Al Casey (jazz guitarist)

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Al Casey
Al Casey and Eddie Barefield, Café Society, New York, between 1946 and 1948 (William P. Gottlieb 01161).jpg
Al Casey and Eddie Barefield, Cafe Society, New York City, c. 1947
Photograph by William P. Gottlieb
Background information
Birth name Albert Aloysius Casey
Born (1915-09-15)September 15, 1915
Louisville, Kentucky, U.S.
Died September 11, 2005(2005-09-11) (aged 89)
New York City
Genres Jazz, swing
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments Guitar
Years active 1934 – 2004

Albert Aloysius Casey (September 15, 1915 – September 11, 2005) known professionally as Al Casey, was a jazz guitarist who was a member of Fats Waller's band during the 1930s and early 1940s.


Casey was born in Louisville, Kentucky. He attended DeWitt Clinton High School in New York City and studied guitar.[1]

He was a child prodigy who started on violin, then ukulele. He began playing guitar in 1930 and met Fats Waller in 1933. The following year, at the age of eighteen, he became a member of Waller's band. He made many recordings with the band, and he is noted for having played the solo in "Buck Jumpin'". After Waller's death in 1943, he led his own trio. For two consecutive years in the 1940s, he was voted best guitarist in Esquire magazine.[2][3]

Beginning in 1957, he was a member of a rhythm and blues band led by King Curtis.[2][3] Four years later he dropped out of music, though he returned in the 1970s to record with Helen Humes and Jay McShann. Another absence followed until 1981, when he returned to music to play with the Harlem Blues and Jazz Band. He died of colon cancer on September 11, 2005.[2][3][4]

During his career, Casey worked with Louis Armstrong, Chu Berry, Coleman Hawkins, Lionel Hampton, Billie Holiday, Billy Kyle, Frankie Newton, Clarence Profit, Art Tatum, and Teddy Wilson.[2][3]


According to jazz researcher Eric B. Borgman (son of jazz journalist George A. Borgman), Casey's birthdate may be incorrect. While double-checking his birthdate with U.S. census records he found Albert Casey listed as being 2 and 1/2 years old in the 1920 Kentucky census that was recorded on January 9, 1920. Borgman says this shows a 1917 birthdate. He further suggests that September may also be incorrect. This new birthdate information would suggest that Casey was actually about 88 years old when he died.[citation needed]


  • Buck Jumpin' (Original Jazz Classics, 1960)
  • Al Casey Quartet (Moodsville, 1960)
  • Al Casey (Prestige, 1961)
  • Jumpin' with Al: The Definitive Black & Blue Sessions (Black & Blue, 1974)
  • Guitar Odyssey (Jazz Odyssey, 1976)
  • Genius of Jazz Guitar (JSP, 1981)
  • Best of Friends (JSP, 1981)
  • Al Casey Remembers King Curtis (JSP, 1985)
  • A Tribute to "Fats" (Jazz Point, 1994)
  • Hitlist (2004)
  • Six Swinging Strings (JSP, 2012)[5]


  1. ^ Voce, Steve (15 September 2005). "Al Casey". The Independent. Retrieved 7 September 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d Ankeny, Jason. "Al Casey". AllMusic. Retrieved 16 March 2017.
  3. ^ a b c d Yanow, Scott (2013). The Great Jazz Guitarists. San Francisco: Backbeat. pp. 41–42. ISBN 978-1-61713-023-6.
  4. ^ "Al Casey Dies at 89; Early Jazz Guitarist". The New York Times. 13 September 2005. Retrieved 7 September 2017.
  5. ^ "Al Casey | Album Discography". AllMusic. Retrieved 16 March 2017.