Ernie Fields was born Ernest Lawrence Fields on August 28, 1904 in Nacogdoches, Texas, though raised in Taft, Oklahoma. He attended Tuskegee Institute before moving to Tulsa. From the late 1920s, he led the Royal Entertainers, and eventually began touring more widely from Kansas City, Kansas to Dallas, Texas, and recording. Fields’ band became the first African-American band to play at Tulsa’s landmark Cain’s Ballroom.
A 1939 invite to New York by John Hammond to record for Vocalion. He began touring nationally, never became a star but continued to work steadily, recording for smaller labels, and gradually transforming his sound through a smaller band and a repertoire shift from big band and swing to R&B. During WWII he entertained troops both at home and abroad.
Continuing to straddle these styles into the 1950s, Ernie played swing standards such as “Tuxedo Junction” and “Begin The Beguine” in a rocking R&B style. In the late 1950s he moved to Los Angeles, California and joined the Rendezvous Records and ran the house band In 1959 this band had an international hit with an R&B version of Glenn Miller’s “In The Mood” that reached #4 on the Billboard chart, selling over a million copies. He would go on to record instrumentals under a variety of names including B. Bumble and the Stingers, The Marketts and The Routers.
After Rendezvous Records folded in late 1963, trombonist, pianist, arranger and bandleader Ernie Fields retired and returned to Tulsa. He died on May 11, 1997, at the age of 92.
Lucky Millinder was born Lucius Venable Millinder on August 8, 1910 in Anniston, Alabama but was raised in Chicago, Illinois. While a teenager in the 1920s he worked in clubs, ballrooms, and theatres in Chicago as a master of ceremonies and dancer. He first fronted a band in 1931 for an RKO theater tour, and in 1932 took over leadership of Doc Crawford’s orchestra in Harlem, New York City, as well as freelancing elsewhere.
The Thirties saw Lucky touring Europe with his own orchestra and playing residencies in Monte Carlo and Paris, returning to New York to lead the Mills Blue Rhythm Band, discovering Rosetta Tharpe, teaming with Bill Doggett’s group, established a residency at the Savoy Ballroom and signed a contract with Decca Records, in which Dizzy Gillespie sat in the trumpet seat.
Millinder would record “Trouble In Mind” in 1941 with Rosetta Tharpe, as well as his #1 hit “When The Lights Go On Again (All Over The World)” followed by “Apollo Jump” and “Sweet Slumber”. But by the mid-1940s the band was drifting towards what would be known as rhythm and blues and was comprised of saxophonist Bull “Moose” Jackson, Tab Smith, Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis and pianist Sir Charles Thompson and singer Wynonie Harris. Their recording of “Who Threw The Whiskey In The Well” became the group’s biggest hit in 1945, staying at #1 on the charts for 8 weeks. Vocalist Ruth Brown replaced Wynonie for a short period until her solo career took flight.
Throughout the decade the band continued to remain popular and toured all the large R&B auditoriums, changed labels a few times until their last big hit was “I’m Waiting Just for You” with Annisteen Allen in 1951. A year later Lucky was working as a radio deejay, continued to tour and took over the leadership of the Apollo Theater band for a while. Retiring from performing he recorded his final sessions in 1960 and became active in music publishing, and in public relations for a whiskey distillery.
Swing and rhythm and blues bandleader Lucky Millinder, never learned to read or write music, nor play an instrument and rarely sang, it is said it was his showmanship and musical taste made his bands successful. He passed away from a liver ailment in New York City on September 28, 1966. Twenty years later he would posthumously be inducted into the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame.
More Posts: bandleader
Kendrick Scott was born July 8, 1980 in Houston. His initial encounter with the drums was in church, where his family was involved in the music ministry. Attending Houston’s High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, garnering several awards, most notably the IAJE Clifford Brown/Stan Getz Fellowship.
Upon graduation from high school in 1998, Kendrick matriculated through Berklee College of Music under scholarship. Since graduating in 2002,Scott has performed with the Jazz Crusaders, Pat Metheny, Joe Lovano, Kenny Garrett, Dianne Reeves, Lizz Wright and Terence Blanchard among others. He also was a member of the Berklee-Monterey Quartet from 1999 to 2007.
Scott’s debut recording with his group Oracle recorded The Source in 2006, including pianists Aaron Parks and Robert Glasper, guitarist Lionel Loueke, vocalist Gretchen Parlato and others. He also performed with the Terence Blanchard Quintet on the twice Grammy nominated album A Tale of God’s Will (A Requiem for Katrina) in 2007, celebrated the Monterey Jazz Festival’s 50th anniversary and embarked on a 22-state tour with the 50th Anniversary MJF All-Star Band features the leaders of the past, present and future with Blanchard, James Moody, Benny Green, Derrick Hodge and Nnenna Freelon. In 2010 he released his sophomore leader project “Reverence” and in 2013 “Conviction”. He continues to perform, record and tour.
George Auld was born John Altwerger on May 19, 1919 in Toronto, Canada but lived in the U.S. from the late 1920s. He was most noteworthy for his tenor saxophone work Bunny Berigan, Artie Shaw, Benny Goodman, Erroll Garner, Dizzy Gillespie, Al Porcino, Billy Eckstine, Tiny Kahn, Frank Rosolino and many others.
Primarily a swing saxophonist, he did many big band stints in his career, and led several big bands, including Georgie Auld and His Orchestra and Georgie Auld and His Hollywood All Stars. Auld also played some rock´n roll working for Alan Freed in 1959.
George can be heard playing sax on the 1968 Ella Fitzgerald album “30 by Ella” and in 1977 he played a bandleader in “New York, New York” starring Liza Minelli and Robert DeNiro and also acted as a technical consultant for the film. The tenor saxophonist, clarinetist and bandleader George Auld died in Palm Springs, California at the age of 71 on January 8, 1990.
Frederick James “Freddy” Randall was born on May 6, 1921 in Clapton, East London, England. Randall led the St. Louis Four in 1939, and played as a freelance sideman in the early 1940s. He served in the military during World War II, and then played with Freddy Mirfield in a group featuring John Dankworth.
After the mid-1940s he led his own Dixieland jazz groups that featured many well-known English trad jazz stars of the era. He quit music between 1958 and 1963 due to lung problems. In the mid-1960s he began recording again, playing with Dave Shepherd and recording for Black Lion Records in 1972-73.
Freddy played with Americans jazz musicians such as Sidney Bechet, Bud Freeman, Wild Bill Davison, Pee Wee Russell, Bill Coleman and Teddy Wilson.
Jazz trumpeter and bandleader Freddy Randall died aged 78 on May 18, 1999 in Teignmouth, Devon, England.