Billy Butterfield

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Billy Butterfield
Billy Butterfield in Second Chorus.jpg
Billy Butterfield in the Artie Shaw band, 1940
Background information
Birth nameCharles William Butterfield
Born(1917-01-14)January 14, 1917
Middletown, Ohio, U.S.
DiedMarch 18, 1988(1988-03-18) (aged 71)
North Palm Beach, Florida
GenresJazz, swing, big band
InstrumentsTrumpet, flugelhorn, cornet

Charles William Butterfield (January 14, 1917 – March 18, 1988) was an American jazz bandleader, trumpeter, flugelhornist, and cornetist.

Early years[edit]

Charles William Butterfield[1] was born in Middletown, Ohio and attended high school in Wyoming.[2] Although he studied medicine at Transylvania College, he preferred playing in bands,[3] and he studied cornet with Frank Simon. He discontinued his studies after finding success as a trumpeter.


Early in his career he played in the band of Austin Wylie.[4] He gained attention working with Bob Crosby (1937–1940), and later performed with Artie Shaw, Les Brown, and Benny Goodman.

While with Bob Crosby, he initially played third trumpet behind the legendary Charlie Spivak and Yank Lawson. When those two left Crosby to join Tommy Dorsey's band in 1938, Butterfield was given the opportunity to solo on a song written by Crosby bassist Bob Haggart, initially titled "I'm Free." When lyrics were added, it became the well-known standard "What's New?". Crosby's version, featuring Butterfield's brilliant performance, is regarded as one of the great recordings of the Big Band era.

On October 7, 1940, during his brief stay with Artie Shaw's orchestra, Butterfield performed what has been described as a "legendary trumpet solo" on the hit song "Star Dust". He was also a featured soloist in the small group from Shaw's band, the Gramercy Five. Between 1943 and 1947, taking a break to serve in the United States armed forces, Butterfield led his own orchestra. On September 20, 1944, Capitol recorded the jazz standard "Moonlight In Vermont", which featured a vocal by Margaret Whiting and trumpet solos (both open and muted) by Butterfield. The liner notes from the CD Capitol from the Vaults, Volume 2, "Vine Street Divas" indicate that, although Billy Butterfield & His Orchestra were credited with the song, it was really the Les Brown band recording under the name of Billy Butterfield because Brown was under contract to another label at the time.

Butterfield recorded two albums with arranger-conductor Ray Conniff, Conniff Meets Butterfield[5] (1959) and Just Kiddin' Around (1962). Later in the 1960s he recorded two albums with his own orchestra for Columbia Records. The trumpeter

He was a member of the World's Greatest Jazz Band, led by former Crosby bandmates Yank Lawson and Bob Haggart,[4] from the late 1960s until his death in 1988. He also freelanced as a guest star with many bands all over the world, and performed at many jazz festivals, including the Manassas Jazz Festival and Dick Gibson's Bash in Colorado.


Butterfield was seen in the film Second Chorus (1940) as a member of an orchestra led by Artie Shaw.[2]

Personal life[edit]

Butterfield was married to singer Dotty Dare Smith.[6]


Butterfield died March 18, 1988, in North Palm Beach, Florida. He was 71.[3]


  • Stardusting (Capitol, 1950)
  • Billy Butterfield (1955)
  • New York Land Dixie (1955)
  • They're Playing Our Song (RCA, 1956)
  • Session at Riverside (Capitol, 1957)
  • Songs Bix Beiderbecke Played (Epic, 1969)
  • With Ted Easton's Jazzband ( Circle, 1975)
  • Watch What Happens (Jazzology, 1977)
  • Swinging at the Elks (Fat Cat Jazz, 1978)
  • You Can Depend on Me (Fat Cat Jazz, 1980)
  • Just Friends (Jazzology, 1982)
  • The Incomparable Butterfield Horn (Fat Cat Jazz, 2002)
  • Recipe for Romance (Collectors' Choice Music, 2003)
  • Soft Strut (Fresh Sound, 2004)
  • What Is There to Say (Jasmine, 2005)[7]

With Buck Clayton


  1. ^ Lee, William F. (2005). American Big Bands. Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 292. ISBN 9780634080548. Retrieved 8 March 2017.
  2. ^ a b Yanow, Scott (2001). The Trumpet Kings: The Players who Shaped the Sound of Jazz Trumpet. Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 83. ISBN 9780879306403. Retrieved 8 March 2017.
  3. ^ a b Yanow, Scott. Swing. Hal Leonard Corporation. ISBN 9781617744761. Retrieved 8 March 2017.
  4. ^ a b Walker, Leo (1989). The Big Band Almanac. Da Capo Press. p. 64. ISBN 0306803453. Retrieved 8 March 2017.
  5. ^ Carr, Ian; Fairweather, Digby; Priestley, Brian (2004). The Rough Guide to Jazz. Rough Guides. p. 118. ISBN 9781843532569. Retrieved 8 March 2017.
  6. ^ "Butterfield, Billy (actually, Charles William) - Dictionary definition of Butterfield, Billy (actually, Charles William) | FREE online dictionary". The Gale Group, Inc. Archived from the original on 8 March 2017. Retrieved 8 March 2017.
  7. ^ "Billy Butterfield | Album Discography | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 5 July 2017.

External links[edit]