Max Kaminsky was born on September 7, 1908 in Brockton, Massachusetts and started his career in Boston, Massachusetts in 1924. By 1928 he was working in Chicago, Illinois with George Wettling and Frank Teschemacher at the Cinderella Ballroom and in New York for a brief time in 1929 with Red Nichols.
From about 1933-1938, he worked in commercially oriented dance bands, and recorded with Eddie Condon and Benny Carter’s Chocolate Dandies, with Mezz Mezzrow. He played with Tommy Dorsey, Artie Shaw, and performed and recorded with Bud Freeman. He worked again with Shaw from 1941 to 1943, who led a navy band with which Kaminsky toured the South Pacific.
From 1942 he took part in important concerts in New York City that were organized by Condon at Carnegie Hall and Town Hall, and from the following year he played Dixieland with various groups. He also worked in the 1940s with Sidney Bechet, George Brunis, Art Hodes, Joe Marsala, Willie “The Lion” Smith, and Jack Teagarden.
Moving into television, Max led Jackie Gleason’s personal band for several seasons, then toured Europe with Teagarden and Earl Hines’ All Stars in 1957, and performed at the Metropole and Ryan’s in New York at intervals from the late 1960s to 1983, the Newport Jazz Festival and the 1964 New York World’s Fair.
In 1963 he published My Life in Jazz with V. E. Hughes, in 1975 and 1976 he recorded as a leader that well illustrate his style, which is full-toned, economical and swinging in the manner of King Oliver, Freddy Keppard and Louis Armstrong. At one time he played with the Original Dixieland Jass Band.
Trumpeter Max Kaminsky, known for his Dixieland and whose legacy lives on at the Hogan Jazz Archives at Tulane University, passed away on September 6, 1994, one day before what would have been his 86th birthday.
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