Here is an eclectic selection of jazz musicians born in June. Prepared by Louise Levy
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.
3 June 1975
Mark Harris, Sydney double bass player and composer is truly versatile. After graduating from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music with a Bachelor of Music (Jazz-Honous), Mark joined the formative Mark Isaacs Trio performing regularly at major Jazz festivals and Sydney Jazz club. Mark’s arrangement of Massenet’s Va! Laisse Couler mes Larmeswas recorded by the Mark Isaacs trio for the ABC TV series The Pulse.
Mark’s debut solo album Entrée with his accomplished band Mark4 was released to critical acclaim. Co-creator and member of children’s band Lah-Lah. Tina Harris, his wife, has the title role of ‘Lah-Lah’ while Harris is ‘Buzz the Band Leader’ who plays ‘Lola the dancing double bass’. He is a member of The Tango Saloon.
June 4, 1945
Anthony Braxton is an American experimental composer, improviser and multi-instrumentalist who is best known for playing saxophone, particularly the alto. Braxton grew up on the South Side of Chicago, Illinois, and was a key early member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians.He received great acclaim for his 1969 double-LP record For Alto, the first full-length album of solo saxophone music.
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.
7 June 1960
“Life is a pretty awesome ride.”
As the eldest of the family, Morrison spent much of his musical life playing and recording with his younger brother, James. At age 8, he began playing cornet in the school brass band. By the age of 10, he had built his first drum set from pots and pans.
Morrison leads the big band Swing City, who together with his brother James Morrison played the prerecorded fanfare at the opening of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games and more than twelve years later remains a top act. In addition to two successful albums, Morrison and his wife, singer Jacki Cooper and have toured China, where they performed and recorded with the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra. Morrison produced the albums Elly Holyt and Mothership. Both won Australian Jazz Bell Awards
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
“He may have hair upon his chest but, sister, so has Lassie.”
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).
20 Jun –1959
David Henry Wray, who performs as Frank Bennett, is an Australian jazz singer, musician and songwriter. His vocal style is influenced by those two singers and the music of the 1940s and 1950s. He has provided big band cover versions of rock and pop singles, “Creep”, “Better Man”, and “Under the Bridge”. His version of “Creep” was listed in the Triple J Hottest 100, 1996. He has received nominations at the ARIA Music Awards.
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.
22 June1937 – 17 Sep, 2013
“You’ve got to keep watching for new angles, even if you know a piece inside out. I’m always looking for new material.”
Bernie McGann was an Australian jazz alto saxophone player. He began his career in the late 1950s and remained active as a performer, composer and recording artist until near the end of his life.[ McGann won four ARIA Music Awards between 1993 and 2001. McGann led the Bernie McGann Trio and Bernie McGann Quartet through his career. The most well-known lineup of the Trio was McGann (alto sax), John Pochee (drums), Lloyd Swanton (bass), with the addition of Warwick Alder (trumpet) in the quartet.
23 June 1985
Based in New York City since January 2010, Angela Davis was born in Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia. She started playing the saxophone at age nine, performed in her high school’s jazz band and toured Australia with The Jazz Ed Big Band which performed and recorded with saxophonist Don Burrows, one of Australia’s leading jazz artists. While still in high school Davis also earned an Associate of Music diploma in classical saxophone from the Australian Music Examinations Board. Davis received a Bachelor of Music with first class honors in 2006 from the Queensland Conservatorium of Music and while there toured Australia and recorded with The Con Artists. In May of 2013 Davis released her debut album, The Art Of the Melody, to rave reviews through the USA and Australia in publications such as the New York City Jazz Record and The Weekend Australian. The CD spent 4 weeks on the JazzWeek Top-50 Jazz Album Chart reaching a peak position of #37 and a total of 7 weeks in the JazzWeek Top-100. The CD spent four weeks on the CMJ charts, was the #2 jazz add during its add week and reached a peak position of #9.
Marvin “Smitty” Smith
June 24, 1961
“The best Jazz soloists have always sounded like drummers.”
Marvin “Smitty” Smith is an American jazz drummer and composer. He was born in Waukegan, Illinois, where his father, Marvin Sr., was a drummer. “Smitty” was exposed to music at a young age, receiving formal musical training at the age of three. After graduating from Waukegan East High School, Smith attended Berklee] graduating in 1981. Smith has recorded 200 albums with various artists, as well as two solo albums. He also has toured with Sting, Dave Holland, and Sonny Rollins.He is a former member of The New York Jazz Quartet and was the drummer for the Tonight Show with Jay Leno band, led by Kevin Eubanks, from January 30, 1995 to the show’s end on May 29, 2009. Smith was also the drummer for the Jay Leno Show band in 2009-2010.
June 25, 1922 – June 11, 2013
“The truth is, the minute you record something, you look back and realize you could have done it better,” he said. “Regardless of the many gracious compliments I’ve received, mostly from guitar players, I’m truthful and honest with myself, and sometimes feel like they could have put me and my guitar in the men’s room.”
Johnny Smith was an American cool jazz and mainstream jazz guitarist. He wrote “Walk, Don’t Run”” in 1954. In 1984, Smith was inducted into the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame….An extremely diverse musician, Johnny Smith was equally at home playing in the famous Birdland jazz club or sight-reading scores in the orchestral pit of the New York Philharmonic. From Schoenberg to Gershwin to originals, Smith was one of the most versatile guitarists of the 1950s.
26 June, 1956
“I loved Chick, but I wouldn’t say I am exactly a contemporary. I am sixteen years younger. When I went to school there was the four horseman, Chick, Herbie Hancock, McCoy Tyner, and Keith Jarrett. They were the vanguard of modern jazz piano at that time. The quality and quantity of his music is unequaled.”
Bill Cunliffe is an American jazz pianist and composer. He attended Wesleyan University for several years. During this time, a friend introduced him to a record by Oscar Peterson, and after listening to this record, Band, Cunliffe became a “jazz player overnight.”…He then toured as pianist and arranger with the Buddy Rich Big Band and worked with major recording artists including Frank Sinatra. He returned to Southern Ohio for a few years, where he was the “house pianist” at the Greenwich Tavern in Cincinnati, playing with Woody Shaw, Joe Henderson, and Freddie Hubbard. In 1989 he moved to Los Angeles, and shortly after that won the 1989 Thelonious Monk Jazz Piano Competition.
June 27, 1923 – March 19, 1967
Elmo Hope was an American jazz pianist, composer, and arranger, chiefly in the bebop and hard bop genres. He grew up playing and listening to jazz and classical music with Bud Powell, and both were close friends of another influential pianist, Thelonious Monk…. Hope survived being shot by police as a youth to become a New York-based musician who recorded with several emerging stars in the early to mid-1950s, including trumpeter Clifford Brown, and saxophonists John Coltoane, Lou Donald and Sonny Rollins. DownBeat jazz critic Larry Kart wrote,”Elmo Hope’s conceptions were, for once, given their just expression. Music of such honesty and depth will always be rare, and its oblique, vulnerable beauty gives it a special place in the history of jazz.” .
28 June, 1963
“Look at the state of art and music in the world. It’s in a very sorry state. I see people changed by listening to the level of excellence in this band,”
Tierney Sutton is an American jazz singer. For over 20 years, Sutton has led the Tierney Sutton Band with pianist Christian Jacob, bassists Trey Henry and Kevin Axt, and drummer Ray Brinker. The band is an incorporated unit and makes all musical and business decisions together. They tour throughout the world and have headlined at Carnegie Hall, The Hollywood Bowl, and Jazz at Lincoln.
29 June, 1942
“It is not a matter of doing it just to be new or modern. It is more something that reflects the modernizing process going on around you. Being modern and being modernized go together. And that is respecting tradition for me. It means you appreciate the music and its values because you are engaging with it.”
Gilberto Gilis a Brazilian singer, guitarist, and songwriter, known for both his musical innovation and political activism.… Gil’s musical style incorporates an eclectic range of influences, including rock ,Brazilian genres including samba, African music, and reggae….Gil started to play music as a child and was a teenager when he joined his first band. He began his career as a bossa nova musician and grew to write songs that reflected a focus on political awareness and social activism. He was a key figure in the 1960s, alongside artists such as longtime collaborator Caetano Veloso.
30 June, 1951
“Bass players are always the intellectual kind, but nobody knows it.”
“After all my years of doing instrumental music I still like just a simple instrumental song with a nice catchy melody and an opportunity to play a solo over a harmonic structure.”
Stanley Clarke is an American bassist, film composer and founding member of Return to Forever, one of the first jazz fusion bands. Clarke gave the bass guitar a prominence it lacked in jazz-related music. He is the first jazz-fusion bassist to headline tours, sell out shows worldwide and have recordings reach gold status.Clarke is a 5-time Grammy winner, with 15 nominations, 3 as a solo artist, 1 with the Stanley Clarke Band, and 1 with Return to Forever.