Personalities | Frankie Trumbauer | Twenties | Jazz & Blues
(C-melody and alto saxophone, 1901–56)
Known as ‘Tram’ by his colleagues, Trumbauer was a player of impeccable technique who had a major influence on many saxophonists in the 1920s (notably Benny Carter and Lester Young). He first recorded in 1923 with the popular Benson Orchestra of Chicago and by 1926 was playing alongside cornettist and kindred spirit Bix Beiderbecke in Jean Goldkette’s Orchestra at the Graystone Ballroom in Detroit.
Bix and Tram – the two greatest white instrumentalists of the period – were reunited as star soloists in Paul Whiteman’s orchestra in 1927. Trumbauer remained until 1932, during which time he was also on the bandstand with Eddie Lang, Joe Venuti, Andy Secrest, Mildred Bailey and Bing Crosby. His second hitch with Whiteman lasted four years, from 1933–36, and was followed by a stint with the Three Ts, featuring Charlie and Jack Teagarden. Trumbauer continued to record both as a sideman and a leader in the early 1950s.
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