Tommy Gwaltney

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Thomas O. "Tommy" Gwaltney (born February 28, 1921, Norfolk, Virginia – d. February 11, 2003, Virginia Beach, Virginia) was an American jazz multi-instrumentalist and bandleader. He played clarinet, saxophone, and vibraphone.


Gwaltney studied under Ernie Caceres and Peanuts Hucko, playing clarinet in college bands and while serving in the military. Due to lung injuries during World War II, he put down the clarinet and played vibraphone in the 1940s.[1] From 1946 to 1947 he studied at New York University and played in an ensemble with Charlie Byrd and Sol Yaged. Between 1951 and 1955 he seldom played, concentrating on helping a family business in Norfolk, Virginia. In 1956 he joined Bobby Hackett, playing on his album Gotham Jazz Scene in 1957. He then worked with Wild Bill Davison, Billy Butterfield (1958–59), Buck Clayton (1960), Charlie Byrd again (1962–63), and with his own ensembles.

Gwaltney established the nightclub Blues Alley in Washington, D.C.[1] After selling it, he still performed there regularly guitarist Steve Jordan. He organized the Virginia Beach Jazz Festival and the Manassas Jazz Festival; he led bands at Manassas with Davison, Ed Polcer, Willie "The Lion" Smith, Eddie Condon, Doc Evans, Bobby Hackett, Vic Dickenson, Maxine Sullivan, and Jimmy McPartland.

He stopped playing vibraphone in the 1970s but continued on clarinet in the 1980s and 1990s. In 1986 he recorded a tribute album for Pee Wee Russell and gave a concert at the Smithsonian Institution honoring Jimmie Noone. He worked in the Chesapeake Bay Jazz Band beginning in 1992.


  • Best Reissue Album, Satchmo at the National Press Club: Red Beans and Rice-ly Yours, Independent Music Awards, 2013 [2]


As leader[edit]

As sideman[edit]

With Charlie Byrd

With Wild Bill Davison

  • 1966 Wild Bill at Bull Run
  • 1972 'S Wonderful
  • 1973 Just a Gig
  • 1986 Lady of the Evening

With others


  1. ^ a b "Tommy Gwaltney". AllMusic. Retrieved 2 October 2018.
  2. ^ "12th Annual Independent Music Awards Winners Announced!" Independent Music Awards, 11 June 2013. Retrieved on 4 Sept. 2013.