Jazz Musician. He was an alto saxophonist and featured soloist in Duke Ellington's orchestra from May 1928 until his death, except for the period 1951 to 1955, when he led his own small ensemble. Born on Cambridge, Massachusetts, he started his musical career playing drums and piano before taking up the saxophone at the age of 14, beginning on the soprano and later the alto. Basically self taught, though he received encouragement from Sydney Bechet, he joined Ellington after brief stays in the bands of Lloyd Scott, Chick Webb and Lucky Roberts. He became the leading alto saxophonist in jazz throughout the 1930s, applying precision and swing to a "Sweet" tone and an improvisational sense of composition. He excelled at ballads ("Warm Valley" is among his most famous solos) and blues. Throughout his career he recorded extensively with Ellington, as well as on several albums under his own name.
Bio by: Curtis Jackson