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Andy Gibson

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One of the better (and more unsung) arrangers of the swing era, Andy Gibson's writing helped to uplift the repertoire of many orchestras. He had violin lessons early on and switched to trumpet. Although a professional player, Gibson was never utilized for solos. He worked with Lew Redman (1931), Zack Whyte (1932-1933), McKinney's Cotton Pickers (1934-1935), Blanche Calloway, Willie Bryant, and Lucky Millinder. Starting in 1937, Gibson gave up playing and concentrated on writing, including for such orchestras as Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Cab Calloway, Charlie Barnet, and Harry James among many others. While in the Army (1942-1945) he led his own big band. After his discharge, Gibson continued freelancing as a writer (most notably for Barnet). He gradually switched from swing to R&B and became the musical director for King Records (1955-1960). Among Andy Gibson's best-known originals are "I Left My Baby" (which featured Jimmy Rushing with Count Basie), "The Great Lie," and "The Hucklebuck" (an R&B hit based on Charlie Parker's "Now's the Time"). He only led four numbers as a leader (for a Camden LP shared with other musicians) in 1959. ~ Scott Yanow

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