Bill Hughes (musician)

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Bill Hughes
Birth name William Henry Hughes
Born (1930-03-28) March 28, 1930 (age 87)
Dallas, Texas
Origin Washington, D.C., USA
Genres Jazz, swing, big band
Occupation(s) Musician, bandleader
Instruments Trombone
Years active 1946–2010
Associated acts The Count Basie Orchestra

William Henry "Bill" Hughes (born March 28, 1930) is an American jazz trombonist and bandleader. He has spent most of his career with the Count Basie Orchestra and was the director of that ensemble until September 2010.


Early life and career[edit]

Bill Hughes was born in Dallas, Texas, and his family moved to Washington, D.C., when he was nine years old. His father worked at the Bureau of Engraving and played trombone in the Elks Club marching band. Hughes began playing the trombone at age twelve or thirteen and was performing at Washington jazz venues by the age of sixteen. One of these venues was the 7T Club, where he performed with saxophonist and flautist Frank Wess.[1] While students at Howard University, Hughes and Wess played in the Howard Swingmasters, along with bassist Eddie Jones. The Swingmasters were one of several early groups that helped promote the study and performance of jazz at Historically Black Colleges and Universities.[2] Although interested in playing music, Hughes originally wanted to pursue a career as a pharmacist. He graduated from the Howard University School of Pharmacy in 1952 and began working at the National Institutes of Health.[1]

The Count Basie Orchestra[edit]

His career plans changed the following year when Wess, a member of the Count Basie Orchestra, suggested that Count Basie invite Hughes to join the band. Hughes was also asked to join the Duke Ellington Orchestra; however in September 1953, he joined the Basie band where he already knew members Frank Wess, Eddie Jones, and Benny Powell. Hughes played in a three-piece tenor trombone section with Powell and Henry Coker until September 1957, when he decided to take a break from touring in order to help raise his family. During this hiatus, Hughes worked for the United States Postal Service and played trombone at the Howard Theater as well as with some small groups in Washington. A few years after returning to the band in July 1963, Hughes switched from the tenor to the bass trombone. Hughes took over leadership of the band in 2003 following the death of Grover Mitchell.[1] He retired from the band in September 2010,[3] stating he wanted to spend more time with his wife Dolores, whom he married on July 6, 1952. They now live in Staten Island, New York and have three children.[2]


With the Count Basie Orchestra

With Al Grey


  1. ^ a b c "Bill Hughes". All About Jazz. December 12, 2009. Archived from the original on March 15, 2010. Retrieved February 26, 2010. 
  2. ^ a b Howard University Department of Music. "William Henry Hughes" (PDF). Retrieved June 19, 2010. 
  3. ^ Dawn Singh Publicity (September 7, 2010). "Bill Hughes, bandleader and director of the Legendary Count Basie Orchestra Announces Retirement". All About Jazz. Archived from the original on September 8, 2010. Retrieved September 21, 2010. 

External links[edit]