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Kai Winding

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One of the finest trombonists to emerge from the bebop era, Kai Winding was always to an extent overshadowed by J.J. Johnson, although they co-led one of the most popular jazz groups of the mid-'50s. Born in Denmark, Winding emigrated to the U.S. with his family when he was 12. He had short stints with the orchestras of Alvino Rey and Sonny Dunham, and played in a service band in the Coast Guard for three years. Winding's first burst of fame occurred during his year with Stan Kenton's Orchestra (1946-1947), during which his phrasing influenced and was adopted by the other trombonists, leading to a permanent change in the Kenton sound. He also participated in some early bop sessions, played with Tadd Dameron (1948-1949), and was on one of the Miles Davis' nonet's famous recording sessions. After playing with the big bands of Charlie Ventura and Benny Goodman, he formed a quintet with J.J. Johnson (1954-1956); the two trombonists (who sounded nearly identical at the time) had occasional reunions after going their separate ways. Winding led a four-trombone septet off and on through the latter half of the 1950s and into the '60s, was music director for the Playboy clubs in New York, and during 1971-1972 worked with the Giants of Jazz (an all-star group with Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Stitt, and Thelonious Monk). Although he recorded frequently both as a leader and a sideman throughout his career, most of Winding's sessions are not currently available on CD. ~ Scott Yanow

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Birth Name:

Kai Chresten Winding


18 May 1922 in Aarhus, Denmark

Years Active:

'40s, '50s, '60s, '70s