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*Edgar Sampson was born on this date in 1907. He was a Black musician and arranger.
Edgar Melvin Sampson was born in New York City. As a young man, he played alto saxophone and violin in several bands during the 20s and 30s, including Duke Ellington, Rex Stewart, and Fletcher Henderson. His most notable period as a player was the two years he spent with Chick Webb that began in 1934. Separate from writing outstanding arrangements of popular songs for the Webb band, he also composed several tunes that became jazz standards.
Among them were "Stompin' At The Savoy," "Don't Be That Way" (later adopted by Benny Goodman as his theme song), "If Dreams Come True," and "Blue Lou." After leaving Webb, Sampson wrote for him and several others, including Goodman, Artie Shaw, and Teddy Wilson. He also played alto, tenor, and baritone saxophones. He briefly led his big band in the late 40s and early 50s, then formed small groups. Sampson is often overlooked in accounts of the development of big band jazz arrangements.
Sampson's work bears a favorable comparison with that of the better-known arrangers of the period. In the 50s and early 60s, he wrote for Tito Puente and several other popular Latin bands. Edgar Sampson, one of the outstanding arrangers in big band jazz, died in Englewood, New Jersey on January 16, 1973.