Isaac Stern (21 July 1920 – 22 September 2001) was an American violinist. The son of Solomon and Clara Stern, Isaac Stern was born in Kremenets, Poland (now Ukraine), into a Jewish family. He was 14 months old when his family moved to San Francisco in 1921. He received his first music lessons from his mother. In 1928, he enrolled at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where he studied until 1931 before going on to study privately with Louis Persinger. He returned to the San Francisco Conservatory to study for five years with Naoum Blinder, to whom he said he owed the most. At his public début on 18 February 1936, aged 15, he played Saint-Saëns’ Violin Concerto No. 3 in B minor with the San Francisco Symphony under the direction of Pierre Monteux. Reflecting on his background, Stern once memorably quipped that cultural exchanges between the U.S. and Soviet Russia were simple affairs:
- “They send us their Jews from Odessa, and we send them our Jews from Odessa.”
Stern toured the Soviet Union in 1951, the first American violinist to do so. In 1967, Stern stated his refusal to return to the USSR until the Soviet regime allowed artists to enter and leave the country freely. His only visit to Germany was in 1999, for a series of master classes, but he never performed publicly in Germany.
The Helix Nebula, also known as The Helix, NGC 7293, is a large planetary nebula (PN) located in the constellation Aquarius. Discovered by Karl Ludwig Harding, probably before 1824, this object is one of the closest to the Earth of all the bright planetary nebulae. The distance, having now been measured by GAIA, is 655±13 light-years. It is similar in appearance to the Cat’s Eye Nebula and the Ring Nebula, whose size, age, and physical characteristics are similar to the Dumbbell Nebula, varying only in its relative proximity and the appearance from the equatorial viewing angle. The Helix Nebula has sometimes been referred to as the “Eye of God” in pop culture, as well as the “Eye of Sauron.
The Helix Nebula is an example of a planetary nebula, formed by an intermediate to low-mass star, which sheds its outer layers near the end of its evolution. Gases from the star in the surrounding space appear, from our vantage point, as if we are looking down a helix structure. The remnant central stellar core, known as a planetary nebula nucleus or PNN, is destined to become a white dwarf star. The observed glow of the central star is so energetic that it causes the previously expelled gases to brightly fluoresce. The Helix Nebula in the constellation of Aquarius lies about 700 light-years away, spanning about 0.8 parsecs (2.5 light-years).
Carlos Santana (born July 20, 1947) is a Mexican and American guitarist who rose to fame in the late 1960s and early 1970s with his band, Santana, which pioneered a fusion of rock and roll and Latin American jazz. Its sound featured his melodic, blues-based lines set against Latin and African rhythms played on percussion instruments such as timbales and congas not generally heard in rock. Santana continued to work in these forms over the following decades. He experienced a resurgence of popularity and critical acclaim in the late 1990s. In 2015, Rolling Stone magazine listed Santana at number 20 on their list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists. He has won 10 Grammy Awards and three Latin Grammy Awards. Santana was born in Autlán de Navarro, Jalisco, Mexico. He learned to play the violin at age five and the guitar at age eight under the tutelage of his father, a mariachimusician. His younger brother, Jorge Santana, would also become a professional guitarist. Young Carlos was heavily influenced by Ritchie Valens at a time when there were very few Mexicans in American rock and pop music. The family moved from Autlán de Navarro to Tijuana, the city on Mexico’s border with California, and then San Francisco. Santana moved to San Francisco and, in October 1966, started the Santana Blues Band. By 1968, the band had begun to incorporate different types of influences into their electric blues. “If I would go to some cat’s room,” remembered the guitarist of the band, “he’d be listening to Sly [Stone] and Jimi Hendrix; another guy to the Stones and the Beatles. Another guy’d be listening to Tito Puente and Mongo Santamaría. Another guy’d be listening to Miles [Davis] and [John] Coltrane… . To me it was like being at a university.” Around the age of eight, Santana “fell under the influence” of blues performers like B.B. King, Javier Bátiz, Mike Bloomfield, and John Lee Hooker. Gábor Szabó‘s mid-1960s jazz/gypsy guitar work also strongly influenced Santana’s playing. Indeed, Szabó’s composition “Gypsy Queen” was used as the second part of Santana’s 1970 treatment of Peter Green’s composition “Black Magic Woman“, almost down to identical guitar licks. Santana’s 2012 instrumental album Shape Shifter includes a song called “Mr. Szabo”, played in tribute in the style of Gábor Szabó. Santana also credits Jimi Hendrix, Mike Bloomfield, Hank Marvin and Peter Green as important influences; he considered Bloomfield a direct mentor, writing of a key meeting with Bloomfield in San Francisco in the foreword he wrote to a biography of Bloomfield, Michael Bloomfield: If You Love These Blues – An Oral History in 2000. Between the age of 10–12 he was sexually molested by an American man who brought him across the border. Santana lived in the Mission District, graduated from James Lick Middle School, and in 1965 from Mission High School. He was accepted at California State University Northridge and Humboldt State University, but chose not to attend college. “The ’60s were a leap in human consciousness. Mahatma Gandhi, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Che Guevara, Mother Teresa, they led a revolution of conscience. The Beatles, the Doors, Jimi Hendrixcreated revolution and evolution themes. The music was like Dalí, with many colors and revolutionary ways. The youth of today must go there to find themselves.” Santana was influenced by popular artists of the 1950s such as B.B. King, T-Bone Walker, Javier Batiz, and John Lee Hooker. Soon after he began playing guitar, he joined local bands along the “Tijuana Strip” where he was able to begin developing his own sound. He was also introduced to a variety of new musical influences, including jazz and folk music, and witnessed the growing hippie movement centered in San Francisco in the 1960s. After several years spent working as a dishwasher in a diner and busking for spare change, Santana decided to become a full-time musician. In 1966 he was chosen along with other musicians to form an ad hoc band to substitute for that of an intoxicated Paul Butterfield set to play a Sunday matinee at Bill Graham‘s Fillmore West. Graham selected the substitutes from musicians he knew primarily through his connections with the Butterfield Blues Band, Grateful Dead, and Jefferson Airplane. Santana’s guitar playing caught the attention of both the audience and Graham. During the same year he and fellow street musicians David Brown (bass guitar), Marcus Malone (percussion) and Gregg Rolie (lead vocals, Hammond Organ B3), formed the Santana Blues Band. Playing a highly original blend of Latin-infused rock, jazz, blues, salsa, and African rhythms, the band gained an immediate following on the San Francisco club circuit. Santana’s band was signed by Columbia Records, which shortened its name to simply “Santana“. It went into the studio to record its first album in January 1969, finally laying down tracks in May that became its first album. Members were not satisfied with the release, dismissed drummer Bob Livingston, and added Mike Shrieve, who had a strong background in both jazz and rock. The band then lost percussionist Marcus Malone, who was charged with involuntary manslaughter. Michael Carabello was re-enlisted in his place, bringing with him experienced Nicaraguan percussionist Jose Chepito Areas.
Major rock music promoter Bill Graham, a Latin Music aficionado who had been a fan of Santana from its inception, arranged for the band to appear at the Woodstock Music and Art Festival before its debut album was even released. Its set was one of the surprises of the festival, highlighted by an eleven-minute performance of a throbbing instrumental, “Soul Sacrifice“. Its inclusion in the Woodstock film and soundtrack album vastly increased the band’s popularity. Graham also suggested Santana record the Willie Bobo song “Evil Ways“, as he felt it would get radio airplay. The band’s first album, Santana, was released in August 1969 and became a huge hit, reaching #4 on the U.S. album charts.
Charles Lacy Tyler (July 20, 1941 – June 27, 1992) was an American jazz baritone saxophonist. He also played alto saxophone and clarinet. Tyler was born in Cadiz, Kentucky, and spent his childhood years in Indianapolis. He played piano as a child and clarinetat 7, before switching to alto in his early teens, and finally baritone saxophone. During the summers, he visited Chicago, New York City and Cleveland, Ohio, where he met the young tenor saxophonist Albert Ayler at age 14. After serving in the army from 1957–1959, Tyler relocated to Cleveland in 1960 and began playing with Ayler, commuting between New York and Cleveland. During that period played with Ornette Coleman and Sunny Murray.
In 1965 Tyler recorded Bells and Spirits Rejoice with Alyer’s group. He recorded his first album as leader the following year for ESP-Disk. He returned to Indianapolis to study with David Baker at Indiana University between 1967 and 1968, recording a second album for ESP, Eastern Man Alone. In 1968, he transferred to the University of California, Berkeley to study and teach. In Los Angeles, he worked with Arthur Blythe, Bobby Bradford, and David Murray. He moved back to New York in 1974, leading his own groups with Blythe, trumpeter Earl Cross, drummer Steve Reid and others, recording the album Voyage from Jericho on Tyler’s own Akba label. In 1975, Tyler enrolled at Columbia University and made an extensive tour of Scandinavia, releasing his second Akba album Live in Europe. In 1976, he performed the piece “Saga of the Outlaws” at Sam Rivers‘s Studio Rivbea, released two years later on Nessa Records.During that period he played as a sideman or co-leader with Steve Reid, Cecil Taylor and Billy Bang.
Ernest Brooks Wilkins Jr. (July 20, 1919 – June 5, 1999) was an American jazz saxophonist, conductor and arranger who spent several years with Count Basie. He also wrote for Tommy Dorsey, Harry James, and Dizzy Gillespie. He was musical director for albums by Cannonball Adderley, Dinah Washington, Oscar Peterson, and Buddy Rich. Wilkins was born in St. Louis, Missouri. In his early career he played in a military band, before joining Earl Hines‘s last big band. He worked with Count Basie from 1951 to 1955, eventually leaving to work free-lance as a jazz arranger and songwriter. His success declined in the 1960s, but revived after work with Clark Terry, leading to a tour of Europe. Eventually Wilkins settled in Copenhagen, Denmark, where he would live for the rest of his life. There he formed the Almost Big Band so he could write for a band of his own formation. The idea was partly inspired by his wife Jenny. Copenhagen had a thriving jazz scene with several promising jazz musicians as well as a well-established community of expatriate American jazz musicians which had formed in the 1950s and now included representatives like Kenny Drewand Ed Thigpen who joined the band along with Danish saxophonist Jesper Thilo. The band released four albums, but after 1991 he became too ill to do much with it.