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Eddie Durham

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Biography

Eddie Durham, a somewhat forgotten name in jazz history, was the first important jazz soloist to be featured on electric guitar (in 1938 with the Kansas City Five), predating Charlie Christian by a year. He also played trombone throughout most of his career and was quite significant as a swing-era arranger, too. He started playing guitar and trombone with six siblings in the Durham Brothers band. Durham toured in some territory bands in the Midwest, was with Walter Page's Blue Devils, and then worked with Bennie Moten (1929-1933) with whom he made his recording debut. After moving to New York in 1934, Durham worked as an arranger with Willie Bryant and then played with Jimmie Lunceford (1935-1937) and Count Basie (1937-1938). He also contributed arrangements to Artie Shaw and Glenn Miller, in 1940 led a short-lived big band of his own and during 1941-1943 was the musical director for the International Sweethearts of Rhythm. Durham later led an otherwise all-female group and freelanced mostly as an arranger. In 1969, he returned to active playing with Buddy Tate and in later years played with the Countsmen (with whom he recorded) and the Harlem Blues and Jazz Band. Among Durham's most famous arrangements through the years were "Moten Swing" for Bennie Moten, Jimmy Lunceford's "Lunceford Special," several notable charts for Count Basie ("Topsy," "Swinging the Blues," and "Jumpin' at the Woodside"), and Glenn Miller's "In the Mood."

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Born:

19 August 1906 in San Marcos, TX

Genre
Years Active:

'20s, '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s