Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

CLAYTON, Buck

(b Wilbur Dorsey Clayton, 12 Nov. '11, Parsons KS; d 8 Dec. '91 NYC) Trumpet, arranger. Played in various bands; leading 14-piece unit '34, booked to Shanghai by Teddy Weatherford; back in LA '36 leading own band; that autumn replaced Hot Lips Page with Count Basie, stayed till US Army service '43. In Buck Clayton's Musical World '86 (written with his partner, photographer Nancy Miller Elliott, and full of good stories, for example about his apprenticeship in dime-a- dance halls) he made it clear that he had come from a warm, supportive family. His sunny disposition and his childhood under the wide-open skies of the Midwest came out in his music: he never played an extra note, and they were all in the right place. He was a star of the classic Basie band, and was expert at what he called 'filling in the windows' behind vocalists like Billie Holiday. Also a talented arranger, he wrote for Basie, Benny Goodman, Harry James, others; worked for Norman Granz; led own sextet NYC '47; first European tour '49--50; appeared in biopic The Benny Goodman Story '55; with Goodman at Waldorf Astoria '57; led small group with Coleman Hawkins and J. J. Johnson at Newport Jazz Festival '56; at Brussels World's Fair with Sidney Bechet '58; toured Europe with Newport Festival package '59; appeared in Newport film Jazz On A Summer's Day '60; etc. Lip and other health problems meant temporary absence from music '69; practising again '71. To France '78; taught at Hunter College '80s; toured Europe with the Countsmen '83.

Solos on records with Basie '37--9 'Good Morning Blues', 'Smarty', 'My Heart Belongs To Daddy', 'Don't You Miss Your Baby'; backed Jimmy Rushing vocals on 'Boo Hoo', 'Exactly Like You'; many others. Lovely open and muted horn on Lester Young small-group session of 27 Sep. '38 for Brunswick, esp. on 'Way Down Yonder In New Orleans'; also played on many Teddy Wilson and Billie Holiday small-group records of the period. Copious freelance '50s work: 'Jam Session' series on Columbia '53--6 began with side-long versions of 'Hucklebuck' and 'Robbin's Nest' (compiled on The Complete CBS Buck Clayton Jam Sessions '93 on Mosaic). Also on that label with Frankie Laine; backed Rushing on LPs Jazz Odyssey, The Smith Girls; on Vanguard: Buckin' The Blues, Buck Meets Ruby with Ruby Braff; on Prestige Basie Reunion '58. Wrote as well as playing on Nat Pierce album Big Band At The Savoy Ballroom on RCA '57; made two sets of Ben And Buck in June '67 with Ben Webster and European rhythm sections, one on Sackville, one on Storyville; wrote LP Kansas City Woman for Humphrey Lyttelton and Buddy Tate on Black Lion '74; in '74--5 more jam sessions on Chiaroscuro. One of the best-loved mainstream veterans carried on writing when he couldn't play any more: Live From Greenwich Village on Nagel- Heyer had a big band playing Buck's tunes, incl. Warren Vach‚, Jerry Dodgion, Frank Wess and Dick Katz.