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Jesse Price

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An influential drummer who was best known for supporting major performers, Jesse Price appeared in many settings through the years. He began playing drums when he was 14, freelancing in Memphis, playing in the pit orchestra of the Palace Theatre in his hometown and accompanying blues singers. After moving to Kansas City in 1934, Price became an important fixture, playing with George E. Lee, Thamon Hayes, Count Basie's orchestra (1936) prior to Jo Jones, touring with Ida Cox and later working with Harlan Leonard (1939-41). Price moved to Los Angeles in 1941, playing with Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong (1943), Stan Kenton (1944), Basie (1944), Benny Carter, Slim Gaillard (1949) and (in Kansas City) Jay McShann, among many others. He was less active in the 1960s and '70s but led a band at the Monterey Jazz Festival as late as 1971. Price recorded 23 selections as a leader from 1946-48 (mostly for Capitol); they were usually blues-based but often used top jazz players. ~ Scott Yanow


May 1, 1909 in Memphis, TN

Years Active:

'40s, '50s