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Henry Allen © William P. Gottlieb; used by permission. William P. Gottlieb Collection, Library of Congress (LC-GLB13-0004 DLC).

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Allen, Henry “Red” (07 January 1908–17 April 1967), trumpeter, was born Henry James Allen, Jr., in Algiers, Louisiana, the son of Henry James Allen, Sr., a trumpeter and leader of a brass band, and Juretta (maiden name unknown). Allen received instruction from his father and his two uncles, who were also trumpeters. Rehearsals were held at home, giving Allen the opportunity to hear New Orleans greats like ...

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Cat Anderson, c. 1946-1948. © William P. Gottlieb; used by permission. William P. Gottlieb Collection, Library of Congress (LC-GLB23-0008 DLC).

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Anderson, Cat (12 September 1916–29 April 1981), jazz trumpeter, was born William Alonzo Anderson, Jr., in Greenville, South Carolina. Nothing is known of his parents, who died when he was four. Anderson grew up in Jenkins’ Orphanage in Charleston, where as a boy he received the nickname “Cat” after scratching and tearing in a fight with a bully. He played in the orphanage’s renowned bands, beginning on trombone and playing other brass and percussion instruments before taking up trumpet. From 1929 onward he participated in orphanage band tours, and in Florida in 1933 he formed the cooperative Carolina Cotton Pickers with fellow orphanage musicians. Returning to Charleston in 1934, they continued playing as the Carolina Cotton Pickers and then resumed touring....

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Archey, Jimmy (12 October 1902–16 November 1967), jazz trombonist, was born James H. Archey in Norfolk, Virginia. Nothing is known of his parents. He started playing the trombone in 1912 and from 1915 to 1919 studied music at Hampton Institute, spending his summers playing in a band led by pianist Lillian Jones. After working in Quentin Redd’s band on the Atlantic City boardwalk around 1922, Archey moved to New York City in 1923 and played with trumpeter Lionel Howard’s band at the Saratoga Club and the Capitol Palace. The next year he worked at Ed Small’s and from 1925 to mid-1926 spent a year touring with the Lucky Sambo Revue and another few months with the Tan Town Topics. Starting in late 1926 he worked with the bands of John C. Smith and Arthur Gibbs and began a residency at the Bamboo Inn with Ed Campbell. In 1927 he played in pianist Edgar Hayes’s pit band at the Alhambra Theater, briefly toured with ...

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Louis Armstrong © William P. Gottlieb; used by permission. William P. Gottlieb Collection, Library of Congress (LC-GLB13-0017 DLC).

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Armstrong, Louis (04 August 1901–06 July 1971), jazz trumpeter and singer, , known universally as “Satchmo” and later as “Pops,” was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, the illegitimate son of William Armstrong, a boiler stoker in a turpentine plant, and Mary Est “Mayann” Albert, a laundress. Abandoned by his father shortly after birth, Armstrong was raised by his paternal grandmother, Josephine, until he was returned to his mother’s care at age five. Mother and son moved from Jane Alley, in a violence-torn slum, to an only slightly better area, Franklyn and Perdido streets, where nearby cheap cabarets gave the boy his first introduction to the new kind of music, jazz, that was developing in New Orleans. Although Armstrong claims to have heard the early jazz cornetist ...

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Austin, Johnny (23 December 1910–14 February 1983), musician, was born John A. Augustine in Vineland, New Jersey, the son of Samuel Augustine and Henrietta Labriola, occupations unknown. Little is known about his early years, and it is not known when he began using the name “Austin” professionally. Originally a student of the violin, he took up drums and played in his high school band and, later, with dance bands in the greater Philadelphia area. In one of these combos was a trumpeter whose playing Austin found unusually exciting. When the trumpeter left to join another band, Austin obtained a horn of his own and did his best to emulate the man’s style. He matured rapidly as a trumpeter and began to build a local reputation as a forceful performer on the instrument. On occasion, to please and impress audiences, he would play trumpet and drums simultaneously....

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Baker, Chet (23 December 1929–13 May 1988), jazz trumpet player and singer, was born Chesney Henry Baker in Yale, Oklahoma, the son of Vera Moser and Chestney Baker, a laborer and semiprofessional guitarist. Within two weeks after his father gave him a pawn shop trumpet, eleven-year-old Chet was picking at ...

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Beiderbecke, Bix (10 March 1903–06 August 1931), musician, was born Leon Bix Beiderbecke in Davenport, Iowa, the son of Bismarck Herman Beiderbecke, a coal and lumber dealer, and Agatha Jane Hilton. The youngest of three children in a well-to-do musical family, Beiderbecke was only seven when he achieved local fame for his ability to sit at the piano and play by ear virtually any tune of the day. At age fifteen, having come under the spell of the music of the riverboat bands and the Original Dixieland Jazz Band, he acquired a cornet and resolved to master the instrument on his own. He quickly became fluent enough to play jobs with other young musicians. His father and mother, distressed over his increasing preoccupation with jazz and his corresponding loss of interest in academic studies, enrolled him in Lake Forest Academy, a boarding school near Chicago. Beiderbecke made a poor adjustment to the school, however, and was compelled to withdraw. At age nineteen he thus was launched on a career as a jazz hornman....

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Berigan, Bunny (02 November 1908–02 June 1942), jazz trumpeter, was born Roland Bernard Berigan in Hilbert, Wisconsin, the son of William P. “Cap” Berigan, a railroad agent and then a candy and cigarette salesman, and Mayme Schlitzberg, a piano teacher. Berigan’s musical studies began with his mother, who taught him piano. He made his first public appearance at age eight as a vocalist, with accompaniment by his mother. In 1922 he took part in his first jazz concert as a member of the Pennsylvanians, a band led by Merrill Owen; he played trumpet and violin and sang. He dropped out of high school in his junior year....

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Bernhardt, Clyde Edric Barron (11 July 1905–20 May 1986), jazz trombonist and singer, was born Clyde Edric Barnhardt in Gold Hill, North Carolina, the son of Washington Michael Barnhardt, a miner, and Elizabeth Mauney. When Bernhardt was a child, he added the name Barron because his grandmother in slavery had been lent to a family named Barron who treated her kindly. He changed the spelling of his surname in 1930 on the advice of a psychic. In 1912, after his father suffered a heart attack and left mining, Bernhardt helped to peddle goods from a wagon. The family moved to New Hope (later absorbed into Badin) North Carolina, and in 1915 his father died. Bernhardt attended school for three months each year while holding various jobs, including work at Alcoa Aluminum in 1918....

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Bolden, Buddy (06 September 1877–04 November 1931), jazz musician, was born Charles Joseph Bolden in New Orleans, Louisiana, the son of Westmore Bolden, a drayman, and Alice Harrison. A cornetist and bandleader, Bolden is one of the earliest known figures in the development of jazz in New Orleans and was active from 1895 until 1906—the formative period in jazz’s early history....

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Bonano, Sharkey (09 April 1902–27 March 1972), jazz trumpeter and singer, was born Joseph Gustaf Bonano in the Milneburg section of New Orleans, Louisiana. His father was a classical flutist. He was given his nickname after the professional boxer “Sailor” Tom Sharkey. Using an instrument bought from black cornetist Buddy Petit, Bonano began playing while in his mid-teens, gaining some experience in local bands before working briefly in early 1920 in trombonist Eddie Edwards’s Jazz Orchestra in New York City. After returning to New Orleans, around 1921 he worked at a dance hall in the Lake Pontchartrain resort area in a band led by tubaist and bassist Chink Martin and then in pianist Freddie Newman’s group at the Ringside Club....

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Brown, Clifford (30 October 1930–26 June 1956), trumpeter, was born in Wilmington, Delaware. Brown’s parents’ names are not known. Brown’s father was a self-taught musician who played the trumpet, violin, and piano for his own amusement. He kept several instruments around the house. Young Clifford eventually picked up the bugle and demonstrated an aptitude for it. When he was twelve, Clifford was taken by his father to study with the renowned Wilmington teacher and bandleader Robert Lowery. Clifford spent three years with Lowery, studying jazz harmony, theory, trumpet, piano, vibraphone, and bass and playing in Lowery’s big band....

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Lawrence Brown © William P. Gottlieb; used by permission. William P. Gottlieb Collection, Library of Congress (LC-GLB23-0082 DLC).

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Brown, Lawrence (03 August 1907–05 September 1988), jazz trombonist, was born in Lawrence, Kansas, the son of John M. Brown, a minister in the African Methodist Episcopal church, and Maggie (maiden name unknown), who played pump organ for the church. When Brown was six the family moved to Oakland, California, where he learned piano; tuba, which he began to play in the Oakland public school system; and violin. He also briefly experimented with alto saxophone before taking up trombone, to which he became intensely devoted after the Browns relocated across the bay to San Francisco....

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Billy Butterfield © William P. Gottlieb; used by permission. William P. Gottlieb Collection, Library of Congress (LC-GLB23-0093 DLC).

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Butterfield, Billy (14 January 1917–18 March 1988), jazz trumpeter, was born Charles William Butterfield in Middleton, Ohio. His parents’ names are unknown. He studied privately with cornetist Frank Simons in his youth. At Transylvania College in Lexington, Kentucky, his intended medical studies gave way to work with dance bands. He soon quit school to join Andy Anderson’s local band. While playing with Anderson’s band in 1936, he was heard by bandleader ...

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Cappa, Carlo Alberto (09 December 1834–06 January 1893), bandleader and trombonist, was born in Alessandria, Italy. Little is known of his parentage. He began studies in the rudiments of music at the age of eight. Two years later he began studying the trombone, and that same year he entered the Royal Academy in Asti, a school to which admission was limited to the sons of soldiers. His father’s position as a major in the Sardinian army gave him the right to matriculate at the prestigious institution. At age fifteen he left the academy and enlisted in the Italian army as a trombonist with the band of the Sixth Lancers, whose duties consisted of performing at both public and private functions of Victor Emmanuel, the king of Sardinia and Italy. Cappa remained in the military for six years. He resigned from service when he received an invitation to join the band of the U.S. Navy frigate ...