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Wednesday, 16 October 2013
BLACK SOCIAL HISTORY : AFRICAN AMERICAN " DOC CHEATHAM " WAS WITHOUT QUESTION THE GREATEST 90-year OLD TRUMPETER OF ALL TIME : GOES INTO THE " HALL OF BLACK GENIUS "
BLACK SOCIAL HISTORY
Doc Cheatham's career reaches back to the early '20s, when he played in vaudeville theaters backing such traveling singers as Bessie Smith and Clara Smith. He moved to Chicago, recorded with Ma Rainey (on soprano sax), played with Albert Wynn, subbed for Louis Armstrong (his main idol), and had his own group in 1926. After stints with Wilbur DeParis and Chick Webb, he toured Europe with Sam Wooding. Due to his wide range and pretty tone, Cheatham worked as a non-soloing first trumpeter with McKinney's Cotton Pickers and Cab Calloway throughout the 1930s. He spent time with Teddy Wilson's big band, and was with the commercially successful Eddie Heywood Sextet (backing Billie Holiday on some recordings). In the 1950s, Cheatham alternated between Dixieland (Wilbur DeParis, guest spots with Eddie Condon) and Latin bands (Perez Prado, Herbie Mann). He was with Benny Goodman during 1966-1967, but it was not until the mid-'70s that Cheatham felt truly comfortable as a soloist. Duet sets with pianist Sammy Price launched his new career, and until his death in 1997, he recorded fairly prolifically including dates for Sackville, New York Jazz, Parkwood, Stash, GHB, Columbia, and several European labels. Cheatham was also a charming singer whose half-spoken, half-sung vocals took nothing away from his chance-taking trumpet flights.
Adolphus Anthony Cheatham, better known as Doc Cheatham June 13, 1905 – June 2, 1997 , was a jazz trumpeter, singer, and bandleader.
After having played in some of the leading jazz groups from the 1920s on, Cheatham enjoyed renewed acclaim in later decades of his career. He himself agreed with the critical assessment that he was probably the only jazz musician to create his best work after the age of 70.
Cheatham played in Albert Wynn's band (and occasionally substituted for Armstrong at the Vendome Theater), and recorded on sax with Ma Rainey before moving to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1927, where he worked with the bands of Bobby Lee and Wilbur de Paris before moving to New York City the following year. After a short stint with Chick Webb he left to tour Europe with Sam Wooding's band.
Cheatham returned to the United States in 1930, and played with Marion Handy and McKinney's Cotton Pickers before landing a job with Cab Calloway. Cheatham was Calloway's lead trumpeter from 1932 through 1939.
He performed with Benny Carter, Teddy Wilson, Fletcher Henderson, and Claude Hopkins in the 1940s; after World War II he started working regularly with Latin bands in New York City, including the bands of Perez Prado, Marcelino Guerra, Ricardo Ray (on whose catchy, hook-laden album "Jala, Jala Boogaloo, Volume II", he played exquisitely (but uncredited), particularly on the track "Mr. Trumpet Man"), Machito, and others. The first time Cheatham joined Machito's band, he was fired because he couldn't cope with clave rhythm. Cheatham eventually got the hang of it though. In addition to continuing Latin gigs, he played again with Wilbur de Paris and Sammy Price. He led his own band on Broadway for five years starting in 1960, after which he toured with Benny Goodman.
In the 1970s, Doc Cheatham made a vigorous self-assessment to improve his playing, including taping himself and critically listening to the recordings, then endeavoring to eliminate all clichés from his playing. The discipline paid off, and Doc received ever-improving critical attention.
His singing career began almost by accident in a Paris recording studio on 2 May 1977. As a level and microphone check at the start of a recording session with Sammy Price's band, Cheatham sang and scatted his way through a couple of choruses of "What Can I Say Dear After I Say I'm Sorry". The miking happened to be good from the start and the tape machine was already rolling, and the track was issued on the LP Doc Cheatham: Good for What Ails You. His singing was well received and Cheatham continued to sing in addition to play music for the rest of his career.
Cheatham toured widely in addition to his regular Sunday gig leading the band at Sweet Basil in Manhattan's Greenwich Village in his final decade. During one of his frequent trips to New Orleans, Louisiana, he met and befriended young trumpet virtuoso Nicholas Payton. In 1996 the two trumpeters and pianist Butch Thompson recorded a CD for Verve Records, Doc Cheatham and Nicholas Payton, which won them a Grammy Award.
Doc Cheatham continued playing until two days before his death, eleven days shy of his 92nd birthday.