Frankie TrumbauerView In iTunes
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A groundbreaking saxophonist (primarily on the C melody saxophone but on the alto as well) of the 1920s and '30s, Frankie Trumbauer was a major influence on jazz leaders to follow -- notably Lester Young. At his peak, Trumbauer's supreme standing on the saxophone was comparable to the kind of dominance later enjoyed by Charlie Parker. Born May 30, 1901, in Carbondale, Illinois, Trumbauer -- often called "Tram" by his contemporaries -- was playing with Chicago's Benson Orchestra when he was spotted by Bix Beiderbecke and quickly recruited to join the legendary cornetist in Jean Goldkette's orchestra. Soon Tram had climbed to the position of Goldkette's musical director, earning recognition for the impeccable technique of his light-toned solos; he cut some of the definitive records of the era with Beiderbecke, "Singin' the Blues" among them, and, by 1927, the two were reunited in Paul Whiteman's orchestra. Trumbauer remained with Whiteman until 1932, returning in 1933 for another four-year stint. When he exited in 1936, he took command of the Three T's, featuring the Teagarden brothers; in 1938, he moved on to co-lead a band with Manny Klein. With the onset of World War II, Trumbauer was assigned to the Civil Aeronautics Authority; still, he continued to pursue music in his off-hours, playing with Russ Case and cutting a number of New York studio dates during the latter half of the 1950s. However, with the arrival of the modern jazz era of the 1950s, Tram fell off the radar; he died June 11, 1956, in Kansas City, Missouri. ~ Jason Ankeny