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Tue, 09.08.2009

Buck Clayton, Trumpeter born

On this date in 1911, Buck Clayton was born. He was a Black jazz musician.

Clayton was born in Parsons, Kansas, began piano lessons at age 6, and switched to trumpet at 16. The early days of his career were spent in California, where he organized a band to play in Shanghai in 1934. After returning to California, he continued to lead his groups.  During a tour to the Midwest, he met Count Basie, who hired him to replace Hot Lips Page as soloist and arranger.

Clayton's trumpet style, a full, clear tone, and warm lyricism, with swinging improvisations derived from Louis Armstrong and the often overlooked Joe Smith, can be heard on Basie's early recordings such as "Swingin' The Blues," "Jumpin' at The Woodside," and "Good Morning Blues." He also played sessions with Billie Holiday and jams produced by John Hammond and later with Jazz at the Philharmonic. After leaving Basie, he led his groups, toured Europe, and worked with Jimmy Rushing. Clayton appeared in the film "The Benny Goodman Story" and played with Sidney Bechet at the World's Fair in Brussels.

In 1959, he joined Eddie Condon's band, touring Japan and Australia with the group in 1964.  He made annual tours of Europe in the '60s, appearing at major jazz festivals there and in the States.  Medical and dental woes ended that career in the late '60s, though he got some of his chops back and continued to play into the '70s, touring Africa for the State Department in 1977 and Europe with the Count's men in 1983.

Clayton taught at Hunter College in the early '80s and formed a big band featuring Howard Alden and Dan Barrett to play his arrangements in 1987. One of the yeoman trumpeters of the swing era, Buck Clayton's career extended into the early-'90s as an arranger and bandleader.  Buck Clayton died on Dec. 8, 1991.

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