Vernon Ford Story (1922–2007) was an American jazz tenor saxophonist.
Vernon Ford Story, Jazz tenor saxophonist, was born in New Iberia, Louisiana, USA on November 16, 1922. He was encouraged to take up the clarinet as a child by his uncle, Clarence Todd, a professional composer and pianist. Todd wrote music for and performed with many artists, including Louis Armstrong, clarinet player Sidney Bechet and pianist Fats Waller.
Story’s family moved to New York in 1930 and by his early teens he was playing the tenor saxophone with his friends. They formed many small bands and played at local venues in and around Harlem.
In 1946 Rex Stewart, who had just left the Duke Ellington Band, put together a small orchestra to tour Europe as guests of the Hot Club de France. The members were:
- Ted Curry on drums
- Don Gais on piano
- John Harris on alto sax and clarinet
- Bill Houston on bass
- Rex Stewart on cornet
- Vernon Story on tenor sax
- Sandy Williams on trombone.
They visited Denmark, France, Germany, Sweden and Switzerland making many recordings between 1946 and 1949, including one of Story’s signature tune – "Vernon’s Story" and another of his compositions, "Storyville." Their first concert was at the Salle Pleyel in Paris. They toured major cities Marseilles, Bordeauz and Toulouse, Lyons and Lille. They also played in smaller towns such as Bézier, Carcassonne and Montauban - about 45 Hot Clubs in all.
Story and some of the other musicians stayed on in Paris while Rex Stewart went to Germany, though he joined him there for venues in Berlin. Story played with many of the Jazz greats in Paris, including one of his favorite musicians, guitarist Django Reinhardt. Story arranged venues for subsets of the original band in Copenhagen, Stockholm, Oslo and Zurich. He also made a cameo appearance as an American Jazz player in a Swedish thriller movie - "Kvinnan Som Försvann". The Swedish National Jazz Archivist, Jens Lindgren, tracked Story down in 2005 and recorded details of his career.
The Rex Stewart Band, including Story, played at the first Nice Jazz Festival in Nice, France in 1948, probably the first formal International Jazz Festival. Headliners and fellow musicians that he reminisced of included family friend Louis Armstrong and English jazz musician, broadcaster and musicologist Humphrey Lyttelton.
Story moved back to the booming tourist center of Atlantic City, NJ in late 1948, playing solo and also with his own band. Count Basie, who had become a friend when they met during the tour to Europe, often visited him whilst playing gigs in Atlantic City. When interest in the Bebop genre declined Story moved his family to Irvington, NY to focus on family life. He played occasional sessions there and in Pleasantville, NJ before leaving the professional music business and moving to Palo Alto, CA in 1992.
Vernon Ford Story died in his sleep early on the morning of Friday, April 20, 2007 in Rio Vista, California, USA. He was 84. Story had combated prostate cancer for many years but he remained strong and active until the final few months of his illness.
- "Buzz Bomb" - Vernon Story and His Tenor Sax accompanied by Rex Stewart Orchestra - Dial Records 755-B - 78 RPM. Probably recorded in 1946.
- "I Giganti Del Jazz No. 47" ("Giants of Jazz") - Vernon Story, Johnny Harris, Rex Stewart and Sandy Williams.
- "Jazz In Paris, Champs-Élysées, Vol. 1. 1917 to 1949"
- "Rex Stewart - 1946-1947" - Rex Stewart Orchestra
- "Ellingtonia" - Rex Stewart Orchestra - Dial 215 - Recorded December 9 and 10, 1947 - Includes Django Reinhardt
- "Rex Stewart - 1948-1949" - Rex Stewart Orchestra - The first track is "Vernon's Story".
- "Rex Stewart Memorial Album." - Black Panther B.LP. 001 [reissued as Prestige 728 and SV 2006]
- "Swing Classics" - ET 13 - Hot Lips Page 1951/Rex Stewart 1947.
- "Vernon's Story"
- "Boy Meets Horn", Rex Stewart, ISBN 1-871478-75-8 - Documents the European tour.
- Kvinnan Som Försvann (1949) - Genre: Crime. Vernon Story appears in one of the jam session scenes.
- Louis Armstrong
- Count Basie
- Sidney Bechet
- Duke Ellington
- Humphrey Lyttelton
- Django Reinhardt
- Rex Stewart
- Sandy Williams
- Fats Waller
Jazz Societies and Communities
- Hot Club de France—Note, this documents a group of musicians, not the original society of Jazz enthusiasts.
- Hot Club de France Gallery - Includes a photo of Vernon Story.