Johnny Adams, who began as a gospel singer, made the jump to R& B in 1959. Known as the "Tan Canary " for his incredibly beautiful lilting falsetto. Mr.Adams hit the R&B charts in the late 60's with country style "Release Me" and "Reconsider Me". His career re-ignited and soared again in the 80's after he signed with Rounder Records, a label that allowed him to explore other styles. He stretched out on blues and jazz on such strong discs as "Good Morning Heartache" and "One Foot in the Blues", the latter featuring organ giant Dr. Lonnie Smith. In this end, Adams returned to his soul roots for one last disc, "Man of My Word". To close the disc, Adams and special guest Aaron Neville sing a striking acappella version of the gospel hymn "Never Alone".
Johnny Adams was noted as "The Best Singer In the Whole Wide World" by Aaron Neville . On Sept. 14, 1998, just one month after his release of "Man of MY Word" Johnny Adams passed away, He was 66.
Betty Carter distinguished herself on several fronts throughout her career. As a vocalist she developed a distinctive and innovative style, viewing both music and lyrics as malleable, capable of being shaped and reshaped into new and surprising designs.
As a bandleader, she nurtured the careers of countless young musicians, who benefited from her personal tutelage and encouragement. In the late 40's, as a vocalist with Lionel Hampton's Big Band, she gained recognition as a top -rung vocalist ... and acquired the nickname "Betty Bebop". After leaving the Hampton Band in 1951. Ms. Carter gained only moderate success over the next thirty years. It was signing with Verve Records in 1988, that she began to attract the widespread media attention due her. Her debut Verve album, "Look What I Got" won a Grammy award in 1997. She was also awarded the National Medal of Arts.
Betty Carter, singer, composer, arranger and bandleader died of Pancreatic cancer in Brooklyn, NY on Sept. 26, 1998. She was 69.
Denis Charles listened to Charlie Parker and Lady Day live.....not just on a record. Then he played with Sonny Rollins, Thelonious Monk, Cecil Taylor, Don Cherry, to name a few, A drummer who played like tree branches blowing in the wind, slipped in through the back windows of our hearts. His sense of timing and pitch were excellent, his sound always warm and happy, radiated a joy that reflected the best aspects of the human spirit.
His full color spectrum of sound, including Native American, Caribbean and African Rhythms, contributed much to the language of the drum. Denis Alphonso Charles passed away on March 26, 1998, while peacefully at sleep.
Philadelphia born Saxophonist, George Howard gathered a huge following with his 14 CDs over the last 15 years. With its R&B influenced smooth jazz style, his music was popular on contemporary jazz stations, and several of his albums " Made the Charts". Howard began playing classical clarinet when he was 6 years old. He stuck to classical music until he was 15, learning to also play the Oboe and Bassoon. At 19, he mastered the difficult soprano saxophone, which became the instrument of choice. Being foremost a soprano player is like speaking fluent Sanskirt.
While many other Sax players, John Coltrane, Sonny Fortune and Wayne Shorter, have tooled around on the Soprano Sax; Howard considered it his primary mode of expression. His career began to turn around in 1979, when he toured with the band Grover Washington, Jr. who popularized the Saxophone style adopted by Howard and others. In 1983, Howard relocated to Marina Del Ray, Calif. where he enjoyed great success . Two of his best received CDs included "Dancing in The Sun" (1985) and (1987) "A Nice Place To Be", the third consecutive album of his to top Billboard's jazz charts. He also received Two Grammy nominations (1988) Reflections & (1992) "Do I Ever Cross Your Mind". George Howard died March 22, 1998 in Atlanta. He was 41.
These Four Great Ambassadors of jazz will be missed. They have given the world an intimate glimpse of themselves through their music. We are Grateful.