Today In Jazz

Happy Birthday Elmer Crumbley!

August 1

Trombonist Elmer Crumbley is born in King Fisher, OK, 1908. Elmer Crumbley came into this world at the same time as jazz, (short) silent films and Edison cylinders, and left it 106 years later, in the era of hip-hop, music videos and the mp3 player. Crumbley’s career encompasses the time frame of jazz. He began by playing with mid-1920s groups such as the Dandie Dixie Minstrels, trumpeter Jabbo Smith and clarinetist Tommy Douglas (through whose band Jo Jones and then Charlie Parker later passed), and ended it in the 1960s, playing with the big bands of the seemingly resuscitated Earl Hines and Cab Calloway. In between, he spent 13 years with the Jimmie Lunceford Orchestra, for which he is most often associated by jazz historians. After Lunceford’s death and the band’s break-up, Crumbley played in the remnants of orchestras led by trumpeter Erskine Hawkins and Lucky Millinder. In the 1950s, he toured Europe with bluesy pianist Sammy Price and regularly appeared at Harlem’s Apollo Theater with saxophonist/ bandleader Reuben Phillips. Crumbley died in 1993. Listen to a mood-music single the trombonist made sometime in the 1950s under the name Elmer Crumbley and Ork, “Man Want Water,” here:

It gives you a taste of his big, tailgating tone. And here he plays his part in the legendarily tight Lunceford band, swinging Stephen Foster’s “Swanee River,”:

On this date in 1959, clarinetist Tony Scott records the LP I’ll Remember, with pianist Bill Evans, bassist Jimmy Garrison and drummer Pete La Roca.