Milt Bernhart

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Milt Bernhart
Milt Bernhart, 1947 or 1948 (William P. Gottlieb).jpg
Background information
Born(1926-05-25)May 25, 1926
Valparaiso, Indiana, U.S.
DiedJanuary 22, 2004(2004-01-22) (aged 77)
Glendale, California, U.S.
Associated actsStan Kenton, Frank Sinatra

Milt Bernhart (May 25, 1926 – January 22, 2004) was a West Coast jazz trombonist who worked with Stan Kenton, Frank Sinatra, and others. He supplied the solo in the middle of Sinatra's 1956 recording of I've Got You Under My Skin conducted by Nelson Riddle.[1]


Bernhart (occasionally spelled Bernhardt) began on tuba, but switched to trombone in high school. At 16 he worked in Boyd Raeburn's band and later had some "gigs" with Teddy Powell. After time in the United States Army he worked, off and on, with Stan Kenton for the next ten years. He is perhaps most associated with Kenton, but in 1955 he had his first album as a leader. In 1986 he was elected President of the Big Band Academy of America.[2]

Although known as "mild-mannered" or humorous, his brief period with Benny Goodman was one area that brought out his ire. He indicated working with Goodman was "the bottom", except for basic training in the Army, of his first 23 years of life. He called Goodman a "bore" and claimed he did nothing about the treatment Wardell Gray faced at a segregated club in Las Vegas. He even alleges that he quit because Goodman publicly humiliated Gray in front of an audience.[3]

Bernhart died of congestive heart failure in Glendale, California at the age of 77[4] at the Adventist Health Glendale.


As leader[edit]

  • Modern Brass (RCA Victor, 1955)
  • The Sound of Bernhart (Decca, 1958)

As sideman[edit]

With Maynard Ferguson

With Stan Kenton

With Henri Rene

With Shorty Rogers

  • Shorty Rogers and His Giants (RCA Victor, 1953)
  • Collaboration (RCA Victor, 1955)
  • The Big Shorty Rogers Express (RCA Victor, 1956)
  • Shorty Rogers Plays Richard Rodgers (RCA Victor, 1957)
  • Jazz Waltz (Reprise, 1962)

With Pete Rugolo

With Howard Rumsey

  • Sunday Jazz a La Lighthouse Vol. 1 (Contemporary, 1953)
  • Sunday Jazz a La Lighthouse Vol. 2 (Contemporary, 1953)
  • Jazz Rolls Royce (Lighthouse, 1958)

With Lalo Schifrin

With others


  1. ^ Williams, Richard (3 February 2004). "Trombonist who got under Frank Sinatra's skin". The Guardian.
  2. ^ Jenkins, Todd S. "West Coast trombonist and big-band enthusiast". Jazzhouse. Retrieved 3 October 2015.
  3. ^ "Milt Bernhart recalls a troubled tour with Benny Goodman". Jazz Professional. 25 January 1950.
  4. ^ Oliver, Myrna (27 January 2004). "Milt Bernhart, 77; Trombonist's Solo With Sinatra Drew Praise". Los Angeles Times.

External links[edit]