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.
More Posts: trumpet
Lil Hardin Armstrong was born Lillian Hardin on February 3, 1898 in Memphis, Tennessee and grew up with her grandmother learning hymns, spirituals and classics on the piano, but she was drawn to pop music and later blues. Her initial piano instruction came from her third grade teacher, Miss Violet White, followed by enrollment in Mrs. Hook’s School of Music, but it was while attending Fisk University that she was taught a more acceptable approach to the instrument.
In 1918, Lil moved to Chicago and landed a job as a sheet music demonstrator at Jones Music Store for $3 a week. Shortly afterward bandleader Lawrence Duhé offered her $22.50 she joined him. From cabaret to the De Luxe Café to Dreamland playing behind Alberta Hunter and Ollie Powers. Replace by King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band, he asked her to stay, which led to an engagement in San Francisco, back to Chicago playing eventually with Oliver again.
Hardin met Louis Armstrong when Oliver sent for him and subsequently were married in 1924. She took him shopping and taught him how to dress more fashionably, and finally convinced him to strike out on his own. Moving to New York City he joined Fletcher Henderson, while she stayed in Chicago with Oliver and then leading her own band.
Hardin, Armstrong, Kid Ory, Johnny St. Cyr and Johnny Dodds comprised the Hot Five recordings for Okeh Records. She would go on to record sessions with the same group as a leader for Vocalion, Columbia Records and New Orleans Wanderers. In the late 1920s Hardin and Louis parted ways and she formed a band with a cornet player she considered Louis equal, Freddie Keppard. In the 1930s, she sometimes billed herself as Mrs. Louis Armstrong, led an All Girl Orchestra, then a mixed-sex big band, which broadcasted nationally over the NBC radio network.
The same decade she recorded a series of sides for Decca Records as a swing vocalist, recorded with Red Allen, and back in Chicago collaborated with Joe Williams, Oscar Brown Jr., Red Saunders and Little Brother Montgomery. Throughout the rest of her career she continued to perform and record, and began writing an autobiography that she never completed. A month after attending Louis’ funeral in New York City, she was performing at a televised memorial concert for Louis, Lil Hardin Armstrong collapsed at the piano and died on the way to the hospital.
Pianist, composer, arranger, singer and bandleader Lil Hardin Armstrong, second wife and recording collaborator of Louis Armstrong in the 1920s, passed away on August 27, 1971. Her compositions have been sampled and revived by many and was inducted into the Memphis Music Hall of Fame in 2014.
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.
More Posts: drums
Fletcher Henderson was born James Fletcher Hamilton Henderson, Jr. on December 18, 1897 in Cuthbert, Georgia. The home he grew up in, known as the Fletcher Henderson House, is now a historic site. He attended Atlanta University in Atlanta, Georgia graduating in 1920, leaving with the nickname “Smack” due to his college baseball hitting skills. Moving to New York City he enrolled at Columbia University to pursue a masters degree in chemistry but found job prospect lean so he chose music to make a living.
During the early to mid-Twenties Fletcher was the recording director of the fledgling Black Swan record label, provided solo piano accompaniment for many blues singers, and led the backing group for Ethel Waters during one of her national tours. In 1922 he formed his own band with Don Redman arranging the charts, took residency at the Club Alabam, then at the Roseland Ballroom, and quickly became known as the best Black band in New York. When Louis Armstrong joined his orchestra in 1924 for a year, he saw the richer potential for jazz band orchestration. As an arranger, Henderson came into his own from 1931 into the mid-1930s.
His bands included Howard Scott, Coleman Hawkins, Charlie Dixon, Kaiser Marshall, Buster Bailey, Elmer Chambers, Charlie Green, Ralph Escudero, Don Redman, Henry “Red” Allen, Joe Smith, Rex Stewart, Tommy Ladnier, Doc Cheatham, Roy Eldridge, Benny Carter, Chu Berry and Sun Ra among many others.
After about 1931, his arrangements became influential. In addition to his own band, he arranged for Teddy Hill, Isham Jones, and Benny Goodman, the latter always giving him credit. After sustaining a concussion in a car accident his success began to wane but Goodman along with John Hammond bought Henderson’s arrangements to support him during his illness.
By 1939, Fletcher disbanded his orchestra and joined Goodman’s, first as pianist and arranger and then working full-time as staff arranger. He re-formed bands of his own several times in the 1940s, toured with Ethel Waters again in 1948–1949, suffered a stroke in 1950 resulting partial paralysis that ended his piano playing.
He was responsible for bridging the gap between Dixieland and swing, establishing the formula for swing music by breaking the band into section that would play n call-and-response style and riffs. He also played a key role in bringing improvisatory jazz styles from New Orleans and other areas of the country to New York City, where they merged with a dance-band tradition that relied heavily on arrangements written out in musical notation.
Pianist, composer, arranger and bandleader Fletcher Henderson passed away in New York City on December 29, 1952. He was one of the most prolific and influential black musical arrangers and bandleaders in jazz history ranked along with Duke Ellington.
More Posts: piano
Melton S. Mustafa was born on November 23, 1947 in Miami, Florida, the younger brother of Jesse Jones, Jr. He started playing the trumpet in junior high school and as a teenager played in a five-piece R&B/calypso band led by his brother. As a young adult in the Sixties, he studied at Berklee College of Music and Mississippi Valley State College before graduating from Florida A&M with a degree in music education.
During this period he started played behind Sam and Dave, Betty Wright, Lattimore, the Marvelettes and Joe Simon. His love for jazz never waning, his visibility on the Miami jazz scene increased when Melton joined hard bopper multi-instrumentalist Ira Sullivan. By the 80s he was playing with the Duke Ellington Orchestra led by mercer Ellington, Jaco Pastorius, James Williams, Bobby Watson and John Hicks and Mingus Dynasty among others.
Mustafa joined the Count Basie Orchestra in 1984 and stayed for eight years. In 1992 he formed his own big band and a couple years later signed with Contemporary/Fantasy releasing his debut album Boiling Point. He followed up with his sophomore project St. Louis Blues in 1997. Never far from jazz standards and ballads his quintet recorded his latest CD titled The Softer Side, Scenes from Miami Vol. 1 featuring Duffy Jackson on drums, Dennis Marks on bass and Jim Gasior on piano.
He produces his Annual Melton Mustafa Jazz Festival at the university that has welcomed Jon Faddis, Abraham Laboriel, Benny Golson, Dr. Nathan Davis, Dr. Grover Washington Jr., Dr. James Moody, Idris Muhammad, George Cables, Wallace Roney, Patrice Rushen, Geri Allen, Jimmy Owens, Billy Cobham, Herbie Mann, Dr. Billy Taylor, Clark Terry, Curtis Fuller, Nestor Torres, Winard Harper, Najee, Randy Brecker, and others.
As an educator he is the Director of Jazz Studies at Florida Memorial University, teaching Music Theory, Jazz Composition and other jazz related courses. The hard bop, post bop, soul and swing trumpeter, composer, arranger and producer and educator Melton Mustafa continues to perform, record and tour.
More Posts: trumpet