1921–43

 

Wardell Gray Chronology

 

 

 

Created by Leif Bo Petersen

 

Last updated: July 23, 2019.

 

 

Date

 

Event

References/Further Details

1921

 

 

 

February 13

Oklahoma City, OK.

Wardell Gray is born.

Father: Eugene Gray

Mother: Carrie Gray (nee Maddison)

Sisters: Madeline Gray; Edith Gray

Brother: Harry Gray

Wardell Gray was the youngest of four children.

 

1929

 

 

 

 

The Gray family moves to Detroit, MI.

Lives as lodgers by James Chager at 505 E. Kirby Street, Detroit, MI.

 

US Federal Census 1930: the sisters are not mentioned here.

 

1935

 

 

 

 

Attends Northeastern High School in Detroit, but soon transfers to Cass Technical High School.

Studies clarinet, and alto sax at Cass Technical High School, but switched to tenor sax later on after hearing Lester Young.

 

D. Salemann, Wardell Gray 1921-1955 Discography (1986), 1.

1937?

 

 

 

 

Isaac Goodwin Band

Including Wardell Gray (ts); John Isaac Goodwin (p).

 

L. Bjorn and J. Gallart, Before Motown (2001), 101.

 

1938-39

 

 

 

 

Dorothy Patton Band

Fraternal Club, Flint, MI.

Wardell Gray spends a year with this band.

 

The source is missing.

1939

 

 

July early

Dorothy Patton and the Aristocrats

Gould’s, Sault Ste. Marie, MI.

Dances.

Wardell Gray may have been in the band here.

 

Ad in Evening News (Sault Ste. Marie, MI), July 7, 1939, 8.

Ad in Evening News (Sault Ste. Marie, MI), July 8, 1939, 5.

1940–41

 

 

 

 

Jimmy Raschel Band

Including: Howard McGhee (tp); Sonny Stitt (as); Wardell Gray (ts); Earl Van Riper (p).

 

Earl Van Riper in L. Bjorn and J. Gallart, Before Motown (2001), 77.

1942

 

 

 

 

Bennie Carew Band

Including Wardell Gray (ts).

 

Earl Van Riper in L. Bjorn and J. Gallart, Before Motown (2001), 77.

 

Club Congo Orchestra

Including: Lester Currant (tp & arr); Eddie Youngblood Davis (tp); Teddy Edwards (cl & as); Wardell Gray (as & ts); Big Nick Nicholas (ts); Johnny Allen (p & arr); Ted Smith (g); Al McKibbon (b); Vernon Brown (d).

Club Congo, Detroit, MI.

Late 1942 until April 1, 1943

The club closes in spring 1943.

 

“Two Sepia Stars in Club Congo Show,” Detroit Free Press, January 22, 1943, 18: James Martin's Club Congo Orchestra.

Ad in Detroit Free Press, April 10, 1943, 16: Last bill having Club Congo Orchestra.

Ad in Detroit Free Press, April 17, 1943, 16: Johnny Allen's Music.

“Random Notes on Folds in Local Show World,” Detroit Free Press, May 5, 1943, 20: Club Congo is Closed.

L. Bjorn and J. Gallart, Before Motown (2001), 80.

 

1943

 

 

 

Summer

Bennie Carew Band

Including Wardell Gray (ts).

Lansing, MI.

Summer–August.

 

L. Bjorn and J. Gallart, Before Motown (2001), 81 note 116.

Jerri Gray (Walker): Gray worked with Carew after Club Congo closed.

 

August 17

Earl Hines and His Orchestra

Earl Hines stops a southern tour because of many members of t e orchestra has received induction notes from the draft authorities. Afterwards Hines is recruiting members for a reconstructed orchestra.

Advance Bookings,” Billboard, August 7, 1943, 16.

“’Father’ Hines Loses Plenty of Children,” Variety, August 18, 1943, 37: Tour South cancelled from Wednesday. August 18: Eckstine and 7 others got induction notes: Jesse Simpkins (b), Gail Brockman (tp), Dizzy Gillespie (tp), Andrew Gardner, Thomas Crump (saxes), Howard Scott (trombone).

Jeri Gray, “Mes Dix Années Avec Wardell Gray,” Jazz Magazine, September 1955, 20: Tells that she met Hines in Detroit and recommended her boyfriend Wardell Gray to Hines.

L. Bjorn and J. Gallart, Before Motown (2001), 81 note 116.

Jeri Gray (Walker): tells same story in Gallart interview from 1994.

 

August 30

Earl Hines and His Orchestra

27 persons: Angel Creasy, Helen Way, Sylvia Medford or Lolita Valdez (v); Ardine Loving (cello); Lavilla Tulos (harp); Shorty McConnell, Benny Harris, Paul Cohen, Leonard Graham (aka Idrees Sulieman) (tp); Cliff Smalls, Gus Chappell, Benny Green, Unidentified (tb); Scoops Carey, Wardell Gray (as); Harold Clark, Thomas Crump (ts); John Williams (bars); Earl Hines (p & dir); Roxanne Lucas (g); Lucille Dixon (b); Murray Dinofer (d); Sarah Vaughan (p & voc); The Bluebonnets: Ellen Solomon, Jean Parks, Anita San, Mary Beasley (voc).

New York, NY.

Rehearsals start on August 30.

 

“Hines Forms New Band with 12 Girl Members,” Baltimore Afro-American, September 4, 1943, 16.

“Hines Scores Musical Move of the Year by Signing 12 Lassie’s for Band,” Pittsburg Courier, September 11, 1943, 20: Photos and text. Gives a total of 27 and also the personnel of string group.

There is some confusion here: the phot caption has: “Three of the ladies who play the violins with the band, Sylvia Medford, Helen Way, and Angel Creasy…”

The article text has Angel Creasy, Helen Way, and Lolita Valdez on Violin.

“Talented Girl Musicians Add Charm, Novelty to Hines’ Orchestra.” New York Amsterdam News, September 18, 1943, p. 9B: photo of Hines midst his 12 girl musicians. No names are given.

 

September 17

Earl Hines and His Sensational New Band and Revue

Orchestra of 26 master musicians: men and girls, colored and white.

Warren Evans,

Baby Lawrence

Jesse James

Verneda & Lopez

Apollo Theatre, New York, NY.

September 17–23.

 

Ad in New York Amsterdam News, September 18, 1943, 9B.

S. Dance. The World of Earl Hines (1977), 96–97: Photo of the band. The WINS microphone at the front indicates that it is from the Apollo amateur night, which had a WINS transmission. The caption has Angel Creasy, Helen Way, and Lolita Valdez as the violinists.

S. Dance. The World of Earl Hines (1977), 301:  Metronome, October 1943 has photo of the band at the Apollo. This may be the same shown at pages 96—97 with identification of the musicians.

September 25

Earl Hines and His Orchestra

Promenade Room, Manhattan Center, New York, NY.

9p.m.–3 a.m.

Independent Progressive Club: Annual Fall Dance.

 

Ad in New York Amsterdam News, September 18, 1943, 9B.

 

September 26

Earl Hines and His Sensational New Orchestra

Renaissance Ballroom, New York, NY.

 

Ad in New York Amsterdam News, September 18, 1943, 9B.

September late?

Earl Hines and His Orchestra

New Ark, NJ.

 

International Musician, December 1943: No personnel list from here.

October 1

Earl Hines and His Orchestra

28 Boys and Girls – 17 men of music – 11 Sweethearts of Rhythm – Plus cast of 28.

Warren Evans

Baby Lawrence

Cook and Brown

The Appletons

Fays Theater, Philadelphia, PA.

October 1–7.

 

Ad in Philadelphia Tribune, October 1, 1943, 19.

“Earl Hines and His orchestra at Fays,” Philadelphia Tribune, October 3, 1943, SO 11

Ad in Philadelphia Tribune, October 3, 1943, SO 11.

“Gracie Barrie Par $20,000 in Philly; Hines Big at Fays,” Billboard, October 16, 1943, 17.

October early

Earl Hines and His Orchestra

Hines drops 3 brasses, cutting from 22 to 19 instrumentalists.

 

Notice in Variety, October 6, 1943, 43.

S. Dance. The World of Earl Hines (1977), 96: Hines tells of the problems of transportation of the band. These may have been the reason for reducing the personnel.

 

October 10

Earl Hines and His Orchestra

Turner’s Arena, Washington, DC.

 

“Advance Bookings,” Billboard, October 9, 1943, 27.

October 11

Earl Hines and His Orchestra

Strand Theater, Baltimore, MD.

 

“Advance Bookings,” Billboard, October 9, 1943, 27.

October 28

Earl Hines and His Orchestra

Akron, OH.

 

“Band Bookings,” Variety, October 20, 1943, 42.

October 29

Earl Hines and His Orchestra

Plus an ensemble – 12 Pretty Girls

Al Custer

Lovely Lane

Baby Lawrence

Brookens & Van

Paradise Theater, Detroit, MI.

October 29– November 4.

 

Ad in Detroit Free Press, October 29, 1943, 14.

“Earl Hines and Band Playing at Paradise,” Detroit Free Press, November 1, 1943, 16.

“’Fatha’ Brings 12 Lassies with band to Paradise,” Detroit Tribune, October 30, 1943, 15: Has Angela Creasy, Helen Way, and Lolita Valdez on violin.

November 7

Earl Hines and His Orchestra

Columbus Auditorium, Columbus, OH.

 

Ad in Columbus Dispatch, November 5, 1943, 10 B.

November 11

Earl Hines and His Orchestra

Syria Mosque, Pittsburgh, PA.

Benefit for the Church of Holy Cross.

 

“Talk o’ Town,” Pittsburg Courier, November 6, 1943, 10.

November 12

Earl Hines and His Orchestra

Book-Cadillac Hotel, Detroit.

 

“Advance Bookings,” Billboard, October 23, 1943, 27.

November 15

Earl Hines and His Orchestra

28 artists, singers and dancers plus floor revue.

Club Madrid, Louisville, KY.

November 15-28.

 

Ad in Courier-Journal, November 15, 1943, sec. 2, 3: Starting tonight: Earl Hines.

Ad in Courier-Journal, November 29, 1943, sec. 2, 2: Starting tonight: Georgie Auld.

November 30

Earl Hines and His Orchestra

Music Hall, Cincinnati, OH.

 

“Band Bookings,” Variety, November 3, 34.

 

December mid?

Earl Hines and His Orchestra

Angel Creasy, Helen Way, Sylvia Medford (v); Ardine Loving (cello); Lavilla Tulos (harp); Shorty McConnell, Benny Harris, Paul Cohen, Leonard Graham (aka Idrees Sulieman) (tp); Cliff Smalls, Gus Chappell, Benny Green, Howard Scott (tb); Scoops Carey, Wardell Gray (as); Harold Clark, Thomas Crump (ts); John Williams (bars); Earl Hines (p & dir); Roxanne Lucas (g); Lucille Dixon (b); Murray Dinofer (d); Sarah Vaughan (p & voc); The Bluebonnets: Ellen Solomon, Jean Parks, Anita San, Mary Beasley (voc).

Charleston, S. C.

 

International Musician, January 1944, brings personnel list from here. The vocalists are not mentioned, as they were not AFM members.

December mid?

Earl Hines and His Orchestra

Angel Creasy, Helen Way, Sylvia Medford (v); Ardine Loving (cello); Lavilla Tulos (harp); Shorty McConnell, Palmer Davis, unidentified, Ira Pettiford (tp); Cliff Smalls, Gus Chappell, unidentified, Robert Merrell? (tb); Scoops Carey, Wardell Gray (as); Harold Clark, Thomas Crump (ts); John Williams (bars); Earl Hines (p & dir); unidentified (g); Lucille Dixon (b); David Booth (d); Sarah Vaughan (p & voc); The Bluebonnets: Ellen Solomon, Jean Parks, Anita San, Mary Beasley (voc).

Richmond, VA.

 

International Musician, February 1944, brings personnel list from here. The vocalists are not mentioned, as they were not AFM members.

 

 

December mid?

Earl Hines and His Orchestra

Unidentified probably Angel Creasy, Helen Way, Sylvia Medford (v); Ardine Loving (cello); Lavilla Tulos (harp); Shorty McConnell, Palmer Davis, Willie Cook, Ira Pettiford (tp); Cliff Smalls, Gus Chappell, Rudy Morrison, Robert Merrell? (tb); Scoops Carey, Wardell Gray (as); Harold Clark, Thomas Crump (ts); John Williams (bars); Earl Hines (p & dir); unidentified (g); Lucille Dixon (b); David Booth (d); Sarah Vaughan (p & voc); The Bluebonnets: Ellen Solomon, Jean Parks, Anita San, Mary Beasley (voc).

Tampa, FL.

 

International Musician, March 1944, brings personnel list from here.

The vocalists are not mentioned, as they were not AFM members.

December 20

Earl Hines and His Orchestra

Sarah Vaughan

The Bluebonnets

Lavilla Tulos

Ardine Loving

Brown & Brown

Club 2 Spot, Jacksonville, FL.

December 20–26.

Gala Anniversary week.

 

Ad in Pittsburgh Courier, December 18, 1942, 15.

December 27

Earl Hines and His Orchestra

South St. Casino, Orlando, FL.

 

“Band Bookings,” Variety, December 22, 1943, 43.

December 28

Earl Hines and His Orchestra

Club Windsor, Ft. Lauderdale, FL.

 

“Band Bookings,” Variety, December 22, 1943, 43.

December 29

Earl Hines and His Orchestra

Harlem Square Club, Miami, FL.

 

“Band Bookings,” Variety, December 22, 1943, 43.

December 30

Earl Hines and His Orchestra

Camp Bartow, FL.

Afternoon.

 

“Bands’ Last-Minute Camp Bookings Hurt Their 1-Nite Stands,” Variety, January 5, 1944, 190:

December 30

Earl Hines and His Orchestra

Elite Theater, Winter Haven, FL.

 

“Band Bookings,” Variety, December 22, 1943, 43.