Bobby Watson(sax, alto) 1953 :: Birth day greetings to Bobby Watson. Bobby is an American post-bop jazz alto saxophonist, composer, producer, and educator. Watson now has 26 recordings as a leader. He appears on nearly 100 other recordings as either co-leader or in a supporting role. Watson has recorded more than 100 original compositions and his long-time publisher.
After graduating in 1975, he moved to New York City and joined Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers. The Jazz Messengers, sometimes referred to as the “University of Blakey,” served as the ultimate “postgraduate school” for ambitious young players. He performed with the Jazz Messengers from 1977 to 1981, eventually becoming the musical director for the group.
After completing his tenure as a Jazz Messenger, Watson became a much-sought after musician, working along the way with many notable musicians, including: drummers Max Roach and Louis Hayes, fellow saxophonists George Coleman and Branford Marsalis, multi-instrumentalist Sam Rivers and trumpeter Wynton Marsalis. In addition to working with a variety of instrumentalists, Watson has served in a supporting role for a number of distinguished and stylistically varied vocalists including: Joe Williams, Dianne Reeves, Lou Rawls, Betty Carter, and Carmen Lundy, and has performed as a sideman with Carlos Santana, George Coleman, Rufus and Chaka Khan, Bob Belden and John Hicks.
Later, in association with bassist Curtis Lundy and drummer Victor Lewis, Watson started the first edition of Horizon, an acoustic quintet modeled after the Jazz Messengers but with its own slightly more modern twist. The group recorded several titles for the Blue Note and Columbia record labels.
In addition to his work as leader of Horizon, Watson also led a group known as the High court of Swing (a tribute to the music of Johnny Hodges), The Tailor-Made Big Band (16 pieces in all) and is a founding member of the 29th Street Saxophone Quartet, an all-horn, four-piece group with alto saxophonist Ed Jackson, tenor saxophonist Rich Rothenberg, and baritone saxophonist Jim Hartog. Watson also composed an original song for the soundtrack of Robert De Niro’sA Bronx Tale (1993).
A resident of New York for most of his professional life, Watson served as a member of the adjunct faculty and taught private saxophone at William Patterson University from 1985 to 1986 and the Manhattan School of Music from 1996 to 1999. He is currently involved with the Thelonious Monk Institute’s yearly “Jazz in America” high school outreach program.
In 2000, he was approached to return to his native midwestern surroundings on the Kansas-Missouri border. Watson was selected as the first William D. and Mary Grant/Missouri, Distinguished Professorship in Jazz Studies. The past six years he has served as the director of jazz studies at the University of Missouri–Kansas City Conservatory of Music although he still manages to balance live engagements around the world with his teaching responsibilities. Watson’s ensembles at UMKC have garnered several awards and national recognition.
Brad Mehldau (piano) 1970 :: Happy birthday to Brad Mehldau. Brad is an American jazz pianist.
Mehldau has led the Brad Mehldau Trio since the mid 1990s. The group features bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Jeff Ballard. Mehldau has also performed with many renowned artists, including Joshua Redman, Charles Lloyd, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Pat Metheny, Wayne Shorter, Peter Bernstein, Christian McBride, Michael Brecker, Chris Potter, Brian Blade, Jimmy Cobb, classical vocalists Renée Fleming and Anne Sofie von Otter, and singer-songwriters Chris Thile, John Mayer and Elliott Smith.
While a sophomore in high school, he won Berklee College’s Best All-Around Musician Award. Mehldau moved to New York in 1988 to study jazz at The New School, studying under Fred Hersch, Junior Mance and Kenny Werner.
Mehldau went on to play as sideman with a variety of musicians, most notably with the Joshua Redman Quartet featuring bassist Christian McBride and drummer Brian Blade. Mehldau formed his own Trio in 1994, with bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Jorge Rossy, and later Jeff Ballard, who succeeded Rossy in 2005. In addition to his Trio work, Mehldau collaborated with guitarist Pat Metheny, releasing two albums with him and embarking on a worldwide tour along with Grenadier and Ballard. In 2012, Mehldau joined drummer Mark Guiliana for a synthesizer-oriented duo project called “Mehliana”, and launched a tour in 2013, alternating performances with another duo project of Mehldau’s featuring Chris Thile.
Recording primarily for Nonesuch Records, Mehldau plays original compositions, jazz standards and jazz arrangements of popular music, especially rock music. With his Trio, he has recorded arrangements of the music of Nick Drake, The Beatles, Radiohead and Paul Simon among others, and recorded Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun” on his 2008 album, Live. Mehldau has also expressed an interest in and knowledge of philosophy, in particular of music and art.
Martial Solal (piano) 1927 :: Many happy returns to Martial Solal. Martial is a French jazz pianist and composer, who is probably most widely known for the music he wrote for Jean-Luc Godard’s debut feature film À bout de souffle (1960).
After settling in Paris in 1950, he soon began working with leading musicians including Django Reinhardt and expatriates from the United States like Sidney Bechet and Don Byas. He formed a quartet (occasionally also leading a big band) in the late 1950s, although he had been recording as a leader since 1953. Solal then began composing film music, eventually providing over twenty scores.
In 1963 he made a much admired appearance at the Newport Jazz Festival in Rhode Island; the Newport ‘63 album purporting to be a recording of this gig is actually a studio recreation. At this time, his regular trio featured bassist Guy Pedersen and drummer Daniel Humair. From 1968 he regularly performed and recorded with Lee Konitz in Europe and the United States of America.
In recent years, Martial Solal has continued to perform and record with his trio. Throughout his career he has performed solo, and during 1993-94 he gave thirty solo concerts for French Radio, a selection of performances from which were subsequently released in a 2-CD set Improvise Pour Musique France by JMS Records.
Solal has also written a piano method book entitled Jazz Works.
Terje Rypdal (guitar) 1947 :: Many happy returns to TerjeRypdal. Terje is a Norwegian guitarist and composer. Most of his music has been released on albums of the German record label ECM. Rypdal has collaborated both as a guitarist and as a composer with other ECM artists such as KetilBjørnstad and David Darling. Over the years, he has been an important member in the Norwegian jazz community, and has also given show concerts with guitarists Ronni Le Tekrø and MadsEriksen as “N3”.
The son of a composer and orchestra leader, Rypdal studied classical piano and trumpet as a child, and then taught himself to play guitar as he entered his teens. Starting out as a Hank Marvin-influenced rock guitarist with The Vanguards, Rypdal turned towards jazz in 1968 and joined Jan Garbarek’s group and later George Russell’s sextet and orchestra. An important step towards international attention was his participation in the free jazz festival in Baden-Baden, Germany in 1969, where he was part of a band led by Lester Bowie. During his musical studies at Oslo university and conservatory, he led the orchestra of the Norwegian version of the musical Hair. He has often been recorded on the ECM record label, both jazz-oriented material and classical compositions (some of which do not feature Rypdal’s guitar).
His compositions “Last Nite” and “Mystery Man” were featured in the Michael Mann film Heat, and included on the soundtrack of the same name.