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Danny Polo

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A versatile clarinetist, Danny Polo was one of the finer (if unheralded) swing soloists of the big band era. He picked up the clarinet while quite young (his father was a clarinetist too), playing with a marching band when he was eight. He had a duo as a teenager with pianist Claude Thornhill. Polo worked with Elmer Schoebel in 1923, visited New Orleans with Merritt Brunies' Band and had stints with Arnold Johnson, Ben Bernie and Jean Goldkette (for three months filling in for Don Murray in 1926). After working with Paul Ash, Polo (along with drummer Dave Tough) went to Europe in the summer of 1927. He worked with George Carhart, Arthur Briggs, Lud Gluskin and other bands on the Continent. Polo stayed overseas for quite awhile, playing with Ambrose in London on and off during 1930-35. Although he returned to the U.S. in Dec. 1935, Polo came back to Britain three years later, rejoining Ambrose and working in Paris with Ray Ventura's Orchestra. He permanently relocated to the U.S. in Oct. 1939. Polo worked with Joe Sullivan (doubling on tenor), Jack Teagarden (1940-42 including prominently in the soundtrack of the Bing Crosby film "Birth Of The Blues") and Claude Thornhill's Orchestra. When the pianist was drafted, Polo led his own bands in the Midwest, rejoining Thornhill in 1947 in time for some of his finest recordings. Polo was still with Thornhill when he unexpectedly became ill and died in 1949 at the age of 48. In addition to appearing as a sideman on recording sessions with many European bands and with Thornhill (where his cool-toned clarinet worked quite well on the more adventurous Gil Evans charts), Danny Polo led two recording sessions of his own in London and one in Paris during 1937-39. ~ Scott Yanow

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1901 in Toluca, IL

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