Vic Dickenson

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Vic Dickenson
Birth name Victor Dickenson
Born (1906-08-06)August 6, 1906
Xenia, Ohio, United States
Died November 16, 1984(1984-11-16) (aged 78)
New York City, United States
Genres Jazz
Occupation(s) Trombonist
Instruments Trombone
Years active 1920s-1950s
Associated acts

Vic (Victor) Dickenson (August 6, 1906 – November 16, 1984) was an African-American jazz trombonist. Dickenson's career started out in the 1920s and led him through musical partnerships with such legends as Count Basie (1940–41), Sidney Bechet (1941) and Earl Hines.

Life and career[edit]

Born in Xenia, Ohio, in 1906, Dickenson originally wanted to be a plasterer like his father, but had to abandon this idea after injuring himself falling off a ladder.[1] He studied organ from 1922 but changed to trombone with local bands. He made his recording debut in December 1930, as a vocalist with Luis Russell's band. Dickenson later joined Blanche Calloway's orchestra in the early 1930s. He led his own groups both on the east and west coast between 1947 and the mid-1950s. From then he was a session man for many legendary dates, among them CBS program Sound Of Jazz in 1957, featuring many great jazz musicians including Count Basie, Coleman Hawkins, Roy Eldridge, Gerry Mulligan, Billie Holiday.

Dickenson was a favorite of many musicians, in large part because of the melodic sound he got from his horn, and for a keen sense of humor thAT was often evident in his playing.

He recorded several albums, many of which are still in print. He also made recordings as a sideman with other jazz musicians, among them: Jimmy Rushing (on Vanguard Records), Coleman Hawkins (Capitol), Pee Wee Russell (Black Lion), Benny Carter (BlueBird and Black & Blue), Lester Young (Blue Note and Verve), Count Basie (Columbia and Pablo), Sidney Bechet (BlueBird, Black & Blue and Blue Note). In 1953, Dickenson recorded The Vic Dickenson Showcase for Vanguard. The front line included Ed Hall (clarinet) and Ruby Braff (trumpet). This album is thought of by many as one of the finest examples of mainstream jazz ever recorded.

At one time Dickenson was a member of "The World's Greatest Jazz Band", the house band at The Roosevelt Grill in New York City.[2] He also performed at the same venue in a smaller group that featured him alongside trumpeter Bobby Hackett.

Dickenson is in Art Kane's photograph, A Great Day in Harlem, which also includes (another trombonist) Miff Mole.

Dickenson, for all his lively musical talent, was a laconic man who often liked to be alone between sets. During his longtime association with bands playing at Eddie Condon's, he would often retire to a single chair that sat in a small alcove just outside the men's room, instead of gathering with fellow musicians in the band room. When men mistook him for the men's room attendant and offered him dollars, he took them.

Dickenson died in New York City aged 78, as a result of cancer, in 1984.[1]


As leader

  • Vic Dickenson Showcase, Vol. 1 (1954)
  • Gentleman of the Trombone (1975)[3]
  • Plays Bessie Smith: "Trombone Cholly" (Gazell Productions, 1976)[4]

With Coleman Hawkins

With Langston Hughes