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Johnny Coles

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Johnny Coles (July 3, 1926, Trenton, New Jersey - December 21, 1997, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) was an American jazz trumpeter.
Coles spent his early career playing with rhythm & blues groups, including those of Eddie Vinson (1948–1951), Bull Moose Jackson (1952), and Earl Bostic (1955–1956). He was with James Moody from 1956 to 1958, and played with Gil Evans’s orchestra between 1958 and 1964, including on the Miles Davis album Sketches of Spain. After this he spent time with Charles Mingus in his sextet which also included Eric Dolphy, Clifford Jordan, Jaki Byard, and Dannie Richmond. Following this he played with Herbie Hancock (1968–1969), Ray Charles (1969–1971), Duke Ellington (1971–1974), Art Blakey (1976), Dameronia, Mingus Dynasty, and the Count Basie Orchestra under the direction of Thad Jones (1985–1986).
Coles, nicknamed “Little Johnny C”, recorded as a leader several times over the course of his career.


Johnny Coles never became a star name, but his associations with a half-dozen of the leading jazz figures of the post-war era are significant enough testament to his musical ability.

Whether through circumstances or lack of inclination, Coles seemed content to work with others at the helm throughout his career, but he earned a significant reputation within those parameters. He was never a band-leader of any note, and recorded very few records under his own name. His debut album The Warm Sound, appeared in 1961, while his most significant record as a leader, Little Johnny C, was issued on Blue Note label in 1963.

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