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|Born||March 6, 1918|
Tulsa, Oklahoma, U.S.
|Died||July 17, 1987 (aged 69)|
New York City, New York
|Associated acts||Lionel Hampton, Andy Kirk, Count Basie|
Howard McGhee (March 6, 1918 – July 17, 1987) was one of the first American bebop jazz trumpeters, with Dizzy Gillespie, Fats Navarro and Idrees Sulieman. He was known for his fast fingering and high notes. He had an influence on younger bebop trumpeters such as Fats Navarro.
Howard McGhee was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, United States, and raised in Detroit, Michigan. During his career, he played in bands led by Lionel Hampton, Andy Kirk, Count Basie and Charlie Barnet. He was in a club listening to the radio when he first heard Charlie Parker and was one of the earliest adopters of the new style, a fact that was disapproved by older musicians like Kid Ory.
In 1946–47, some record sessions for the new label Dial were organized in Hollywood, with Charlie Parker and McGhee. The first was held on July 29, 1946. The musicians were Charlie Parker, Howard McGhee, Jimmy Bunn, Bob Kesterson, and Roy Porter. With Parker's health near to collapse, he played "Max is Making Wax", "Lover Man", and "The Gypsy".
McGhee continued to work as a sideman with Parker. He played on titles such as "Relaxin' at Camarillo", "Cheers", "Carvin the Bird" and "Stupendous". Around this time, McGhee was a leading musician in the Los Angeles bebop scene, participating in many concerts, recording, and even managing a night club for a period. His stay in California ended because of racial prejudice, particularly vicious towards McGhee as half of a mixed-race couple.
Drug problems sidelined McGhee for much of the 1950s, but he resurfaced in the 1960s, appearing in many George Wein productions. His career sputtered again in the mid-1960s and he did not record again until 1976. He led one of three big jazz bands trying to succeed in New York in the late 1960s. While the band did not survive, a recording was released in the mid-1970s.
He taught music through the 1970s, both in classrooms and at his apartment in midtown Manhattan and instructed musicians like Charlie Rouse in music theory. He was as much an accomplished composer-arranger as he was a performer.
McGhee died on July 17, 1987 at the age of 69, a memorial service was held for him on July 24, 1987.
- 1946–47 Trumpet at Tempo (Dial [rel. 1996])
- 1948 Howard McGhee and Milt Jackson (Savoy)
- 1950 Howard McGhee, Vol. 1 (Blue Note) with Fats Navarro
- 1951 Night Music (Dial)
- 1952 Jazz South Pacific (Regent) with J.J. Johnson, Oscar Pettiford [AKA Jazz Goes to the Battlefront]
- 1953 Howard McGhee, Vol. 2 (Blue Note) with Gigi Gryce
- 1955 The Return of Howard McGhee (Bethlehem) [AKA That Bop Thing]
- 1956 Life Is Just a Bowl of Cherries (Bethlehem)
- 1960 Dusty Blue (Bethlehem)
- 1960 Music from the Connection (Felsted)
- 1961 Together Again!!!! (Contemporary) with Teddy Edwards
- 1961 Maggie's Back in Town!! (Contemporary)
- 1961 The Sharp Edge (Fontana) [AKA Shades of Blue]
- 1962 Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out (United Artists)
- 1963 House Warmin'! (Argo) originally issued in 1962 on Winley Records as Nothin' But Soul under Gene Ammons' name.
- 1976 Here Comes Freddy (Sonet) with Illinois Jacquet
- 1976 Just Be There (SteepleChase) with Horace Parlan, Kenny Clarke
- 1977 Cookin' Time, Howard McGhee Orchestra (Zim Records)
- 1978 Live at Emerson's, Howard McGhee Sextet (Zim Records)
- 1978 Jazz Brothers (Jazzcraft) with Charlie Rouse
- 1978 Home Run (Jazzcraft) with Benny Bailey
- 1979 Young at Heart (Storyville) with Teddy Edwards
- 1979 Wise in Time (Storyville) with Teddy Edwards
With Lorez Alexandria
- Deep Roots (Argo, 1962)
With Georgie Auld
With Billy Eckstine
- Maggie: The Savoy Sessions (Savoy, 1947 ) includes the infamous Eckstine/McGhee four song session, originally recorded in Chicago for Vitacoustic Records; personnel: Howard McGhee (tp), Billy Eckstine (vtb), Kenny Mann (ts), Hank Jones (p), Ray Brown (b), J.C. Heard (d), Marcel Daniels (v).
With Johnny Hartman
With Coleman Hawkins
- Hollywood Stampede (Capitol, 1945 )
- Disorder at the Border (Spotlite, 1952 )
With Chubby Jackson
- Chubby Jackson All Star Big Band (1950)
- Chubby Jackson Sextet and Big Band (Prestige, 1947–1950 )
With James Moody
- Cookin' the Blues [live] (Argo, 1961 )
With André Previn
- André Previn All-Stars (1946)
- Previn at Sunset (Polydor, 1972)
With Mel Tormé
- George Gershwin's Porgy and Bess (Bethlehem, 1956) with Frances Faye
- At the Crescendo (Bethlehem, 1957)
- Songs for Any Taste (Bethlehem, 1957)
- 1954 Billie Holiday at Jazz at the Philharmonic, Billie Holiday (Clef, rec. 1945–1946)
- 1956 Way Out Wardell, Wardell Gray (Modern)
- 1960 The Music from "The Connection", Freddie Redd (Blue Note)
- 1962 Johnny Hodges with Billy Strayhorn and the Orchestra, Johnny Hodges (Verve)
- 1962 Good Old Zoot, Zoot Sims (New Jazz)
- 1963 At Newport '63, Joe Williams (RCA Victor)
- 1967 Tribute To Charlie Parker (From The Newport Jazz Festival) (RCA Victor, rec. 1964)
- 1968 Boppin' & Burnin' , Don Patterson (Prestige)
- 1969 Early Quintets, Phil Woods (Prestige, rec. 1959)
- 1976 Red Top: The Savoy Sessions (1947–1953), Gene Ammons (Savoy)
- 1976 The Jazz Singer, Eddie Jefferson (Inner City, rec. 1959–1961)
- 1989 Autumn in New York, Sonny Stitt (Black Lion, rec. 1967)
- 1991 California Boppin' 1947, Sonny Criss (Fresh Sound)
- 1993 The Chronological...1940–1942, Andy Kirk & His Clouds of Joy (Classics)
- 1995 Dodo Marmarosa On Dial: The Complete Sessions (1946–1947), Dodo Marmarosa (Spotlite)
- 1996 The Chronological...1944–1945, Wynonie Harris (Classics)
- 1996 The Chronological...1945, Slim Gaillard (Classics)
- Palmer, Robert (July 18, 1987). "Howard McGhee, 69, Is Dead; A Trumpeter and Composer". The New York Times (in American English). ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved August 23, 2017.
- "Howard McGhee | Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved July 29, 2021.
- Owens, Thomas (1996). Bebop. Los Angeles Berkeley: Oxford University Press. p. 108.
- Barron, Stephanie (2000). Reading California : art, image, and identity, 1900-2000. Los Angeles Berkeley: Los Angeles County Museum of Art University of California Press. ISBN 0520227670.
- "Howard McGhee | Credits | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved July 24, 2017.
- DeVeaux, Scott (1997). The birth of bebop : a social and musical history. Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 9780520216655.