Here is an eclectic selection of jazz musicians, born in October.
Prepared by Louise Levy and Phillip Cant
1 October, 1946
“I think that what is important is that the music be honest and direct and that it is relevant to today. I think music needs to be of its time and speak to that time.”
Dave Holland is an English jazz double bassist, composer and bandleader who has been performing and recording for five decades. His work ranges from pieces for solo performance to big band. Holland runs his own independent record label, Dare2, which he launched in 2005.
2 October, 1960
Django Bates is a British composer, multi-instrumentalist, bandleader and educator. He plays the piano, keyboards and the tenor horn and writes large-scale compositions on commission. He has been described as “One of the most talented musicians Britain has produced”, and his work covers the entire spectrum of jazz, from early jazz through bebop and free jazz to jazz-rock fusion.
3 October, 1922 – 13 August, 2012
Von Freeman was an American hard bop jazz tenor saxophonist. Freeman’s father taught him to play piano and bought him his first saxophone when he was seven. Freeman enlisted into the Navy during World War II. After his return to Chicago, where he remained for the duration of his career, Freeman played with his brothers George on guitar and Eldridge “Bruz” Freeman on drums at the Pershing Hotel Ballroom. Various leading jazzmen such as Charlie Parker, Roy Eldridge and Dizzy Gillespie played there with the Freemans as the backing band. In the early 1950s.
4 October, 1940
Steve Swallow noted for his collaborations with Jimmy Giuffre, Gary Burton, and Carla Bley. He was one of the first jazz double bassists to switch entirely to electric bass guitar. Swallow studied piano and trumpet, as a child, before turning to the double bass at age 14. While attending a prep school, he began trying his hand in jazz improvisation. In 1960, he left Yale, where he was studying composition, and settled in New York City, playing at the time in Jimmy Giuffre’s trio along with Paul Bley. After joining Art Farmer’s quartet in 1963, Swallow began to write. It is in the 1960s that his long-term association with Gary Burton’s various bands began.
5 October, 1970
“Jazz today is at a very fascinating crossroads between staying in touch with its pure history and being a part of different scenes—contemporary music, pop music and world music scenes. This complexity can be confusing, but it is precisely in this complexity that the music develops, with individuals developing their own synthesis and cultivating unique voices.”
Tord Gustavsen is a Norwegian jazz pianist and composer. He tours extensively worldwide, and he has been a bandleader for a trio, ensemble and quartet at various times, all bearing his name. He attended the Trondheim Musikkonsevatorium for a three years study of jazz (1993–96). Thereafter he became a graduate (Cand.philol.) of musicology at the University of Oslo, where he was a guest teacher of jazz piano and theory (1998–2002). In addition, he has recorded as a session musician, and guested on friends’ albums. Collaborative projects have included Norwegian jazz vocalist and songwriter Silje Nergaard.
6 October, 1966
Mark Whitfield graduated from Boston’s prestigious Berklee College of Music, the world’s foremost institution for the study of Jazz and modern American music in the spring of 1987. Shortly thereafter, he returned to his native New York to embark on a career as a Jazz Guitarist that afforded him the opportunity to collaborate with legendary artists including Dizzy Gillespie, Art Blakey, Quincy Jones, Ray Charles, Herbie Hancock. In 1990, the New York Times dubbed Whitfield “The Best Young Guitarist in the Business”. Later that year, Warner Bros. released his debut album “The Marksman”. The success of his debut release led to a recording career that has produced a total of 14 solo recordings and a myriad of collaborative efforts with some of the most important artists in recent years; Sting, Steven Tyler, Mary J. Blige, John Mayer, Chaka Khan, Jill Scott, Diana Krall, Christian McBride.
7 October, 1940
Raised in Newark, New Jersey, Young attended Newark Arts High School, where he began performing with a vocal group and a jazz band andwas an American jazz organist and occasional pianist. Young’s early work was strongly influenced by the soul-jazz of Jimmy Smith, but Young later pioneered a more experimental, modal approach to the Hammond B-3.
8 October, 1930 – 10 September, 1986
Pepper Adams was an American jazz baritone saxophonist and composer. He composed 42 pieces, was the leader on eighteen albums spanning 28 years, and participated in 600 sessions as a sideman. He worked with an array of musicians, and had especially fruitful collaborations with trumpeter Donald Byrd and as a member of the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Big Band.
9 October, 1960
“Rather than simply say, I play jazz, I say I play music.”
Kenny Garrett is an American post-bop jazz saxophonist and flautist who gained recognition in his youth as a member of the Duke Ellington Orchestra and of Miles Davis’s band. Since then, he has pursued a solo career. In 1984, he recorded his first album as a bandleader, Introducing Kenny Garrett, on the CrissCross label.
10 October, 1917 – 17 February, 1982
“You’ve got to dig it to dig it, you dig?”
Thelonious Monk was an American jazz pianist and composer. He had a unique improvisational style and made numerous contributions to the standard jazz repertoire, including “‘Round Midnight”, “Blue Monk”, “Straight, No Chaser”, “Ruby, My Dear”, “In Walked Bud”, and “Well, You Needn’t”. Monk is the second-most-recorded jazz composer after Duke Ellington. Monk’s compositions and improvisations feature dissonances and angular melodic twists and are consistent with his unorthodox approach to the piano, which combined a highly percussive attack with abrupt, dramatic use of switched key releases, silences, and hesitations.
11 October, 1919 – 16 October, 1990
“Jazz washes away the dust of every day life.”
Art Blakey was an American jazz drummer and bandleader. He was briefly known as Abdullah Ibn Buhaina after he converted to Islam for a short time in the late 1940s. Blakey made a name for himself in the 1940s in the big bands of Fletcher Henderson and Billy Eckstine. He then worked with bebop musicians Thelonious Monk, Charlie Parker, and Dizzy Gillespie. In the mid-1950s, Horace Silver and Blakey formed the Jazz Messengers, a group that the drummer was associated with for the next 35 years.
12 October, 1950
Nancy Kelly is a jazz singer known for blues, swing, and bebop music. Kelly was born October 12, 1950 in Rochester, New York and began studying music at the age of four. She studied voice at the Eastman School of Music and studied piano, clarinet, drama and dance with private instructors. She gravitated to jazz because of the freedom to improvise and then formed her own group.
13 October, 1927 – 15 April, 2020
Lee Konitz was an American composer and alto saxophonist. He performed successfully in a wide range of jazz styles, including bebop, cool jazz, and avant-garde jazz. Konitz’s association with the cool jazz movement of the 1940s and 1950s includes participation in Miles Davis’s Birth of the Cool sessions and his work with pianist Lennie Tristano. He was one of relatively few alto saxophonists of this era to retain a distinctive style, when Charlie Parker exerted a massive influence.
14 October, 1931
Dusko Goykovich is a Serbian jazz trumpeter, composer, and arranger. He studied at the Belgrade Music Academy from 1948 to 1953. He played trumpet in dixieland bands and joined the big band of Radio Belgrade when he was eighteen. He moved to West Germany and recorded his first album as a member of the Frankfurt All Stars. He spent the next four years as a member of Kurt Edelhagen’s orchestra. In these years he played with Chet Baker, Stan Getz, and Oscar Pettiford. In 1958 he performed at Newport Jazz Festival and drew much attention on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.
15 October, 1966
Born in New York City, Bill Charlap comes from a musical background. His father was composer Moose Charlap. His mother, Sandy Stewart, is a singer who was a regular on Perry Como’s Kraft Music Hall television series and had a hit recording in 1962 with “My Coloring Book”. Bill Charlap is a distant cousin to jazz pianist Dick Hyman. Bill Charlap began playing piano at age three. He studied classical music, but his career has been in jazz.
16 October, 1969 – 3 November, 2018
Roy Hargrove was an American jazz trumpeter. He won worldwide notice after winning two Grammy Awards for differing types of music in 1997 and in 2002. Hargrove primarily played in the hard bop style for the majority of his albums, especially performing jazz standards on his 1990s albums. Hargrove was the bandleader of the progressive group the RH Factor, which combined elements of jazz, funk, hip-hop, soul, and gospel music.
Sathima Bea Benjamin
17 October, 1936 – 20 August, 2013
By the 1950s Sathima Bea Benjamin was singing at various nightclubs, community dances and social events, performing with notable Cape Town pianists Tony Schilder and Henry February, among others. She built her repertoire watching British and American movies and transcribing lyrics from songs heard on the radio, where she discovered Nat King Cole, Billie Holiday, Doris Day, Ella Fitzgerald. These musicians would come to influence her singing style, notably in terms of light phrasing and clear diction.
18 October, 1919 – 23 November, 2006
“Just get up there and let it rip!”
Anita O’Day was an American jazz singer and self-proclaimed “song stylist” widely admired for her sense of rhythm and dynamics, and her early big band appearances that shattered the traditional image of the “girl singer”. Refusing to pander to any female stereotype, O’Day presented herself as a “hip” jazz musician, wearing a band jacket and skirt as opposed to an evening gown. She changed her surname from Colton to O’Day, pig Latin for “dough”, slang for money.