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.
Raul de Souza was born August 23, 1934, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Learning to play to trombone in his youth he went on to perform and record with Sergio Mendes, Flora Purim, Airto Moreira, Milton Nascimento, Sonny Rollins, Cal Tjader, Hermeto Pascoal and the jazz-fusion band Caldera.
Raul’s debut album as a leader came in 1965 with A Vontade Mesmo for RCA Brazil followed up three years later with International Hot on the Equipe label. His American debut release Sweet Lucy, produced by composer and pianist George Duke on the Capitol Records label, also produced his sophomore project, Don’t Ask My Neighbors. Colors, a Milestone recording is now a part of the Original Jazz Classics series from Fantasy Records.
By 1979, de Souza was releasing ‘Til Tomorrow Comes, an Arthur Wright production with many of the top soul session players in Los Angeles. Devoid of any jazz, it was an attempt to jump aboard the disco/funk bandwagon. Since then he has added eight more recordings as a leader to his catalogue and produced a DVD, O Universo Musical de Raul de Souza in 2012.
Trombonist Raul de Souza has appeared at many international jazz festivals and after living and working in the United States for many years, he has returned to live in Brazil where he continues to play and compose.
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Frank Rosolino was born on August 20, 1926 in Detroit, Michigan. He studied the guitar with his father from the age of 9 and took up the trombone at age 14 while he was enrolled at Miller High School where he played with Milt Jackson in the school’s stage band and small group. Having never graduated, he joined the 86th Division Army Band during World War II.
Perhaps most influential of all was the street education Frank received after returning to Detroit following his period in the Army during which he sat in at the Mirror Ballroom or the Bluebird where other to-be-renowned musicians also congregated, the Jones brothers – Hank, Thad and Elvin, Tommy Flanagan, Kenny Burrell, Paul Chambers and later at the 3 Deuces on 52nd Street in New York City with Charlie Parker.
During this period Rosolino was also performing with the big bands of Bob Chester, Glen Gray, Tony Pastor, Herbie Fields, Gene Krupa and Stan Kenton. Leaving the Kenton outfit he settled in Los Angeles where he performed with Howard Rumsey’s Lighthouse All-Stars from 1954–1960 in Hermosa Beach.
Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, between nightclub engagements, Rosolino was active in many Los Angeles recording studios where he performed with such notables as Frank Sinatra, Sarah Vaughan, Tony Bennett, Peggy Lee, Mel Torme, Michel Legrand and Quincy Jones among others.
He can also be seen performing in “Sweet Smell of Success” in 1957 with Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis, and in 1958 with Shelly Manne’s group in the film “I Want To Live!” starring Susan Heyward and also. He was also a regular on The Steve Allen Show, The Tonight Show and The Merv Griffin Show. A talented vocalist, renowned for his wild form of scat-singing, Frank recorded one vocal album, “Turn Me Loose!” featuring both his singing and trombone playing. He can also be seen performing in the half hour syndicated program Jazz Scene USA, hosted by Oscar Brown, Jr.
It was during the 1970s that he performed and toured with Quincy Jones and the Grammy Award winning group Suoersax. He recorded some two-dozen sessions as a sideman and a dozen as a leader. Trombonist and vocalist Frank Rosolino committed suicide on November 26, 1978 after shooting his two sons.
George Roland Bohanon, Jr. was born on August 7, 1937 in Detroit, Michigan. The jazz trombonist and session musician studied in his youth and by his late teens he was a part of Detroit’s Workshop Jazz ensemble, with Johnny Griffin, Paula Greer, David Hamilton, Lefty Edwards and Herbie Williams.
Following his appearance on several Motown recordings, together with leading musicians such as Hank Cosby of the Funk Brothers, George moved to California.
In 1962, he replaced Garnett Brown in the Chico Hamilton Quintet. 1963 and 1964 witnessed two recorded albums for Motown’s unsuccessful jazz Workshop label, “Boss: Bossa Nova” and “Bold Bohanon”, with the latter be unreleased according to several sources.
By 1971, he was a member of the Ernie Wilkins Orchestra playing alongside trombonist Benny Powell that backed Sarah Vaughan on her album “A time In My Life”. Between 1984 and 1993, Bohanon played in orchestras backing Frank Sinatra. He has performed and/or recorded as a sideman with Charles Kynard, Hampton Hawes, Stanley Clarke, Ry Cooder, Etta James and Diana Krall. Trombonist George Bohanon continues to perform and record.
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Elmer Crumbley was born on August 1, 1908 in Kingfisher, Oklahoma. The trombonist joined the Dandie Dixie Minstrels in 1926 in between stints with bandleader Lloyd Hunter and his Serenaders. By 1930 Elmer made it east to Kansas City and the George E. Lee band.
During the 30s he continued to work with Lloyd Hunter as well as with western swing pioneer Tommy Douglas in Nebraska, then with Bill Owens, Jabbo Smith and in Chicago with Erskine Tate. He led an ensemble in Omaha in 1934 then joined up with Jimmie Lunceford, enjoying a thirteen-year stint playing with band mates Eddie Wilcox, Lucky Millinder and Erskine Hawkins.
By the late ’50s Crumbley was touring Europe with Sammy Price and became part of the combo scene at the Apollo in Harlem. The Sixties saw him playing with Cab Calloway and Earl Hines, keeping him in slide oil.
Little is known about him after this period and trombonist Elmer Crumbley passed away in 1993 at the age of 85.
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