Bill Caffie was born in Ramer, Alabama in 1931. His family moved to Cincinnati’s West End a year later.
In 1948, he attended The Cosmopolitan School of Music and was taught by prominent locals Ms. Terri Lenoir and Charles Keys. In 1949, Bill became a charter member of The Robins, a
rhythm and blues group which won a talent contest at the Hippodrome Theater. The Robins performed on local television shows and at various entertainment spots such as The Cotton Club, State Theater, Regal Theater, Sportsman’s Club, 333 Club and Club Alibi.
Mr. Caffie earned a Purple Heart for service in the U.S. Army from 1952- 1954 during the Korean War. After the war, he became a member of the famed vocal group, Otis Williams and the Charms who had many hits. Though jazz was his favorite, he also enjoyed the doo-wop style, or “doody-wop” as he called it.
He also performed as a backup vocalist at the renowned King Records studio accompanying stars such as Little Willie John, Hank Ballard and The Midnighters, Lula Reed, and The Five Royales. During the 60s, he broadened his repertoire with “standards” and began performing solo.
He moved in 1973 to New York City and worked with Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis, Johnny Hartman, Sonny Stitt and others. In 1974, he auditioned for Count Basie and was hired as the featured vocalist with the Count Basie Orchestra. He traveled the world extensively with Basie until 1977 and recording the album, “Funtime” at the 1975 Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland.
Bill moved back to Cincinnati in 1979 and continued to perform at local clubs with various groups including the Steve Schmidt Trio at the Blue Wisp, and The Steve Schmidt Organ Trio initiating his Christmas Spectaculars at the Comet Bar, which has become a long-running tradition. He recorded with Schmidt on various projects including Bill’s only solo album “Leaving This Ol’ Town” which also featured Wilbert Longmire and Mike Wade.
Bill Caffie’s soulful baritone voice, both bluesy and sweet, still resonates in our memory and on the recordings he left us. He passed away at the age of 73 on January 22, 2005.
Bill Gemmer fell in love at the age of ten—with the trombone. He studied with Tony Chipburn, principal trombonist with the CSO, during high school, and then pursued his studies further at University of Kentucky.
Gemmer enlisted in the army and spent some
of that time in Vietnam with the 9th Infantry Division Band. A ri e on one shoulder and a horn on the other took some
getting used to. He returned to the states and attended Berklee School of Music in Boston, and then hit the road with a couple of well known orchestras—The Hugo Winterhalter Orchestra, and The Glenn Miller Orchestra under the leadership of Buddy Morrow.
While traveling to Germany he played with the South German Radio Orchestra in Stuttgart, and then went on the road with The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra. He also became one of the “Riverboat Ramblers” enjoying several cruises on the Mississippi Queen.
Bill was a founding member of The Blue Wisp Big Band, the musical director at the Dee Felice Café in Covington, KY for many years, and he also taught in the Jazz Department at CCM/University of Cincinnati.
Gemmer continues to play and currently enjoys working with The Pete Wagner Orchestra, Dave Greer’s Classic Jazz Stompers, and many of Cincinnati’s nest musicians.
Bobby was born in Cincinnati, OH, the son of the late Willie Clark and Mabel Lee Scott. He attended Taft High School, graduating in the Class of 1958. During his high school years, he was very industrious and independent. He worked at a series of odd jobs to help support his family. It was also during his high school years that he developed a deep love of music,
especially jazz. It was in high school that he discovered his God-given ability to play the drums.
Self-taught, Bobby had been performing professionally since 1960. He had, over the years, performed with a wide array of jazz artists including, but not limited to George Coleman, Big Mabelle, Lorenz Alexander, Johnny Hartman, Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson, Cli ord Jordan, Jimmy Forest, Conte Condoli, Rasaan Roland Kirk, Rusty Bryant, John Blake, Valery Ponomarev and Jimmy McGary.
In 1973, the Cohesion Jazz Ensemble was conceived by Bobby Scott and bassist Jim Anderson. Establishing itself as a progressive “underground” jazz group noted for its own compositions and original approach to the jazz standards, the group maintained a consistent originality of sound and feel for the music to this day.
Bobby passed away on July 2, 2018 at the age of 79.
Jazz bassist, Jim Anderson, has long been a respected performer and jazz composer. Born here and growing up in Cincinnati, he began to play the bass in seventh grade. Realizing his talent and passion for the instrument, his father helped him to nance his first bass, which he purchased at the legendary Bass Viol Shop.
His Uncle Clarence and his dear friend and mentor,
Ed Connelly were his encouragement, inspiration, and motivation. His first job was playing with a quartet on the Johnson Party Boat for a state representative.
Anderson’s jazz experience is world class, having toured or played with Art Blakey, Ernistine Anderson, Hank Crawford, Nat Adderly, Benny Golson, Slide Hampton, and Rufus Reid to name just a few.
Locally, Jim has been a co-leader of the highly esteemed “Cohesion Jazz Ensemble” and is continually in demand to perform in local and regional groups. At Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, he was the bassist for “Lady Day Sings
at the Emerson Bar & Grill”; “Jacques Berille is Alive and Well and Living in Paris”; and “Ain’t Misbehavin’“ with two separate companies.
He performed with Joshua Redmond at CCM and with Gary Bartz and Lewis Nash at the Dayton Art Institute.
His local group recordings include:
Salutaris Plates-Marc Fields;
duos-Jim Connerley; This Old Town-Bill Caffie;
A Journey’s Quest-The Cohesion Jazz Ensemble;
Record Album-April Alosio.
He is Vice President/Administrator and founding member of Jazz Alive, Inc., Adjunct Bass Instructor at Xavier University, Residents Arts and Humanities Consortium, from 1972-1979, Instrumental Music Instructor, and Life Member of Musicians Local 1.
Ray Felder was born in Cincinnati’s West End
and attended Stowe & Douglass Elementary and Woodward/Cutter High School on Sycamore. He played in his high school band, as well as in a marching band, and got interested in music after he had heard it at clubs like the Cotton Club.
Felder was in the 17th Special Services all-black jazz band in Germany at which point he got
involved in music theory and harmony.
Upon his return to Cincinnati he played tenor saxophone at various clubs – J.K.’s in the West End; Babe Baker’s; the Cabana Lounge; Screw Andrews’s 333; Sportman’s Club; the Alibi; the Play Bowl – with people like Curtis Peagler, Woody Evans, Snooky Gibson, and Kid Malone.
In the early 1950s Felder joined Jay McShann’s band on the road, recording with him in Kansas City. He had the opportunity to play the Jazz at the Philharmonic with Flip Phillips, Illinois Jacquet, and the great Ben Webster.
Felder, along with Cincinnati bassist Ed Connelly and pianist Herman Smith, did his rst recordings with a man who was born and raised around Seventh and John Streets in Cincinnati’s West End named Pinnochio James. James later left to play with Lionel Hampton. Felder, Connell, and Smith also worked as sidemen at King Records.
Ray developed a strong, blues-rooted style, playing tenor, alto, and ute, that was ideally suited for King-style R&B, and he was the featured Tenor Saxophonist with the Bill Doggett Combo with King Records. Ray passed away on June 22, 2014 at the age of 85.
Wayne Yeager was born in Cincinnati, graduated from Woodward High School, and then went on to Indiana University in Bloomington, IN.
When he was young his parents saw that he had musical potential and began taking him to piano lessons at the age of seven. He continued on with lessons and played
in high school dance bands. Around this time he developed an interest in the organ and began playing it as well.
Over the years, Yeager has worked with groups all across the country in cities like New Orleans, Las Vegas, Atlantic City, Miami, St. Louis and many more. And in his hometown of Cincinnati, he was in the house bands at the Beverly Hills where he backed Frankie Lane, Redd Foxx, and many others. He also worked at the Cincinnati Playboy Club backing the national and local area vocalists and comics that appeared there.
He played with Dee Felice for many years, and was the piano/organ accompanist for the Ann Chamberlain /Eddie Morgan duo in live performances, as well as their CD recording “Heart’s Desire.” They played at the Paci c Moon in Montgomery for 11 years. He has been accompanist for many local singers, including his wife Pamela Mallory, Ann Chamberlain, Lynne Scott, Mandy Gaines, Larry Kinley, to name just a few.
Wayne has always been a full-time working musician and is truly one of Cincinnati’s nest musicians. Wayne has dedicated his life to jazz music.