Here is an eclectic selection of jazz musicians born in April.
April 1, 1922 – August 2006
“We didn’t come here to set any fashions in music. We merely came to bring a much-needed touch of home to so“Duke Jordan was an A-list pianist who was there at the birth of bebop. He was part of Charlie Parker’s classic quintet in 1947. So why don’t we know his name the way we know Thelonious Monk’s or Bud Powell’s? me lads who have been here a couple of years.”
Duke Jordan was a pianist whose work with the saxophonist Charlie Parker endures in the jazz pantheon. Jordan was regarded as one of the great early bebop pianists, the sound that he helped to create in the postwar era was something new, and it remains a cornerstone of jazz.
April 5, 1934 – September 12, 2000
“My music has been called rock, be-bop, rhythm and blues, jazz fusion…I just let others describe what my music is, if I hear something and I like it, I’ll play it. I just consider myself playing good music.”
Stanley Turrentine was an American jazz tenor saxophonist. He began his career playing R&B for Earl Bostic and later soul-jazz recording for the Blue Note label from 1960, touched on jazz fusion during a stint on CTI in the 1970s. He was described by critic Steve Huey as “renowned for his distinctively thick, rippling tone [and] earthy grounding in the blues.” Turrentine was married to organist Shirley Scott in the 1960s, with whom he frequently recorded, and was the younger brother of trumpeter Tommy Turrentine.”
April 6, 1927 – January 20, 1996
“So I played alto for quite a while until I saved up the money for the baritone.”
Gerry Mulligan was an American jazz saxophonist, clarinetist, composer and arranger. Though Mulligan is primarily known as one of the leading jazz baritone saxophonists – playing the instrument with a light and airy tone in the era of cool jazz – he was also a significant arranger, working with Claude Thornhill, Miles Davis, Stan Kenton, and others. Mulligan’s pianoless quartet of the early 1950s with trumpeter Chet Baker is still regarded as one of the best cool jazz groups. Mulligan was also a skilled pianist and played several other reed instruments. Several of his compositions, such as “Walkin’ Shoes” and “Five Brothers”, have become jazz standards.”
April 7, 1915 – July 17, 1959
“Don’t threaten me with love, baby. Let’s just go walking in the rain. If I’m going to sing like someone else, then I don’t need to sing at all. Sometimes it’s worse to win a fight than to lose.”
American jazz musician and singer-songwriter with a career spanning nearly thirty years. Nicknamed “Lady Day” by her friend and music partner Lester Young, Holiday had a seminal influence on jazz music and pop singing. Her vocal style, strongly inspired by jazz instrumentalists, pioneered a new way of manipulating phrasing and tempo. Holiday was known for her vocal delivery and improvisation skills, which made up for her limited range and lack of formal music education. While there were other jazz singers with equal talent, Billie Holiday had a voice that captured the attention of her audience.
Carmen Mercedes McRae
April 8, 1922 – November 10, 1994
“Blues is to jazz what yeast is to bread–without it, it’s flat.”
Carmen Mercedes McRae was an American jazz singer. She is considered one of the most influential jazz vocalists of the 20th century and is remembered for her behind-the-beat phrasing and ironic interpretation of lyrics. McRae was inspired by Billie Holiday, but she established her own voice. She recorded over sixty albums and performed worldwide.
April 11, 1978
Jakob Bro is a Danish guitarist and composer. Bro leads a trio with Joey Baron and Thomas Morgan. In the fall of 2016 the trio released the album Streams (ECM). Bro also works with Palle Mikkelborg and Bro/Knak, a collaboration with the Danish electronica producer Thomas Knak.
April 12, 1940
“Creativity and artistic endeavors have a mission that goes far beyond just making music for the sake of music.”
Herbie Hancock is an American pianist, keyboardist, bandleader, composer and actor. Hancock started his career with Donald Byrd. He shortly thereafter joined the Miles Davis Quintet, where he helped to redefine the role of a jazz rhythm section and was one of the primary architects of the post-bop sound. In the 1970s, Hancock experimented with jazz fusion, funk, and electro styles.
April 13, 1928 – April 16, 2012
“It’s the same in art, not just jazz. There’s no way you can fake it.”
Teddy Charles was an American jazz musician and composer whose instruments were the vibraphone, piano, and drums. He studied at the Juilliard School of Music as a percussionist. Later he began to record and made personal appearances as Teddy Cohen with bandsas a vibraphonist, writing, arranging, and producing records. In 1951 he changed his last name to Charles.
April 15, 1987
“Contemporary and classic jazz, hip-hop, R&B, Chicago house, neo-soul—to Hill, they’re all essential elements of the profound African-American creative heritage he’s a part of. “It all comes from the same tree,” he says. “They simply blossomed from different branches.”
Award-winning trumpeter, composer, and bandleader Marquis Hill is a highly skilled jazz musician with a bent toward soulful post-bop, hip-hop, R&B, soul, and blues. As evidenced by 2016’s The Way We Play, his is a beat-conscious music where the spirits of Louis Armstrong and Miles Davis inhabit the same sonic universe as Erykah Badu, Kendrick Lamar, Sly Stone, and even George Clinton.
April 16, 1964 – June 14, 2008
“He was following the music inside himself. His music inspired people in all corners of the world”
Esbjörn Svensson was a Swedish jazz pianist and founder of the jazz group Esbjörn Svensson Trio, commonly known as e.s.t. Svensson became one of Europe’s most successful jazz musicians at the turn of the 21st century before dying, at the age of 44, in a scuba diving accident.
April 19, 1951
Jazz/blues guitarist Mike Armando was born and grew up in Brooklyn & Woodhaven Queens, NY. He attended Franklin K. Lane High School. In the early years, Mike joined the U.S. Navy during the Viet Nam War. He served his country for 4 years and still performed when he had time. Times were tough but he still kept playing his music.
April 21, 1932
“You can have great musicians, but they don’t necessarily play together.”
American jazz trombonist, composer and arranger. A master composer, arranger and uniquely gifted trombone player, Hampton’s career is among the most distinguished in jazz. Slide Hampton’s distinguished career spans decades in the evolution of jazz. At the age of 12 he was already touring the Midwest with the Indianapolis-based Hampton Band, led by his father and comprising other members of his musical family. By 1952, at the age of 20, he was performing at Carnegie Hall with the Lionel Hampton Band.
April 22, 1922 – January 5, 1979
“Creativity is more than just being different. Anybody can plan weird; that’s easy. What’s hard is to be as simple as Bach. Making the simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity.”
Charles Mingus was an American jazz double bassist, pianist, composer and bandleader. A major proponent of collective improvisation, he is considered to be one of the greatest jazz musicians and composers in history, with a career spanning three decades and collaborations with other jazz legends such as Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Dannie Richmond, and Herbie Hancock.
April 25, 1917 – June 15, 1996
“It isn’t where you came from; it’s where you’re going that counts.”
Ella Fitzgerald was an American jazz singer, sometimes referred to as the First Lady of Song, Queen of Jazz, and Lady Ella. She was noted for her purity of tone, impeccable diction, phrasing, timing, intonation, and a “horn-like” improvisational ability, particularly in her scat singing.
April 29, 1899 – May 24, 1974
“There are 2 rules in life:
Number 1- Never quit
Number 2- Never forget rule number 1.”
Duke Ellington was an American composer, pianist, and leader of a jazz orchestra, which he led from 1923 until his death over a career spanning more than six decades. Ellington was based in New York City from the mid-1920s onward and gained a national profile through his orchestra’s appearances at the Cotton Club in Harlem. In the 1930s, his orchestra toured in Europe.”
April 30, 1923 – April 28, 2005
” Jazz is letting everybody do his or her thing with the music.”
Percy Heath was an American jazz bassist, brother of saxophonist Jimmy Heath and drummer Albert Heath, with whom he formed the Heath Brothers in 1975. Heath played with the Modern Jazz Quartet throughout their long history and also worked with Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Wes Montgomery, and Thelonious Monk.
April 26, 1921 – April 24, 2008
“Well, it goes with my personality, I’m sure. I won’t accept the thing that I am an introverted personality, which some have tried to make me out. I have gone through periods, and I won’t say that I have shaken them off completely, but I have gone through periods where I was quiet: I like the pastoral, the country; I like Debussy and Delius – I like peaceful moods.”
Jimmy Giuffre was an American jazz clarinetist, saxophonist, composer, and arranger. He is notable for his development of forms of jazz which allowed for free interplay between the musicians, anticipating forms of free improvisation.
April 28, 1926 – February 7, 2009
“A lot of musicians say that they couldn’t play and sing at the same time—and singers say that they couldn’t sing and play at the same time. Well, with me it’s all just one and the same thing. I don’t like to do either one separately.”
Blossom Dearie was an American jazz singer and pianist. She had a recognizably light and girlish voice.Dearie performed regular engagements in London and New York City over many years and collaborated with many musicians, including Johnny Mercer, Miles Davis, Jack Segal
April 27, 1973
“He studied music at home and listened, enjoying the sounds of the American master players. With that came more revelations. It didn’t intimidate Loueke. It made him more hungry to learn.”
Lionel Loueke is a guitarist and vocalist born in Benin. He moved to Ivory Coast in 1990 to study at the National Institute of Art. The American School of Music in Paris from 1994 to 1998, Berklee College of Music from 1999 to 2001, and the Thelonious Monk Institute from 2001 to 2003.