Here is an eclectic selection of jazz musicians born in March.
March 1, 1904 – December 15, 1944
“We didn’t come here to set any fashions in music. We merely came to bring a much-needed touch of home to some lads who have been here a couple of years.”
Glenn Miller was an American big-band trombonist, arranger, composer, and bandleader in the swing era. He was the best-selling recording artist from 1939 to 1942, leading one of the best-known big bands. Miller’s recordings include “In the Mood”, “Moonlight Serenade”, “Pennsylvania 6-5000”, and “Little Brown Jug”. In just four years Glenn Miller scored 16 number-one records and 69 top ten hits—more than Elvis Presley and the Beatles did in their careers. While he was travelling to entertain U.S. troops in France during World War II, Miller’s aircraft disappeared in bad weather over the English Channel.
Eddie “LockJaw” Davis
March 2, 1922 – November 3, 1986
“In my case I wanted the instrument for what it represented. By watching musicians I saw that they drank, they smoked, they got all the broads and they didn’t get up early in the morning. That attracted me. My next move was to see who got the most attention, so it was between the tenor saxophonist and the drummer. The drums looked like too much work, so I said I’ll get one of those tenor saxophones. That’s the truth.”
Eddie Lockjaw Davis was one musician who provided a link from the big band era through to the soul-jazz phenomenon of the late 1950s and early 1960s. Davis developed one of the most unmistakable tenor sax sounds in post-war jazz. With a full-bodied yet reedy tone that was equally at home in rhythm & blues settings as more modern contexts, his playing always had a direct, singing quality that was a huge influence on the next generation of sax men.
March 4, 1932 – November 9, 2008
“When I was young, I never bought records because my brother Joseph played saxophone and had a record player. I loved listening to his records: The Dorsey Brothers, Duke Ellington, all the big American jazz bands, and vocalists like Ella Fitzgerald, Ernestine Anderson, and Kitty White, a singer from the US who was a friend of Nina Simone. Nobody in America seems to know about her, but she was quite popular in South Africa.”
“Nicknamed Mama Africa, Miriam Makeba was a South African singer, songwriter, actress, United Nations goodwill ambassador, and civil rights activist. Associated with musical genres including Afropop, jazz, and world music, she was an advocate against apartheid and white-minority government in South Africa.”
Ralph Peter Alessi
March 6, 1963
“On the tune ‘Fun Room’, Alessi played different improvisational trumpet voicings. “That song came about when I decided to use a slide in the studio to see what it would sound like,” he recalled. “I have to say that I stole that idea of using extended technique from Nate Wooley.”
Trumpeter/Composer Ralph Alessi was born in San Francisco, CA, the son of classical trumpeter Joe Alessi and opera singer Maria Leone. After taking degrees in jazz trumpet and bass—he studied under the legendary Charlie Haden at CalArts—he set out for New York, where he swiftly became a ubiquitous presence on the downtown scene. He’s been a frequent collaborator with such notable musicians as Steve Coleman, Jason Moran, Don Byron, Ravi Coltrane, Fred Hersch, Uri Caine and Marc Copland.
March 6, 1925 – June 15, 1968
“Regardless of what you play, the biggest thing is keeping the feel going.“
Wes Montgomery was an American jazz guitarist. One of the most influential guitarists of the 20th century, Montgomery was known for an unusual technique of plucking the strings with the side of his thumb and his extensive use of octaves, which granted him a distinctive sound.
March 8, 1935
“I love my job. I wake up in the morning, and I am ready to come to work, … I guess when I wake up one day and I don’t want to go, I will know it’s time for a change.”
George Coleman is an American jazz saxophonist known for his work with Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock in the 1960s. In 2015, he was named an NEA Jazz Master.
March 9, 1979
“One day while driving me to 4th grade, Mom was playing a cassette by Grover Washington, Jr. I remember looking at the picture of his alto sax. It was beautiful and Grover made it look so hip. I felt it would be the perfect instrument for me.”
Jeanette Harris was born and raised in California’s post-Gold Rush town of Fresno in the centre of the San Joaquin Valley. Jeanette played saxophone and piano from grade school to high school where band teacher Steve Alcala also had her play in the Fresno City College jazz band even before she graduated high school. She won numerous awards and accolades, which led to a scholarship to attend Berklee in Boston where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music Performance.
March 9, 1930 – June 11, 2015
“It was when I found out I could make mistakes that I knew I was on to something.”
Ornette Coleman was an American jazz saxophonist, violinist, trumpeter, and composer. In the 1960s, he was one of the founders of free jazz, a term he invented for his album Free Jazz: A Collective Improvisation. His “Broadway Blues” and “Lonely Woman” have become standards and are cited as important early works in free jazz. His album Sound Grammar received the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for Music.
March 10, 1986
“His story is one of exceptional talent & artistic maturity, but it’s also one of triumph & optimism.”
Justin Kauflin an award-winning American blind jazz pianist, composer, producer, educator and Quincy Jones Artist. He performs worldwide, has recorded on 31 albums, composed the film score for the critically acclaimed documentary Keep On Keepin On, published 51 original compositions, produced 4 albums as leader and is on faculty for several jazz camps.
March 10, 1975
Carol Saboya is a Brazilian jazz singer. She is the daughter of composer Antônio Adolfo. She was raised surrounded by inspired chords, scribbled scores, and songs being born. When she was eight, she had her voice recorded for the first time. She spent three years studying singing in the United States, taking part in the Grammy-winning CD by Sérgio Mendes Brasileiro (1992), and in some of her father’s performances.
Sonny Boy Williamson II
March 11, 1897 – May 25, 1965
“They don’t make men like me anymore.”
Known later in his career as Sonny Boy Williamson, was an American blues harmonica player, singer and songwriter. He was an early and influential blues harp stylist who recorded successfully in the 1950s and 1960s.
March 12, 1959
“In the world of jazz piano, going solo can be daunting; it means having to single-handedly (okay, double-handedly, but still?) assume roles more typically covered by at least three players. But, given an open mind and a deviant disposition, playing alone has its benefits. Harmonic progressions and steady time, which keep a band playing in tandem, suddenly become negotiable. Detours from a song’s form or tempo? Tangents that might cause a band to implode? Can lead to unexpected and inviting places: destinations where imagined figments find a welcoming home.“
Bill Anschell is a jazz pianist and composer. He has recorded seven CDs as a leader and performed or recorded with many jazz greats.
March 13, 1926
“I’m still growing I take each day, one day-at-a-time. I’m always thinking and dreaming. As long as this heart keeps beating, there will be new things coming along.”
Roy Haynes is an American jazz drummer and group leader. Haynes is among the most recorded drummers in jazz, and in a career lasting over 70 years has played in a wide range of styles ranging from swing and bebop to jazz fusion and avant-garde jazz.
March 14, 1933
“I learned real early why God gave us two ears and one mouth, because you’re supposed to listen twice as much as you talk.”
Quincy Jones is an American record producer, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, composer, arranger, and film and television producer. His career spans over 60 years in the entertainment industry with a record 80 Grammy Award nominations, 28 Grammys, and a Grammy Legend Award in 1992.
March 14, 1934 – March 10, 2002
“All I was interested in was playing.”
Shirley Scott was an American jazz organist. Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Scott studied trumpet and piano in school. As a performer in the 1950s, she played the Hammond B-3 organ. Her recordings with Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis included the hit “In the Kitchen”. Influenced by gospel and blues, she played soul jazz in the 1960s with Stanley Turrentine.
March 16, 1930 – November 16, 2001
“Tommy is fondly remembered by loyal jazz fans, and his low-key but vital contributions to the art of jazz piano made it a richer place for all of us. Tommy Flanagan deserves a tribute of his own.”
Tommy Flanagan was an American jazz pianist and composer. Within months of moving to New York in 1956, he had recorded with Miles Davis and on Sonny Rollins’ landmark Saxophone Colossus. Recordings under various leaders, including the historically important Giant Steps of John Coltrane, and The Incredible Jazz Guitar of Wes Montgomery
March 17, 1948
“But you don’t always have to say kind words, you know, as long as you always say the truth.”
Jessica Williams is an American jazz pianist and composer. She studied classical music and ear training with Richard Aitken and George Bellows at the Peabody Conservatory of Music.
March 18, 1959
“I’ve always felt like great music can make you think and dance. The music on my latest album will hopefully make you do both.”
John Locke is an American jazz vibraphonist. A native of Palo Alto, California, Locke grew up in Rochester, New York. His father taught music. When Locke was eight years old he began learning drums and piano, then started on vibraphone five years later. After playing in rock bands, he became attracted to jazz in his teen years and attended the Eastman School of Music in Rochester. In 1981, he moved to New York City and worked as a sideman for Kenny Barron, Freddy Cole, Marvin Smith, and Eddie Henderson. His first solo album, Present Tense, was released by Steeplechase in 1990. He started the band Mutual Appreciation Society in 1999 with David Hazeltine, Essiet Essiet, and Billy Drummond and has recorded frequently with pianist Geoff Keezer. His album Four Walls of Freedom was based on the writings of Thomas Merton. In 2016 he was inducted into the Music Hall of Fame in Rochester. He has won the Mallet Instrumentalist of the Year Award from the Jazz Journalists’ Association several times.
Marian McPartland OBE
March 20, 1918 – August 20, 2013
“I started to play Jazz music in my early teens. A boyfriend brought records over, so I listened to everything”
March 25, 1942 – Aug 16, 2018
“We all require and want respect, man or woman, black or white.
It’s our basic human right.”
One of the giants of soul music, and indeed of American pop as a whole. She epitomised soul, often regarded as a symbol of Black America, although she never thought of herself as confined to one genre. Her eclectic choice of material maintained creative momentum, from gospel to Simon & Garfunkel.
March 26, 1925 – December 9, 2010
“I’ve done what I’ve done but it’s not enough. I’m a student of jazz and there’s just so much more to learn.”
For over six decades, saxophone master James Moody has serenaded lovers with his signature song Moody’s Mood for Love an improvisation on the chord progressions of I’m in the Mood for Love.
Born in Savannah, Georgia on March 26, 1925, and raised in Newark, New Jersey, James Moody took up the alto sax, a gift from his uncle, at the age of 16. Within a few years, he fell under the spell of the deeper more full-bodied tenor saxophone after hearing Buddy Tate and Don Byas perform with the Count Basie Band at the Adams Theatre in Newark, New Jersey.
March 27, 1924 to April 3, 1990
“There are notes between notes, you know.”
In the 1940s, when most women singers adorned big bands as stage attractions and not legitimate jazz musicians, Sarah Vaughan elevated the vocalist’s role as equal with the jazz instrumentalist. She was known for her dynamic vocal range, sophisticated harmonies, and horn-like phrasing over a half-decade career.
March 29, 1904
She was known as ‘The Girl from Ipanema’ and often referred to as ‘The Queen of Bossa-Nova’ with roots firmly planted in Brazilian music. Her music is a combination of the sensual rhythms of Brazil and American pop and jazz.