Ernie Carson was born December 4, 1937 in Portland, Oregon. He played trumpet from elementary school, and played with the Castle Jazz Band in the mid-1950s prior to a stint in the U.S. Marines.
Following his discharge Ernie moved to and worked in Los Angeles, California with Dave Wierbach, Jig Adams, Ray Bauduc, Pat Yankee, and Turk Murphy. He led several of his own groups from the 1970s, including the Capital City Jazz Band and a new version of the Castle Jazz Band.
After more than twenty years of playing based in Atlanta, Georgia he moved back to his hometown in 1995. Dixieland jazz revival cornetist, pianist and singer Ernie Carson, who left a small catalogue of music as his legacy, passed away on January 9, 2012 in Portland, Oregon.
Brad Gowans was born Arthur Bradford Gowans on December 3, 1903 in Billerica, Massachusetts. His earliest work was on the Dixieland jazz scene, playing with the Rhapsody Makers Band, Tommy DeRosa’s New Orleans Jazz Band, and Perley Breed. In 1926 he played cornet with Joe Venuti, and worked later in the decade with Red Nichols, Jimmy Durante, Mal Hallett and Bert Lown. Leaving music for several years during the Great Depression, he returned to play with Bobby Hackett in 1936, then Frank Ward, Wingy Manone, Joe Marsala, and Bud Freeman’s Summa Cum Laude Band by 1940.
Moving to New York City early in the 1940s, Brad played regularly at Nick’s in Greenwich Village and worked with Ray McKinley and Art Hodes. As a clarinetist, he played in the reconstituted Original Dixieland Jazz Band’s 1940s recordings. He stopped playing again briefly in the mid-1940s, then returned to play with Max Kaminsky, Jimmy Dorsey, and Nappy Lamare.
Aside from his playing, Gowans also arranged pieces for Bud Freeman and Lee Wiley, and invented the valide trombone, a hybrid slide-valve trombone which never caught on. He recorded a few times as a leader in 1926, 1927, and 1934, and recorded Brad Gowans and His New York Nine for Victor Records in 1946.
He went on to freelance on the West Coast and collapsed on stage in 1954 while playing with Eddie Skrivanek. Trombonist and reedist Brad Gowans passed eight months later on September 8, 1954 in Los Angeles, California.
George Godfrey Wettling was born on November 28, 1907 in Topeka, Kansas. He was one of the young Chicagoans who fell in love with jazz after hearing King Oliver’s band with Louis Armstrong on second cornet at Lincoln Gardens in the early 1920s. Oliver’s drummer, Baby Dodds, made a particular and lasting impression on him.
Wettling went on to work with the big bands of Artie Shaw, Bunny Berigan, Red Norvo, Paul Whiteman, and Harpo Marx, but he was at his best with bands led by Eddie Condon, Muggsy Spanier, and himself. In these small settings he demonstrated the arts of dynamics and responding to a particular soloist that he had learned from Dodds.
A member of some of Condon’s bands, George was in the company of Wild Bill Davison, Billy Butterfield, Edmond Hall, Peanuts Hucko, Pee Wee Russell, Cutty Cutshall, Gene Schroeder, Ralph Sutton, and Walter Page. By 1957 he was touring England with a Condon band that included Davison, Cutshall, and Schroeder.
Toward the end of his life, he, like his friend clarinetist Pee Wee Russell, took up painting and was influenced by the American cubist Stuart Davis. Jazz, swing and Dixieland drummer George Wettling, active from the 1920s to the 1950s, passed away on June 6, 1968 in New York City.
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Henry Levine was born on November 26, 1907 in London, England but his family emigrated to the United States in 1908. In 1917, he heard Nick LaRocca with the Original Dixieland Jazz Band and decided to become a musician and learn trumpet.
From 1925 he worked as a professional musician with the Original Dixieland Jazz Band, and from the mid-1920s in various studio bands with Nat Shilkret and Vincent Lopez. From 1927 he performed with the British bandleader Bert Ambrose, and also made recordings with Fred Elizalde in London.
Returning to the States he played with Cass Hagan and Rudy Vallee before working again as a studio musician. He was head of the NBC Chamber Music Society of Lower Basin Street Jazz Group, recording several sessions with them. After the end of the Second World War Levine worked as a director of radio, television and hotel orchestras.
In 1961 he went moved to Las Vegas, Nevada and retired in 1982. He has been lauded by Allmusic as an excellent lead trumpeter and effective soloist. Under his own name, he recorded a single with jazz standards such as Rockin ‘Chair and I’ve Found a New Baby for RCA Victor. British-American trumpeter Henry “Hot Lips” Levine passed away in May 1989.
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Colin Ranger Smith was born in London, England on November 20, 1934. Initially joining the Terry Lightfoot band in 1957, he moved on to playing with Cy Laurie, in 1958. He had a long tenure in the Acker Bilk band that began in 1959, taking a break in 1966 to sail across the Atlantic in a 45-foot ketch, rejoining Bilk in 1968. During that period he also worked at the same time in the band with saxophonist Tony Coe and the trombonist John Picard, as well as with Stan Greig’s London Jazz Big Band.
1977 saw Colin together with Picard, Ian “Stu” Stewart, Dick Morrissey and Charlie Watts. He played in the Bob Hall/George Green Boogie Woogie Band, an ad hoc band which would eventually become known as Rocket 88.
Other big bands he played with included those led by the American clarinettist Bob Wilber, and later the one led by Charlie Watts and the revisionist Midnite Follies Orchestra, Stan Greig’s Boogie Band and Brian Leake’s Sweet and Sour. From 1983 he played with the Pizza Express All Stars and, in 1992, returned to playing with Bilk.
Trumpeter Colin Smith was struck with congenital liver problems that sidelined him during the last years of his life, eventually passing away on March 29, 2004 in London.
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