Buddy DeFranco

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Buddy DeFranco
DeFranco in New York, 1947
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, U.S.
Years active1940s–2014
LabelsNorgran, Verve, Mercury, Concord Jazz, Arbors, Pablo

Boniface Ferdinand Leonard "Buddy" DeFranco (February 17, 1923 – December 24, 2014)[1] was an Italian-American jazz clarinetist. In addition to his work as a bandleader, DeFranco led the Glenn Miller Orchestra for almost a decade in the 1960s and 1970s.


Born in Camden, New Jersey, United States,[2] DeFranco was raised in South Philadelphia. He was playing the clarinet by the time he was nine years old and within five years had won a national Tommy Dorsey[3] swing contest.[1]

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.[2] 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,[2] 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, Andy Firth-musician, Don Burrows, 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]

Awards and honors[edit]

DeFranco won twenty awards from DownBeat magazine, nine awards from Metronome, and sixteen Playboy All-Stars awards.[3]


As leader[edit]

  • Cool & Quiet with Lennie Tristano (Capitol, 1953)
  • The Progressive Mr. DeFranco (Norgran, 1954)
  • Pretty Moods (Norgran, 1954)
  • The Artistry of Buddy DeFranco (Norgran, 1954)
  • Buddy DeFranco and Oscar Peterson Play George Gershwin (Norgran, 1954)
  • The Buddy DeFranco Wailers (Norgran, 1956)
  • Sweet and Lovely (Verve, 1956)
  • In a Mellow Mood (Norgran, 1956)
  • Mr. Clarinet (Norgran, 1956)
  • Jazz Tones (Norgran, 1956)
  • Buddy DeFranco Plays Benny Goodman (Verve, 1957)
  • The Art Tatum Buddy DeFranco Quartet (Verve, 1958)
  • Cross Country Suite (Dot, 1958)
  • Generalissimo (Verve, 1958)
  • Buddy DeFranco and the Oscar Peterson Quartet (Verve, 1958)
  • Live Date! (Verve, 1958)
  • Buddy DeFranco Plays Artie Shaw (Verve, 1958)
  • Cooking the Blues (Verve, 1958)
  • Bravura (Verve, 1959)
  • Pacific Standard Swingin'! Time with Tommy Gumina (Decca, 1960)
  • Presenting with Tommy Gumina (Mercury, 1961)
  • Kaleidoscope with Tommy Gumina (Mercury, 1962)
  • Pol.Y.Tones with Tommy Gumina (Mercury, 1963)
  • The Girl from Ipanema with Tommy Gumina (Mercury, 1964)
  • Blues Bag (Vee Jay, 1965)
  • Crosscurrents with Lennie Tristano (Capitol, 1972)
  • Free Sail (Choice, 1974)
  • Black Magic with Helen Forrest (Shamrock, 1975)
  • Love Affair with a Clarinet Vol. 2 (Famous Solos, 1976)
  • Sessions, Live (Callipe, 1976)
  • Borinquin (Sonet, 1976)
  • Waterbed (Choice, 1978)
  • Buddy DeFranco with Jim Gillis (Classic Jazz, 1978)
  • Closed Session (Verve, 1979)
  • Buddy DeFranco (Famous Solos, 1980)
  • Like Someone in Love (Progressive, 1980)
  • Jazz Party: First Time Together with Terry Gibbs (Palo Alto, 1981)
  • Eastern Exposure (Silver Crest, 1982)
  • Buddy DeFranco Presents John Denman (Lud, 1983)
  • Now's the Time with Terry Gibbs (Tall Tree, 1984)
  • Mr. Lucky (Pablo, 1984)
  • Hark with Oscar Peterson (Pablo, 1985)
  • Groovin (Hep, 1985)
  • Chicago Fire with Terry Gibbs (Contemporary, 1987)
  • Holiday for Swing with Terry Gibbs (Contemporary, 1988)
  • Garden of Dreams with Martin Taylor (ProJazz, 1988)
  • Memories of You: A Tribute to Benny Goodman with Terry Gibbs, Herb Ellis (Contemporary, 1991)
  • Kings of Swing with Terry Gibbs, Herb Ellis (Contemporary, 1992)
  • Five Notes of Blues (Musidisc, 1992)
  • Modern Clarinets: Museum of Modern Jazz (Verve, 1993)
  • The Buenos Aires Concerts (Hep, 1995)
  • Free Fall (Candid, 1996)
  • You Must Believe in Swing with Dave McKenna (Concord Jazz, 1997)
  • Do Nothing Till You Hear from Us! with Dave McKenna (Concord Jazz, 1999)
  • The Champs with Putte Wickman (Gazell, 1999)
  • Terry Gibbs and Buddy DeFranco Play Steve Allen (Contemporary, 1999)
  • Gone with the Wind (Storyville, 1999)
  • The Three Sopranos (hr-musik.de, 2001)
  • Cookin' the Books (Arbors Records, 2003)
  • Charlie Cat 2 (Arbors, 2007)
  • Cookin' with Eiji Kitamura, Kiyoshi Takeshita (Jazz Cook, 2008)
  • Down for Double with John Burnett Swing Orchestra (Delmark Records, 2010)

As sideman[edit]

With Tommy Dorsey

  • Yes Indeed! (RCA Victor 1956)
  • Tribute to Dorsey, Vol. 2 (RCA Victor, 1957)
  • Tommy Dorsey's Greatest Band (20th Fox, 1959)

With Lionel Hampton

  • The Lionel Hampton Quintet (Clef, 1954)
  • Album #2 (Clef, 1955)
  • Lionel Hampton and His All Stars (Columbia, 1957)

With others


  1. ^ a b Heckman, Don (26 December 2014). "Buddy DeFranco dies at 91; first clarinetist to master bebop". Los Angeles Times.
  2. ^ a b c Colin Larkin, ed. (1992). The Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music (First ed.). Guinness Publishing. pp. 651/2. ISBN 0-85112-939-0.
  3. ^ a b "Buddy DeFranco To Play At LVC". Lebanon Daily News. Lebanon Daily News. July 14, 1977. p. 22. Retrieved April 25, 2015 – via Newspapers.com. Open access icon
  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.com.
  6. ^ Strum, Charles (26 December 2014). "Buddy DeFranco, 91, Versatile Jazz Clarinetist, Dies". The New York Times. p. B7.

External links[edit]