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Jack Sohmer

jazz trombonist, was born James H. Archey in Norfolk, Virginia. Nothing is known of his parents. He started playing the trombone in 1912, and from 1915 to 1919 he studied music at the Hampton Institute, spending his summers playing in a band led by the pianist Lillian Jones. After working in Quentin Redd's band on the Atlantic City boardwalk around 1922, Archey moved to New York City in 1923 and played with the trumpeter Lionel Howard's band at the Saratoga Club and the Capitol Palace. The next year he worked at Ed Small's, and from 1925 to mid‐1926 he spent a year touring with the Lucky Sambo Revue and another few months with the Tan Town Topics. Starting in late 1926 he worked with the bands of John C. Smith and Arthur Gibbs and began a residency at the Bamboo Inn with Ed ...

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Barry Kernfeld

jazz trombonist and singer, was born Clyde Edric Barnhardt in Gold Hill, North Carolina, the son of Washington Michael Barnhardt, a miner, and Elizabeth Mauney. When Clyde was a child, he added Barron to his name because his grandmother in slavery had been lent to a family named Barron who treated her kindly. He changed the spelling of his surname in 1930 on the advice of a psychic. Thus his full name became Clyde Edric Barron Bernhardt or Clyde E. B. Bernhardt.

In 1912, after his father suffered a heart attack and left mining, Bernhardt helped to peddle goods from a wagon. The family moved to New Hope (later absorbed into Badin), North Carolina, and in 1915 his father died. Bernhardt attended school for three months each year while holding various jobs, including work at Alcoa Aluminum in 1918 The following year his mother ...

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Barry Kernfeld

jazz trombonist, was born in Lawrence, Kansas, the son of John M. Brown, a minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, and Maggie (maiden name unknown), who played pump organ for the church. When Brown was six the family moved to Oakland, California, where he learned how to play piano, tuba—which he began to play in the Oakland public school system—and violin. He also briefly experimented with alto saxophone before taking up trombone, to which he became intensely devoted after the Browns relocated across the bay to San Francisco.

The family moved to Pasadena, and around 1924 Brown enrolled at Pasadena Junior College for music and premedical studies. Risking his father's disapproval, Brown dropped out of school, moved to north Pasadena on his own, and around 1927 went into jazz as a member of Charlie Echols's seven-piece band at a dime-a-dance venue, the 401 Ballroom. From 1928 to 1931 ...

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Jack Sohmer

jazz trombonist, was born in Crawfordsville, Indiana, the son of Sidney De Paris, a trombonist, music teacher, and bandleader. Nothing is known of his mother except that she played alto horn. In 1907 Wilbur also started playing the alto horn, and by 1916 he was playing baritone horn in his father's band. His younger brother Sidney De Paris also had been added to the band on cornet. Throughout the 1910s the De Paris Family Band toured in carnivals and tent shows and played on the Theater Owners’ Booking Association (TOBA) vaudeville circuit. After Wilbur had switched to trombone, sometime between 1919 and 1922, he joined Billy and Mary Mack's Merrymakers and traveled with them to New Orleans, where he sat in with the trumpeter Louis Armstrong at Tom Anderson's Cabaret and worked with Armand Piron's orchestra. In 1925 he led a band in Philadelphia Pennsylvania and ...

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Jack Sohmer

De Paris, Wilbur (11 January 1900–03 January 1973), jazz trombonist, was born in Crawfordsville, Indiana, the son of Sidney De Paris, a trombonist, music teacher, and bandleader. Nothing is known of his mother except that she played alto horn. In 1907 Wilbur also started playing the alto horn, and by 1916 he was playing baritone horn in his father’s band. His younger brother Sidney De Paris also had been added to the band on cornet. Throughout the 1910s the De Paris Family Band toured in carnivals and tent shows and played on the Theater Owners’ Booking Association (TOBA) vaudeville circuit. After Wilbur had switched to trombone, sometime between 1919 and 1922, he joined Billy and Mary Mack’s Merrymakers and traveled with them to New Orleans, where he sat in with trumpeter Louis Armstrong at Tom Anderson’s Cabaret and worked with Armand Piron s orchestra In 1925 ...

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Jack Sohmer

jazz trombonist, was born Albert Victor Dickenson in Xenia, Ohio, the son of Robert Clarke Dickenson, a plastering contractor and amateur violinist. His mother's name is unknown. Using his brother Carlos's instrument he began to play trombone in high school. In 1921 he played with the Elite Serenaders while also working days for his father as a plasterer, but after suffering a severe back injury as a result of a fall from a ladder, he decided to concentrate on music exclusively. Around 1922 his family moved to Columbus, where he and his brother, now a saxophonist, started working with local bands. In 1925 he played his first professional job with Don Phillips in Madison, Wisconsin, and after returning home he heard and was influenced by the trombonists Claude Jones and Dicky Wells He was particularly impressed by their smooth tones and deceptively easy techniques virtues that he ...

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Scott Yanow

jazz trombonist, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to William Eubanks (a detective) and Vera Eubanks (maiden name unknown), a music teacher. Vera Eubanks played gospel and classical piano and organ, while her husband and Robin's younger brother Shane both played trombone, but not professionally. Robin's younger brothers, trumpeter Duane Eubanks and guitarist Kevin Eubanks, also became professional musicians, following in the footsteps of pianist Ray Bryant, their uncle, and cousins David Eubanks, a bassist, and Charles Eubanks, a pianist. Robin Eubanks began playing the trombone when he was eight. He started playing in funk groups as a teenager. Eubanks studied music at the Philadelphia Settlement Music School (1964–1972), Temple University (1972–1975), and the Philadelphia College of Performing Arts (1975–1978). He gained important experience working with Sun Ra in 1978 and with Slide Hampton's World of Trombones during 1978 ...

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Scott Yanow

jazz trombonist, was born in Detroit, Michigan. Fuller, whose parents were born in Jamaica, became an orphan at the age of six. After a social worker took him out to see the Illinois Jacquet band that featured trombonist J.J. Johnson, Fuller took up the trombone. He was already sixteen and attending Cass Tech High School, but developed very quickly into a talented musician.

In 1953 Fuller entered the military. He played with an army dance band led by Cannonball Adderley during 1953–1955. After his discharge, he took his place in the fertile Detroit jazz scene, playing with tenor-saxophonist Yusef Lateef at the Bluebird Inn during part of 1955–1956.

In 1956 Fuller attended Wayne State University, where his roommate was tenor-saxophonist Joe Henderson. He had a few private lessons along the way with J.J. Johnson, Frank Rosolino, and pianist Barry Harris However Fuller ...

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Scott Yanow

jazz trombonist and vibraphonist, was born in Corsicana, Texas. His parents’ names are not recorded. Glenn began playing trombone when he was young and started his career working with local groups in Texas.

Glenn spent a long period performing with territory bands. He was featured with Tommy Mills's Orchestra, mostly in Washington, D.C., and Virginia, from 1934 to 1936; was in Los Angeles with Charlie Echols's big band in 1936; played with Eddie Barefield; and toured with Ethel Waters's backup band in 1939. After a brief stint with Benny Carter, he spent six years (1940–1946) with the Cab Calloway Orchestra. By then he was occasionally doubling on vibes (including on the recording of “Bye Bye Blues”) in addition to being the main trombone soloist. After leaving Calloway, Glenn toured Europe with Don Redman's band in 1946 staying overseas for a few months ...

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Scott Yanow

jazz trombonist, was born in Chicago, Illinois. He came from a musical family, which included a brother (Elbert Green) who played tenor sax with Roy Eldridge. Green studied trombone at Chicago's DuSable High School.

After gaining some experience working with local groups, Green became a longtime member of the Earl Hines Big Band, joining in 1942 and staying until the orchestra broke up in 1948 except for a period (late 1943–1945) when he was serving in the Army. Green, originally a swing player, was with Hines during the period in 1943 when Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker (on tenor) were members. He was influenced by them to modernize his style.

Green had a fat sound that fit well into the swing era along with his fertile wit but he also developed fluency and a knowledge of bop that made it possible for him to sound very comfortable ...

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Scott Yanow

jazz trombonist, was born in Aldie, Virginia, and grew up in Pottstown, Pennsylvania. His father played brass instruments and saxophone, while his mother was a pianist and a church organist. Grey played baritone horn with the Goodwill Boys Band, which his father directed, when he was four. A few years later when he switched to trombone, his first teacher was his father.

Grey served in the navy during World War II (1942–1945), playing with a navy dance band. On the day that he was discharged in 1945, he joined the Benny Carter Orchestra. Grey recorded with Carter in a group called the Chocolate Dandies and with his big band. After a year with Carter, Grey worked with the Jimmie Lunceford big band (1946–1947 A talented swing trombonist who considered his early influence to be Trummy Young Grey developed a style in which his interval ...

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Paul Devlin

jazz trombonist, composer, and rhythm and blues arranger, was born Locksley Wellington Hampton in Jeannette, Pennsylvania, into a musical family. His father Cliff Hampton played saxophone and drums and led a family band that played big band music at political and social functions, and his mother played the piano. Cliff Hampton chose the trombone for his son because that instrument was not yet represented in the family band. Slide Hampton was left handed, a rarity among trombone players. By the late 1940s the Hampton family band had played such illustrious venues as Carnegie Hall where in the 1990s Hampton was a consultant to the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band now known as the Jon Faddis Orchestra of New York the Apollo Theater and the Savoy Ballroom where the band spent two weeks in residence Along with some of his brothers Hampton attended the McArthur Conservatory of Music ...

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Charles Blancq

jazz trombonist, was born Jay C. Higginbotham in Social Circle, Georgia. The names and occupations of his parents are unknown, and little is known about his early family life other than that he was the thirteenth of fourteen children, all of whom were raised in a musical environment. A sister and one brother played trombone, another brother played trumpet, and his niece was a composer.

Higginbotham attended school in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he apprenticed as a tailor at the Cincy Colored Training School and worked at the General Motors factory before joining Wesley Helvey's band as a professional musician in 1924. After two years with Helvey, he left for Buffalo, New York, to work with Eugene Primos and the trombonist Jimmy Harrison. In 1928 he settled in New York, where, while sitting in with the Chick Webb Orchestra at the Savoy Ballroom he was hired by ...

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Charles Blancq

Higginbotham, J. C. (11 May 1906–26 May 1973), jazz trombonist, was born Jay C. Higginbotham in Social Circle, Georgia. Little is known of his parents or early family life other than that he was the thirteenth of fourteen children, all of whom were raised in a musical environment. A sister and one brother played trombone, another brother played trumpet, and his niece was a composer.

Higginbotham attended school in Cincinnati, where he apprenticed as a tailor at the Cincy Colored Training School and worked at the General Motors factory before joining Wesley Helvey’s band as a professional musician in 1924. After two years with Helvey, he left for Buffalo, New York, to work with Eugene Primos and trombonist Jimmy Harrison (1926–1927). He then settled in New York in 1928. There, while sitting in with the Chick Webb orchestra at the Savoy Ballroom, he was hired by bandleader Luis ...

Article

Scott Yanow

jazz trombonist, was born in Springfield, Ohio. His parents’ names and occupations are not recorded. Jackson studied piano, violin, and organ with private teachers as a youth before permanently switching to trombone when he was 18. His brother-in-law, trombonist Claude Jones (who worked with the Synco Jazz Band, which later became McKinney's Cotton Pickers), gave him some important lessons.

Jackson began his career playing with the dance bands of Gerald Hobson (1927–1928), Lloyd Byrd's Buckeye Melodians, Wesley Helvey (1929–1930), and Zack Whyte's Beau Brummels. He was a solid section player and occasional soloist with McKinney's Cotton Pickers from 1930 to 1932 and the big bands of Don Redman (1932–1940) and Cab Calloway (1940–1945). Jackson toured Europe with Don Redman's orchestra in 1946 the first European tour by an American jazz band after World War II before rejoining Calloway and playing ...

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Stefan Vranka

trombonist, composer, and arranger, was born James Louis Johnson in Indianapolis, Indiana, the son of James Horace Johnson and Nina Geiger Johnson. The church was a dominant influence in the lives of Johnson and his two younger sisters when they were young. Johnson's mother and father, who worshiped at a Baptist church and at a Methodist church, respectively, on the same street, insisted on bringing up their children in the traditions of both denominations. Johnson's mother hired the church organist to teach him the piano at the age of nine. Later, at Crispus Attucks High School, the only African American public high school in Indianapolis, Johnson became passionate about music. Initially he was forced to-play the baritone saxophone, but by the time that-he was fourteen he was appearing in the high school band and the YMCA marching brass band as a trombonist.

In the spring of ...

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Stefan Vranka

Johnson, J. J. (22 January 1924–04 February 2001), trombonist, composer, and arranger, was born James Louis Johnson in Indianapolis, Indiana, the son of James Horace Johnson and Nina Geiger Johnson. In their early years, the church was a dominant influence in the lives of Johnson and his two younger sisters. His mother and father, who worshiped at a Baptist and a Methodist church respectively on the same street, insisted on bringing up their children in the traditions of both. Johnson's mother hired the church organist to teach him the piano at the age of nine. Later at Crispus Attucks High School, the only African-American public high school in Indianapolis, Johnson became passionate about music. Initially he was forced to play the baritone saxophone, but by the time he was fourteen he was appearing in the high school band and the YMCA marching brass band as a trombonist.

In ...

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John Wriggle

composer, trombonist, writer, and educator, was born in Chicago, Illinois, the son of George Thomas Lewis, originally from North Carolina, and Cornelia Griffith of Georgia. George attended public elementary school before enrolling at the University of Chicago Laboratory School at age nine, at which time his parents bought him a trombone to assist with what he called “social development.” By age twelve George was listening to the music of Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, and John Coltrane, learning solos from jazz recordings such as Lester Young with the Oscar Peterson Trio, and studying improvisation with the trombonist Dean Hey.

At Yale University, from which he earned a BA in Philosophy in 1974, Lewis found company in the sextet of the pianist and fellow student Anthony Davis After becoming dissatisfied with the artistic boundaries imposed by the music department at ...

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Leslie Gourse

trombonist and arranger, was born in Kansas City, Missouri, the daughter of Lucille Liston, a domestic worker, and Frank Liston, an amateur musician who died when Melba was young. At age six Liston fell in love with a trombone in a pawnshop window. “I picked the trombone visually,” she told a reporter forty years later. “I just liked what it looked like in a store window. I became obsessed with the trombone and got one in the school system. I … learned by ear to play ‘Deep River,’ church, and folk pieces.” Melba lived with her grandparents, who also had a young daughter. Liston had approval for her music from her mother, who eventually bought her a trombone. “A child has to have some hobby,” Liston said. “My mother worked away … and I had my dear trombone” (interview with the author).

Liston s young aunt liked ...

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Robert W. Logan

Music came to Liston when she was seven years old, enchanted by the gleaming brass face of a trombone. Her arms were barely long enough to reach some of the standard positions, but once she picked up that instrument, she remained with music for the rest of her life. One of the outstanding trombonists of her generation, Liston was the first woman to make a mark in jazz playing a brass instrument. She played with the bands of Gerald Wilson, Dizzy Gillespie, Count Basie, and Duke Ellington. The performers she accompanied include Billie Holiday, Cannonball Adderly, Betty Carter, Jimmy Smith, and Dinah Washington Her instrumental skills were matched by her talent for arranging music which led to collaborations with many of the leading jazz and pop musicians of her time Later in life she became an educator working in Jamaica New ...