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date: 08 July 2020

Nance, Ray [Willis ]locked

  • Barry Kernfeld

Extract

[Willis ]

(b Chicago, Dec 10, 1913; d New York, Jan 28, 1976). American trumpeter, cornetist, violinist, singer, and dancer. He learned piano from the age of six, initially taking lessons from his mother. Later he took up violin, taught himself trumpet, and marched as a drum master in high school. From 1932 to 1937 he led a sextet in Chicago, then worked, principally as a trumpeter, with Earl Hines (February 1937 – December 1938) and Horace Henderson (January 1939 – March 1940). In 1940, after spending eight months performing as a solo act – singing, dancing, and playing both trumpet and violin – he joined Duke Ellington, with whom he remained until 1963 apart from a few periods, including nine months’ leave in 1944 to lead his own quartet. While with Ellington, Nance continued to make use of all his talents. He often performed as a singer and dancer, and the full and penetrating tone he obtained on violin was the highlight of many of the band’s recordings, including ...

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