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Frank Motley


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Cheraw, South Carolina, USA

Frank Motley ( born December 30th 1923, Cheraw, South Carolina, USA - died May 31st 1998 Durham NC) was born in the same southern town as Dizzy Gillespie whom he learned the rudiments of his trumpet playing technique from. Motley, after a stint in the U.S. Navy, moved to New York City circa 1946 where he participated in the dawn of the be-bop movement. Motley developed a gimmick of playing two trumpets simultaneously, earning him the nickname “Two Horn” Motley.

After forming a band called the Motley Crew in 1949 and relocating to Washington, D.C. in 1950, he partnered with drummer Tommy `T.N.T’ Tribble and record producer Lillian Claiborne of DC Records, where he sold sides to labels such as Gotham, rca victor, Specialty, Josie, Hollywood, Big Town, Quality, Gem, Chess and other small labels. The tracks received favorable notice in the trade publications of the day and represent an important transition between the swing band traditions of the 1940s, and the small-combo rhythm and blues style of the early 1950s that led to the prevalence of rock n roll. The music ran the gamut from instrumental swing and jump blues with call-and-response vocals with vocals generally handled by a large cast.

A consummate entertainer with his unique two horn technique that was featured in Ripley’s `Believe It Or Not.’, Frank Motley’s stage show was also built around the antics of featured vocalists like `Angel Face’ Kenley and Curley Bridges, saxmen `Little Willie’ Hickerson and `King’ Herbert Whitaker. Drummer TNT Tribble, was billed as the`The Walking Drummer Man’.


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