Buddy DeFranco

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Buddy DeFranco
Buddy De Franco, New York, ca. Sept. 1947 (William P. Gottlieb 01941).jpg
DeFranco in New York, 1947
Background information
Birth nameBoniface Ferdinand Leonard DeFranco
Born(1923-02-17)February 17, 1923
Camden, New Jersey, U.S.
DiedDecember 24, 2014(2014-12-24) (aged 91)
Panama City, Florida
GenresSwing, bebop, post-bop
Years active1940s–2014
LabelsNorgran, Verve, Mercury, Arbors

Boniface Ferdinand Leonard "Buddy" DeFranco (February 17, 1923 – December 24, 2014) was an Italian American jazz clarinet player. One of few clarinetists playing bebop, DeFranco was described by critic Scott Yanow as the leading American jazz musician on his instrument from the 1940s until Eddie Daniels came to prominence in the 1980s.[1] In addition to his own work as a bandleader, DeFranco led the Glenn Miller Orchestra for almost a decade in the 1960s and '70s.


Born in Camden, New Jersey, DeFranco was raised in South Philadelphia. He was playing the clarinet by the time he was 9 years old and within five years had won a national Tommy Dorsey[2] swing contest.[3]

He began his professional career just as swing music and big bands—many of which were led by clarinetists like Artie Shaw, and Benny Goodman—were in decline. While most jazz clarinet players did not adapt to this change, DeFranco successfully continued to play clarinet exclusively, and was one of the few bebop clarinetists.[4]

In 1950, DeFranco spent a year with Count Basie's Septet. He then led a small combo in the early 1950s which included pianist Sonny Clark and guitarist Tal Farlow. In this period, DeFranco recorded for MGM, Norgran and Verve; the latter two labels were owned by Norman Granz.

During the years 1960-64, DeFranco released four innovative quartet albums as co-leader with the accordionist Tommy Gumina.[5]

He was bandleader of the Glenn Miller Orchestra from 1966 to 1974, under the name, "The World Famous Glenn Miller Orchestra, Directed By Buddy DeFranco". He also performed with Gene Krupa, Art Blakey, Tommy Dorsey, Count Basie, Charlie Barnet, Art Tatum, Oscar Peterson, Lennie Tristano, Dodo Marmarosa, Terry Gibbs, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Eddie Daniels, Putte Wickman, Billie Holiday and many others, and released dozens of albums as a leader.

DeFranco died in Panama City, Florida at the age of 91.[6]


DeFranco won 19 awards from Down Beat magazine, nine awards from Metronome magazine and 16 Playboy All-Stars awards for his jazz clarinet artistry.[2]


As leader[edit]

As sideman[edit]

With Dizzy Gillespie


  1. ^ http://www.allmusic.com/artist/buddy-defranco-mn0000638918/biography
  2. ^ a b "Buddy DeFranco To Play At LVC". Lebanon Daily News. July 14, 1977. p. 22. Retrieved April 25, 2015 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  3. ^ Heckman, Don (26 December 2014). "Buddy DeFranco dies at 91; first clarinetist to master bebop". Los Angeles Times.
  4. ^ Pankin, Ted (1999). "On Buddy DeFranco's 89th Birthday, a 1999 Downbeat article, plus Interview". Down Beat. ISSN 0012-5768.
  5. ^ Myers, Marc (24 May 2011). "Buddy DeFranco and Tommy Gumina". JazzWax.
  6. ^ Strum, Charles (26 December 2014). "Buddy DeFranco, 91, Versatile Jazz Clarinetist, Dies". The New York Times. p. B7.

External links[edit]