Jack Purvis was born John Purvis on December 11, 1906 in Kokomo, Indiana to Sanford B. Purvis, a real estate agent and Nettie Purvis. His behavior became uncontrollable after his mother’s death in 1912 and as a result of many acts of petty larceny, he was sent to a reform school. While there, he discovered that he had an uncanny musical ability, and soon became proficient enough to play both the trombone and trumpet professionally. This also enabled him to leave the reformatory and continue his high school education, while he was playing paying gigs on the side.
After high school he worked in his home state for a time then went to Lexington, Kentucky where he played with the Original Kentucky Night Hawks. In 1926 he was with Bud Rice touring New England, then with Whitey Kaufman’s Original Pennsylvanians. For a short time he played trumpet with Arnold Johnson’s orchestra, and by July 1928 he traveled to France with George Carhart’s band. In 1929 he joined Hal Kemp’s band and recorded with Kemp, Smith Ballew, Ted Wallace, Rube Bloom, the California Ramblers, and Roy Wilson’s Georgia Crackers. In 1929 Purvis led his own recording groups using Hal Kemp’s rhythm section to produce Copyin’ Louis, and Mental Strain at Dawn.
By 1930, Purvis leading a couple of racially mixed recording sessions including the likes of J.C. Higginbotham, and Adrian Rollini. One of these sessions was organized by Adrian Rollini and OKeh A & R man, Bob Stephens. He went on to work with the Dorsey Brothers and played fourth trumpet with Fletcher Henderson in a rehearsal capacity.
The early Thirties saw him played with a few radio orchestras and worked with Fred Waring, toured the South with Charlie Barnet, worked with the New Orleans Symphony Orchestra, moved to Los Angeles, California and was successful with radio broadcasting work. He worked for the George Stoll Orchestra, Warner Bros. Studios arranging, and composed Legends of Haiti for a one hundred and ten piece orchestra.
Living a checkered life he was in and out of jail, worked outside the musical environment working as a chef, a busker, an aviator in Florida, a carpenter, a radio repairman, a smuggler and a mercenary in South America. Trumpeter and trombonist Jack Purvis gassed himself to death in San Francisco, California on March 30, 1962.
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.
William Frank Reichenbach Jr. was born November 30, 1949 in Takoma Park, Maryland, the son of Bill Reichenbach, drummer for Charlie Byrd. He began playing in high school for bands in the Washington, D.C. area, sat in with his father’s group, playing with Milt Jackson, Zoot Sims, and others.
Reichenbach went on to study at the Eastman School of Music and after graduating joined the Buddy Rich band. He would also work in the Toshiko Akiyoshi – Lew Tabackin Big Band in Los Angeles, California during the mid to late Seventies. After that move to the West Coast, he became known for music for television and film.
Not limiting himself to jazz, Bill played trombone on The Wiz and, with the Seawind Horns including Jerry Hey on Michael Jackson’s albums Off the Wall, Thriller, and HIStory. He was also the composer for Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue.
Trombonist and composer Bill Reichenbach is best known in jazz circles as a session musician for television, films, cartoons, and commercials. He recorded a solo album, Special Edition, where he is featured on tenor as well as bass trombone. He continues to compose, record and perform.
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Tyree Glenn was born William Tyree Glenn on November 23, 1912 in Corsicana, Texas. He played trombone and vibraphone with local Texas bands before moving to Washington, D.C. in the early Thirties. He performed with several prominent bands of the Swing Era, playing with Bob Young and Tommy Myles before moving to the West Coast.
While he was living out West, Tyree first played with groups headed by Charlie Echols followed by Eddie Barefield, Eddie Mallory and Benny Carter. By the end of the decade from 1939 to 1946 he played with Cab Calloway. He toured around Europe with Don Redman’s big band in 1946, then joined Duke Ellington until 1951 as a wah-wah trombonist in the Tricky Sam Nanton tradition and Ellington’s only vibraphonist, being well-featured on the Liberian Suite. After his time with Ellington he played with Howard Biggs’s Orchestra.
During the 1950s, Glenn did studiowork, led his quartet at the Embers, did some television, radio and acting work, and freelanced in swing and Dixieland bands. In 1953 he joined Jack Sterling’s New York daily radio show, with which he remained until 1963. During 1965–68, he toured the world with Louis Armstrong’s All-Stars, staying with the group until Armstrong passed in 1971.
He would go on to record with Louis Bellson, Gene Krupa, Buck Clayton, Clark Terry and during his last few years he led his own group, recording seven albums. Trombonist Tyree Glenn, was also a studio musician, actor and composer who penned Sultry Serenade, which was recorded by Duke Ellington and Erroll Garner, moved to Englewood, New Jersey where he passed away from cancer on May 18, 1974.
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George Masso was born November 17, 1926 in Cranston, Rhode Island. Most notable for his work from 1948 to 1950 as a member of the Jimmy Dorsey band, but finding the life of a professional jazz musician financially difficult, Masso quit performing following his work with Dorsey and began teaching.
Returning to music in 1973, George recorded and/or performed with Bobby Hackett and Benny Goodman. In 1975 he became member of the World’s Greatest Jazz Band and by the late 1980s and early 1990s, he had recorded with George Shearing, Barbara Lea, Ken Peplowski, Scott hamilton, Warren Vache, Bobby Rosengarden, Woody Herman, Spike Robinson, Bob Haggart, Totti Bergh, Harry Allen and Yank Lawson.
He recorded numerous albums leading sessions on the Sackville, Nagel-Heyer, Arbors, Famous Door, World Jazz and Dreamstreet labels over the course of his career. Trombonist, bandleader, vibraphonist, and composer George Masso, who specialized in swing and Dixieland, rarely performs at 90 years old.