition to trumpet in Nashville’s African American Vaudeville theater. Cheatham later toured in band accompanying blues singers on the Theater Owners Booking Association circuit.
14 June, 1959
“I think jazz is a beautiful, democratic music. It encourages musicians with very strong, and many times, very different points of view to work together as a team while, at the same time, giving them the space to express their individuality. It’s a very important art form and can be used as a model for different cultures to work together.”
Marcus Miller is an American film composer, jazz composer, record producer, arranger and multi-instrumentalist, best known as a bass guitarist. He has worked with trumpeter Miles Davis, pianist Herbie Hancock, singer Luther Vandross, and saxophonist David Sanborn, among others.
14 June, 1980
Loren Stillman is a jazz saxophonist and composer. He has received two Outstanding Performance Awards (1996 and 1998) and the Rising Star Jazz Artist Award (2004) from Down Beat Magazine and received the CMA/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming and the ASCAP Young Jazz Composers Award in 2005.
15 June, 1921 – 2 January, 1977
“I get ideas from everything. A big color, the sound of water and wind, or a flash of something cool. Playing is like life. Either you feel it or you don’t.”
Erroll Garner was an American jazz pianist and composer known for his swing playing and ballads. His best-known composition, the ballad “Misty”, has become a jazz standard. Scott Yanow of Allmusic calls him “one of the most distinctive of all pianists” and a “brilliant virtuoso.” He received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6363 Hollywood Blvd. His live album, Concert by the Sea, first released in 1955, sold over a million copies by 1958 and Scott Yanow’s opinion is: “this is the album that made such a strong impression that Garner was considered immortal from then on.
16 June, 1946
“Jazz is such a powerful cultural statement that it’s almost as if it’s intertwined with society.”
Tom Harrell is an American jazz trumpeter, flugelhornist, composer, and arranger. Voted Trumpeter of the Year of 2018 by Jazz Journalists Association, Harrell has won awards and grants throughout his career, including multiple Trumpeter of the Year awards from Down Beat magazine, SESAC Jazz Award, BMI (Broadcast Music Incorporated) Composers Award, and Prix Oscar du Jazz. He received a Grammy Award nomination for his big band album, Time’s Mirror.
17 June, 1921 – 28 March, 2007
“I decided a long time ago I would rather be a jazz musician than rich and famous. “I never regretted that decision.”
Tony Scott was an American jazz clarinetist and arranger with an interest in folk music around the world. For most of his career, he was held in high esteem in new-age music circles because of his involvement in music linked to Asian cultures and to meditation.
18 June, 1940
“My favorite songs are jazz-pop ballads, which let me get involved with the lyrics. But you just couldn’t do those in the ‘60s—unless you were Ella Fitzgerald. I wish I could have been on those Songbook shows with Frank Sinatra and all the rest.“
Sue Raney is an American jazz singer. Signed by Capitol Records at the age of 17, her debut album When Your Lover Has Gone was produced by Nelson Riddle and released in 1958. When she was nearly 14, she joined Jack Carson’s radio show in Los Angeles in 1954 and later worked on television as the singer in Ray Anthony’s band. Her single “Biology” was the first Capitol single to be elevated to national promotion after Capitol introduced regional pre-testing in 1960. She was featured with the Stan Kenton orchestra in 1962 on the hourlong television special Music of 1960’s. She sang the theme song to the Audrey Hepburn movie Wait Until Dark (1967).
21 June, 1970
“It’s a good opportunity. You have to play hard and forget about everybody being a rookie. You just have to play hard, and not worry about what everybody thinks. We have a pretty good team. We’re aggressive.”
Eric Reed is an American jazz pianist and composer. His group Black Note released several albums in the 1990s. At age 18, during a year of college at California State University, Northridge, Reed briefly toured with Marsalis. He joined Marsalis’s septet a year later, and worked with him from 1990 to 1991 (in 1991–1992 he worked with Joe Henderson and Freddie Hubbard), and again from 1992 to 1995. He later worked with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra for two years (1996–1998), and led his own group in 1999. Reed has also worked as a composer, scoring music for independent and mainstream films, including the comedy Life, featuring Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence.