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Harry Edison, a Black musician, was born in Columbus, Ohio, on this date in 1915. Harry “Sweets” Edison was a trumpeter inspired by Louis Armstrong.
He gained valuable early experience with several bands, including the Jeter-Pillars Orchestra. After a short spell with Lucky Millinder, Edison joined the Count Basie band in 1938, remaining until Basie folded his big band in 1950. Edison then began a long career as a leader of small groups, a solo artist, and a studio musician; he also worked occasionally with bandleaders 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 occasionally worked with Basie again but was mostly heard as a soloist, touring extensively on the international club and festival circuit. He also recorded with the saxophonist Jimmy Forrest and Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis. Edison often favored playing with a Harmon mute in performance, 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. He was teamed with most of the big names in jazz on his numerous recording dates and continually defied his advancing years. In November 1989, he appeared as a 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.
by Harry N. Abrams, Incorporated, New York