Charlie Shavers

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Charlie Shavers
Shavers, National Studios, May 1947 Photography by William P. Gottlieb
Shavers, National Studios, May 1947
Photography by William P. Gottlieb
Background information
Birth nameCharles James Shavers
Born(1917-08-03)August 3, 1917
New York City, New York, U.S.
DiedJuly 8, 1971(1971-07-08) (aged 53)
New York City
  • Musician
  • composer
  • arranger

Charles James Shavers (August 3, 1917[1] – July 8, 1971)[2][3] was an American jazz trumpeter who played with Dizzy Gillespie, Nat King Cole, Roy Eldridge, Johnny Dodds, Jimmie Noone, Sidney Bechet, Midge Williams, Tommy Dorsey, and Billie Holiday. He was also an arranger and composer, and one of his compositions, "Undecided", is a jazz standard.[2]


Shavers's father, a distant relative of Fats Navarro, was from the Shavers family of Key West, Florida. Charlie Shavers was a cousin of heavyweight boxer Earnie Shavers. Born in New York City, he took up piano and banjo before switching to trumpet.[2] In the mid-1930s, he performed with Tiny Bradshaw and Lucky Millinder. In 1935, he played in the trumpet section with Dizzy Gillespie and Carl (Bama) Warwick in Frankie Fairfax's Campus Club Orchestra.[4] In 1936, he joined John Kirby's Sextet as trumpet soloist and arranger. He was only 16, but gave his birth date as 1917 to avoid child labor laws;[3] many biographies still list this date.[2]

Shavers's arrangements and solos helped make the band one of the most commercially successful and imitated of its day. In 1937, he performed with Midge Williams and her Jazz Jesters. In 1944, he began playing sessions in Raymond Scott's CBS staff orchestra. In 1945, he left John Kirby's band to join Tommy Dorsey's Orchestra, with whom he toured and recorded, off and on, until Dorsey's passing in 1956. In 1949, he sang and played the hit "The Hucklebuck" with the Dorsey Orchestra.[5] He can be seen as a member of Dorsey's Orchestra on numerous "Stage Show" telecasts for CBS, including early Elvis Presley appearances. During this time he also continued to play at CBS; he also appeared with the Metronome All-Stars, and made a number of recordings as trumpet soloist with Billie Holiday. From 1953 to 1954, he worked with Benny Goodman and toured Europe with Norman Granz's popular Jazz at the Philharmonic series, where he was a crowd favorite. He formed his own band with Terry Gibbs and Louie Bellson.

Shavers died from throat cancer in New York in 1971 at the age of 53. His friend Louis Armstrong died while Shavers was on his deathbed, and his last request was that his trumpet mouthpiece be buried with Armstrong.[6][7]


As leader[edit]

  • Horn o' Plenty (Bethlehem, 1954)
  • Gershwin, Shavers and Strings (Bethlehem, 1954)
  • The Most Intimate (Bethlehem, 1955)
  • The Complete Charlie Shavers with Maxine Sullivan (Bethlehem, 1957)
  • Trumpets All Out with Art Farmer, Ernie Royal, Emmet Baker, Harold Baker (Savoy, 1957)
  • Hawk Eyes with Coleman Hawkins, Tiny Grimes (Prestige, 1959)
  • Blue Stompin' with Hal Singer (Prestige, 1959)
  • Charlie Digs Paree (MGM, 1959)
  • Girl Of My Dreams (Everest, 1960) later reissued on Everest as Out Of Nowhere
  • Like Charlie (Everest, 1960)
  • Here Comes Charlie (Everest, 1961)
  • The Music from Milk and Honey with Wild Bill Davis (Everest, 1961)
  • Excitement Unlimited (Capitol, 1963)
  • At Le Crazy Horse Saloon in Paris (Everest, 1964)
  • Kicks! with Nat King Cole, Buddy Rich, (Fontana, 1966)
  • Paris Jazz (Sunset, 1967) compilation from his Girl Of My Dreams and At Le Crazy Horse Saloon in Paris records
  • The Last Session (Black & Blue, 1970)
  • Trumpet Man (Phoenix Jazz, 1978)
  • Live at the London House (Hep, 1980)
  • Jazz at the Philharmonic: The Trumpet Battle 1952 (Verve, 1983)
  • A Man and His Music (Storyville, 1985)
  • Live from Chicago (Spotlite, 1985)

As sideman[edit]

With Fred Astaire

  • The Astaire Story #1 (Mercury, 1954)
  • The Astaire Story #2 (Mercury, 1954)
  • The Astaire Story #3 (Mercury, 1954)
  • The Astaire Story #4 (Mercury, 1954)

With Count Basie

  • The Count! (Clef, 1955)
  • Count Basie and His Band That Swings the Blues (American Recording Society, 1956)
  • Basie Rides Again (Verve, 1957)
  • A Portrait of an Orchestra (Verve, 1965)

With Louis Bellson

With Tommy Dorsey

  • Tommy Dorsey (RCA, 1957)
  • Tribute to Dorsey Vol. 2 (RCA Victor 1957)
  • Tommy Dorsey's Greatest Band (20th Century Fox, 1959)
  • This Is Tommy Dorsey and His Greatest Band Volume 1 (20th Century Fox, 1964)

With Lionel Hampton

  • Stardust (Decca, 1954)
  • Lionel Hampton with the Just Jazz All Stars (GNP, 1955)
  • Gene Norman Presents Just Jazz (Decca, 1958)

With Coleman Hawkins

With Billie Holiday

  • An Evening with Billie Holiday (Clef, 1953)
  • Lady Sings the Blues (Verve, 1956)
  • Solitude (Clef, 1956)
  • The Unforgettable Lady Day (Verve, 1959)
  • The Mellow Side of Billie Holiday (Verve, 1967)

With Charlie Ventura

  • An Evening with Mary Ann McCall and Charlie Ventura (Norgran, 1955)
  • Jumping with Ventura (EmArcy, 1955)
  • Charlie Ventura's Carnegie Hall Concert (Columbia, 1956)
  • East of Suez (Regent, 1958)

With others


  1. ^ The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz. Kernfeld, Barry Dean, 1950-. New York: St. Martin's Press. 1994. p. 1107. ISBN 0333632311. OCLC 30516743.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  2. ^ a b c d Wynn, Ron (1994), Ron Wynn (ed.), All Music Guide to Jazz, M. Erlewine, V. Bogdanov, San Francisco: Miller Freeman, p. 578, ISBN 0-87930-308-5
  3. ^ a b Shavers, Charlie (1970). "Charlie Shavers: About the Size of It" (Interview). Interviewed by Les Tomkins. Retrieved November 4, 2011.
  4. ^ Nelson, Nels (July 23, 1971). "No Sad Songs for Charlie". Philadelphia Daily News.
  5. ^ Gilliland, John. (197X). "Pop Chronicles 1940s Program #23 - All Tracks UNT Digital Library". Retrieved March 1, 2021.
  6. ^ "Charlie Shavers, Trumpeter-Song Writer, Dead". The New York Times. July 9, 1971. Retrieved October 24, 2023.
  7. ^ Goodridge, David (19 April 2020). "Charlie Shavers". National Jazz Archive. Retrieved October 24, 2023.

External links[edit]