Here is an eclectic selection of jazz musicians born in January.
1 January, 1971
Chris Potter is an American jazz saxophonist, composer, and multi-instrumentalist. Potter came to prominence as a sideman with trumpeter Red Rodney, before stints with drummer Paul Motian, bassist Dave Holland, trumpeter Dave Douglas and others.
2 January, 1991
Naama Gheber is a New York-based jazz vocalist inspired by the emotionally direct compositions of Rodgers and Hart, Fields and Hugh, Cole Porter and other great composers and lyricist of the 1930’s and ‘40’s. Possessed with an urbane and elegant voice, Gheber’s sensitive interpretation and crisp phrasing have become recognizable elements of her signature style and timeless appeal.
3 January, 1969
James Carter is an American jazz musician. He is the cousin of jazz violinist Regina Carter. As a young man, Carter attended Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp, becoming the youngest faculty member at the camp. He first toured Europe (Scandinavia) with the International Jazz Band in 1985 at the age of 16.
4 January, 1942
“Spirituality is worthless if it’s not practical. Music is my work. I am a musician. Music speaks from spirit to spirit and in that sense you could call it a true spiritual language.”
John McLaughlin is an English guitarist, bandleader, and composer. A pioneer of jazz fusion, his music combines elements of jazz with rock, world music, Indian classical music, Western classical music, flamenco, and blues. After contributing to several key British groups of the early 1960s, McLaughlin made Extrapolation, his first album as a bandleader, in 1969. He then moved to the U.S., where he played with Tony Williams’s group Lifetime and then with Miles Davis on his electric jazz-fusion albums In a Silent Way, Bitches Brew, Jack Johnson, and On the Corner. His 1970s electric band, the Mahavishnu Orchestra, performed a technically virtuosic and complex style of music that fused electric jazz and rock with Indian influences.
5 January, 1953
Paul Wertico is an American drummer. He gained recognition as a member of the Pat Metheny Group from 1983 until 2001, leaving the group to spend more time with his family and to pursue other musical interests. Wertico formed Wertico Cain & Gray with multi-instrumentalists David Cain and Larry Gray. Their debut album Sound Portraits (2013) won Best Live Performance Album in the 13th Annual Independent Music Awards. He’s the inventor of TUBZ, made by Pro-Mark, which makes the “Paul Wertico Signature Drum Stick”.
Maurice “Mobetta” Brown
6 January, 1981
Maurice “Mobetta” Brown, originally from Harvey, Illinois is a Grammy Award-winning American jazz trumpeter, producer and composer. As a member of Tedeschi Trucks Band, he shared the 2011 Grammy for Best Blues Album (Revelator). In 2010 he toured internationally with his band Maurice Brown and the Full Effect appearing in such locales as New Delhi, India and Jakarta, Indonesia as well as the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.
Henry “Red” Allen
7 January, 1906 – 17 April, 1967
Henry “Red” Allen was an American jazz trumpeter and vocalist whose style has been claimed to be the first to fully incorporate the innovations of Louis Armstrong. Red Allen’s trumpet style has been described, by some critics, as the first to fully incorporate the innovations of Louis Armstrong and to develop an emphasis on phrasing. Allen’s recordings received much favourable attention. His versatility is shown by his winning of Down Beat awards in both the traditional jazz and the modern jazz categories.
8 January, 1960
Dave Weckl is an American jazz fusion drummer and leader of the Dave Weckl Band. He was inducted into the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame in 2000. Weckl started playing his first set of drums at age 8 in his spare room along to records. He later played in the living room, sometimes with his father on piano. Weckl studied at the University of Bridgeport. Starting out on the New York fusion scene in the early 1980s, Weckl soon began working with artists such as Paul Simon, George Benson, Michel Camilo, Robert Plant and Anthony Jackson.
9 January, 1926 – 1 April, 2020
Bucky Pizzarelli was an American jazz guitarist. He was the father of jazz guitarist John Pizzarelli and double bassist Martin Pizzarelli. He worked for NBC as a staffman for Dick Cavett (1971) and ABC with Bobby Rosengarden in (1952). The list of musicians he collaborated with includes Benny Goodman, Les Paul, Stéphane Grappelli, and Antônio Carlos Jobim. Pizzarelli cited as influences Django Reinhardt, Freddie Green, and George Van Eps.
10 January, 1952
William Parker is an American free jazz double bassist, multi-instrumentalist, poet and composer. While Parker has been active since the early 1970s; he has had a higher public profile since the early 1990s. He is a prominent and influential musician in the New York City experimental jazz scene, and has regularly appeared at music festivals around the world.
11 January, 1952
Lee Ritenour is an American jazz guitarist who has been active since the late 1960s. At the age of eight he started playing guitar and four years later decided on a career in music. When he was 16 he played on his first recording session with the Mamas & the Papas. He developed a love for jazz and was influenced by guitarist Wes Montgomery. At the age of 17 he worked with Lena Horne and Tony Bennett. He studied classical guitar at the University of Southern California.
12 January, 1909 – 7 December, 2006
Jay McShann was a jazz pianist and bandleader. He led bands in Kansas City, Missouri, that included Charlie Parker, Bernard Anderson, Ben Webster, and Walter Brown. He began working as a professional musician in 1931, performing around Tulsa, Oklahoma, and neighboring Arkansas.
13 January, 1926 – 23 April, 1999
Melba Liston was an American jazz trombonist, arranger, and composer. Other than those playing in all-female bands she was the first woman trombonist to play in big bands during the 1940s and 1960s, but as her career progressed she became better known as an arranger, particularly in partnership with pianist Randy Weston. Other major artists with whom she worked include Dizzy Gillespie, Billie Holiday, John Coltrane and Count Basie.
14 January, 1930 – 18 September, 2014
Kenny Wheeler was a Canadian composer and trumpet and flugelhorn player, based in the U.K. from the 1950s onwards. Most of his performances were rooted in jazz, but he was also active in free improvisation and occasionally contributed to rock music recordings. Wheeler wrote over one hundred compositions and was a skilled arranger for small groups and large ensembles.
15 January, 1909 – 16 October, 1973
“I’ll never play a drum solo you can’t dance to.”
Gene Krupa was an American jazz drummer, band leader and composer known for his energetic style and showmanship. His drum solo on “Sing, Sing, Sing” (1937) elevated the role of the drummer from an accompanying line to an important solo voice in the band. In collaboration with the Slingerland drum and Zildjian cymbal manufacturers, he was a major force in defining the standard band drummer’s kit. Krupa is considered “the founding father of the modern drumset” by Modern Drummer magazine.
16 January, 1959
Sade is a British singer, songwriter, and actress, known as the lead singer of her eponymous band. She has been credited as one of the most successful British female artists in history, and is often recognised as an influence on contemporary music. Her services to music were recognised in the UK with an award of the OBE in 2002, and a CBE in the 2017 Birthday Honours.
17 January, 1934 – 19 August, 2013
Cedar Walton was an American hard bop jazz pianist. He came to prominence as a member of drummer Art Blakey’s band before establishing a long career as a bandleader and composer. Many of Walton’s compositions have been adopted as jazz standards, including “Firm Roots”, “Bolivia”, “Holy Land”, “Mode for Joe” and “Cedar’s Blues”. “Bolivia” is perhaps his best-known composition, while one of his oldest is “Fantasy in D”, recorded under the title “Ugetsu” by Art Blakey in 1963, and as “Polar AC” by Freddie Hubbard, first in 1971.
18 January, 1955
Marilyn Mazur is a Danish percussionist, drummer, composer, vocalist, pianist, dancer, and bandleader. She was born in New York City and has lived in Denmark since age six. Since 1975, she has worked as a percussionist with various groups, among them Six Winds with Alex Riel. Mazur is primarily an autodidact, but she has a degree in percussion from the Royal Danish Academy of Music. She has worked with many musicians, including John Tchicai, Miles Davis, Wayne Shorter, Gil Evans, Dhafer Youssef, and Makiko Hirabayashi.
25 January, 1938 – 20 January, 2012
“My mother always told me, even if a song has been done a thousand times, you can still bring something of your own to it. I’d like to think I did that.”
Known professionally as Etta James, was an American singer who performed in various genres, including blues, R&B, soul, rock and roll, jazz and gospel. Starting her career in 1954, she gained fame with hits such as “The Wallflower”, “At Last”, “Tell Mama”, “Something’s Got a Hold on Me”. James’s powerful, deep, earthy voice bridged the gap between rhythm and blues. She won six Grammy Awards and 17 Blues Music Awards. She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993, the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999 and the Blues Hall of Fame in 2001. Rolling Stone magazine ranked James number 22 on its list of the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time; she was also ranked number 62 on its list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.