News & Updates — Los Angeles

Camille Howard / March 29, 1914 - March 10, 1993

Camille Howard / March 29, 1914 - March 10, 1993

Blues-boogie piano star Camille Howard was one of the better known female talents of the early R&B and jump-blues years. One of the finest blues piano players of the era, she rocked the Los Angeles scene with her own groups, as well as with her husband Roy Milton's band as pianist and occasional singer (and he drummed on many of her records). Out of Galveston TX, she was performing in the local Texas nightclubs by the mid-'30s. She moved to California in the early '40s and joined Milton's band, making her recorded debut with them in '45 for Lionel Hampton's...

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Gábor Szabó / March 8, 1936 - Feb 26, 1982

Gábor Szabó / March 8, 1936 - Feb 26, 1982

Here's a birthday shout-out to the groovy guitarist Gábor Szabó, who infused jazz with the folk music of his native Hungary, Indian & Middle Eastern musics, gypsy styles and pop. He used feedback as part of his music, and he worked well with vocalists. He cut a bunch of excellent '60s albums on Impulse!, as well as the Skye label (which he ran with Cal Tjader and Gary McFarland). He worked with Chico Hamilton, Charles Lloyd, Lena Horne, Bobby Womack, Coke Escovedo, Paul Desmond, Gary McFarland, Chick Corea and others. Santana recorded his "Gypsy Queen" (the instrumental part of "Black...

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Arthur Lee / March 7, 1945 - Aug 3, 2006

Arthur Lee / March 7, 1945 - Aug 3, 2006

The Memphis-born Arthur Lee heard and played jazz, R&B and surf music before forming a psychedelic folk-rock band in 1965 called Love, and they became one of the most popular bands on the L.A. club scene and remain a cult favorite to this day. Love's music was not just folk-rock, as the music sounded flamenco, garage, pop, blues, hard rock and funk elements as well, and Lee himself collaborated with several singers and musicians including Jimi Hendrix, Billy Preston and Ornette Coleman and is considered a proto-punk figure. He was born as Arthur Taylor, his early years were spent in...

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Dexter Gordon / Feb 27, 1923 - April 25, 1990

Dexter Gordon / Feb 27, 1923 - April 25, 1990

(Photo by Herman Leonard, 1948) Tenor genius, Oscar-nominated actor and cigarette fetishist Dexter Gordon had an incredible sound that inspired Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane and Jack Kerouac. Out of Los Angeles, he started on the clarinet as a teen before moving to alto. He finally switched to tenor around 1940. He was greatly influenced by Lester Young, whom he encountered in '43 in a jam session with Ben Webster. He received training from Illinois Jacquet as he toured early with the Lionel Hampton band. They made some recordings in Chicago in '41, Gordon's first. He worked in the bands of...

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Frank Butler / Feb 18, 1928 - July 24, 1984

Frank Butler / Feb 18, 1928 - July 24, 1984

When a pre-fame Fela Kuti took his Koola Lobitos band to the USA in 1969, they ended up stranded in Los Angeles, working nightclubs into 1970. There they took in the Black Power movement, and the politicized perspective being away from home helped radicalize Fela, who was just another black nobody in L.A. dealing with the struggle but trying to keep moving forward. But his drummer and future musical director, Tony Allen (the man who would co-create the Afrobeat sound), took even more back to Nigeria with him. He learned how to play with looser wrists, more touching than hitting...

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