Manny Klein was born Emmanuel Klein on February 4, 1908. Not much is known about his youth and trumpet education but he began with Paul Whiteman in 1928. Active throughout the 1930s, he played with several major bands of the era including the Jimmy Dorsey, Tommy Dorsey and Benny Goodman.
By 1937 Klein had moved to California and worked with Frank Trumbauer’s orchestra and in early 1940 he appears on Artie Shaw And His Orchestra recordings. During this period he also did soundtracks and though received no credit, played trumpet for the film From Here To Eternity, and worked with musicians associated with West Coast cool jazz in the 1950s.
A versatile player who could play in almost any setting, including first trumpet in an orchestra, classical and pop, appearing on several Dean Martin recordings during the 1960s, and played piccolo trumpet on Hugh Montenegro’s hit version of the main theme to the film, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
Regarded as one of the most proficient players of his, or any generation, he possessed an uncanny ability to mimic the styles of many other prominent trumpeters, namely Bunny Berigan and Ziggy Elman. Trumpeter Manny Klein, most associated with swing, passed away at the age of 86 in Los Angeles, California on May 31, 1994.
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Hot Lips Page was born Oran Thaddeus Page on January 27, 1908 in Dallas, Texas. His main trumpet influence was Louis Armstrong as well as early influence from Harry Smith and Benno Kennedy. In his early teens he moved to Corsicana, Texas and traveled across the Southwest and toured as far East as Atlanta and north to New York City. He played in circuses and minstrel shows and backed blues singers Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith and Ida Cox.
In 1926 he caught the eye of the bassist Walter Page (no relation) who had recently assumed leadership of the Oklahoma City Blue Devils and by 1928 was playing and touring. In 1931 he left to join the Bennie Moten Orchestra in Kansas City.
Hot Lips went on to occasionally appear as vocalist, emcee and trumpet soloist with Count Basie’s Reno Club orchestra after Moten’s sudden death disbanded the group. It was during this period that Page embarked upon a solo career, playing with small pick up bands from Kansas City. At the behest of Armstrong’s manager Joe Glaser, he moved to New York City in 1936.
His career as a bandleader got off to an auspicious start in 1937 with sold-out appearances and an extended run at Harlem’s Smalls Paradise, but struggling by 1939 he was struggling to maintain a regular working band, he led small combos and bands on 52nd Street through the Fifties. Page was known as “Mr. After Hours” to his many friends for his ability to take on all comers in late night jam sessions, recorded for the Mezzrow-Bechet Septet in 1945, as Pappa Snow White, with Mezz Mezzrow, Sidney Bechet, Pops Foster, Chu Berry, Sid Catlett and vocalist Pleasant Joe.
Over the course of his short career Hot Lips made over 200 recordings, most as a leader, for Bluebird, Vocalion, Decca and Harmony Records, among others. He toured extensively throughout the southern and northeast states and Canada, led as many as thirteen different big bands, appeared with Bud Freeman and Artie Shaw, recording over 40 sides with the latter. His band backed the singer Wynonie Harris was the leader of the Apollo Theater, recorded duets with Pearl Bailey on The Hucklebuck and Baby It’s Cold Outside and twice toured Europe.
Known as Hot Lips to the public and Lips by fellow musicians, the bandleader and trumpeter heralded as one of the giants of the Swing Era and a founder of what became rhythm and blues, passed away due to mysterious circumstances in New York on November 5, 1954 at the age of 46.
Jerry Blake was born Jacinto Chabania on January 23, 1908 in Gary, Indiana and grew up in Nashville, Tennessee. He began his musical education playing violin before switching to reeds.
In 1924 he toured with the Sells-Fioto Circus Band but was left stranded in Chicago. Making the best of the situation, he joined Al Wynn’s band, then played with Bobby Lee and Charlie Turner. He then toured Europe in 1928-29 as a member of Sam Wooding’s ensemble.
Back in the States in the 1930s Jerry played in the US with Chick Webb,Zack Whyte and Don Redman, then was off to Europe again with Willie Lewis from 1934 to 1935. After his return home he spent time performing with Claude Hopkins, Fletcher Henderson and Cab Calloway, acting as the latter’s musical director during his 1938-42 stint.
In the early 1940s Blake played with Count Basie, Earl Hines, Lionel Hampton and Redman again. Sometime around 1943 he had a mental breakdown and never played again for the rest of his life, most of which he spent in institutions. Alto saxophonist and clarinetist Jerry Blake, who never recorded as a leader, passed away on December 31, 1961.
Israel Crosby was January 19, 1919 in Chicago, Illinois and was best known as the double-bassist in the Ahmad Jamal Trio from 1957 to 1962, but recorded eighteen albums with him from 1951 to 1967.
A close contemporary of Jimmy Blanton, Israel has been considered less as a pioneer, but rather for his interactive playing in Jamal’s trio and that of George Shearing. His playing exhibited how easily and fluently he displayed a modern approach to jazz double bass.
He is credited with taking the first recorded bass solo at age 16 on his 1935 recording of “Blues of Israel” with drummer Gene Krupa on the Prestige label. Beyond Jamal, Shearing and Krupa, Crosby performed and recorded with Albert Ammons, Charlie Christian, Vic Dickerson, Roy Eldridge, Herb Ellis, Edmond Hall, Coleman Hawkins, Fletcher Henderson, Horace Henderson, Sam Jones, Meade Lux Lewis, Jess Stacy and Earl Washington.
A consummate sideman, bassist Israel Crosby passed away on August 11, 1962 of a heart attack just two months after joining the Shearing Quintet.
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Jimmy “Craw” Crawford was born on January 14, 1910 in Memphis, Tennessee. For nearly 14 years from 1928 to 1942 he was the drummer of the Jimmie Lunceford big band. Playing with a strong, solid pulsation, his style became a classic trademark of the Lunceford sound and was a key factor in establishing the unique Lunceford beat.
In the 1950s, Crawford worked as a pit drummer on Broadway. He also recorded with numerous notable artists such as Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Count Basie, Sy Oliver, Bing Crosby, Benny Goodman, Kenny Burrell, Quincy Jones, Eddie Heywood and Frank Sinatra among others.
Swing era drummer Jimmy Crawford, who was notably Paul Motian’s favorite drummer, passed away on January 28, 1980 in New York City.
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