Louis Armstrong-Dizzy Gillespie-Miles Davis-Whynton Marsalis-
Kid Ory-Jack Teagarden-Tommy Dorsey

Page 3 is devoted to the trumpet, trombone and all other players of the "Brass" instruments who made their mark in Jazz improvisation.

On the "Piano Players" page we said that Jazz began in the middle 1920's with the improvisations of Earl Hines and that he was inspired by the "horn" lines of Louie Armstrong. So that's where we begin.

LOUIS ARMSTRONG (Satchmo) (1900 - 1971)
Born on the 4th of July in the New Orleans slums, his father left when he was five. At the age of 12, Louis celebrated New Year's Eve by shooting off some blank cartridges and as a result of this incident, he spent a year and a half in the "colored waifs home".

This experience was to forever change his life. A teacher at the school...Peter David... gave Louis his first horn and some lessons.

At the age of 17, King Oliver (then playing for Kid Ory) took him under his wing and continued his horn training. He married Daisy Parker at the age of 19. In 1917, Oliver left Kid Ory and Louis took his place.

In 1922 Louis rejoined Oliver in Chicago. At Oliver's request Oliver's pianist, Lil Hardin, encouraged and pushed Louis into studying music seriously. In 1924 he married Lil Hardin (his second marriage).

The next 6 years were the most productive with the "Hot Five" & "Hot Seven" recordings. From 1931 - 1947 he led a big band. In 1947 he returned to a Chicago Style format (using sidemen like Trummy Young)...and appeared in numerous movies which made him popular with a lot of non-jazz fans as well. (Hello Dolly, Pennies From Heaven)

Louis (Satchmo) became America's musical ambassador and travelled extensively. He died July 6th, 1971


  • Joe "King" Oliver (1885-1938)
  • Nick LaRocca (1889-1961)
  • Joseph "Buddy" Petit (1890)
  • Freddie Keppard (1890-1933)
  • Russel Smith (1890-1966)
  • Anatie "Natty" Dominique (1896-1982)
  • Edward Clifton "Ed" Allen (1897-1974)
  • Elmer Chambers (1897-1952)
  • Johny Dunn (1897-1937)

  John Birks Gillespie:Born October 21 1917, Cheraw, South Carolina, USA, deceased January 6 1993.
Gillespie began playing trombone at the age of 12 and a year or so later took up the trumpet. Largely self-taught, he won a musical scholarship but preferred playing music to formal study. In 1935 he quit university and went to live in Philadelphia, where he began playing in local bands. During this time he acquired the nickname "Dizzy".

Gillespie's technique attracted a great deal of attention and in 1937 he went to New York to try out for the Lucky Millinder band. He did not get the job but soon afterwards was hired for a European tour by Teddy Hill.

Back in the USA in 1939, Gillespie played in various New York bands before before joining the Cab Calloway Band, which was then riding high. While with Calloway, Gillespie began his experiments with phrasing that was different than the ordinary jazz trumpet style. His progessive style eventually became the foundation for "Bebop.

In 1956 Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. recommented to President Eisenhow that Gillespie was the ideal man to lead an orchestra on a State Department-sponsored goodwill tour of Africa, the Middle East and Asia. The tour was a great success, and soon after his return to the USA he was invited to make another tour, this time to South America.

As the 90s began Gillespie was still performing, usually occupying center stage, but also happy to sit and reminisce with old friends and new, to sit in with other musicians, and to live life pretty much the way he had done for more than half a century.

It was a shock to the music world on January 6 1993 when it was announced that Dizzy had passed away... perhaps we had selfishly thought that he was immortal.

In the history of the development of jazz trumpet, Gillespie's place ranked second only to that of Louis Armstrong.


  • Leon "Bix" Beiderbecke (1903-1931)
  • Ernest "Red" Nichols (1905-1965)
  • Benny Carter (1907)
  • Sy Oliver (1910-1988)
  • Roy "Little Jazz" Eldridge (1911-1989)
  • Louis Prima (1911-1978)
  • Harry "Ziggy" Elman (1914-1968)
  • Bobby Hackett (1915-1976)
  • Harry James (1916-1983)
  • Billy May (1916)

Miles Dewey Davis: Born 1926...Died 1991.
Born in Alton, Illinois to Miles and Cleota Henrey Davis. In 1927 the family moves to East Saint Louis. In 1939 Miles is given a trumpet by his father for his birthday. In 1941 he gets his first job playing trumpet in Randall's "Blue Devils".

Miles meets Clark Terry for the first time. 1942 - Miles marries his sweetheart Irene. In 1944 Miles moves to New York City to study at the Julliard School of Music, but especially to search out Charlie Parker, whom along with Gillespie were pioneering "be-bop". In 1948 Miles meets Gil Evans. They begin organizing ideas for what was to become the "Birth of the Cool" material. Miles travels to Europe in 1949 for the first time. He appears with Tadd Dameron in Paris.

Between 1950 and 1955 Miles is in and out of the studio, recording tunes for Prestige and Blue Note while struggling with a bad heroin addiction. His life and career spiral downward. In 1955 Miles makes "comeback" performance at the Newport Jazz festival. His performance leads to a recording contract with Columbia records. In 1958 Miles starts a new emphasis on modal jazz, recording "Milestones" and "Kind of Blue". In 1969 Miles experiments with electronic instrumentation and rock music rhythms.

In 1970 Miles begins playing Rock venues. His concerts are extended jams. In 1975 Miles claims he "just can't hear the music anymore". He retires and disappears for six years. In 1981 Miles returns to a whole new generation of listeners. In 1985 his contract with Columbia records is not renewed. He signs with Warner Bros. and releases the album "Tutu" in 1986. In 1991 Miles Davis dies... but his music lives on.


  • Mercer Ellington (1919)
  • Clark Terry (1920)
  • Thad Jones (1923-1986)
  • Theodore "Fats" Navarro (1923-1950)
  • Ray Wetzel (1924-1951)
  • Maynard Ferguson (1928)
  • Carl Massey (1928-1972)
  • Chesney "Chet" Baker (1929-1988)

Wynton Marsalis: Born October 18, 1961 in New Orleans.
Wynton was the second of six sons of Dolores and Ellis Marsalis. His father Ellis, was and is, a renown jazz pianist, teacher and composer in his own right; (the teacher of Harry Connick, Jr.)

Wynton began seriously studying the trumpet at the age of 12. In early 1980, he joined Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, and that same year at the ripe old age of 20, signed with Columbia Records. Marsalis has received many awards internationally as well as 8 Grammy awards for his jazz and classical recordings.

Marsalis serves as Artistic Director for the "Jazz at Lincoln Center" program, which he helped found in 1987. In addition to composing, recording and performing, Marsalis devotes a great deal of his time educating young people about Jazz.

In recognition of the time he has given to music education, he has been honored by many cities across the country...he has received many community service awards as well as a Congressional citation. He has also received honorable degrees from Yale, Princeton, Manhattan School of Music and Hunter College.


  • Bill Berry (1930)
  • Clifford Brown (1930-1956)
  • Nat Adderley (1931)
  • Don Cherry (1936)
  • Chuck Mangione (1940)

THE TROMBONE PLAYERS:Although there have been many excellent Trombone players throughout the history of Jazz...we will focus on four who have made a significant impact on Jazz as we know it today.

Edward "Kid" Ory: 1886-1973
In the early years of Jazz, Kid Ory was considered to be the greatest of all trombone players. Originally a banjo player...he switched to trombone.This probably helped him shape the "tailgate" style of playing on the trombone.

From 1912 to 1919 he lead one of the most popular bands in New Orleans. His Band was made-up of such musicians as King Oliver, Louis Armstrong, Johnny Dodds, Sidney Bechet and Jimmie Noone...all who would be later known as "Hot Jazz" musicians.

In 1919 Ory moved to California where he put together a new group of New Orleans musicians. In 1922 they became the first black jazz band to record under the name of "Spike's Seven Pods of Pepper Orchestra".

In 1925 he moved to Chicago, and played regularly with King Oliver, Louis Armstrong and his Hot Five and Hot Seven and with Jelly Roll Morton and several other Chicago groups.

Ory played very little during the Depression...but formed his own Band during the "Dixieland" revival in the 1940's. He continued to play, tour, and record Jazz until he retired in 1966.

Weldon "Jack" Teagarden: 1905-1964
Jack Teagarden was an important part of the New York Jazz scene in the late 1920's. Considered one of the best White Jazz singers, particularly when he sang the Blues, "Jack" was big hit with songs like "Makin' Friends." His many recordings with groups... including Roger Wolfe Kahn , Eddie Condon , Red Nichols, and Louis Armstrong was an indication of his skill on the trombone.

In late 1933, he joined the Paul Whiteman Orchestra . Leaving Whiteman in 1939, Teagarden organized a big band continued to played successfully until 1946. Then from 1947 to 1951 he played with the Louis Armstrong's All-Stars.

After leaving Armstrong , he lead a Dixieland sextet for the rest of his career. He played with such talented musicians as Jimmy McPartland, and (during a 1957 European tour) pianist Earl Hines. In 1964 he died from a heart attack


Tommy Dorsey: Born November 19 1905, Shenandoah, Pennsylvania, USA, died November 26 1956.
Tommy was taught music by his father, a music teacher, in his early childhood. He started with trumpet, but switched to trombone. He played in various bands, often with his brother Jimmy. With his brother, Dorsey later played in a number of leading bands.

In 1934 he and Jimmy formed the Dorsey Brothers Orchestra. The brothers frequently argued, and after one such argument, Tommy walked out leaving Jimmy to take over the orchestra. Tommy then took over the danceband led by Joe Haymes. Dorsey set about turning the band into well-disciplined team...it became the finest dance orchestra of the era. Over the years Dorsey's orchestra inluded several strong jazz players, including Bunny Berigan, Buddy Rich, Johnny Mince, Yank Lawson, Pee Wee Erwin, Buddy De Franco, Gene Krupa, Charlie Shavers and Bud Freeman.

He also hired Frank Sinatra. Although Sinatra was beginning to establish a reputation with Harry James, his period with Dorsey made him into an international singing star.

Although Dorsey never thought of himself as a jazz player, some of his early recordings display a gifted musician with a strong sense of style. Like his brother (Jimmy), Tommy Dorsey was technically outstanding and raised trombone playing to new heights of perfection. A heavy eater, Tommy Dorsey choked to death in his sleep.

  • Julian Prester
  • Curtis Fuller
  • Glen Ferris
  • Wycliffe Gordon
  • Alain Cuttat
  • Jimmy Harrison
  • J.C. Higginbotham
  • Eugene Primos


Sign My Guestbook Guestbook by GuestWorldView My Guestbook

get this gear!

Find Music: