The Three

Shelly Manne (June 11, 1920 –September 26, 1984), was a drummer frequently associated with West Coast Jazz.
He developed his art in the clubs of 52nd Street in New York in the late ‘30s and ’40s, and has performed with jazz stars like Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Benny Carter, Lionel Hampton, Stan Getz and Junior Mance. Manne rose to stardom when he became part of the working bands of Woody Herman and, especially, Stan Kenton.

In the early 1950s, Manne left New York and settled permanently on a ranch in an outlying part of Los Angeles. Tending to link Manne with West Coast jazz was the series of albums he recorded with pianist André Previn, based on music from popular Broadway shows, movies, and television programs. The music was improvised upon in the manner of jazz, but always in a light, immediately appealing style aimed at popular taste.

Whether playing Dixieland, bebop, or avant-garde jazz, in big bands or in small groups, Manne never forgot to make the music swing. At the same time, always cited by his fellow musicians for listening appreciatively to those around him, he was ultra-sensitive to the needs and the nuances of the music played by the others in the band. His constant goal was to make them – and the music as a whole – sound better, rather than calling attention to himself with overbearing solos.

Raymond Matthews (Ray) Brown (October 13, 1926 -July 2, 2002) was a bassist born in Pittsburgh, PA. At the age of 8 he began to play piano. When he entered High School he decided to become a bassist, because there was a vacancy in the school jazz orchestra. Besides, he thought practicing bass must be much easier than piano.

His first bands where the Jimmy Hinsley Sextet and the band around Snookum Russel. Giving debuts in several clubs his name soon was known in the New York scene.

After playing from 1946 to 1951 with Dizzy Gillespie, Jazz at the Philharmonic, Milt Jackson, and Ella Fitzgerald (who was then his wife), Brown played with the Oscar Peterson Trio for 15 years. After leaving he became a manager and promoter as well as a performer. Among the artists he managed were the Modern Jazz Quartet and Quincy Jones.

In the late Sixties he went to L.A. where he wrote several themes and melodies, which became standards in films and TV shows. The “Gravy Waltz” was rewarded with his first Grammy.

In his later years he recorded and toured extensively with pianist Gene Harris. In 1990 he discovered Diana Krall in a restaurant in Nanaimo. He continued performing until his death; he died while taking a nap before a show in Indianapolis.Joe Sample was one of the many jazzmen who started out playing hard bop but went electric during the fusion era. In the late '50s, he was a founding member of the Jazz Crusaders along with trombonist Wayne Henderson, tenor saxman Wilton Felder, and drummer Stix Hooper. The Crusaders' debt to Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers wasn't hard to miss -- except that the L.A.-based unit had no trumpeter, and became known for its unique tenor/trombone front line.

Sample, a hard-swinging player who could handle chordal and modal/scalar improvisation equally well, stuck to the acoustic piano during the Crusaders' early years -- but would place greater emphasis on electric keyboards when the band turned to jazz-funk in the early '70s and dropped "Jazz" from its name.

Though he'd recorded as a trio pianist on 1969's obscure Fancy Dance, 1978's Rainbow Seeker was often described as his first album as a leader. In contrast to the gritty music the Crusaders became known for, Sample's own albums on MCA and, later, Warner Bros. and PRA have generally favored a very lyrical and introspective jazz-pop approach.