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Sun, 10.10.1915

Harry “Sweets” Edison, Jazz artist born

Harry Edison

Harry Edison, a Black musician, was born on this date in 1915 born in Columbus, Ohio.

Harry “Sweets” Edison was a trumpeter who was inspired by Louis Armstrong. He gained valuable early experience with a number of bands, including the Jeter-Pillars Orchestra.  After a short spell with Lucky Millinder, Edison joined the Count Basie band in 1938, where he remained until Basie folded his big band in 1950.  Edison then began a long career as leader of small groups, a solo artist, and studio musician; he also worked occasionally with band leaders such as Buddy Rich.

He toured with Jazz At The Philharmonic and in the 1950s his work came to the attention of millions who never knew his name when he performed with the Nelson Riddle orchestra behind the vocals of Frank Sinatra. In the 1960s he worked occasionally with Basie again but was mostly heard as a soloist, touring extensively on the international club and festival circuit. He also recorded with the saxophonists Jimmy Forrest and Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis. In performance Edison often favored playing with a Harmon mute and, while he had many imitators, few matched his laconic wit and inventiveness.

His trademark of repeated single notes is something no other trumpeter has been able to use to such good effect. On his numerous recording dates he was teamed with most of the big names in jazz and continually defied his advancing years. In November 1989, he appeared as featured soloist with the Frank Wess-Harry Edison Orchestra at the Fujitsu-Concord Jazz Festival in Japan.

Harry Edison died on July 27, 1999 in Columbus, Ohio.

Jazz People
by Harry N. Abrams, Incorporated, New York
Copyright 1976
ISBN 0-8109-1152-3

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