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Jimmie Lunceford


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James Melvin “Jimmie” Lunceford (June 6, 1902 – July 12, 1947) was an American jazz alto saxophonist and bandleader in the swing era.

Lunceford was born in Fulton, Mississippi. Little is known about his parents, though his father was a choirmaster in Warren, Ohio, before the family moved to Denver. Lunceford went to high school in Denver and studied music under Wilberforce J. Whiteman, father of Paul Whiteman, whose band was soon to acquire a national reputation. As a child in Denver, he learned several instruments. He played alto saxophone in the band led by the violinist George Morrison. After high school, Lunceford continued his studies at Fisk University. In 1922, he played alto saxophone in a local band led by George Morrison which included Andy Kirk, another musician destined for fame as a bandleader.

In 1927, while an athletic instructor at Manassas High School in Memphis, Tennessee, he organized a student band, the Chickasaw Syncopators, whose name was changed to the Jimmie Lunceford Orchestra. Under the new name, the band started its professional career in 1929, and made its first recordings in 1930. Lunceford was the first high school band director in Memphis. After a period of touring, the band accepted a booking at the Harlem nightclub The Cotton Club in 1934 for their revue ‘Cotton Club Parade’ starring Adelaide Hall.


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  • JoshCIVM

    That picture's really awkward.

    23 Nov 2011 Reply
  • Druid66

    One of the great early jazz guys, who went too soon.

    12 Sep 2011 Reply


    23 Apr 2011 Reply
  • F_Hole

    I'd do anything to've seen this band. They were supposedly THE showman's big band, with the trumpet section spinning their trumpets in the air in unison, catching them to come in on cue. "Lunceford's trained seals" was one comment I remember the old timers making.

    10 May 2009 Reply
  • doceasubio


    18 Oct 2008 Reply
  • zrsullivan

    Forgive me.

    3 Jul 2008 Reply
  • zrsullivan

    You spam like no other, Sam. I sense a Sy Oliver rediscovery in the works, & lucky you, your hot garbage is stamped all over every relevant page! Oh, & the Lunceford Orchestra was better than some critics would have you believe.

    29 Jun 2008 Reply
  • SYL2Oh

    At the head of one of the most explosive orchestra of the swing era, Jimmie Luncerford contributed to the legend of Harlem.

    7 Jun 2008 Reply
  • trickyroman

    love vocals by Chuck Richards

    5 Mar 2008 Reply
  • schizodanny


    28 Jan 2008 Reply
  • ron_zed

    even two.

    17 May 2007 Reply

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