1921–43

 

Wardell Gray Chronology

 

 

 

Created by Leif Bo Petersen

 

Last updated: December 4, 2013

 

 

Date

 

Event

References/Further Details

1921

 

 

 

February 13

Wardell Gray is born in Oklahoma City, OK.

 

Youngest of four children.

 

1929

 

 

 

 

The Gray family moves to Detroit, MI.

 

L. Bjorn and J. Gallart, Before Motown (2001), 77.

 

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 later switched to tenor sax after hearing Lester Young.

 

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

1936

 

 

 

 

Continued to attend Cass Technical High School.

 

L. Bjorn and J. Gallart, Before Motown (2001), 77.

 

1937?

 

 

 

 

Isaac Goodwin Band

Wardell Gray (ts), John Isaac Goodwin (p), and others.

 

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

 

1938-39

 

 

 

 

Dorothy Patton Band

Fraternal Club, Flint, MI.

Gray spends a year with this band.

 

 

1940–41

 

 

 

 

Jimmy Raschel Band

Band included:

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

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

 

 

Congo Club Band

12 piece band including: Lester Currant (tp & arr); 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).

Congo Club, Detroit, MI.

The club closes in the autumn of 1943.

Howard McGhee had left the band. In December 1941 he joined the Andy Kirk band.

 

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

Teddy Edwards interviewed by Han Schulte.

Groenlo, Netherlands. Late 1980s.

 

1943

 

 

 

August 19

Earl Hines Orchestra

Drafting of his men forces Hines to interrupt the rest of the tour South. He goes to New York to re-organize his orchestra.

 

“Father Hines Loses Plenty of Children,” Variety, August 18, 1943, 37.

August 30

Rehearsals start.

Reorganized Orchestra: 27 persons including: Angel Creasy, Helen Way, Sylvia Medford (v), Ardine Loving (cello), and Lavilla Tulos (harp).

Gray may have joined the band here playing alto sax.

 

“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.

September?

Angel Creasy, Helen Way, Sylvia Lolita Valdez (vln), Ardine Loving (cello), Lavilla Tulos (harp), Shorty McConnell, Benny Harris, Paul Cohen, Idrees Sulieman (tp); Cliff Smalls, Gus Chappell, Benny Green, unidentified [probably 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  (4 voc).

 

Photos in S. Dance, The World of Earl Hines (1977), 96–98.

[Are these from the Apollo or later?]

September 17

Orchestra and Revue: Orchestra of 26 master musicians: men and girls, colored and white: Incl. Sarah Vaughan, Warren Evans, The Bluebonnets, Baby Lawrence, Jesse James, and Verneda & Lopez.

Apollo Theatre, New York, NY.

September 17–23.

 

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

Metronome, October 1943, according to S. Dance, The World of Earl Hines (1977), 301.

September 25

Manhattan Center, New York, NY.

Independent Progressive Club: Annual Fall Dance.

 

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

 

September 26

Renaissance Ballroom, New York, NY.

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

 

October 1

Orchestra of 28 incl. Sarah Vaughan, The Bluebonnets, Warren Evans (voc), Baby Lawrence, Cook & Brown, and The Appletons.

Fay’s Theater, Philadelphia. PA.

October 1–7.

 

Philadelphia Tribune, October 2 acc. to S. Dance, The World of Earl Hines (1977), 301.

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

October?

Newark, NJ.

 

International Musician, December 1943.

October early

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

 

Notice in Variety, October 6, 1943, 43.

October 10

Turner’s Arena, Washington, DC.

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

 

October 11

Strand Theater, Baltimore, MD.

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

 

October 29

Paradise Theater, Detroit, MI.

October 29–November 3.

 

“Orchestra Routes,” Billboard, October 30, 1943, 27.

October late

When the Hines band came through Detroit, Jerri Gray persuaded Hines to hire Gray, who thus may not have joined the band until here.

 

Jerri Gray, “Mes Dix Années Avec Wardell Gray,” Jazz Magazine, September 1955, 20.

November 12

Book-Cadillac Hotel, Detroit, MI.

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

November 14

Fay’s Theater, Philadelphia, PA.

November 14–20.

Philadelphia Tribune, November 14 acc. to S. Dance, The World of Earl Hines (1977), 301.

November 22

Club Madrid, Louisville, KY.

November 22–28.

 

“Orchestra Routes,” Billboard, November 20, 1943, 27.

December 1

Public Hall, Cleveland, OH.

“Advance Bookings,” Billboard, October 30, 1943, 27.

 

December 3

Howard Theater, Washington, DC.

December 3–9.

 

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

December 10

Bayshore Pavilion, Hampton, VA.

“Band Bookings,” Variety, December 1, 1943, 34.

 

December 11

City Armory, Durham, NC.

“Band Bookings,” Variety, December 1, 1943, 34.

 

December mid

Charleston, SC.

International Musician, January 1944.

 

December 20

Two-Spot Club, Jacksonville, FL.

December 20–26.

 

“Band Bookings,” Variety, December 1, 1943, 34.

December late

Tampa, FL.

International Musician, March 1944.

 

December 27

South St. Casino, Orlando, FL.

 

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

December 28

Club Windsor, Ft. Lauderdale, FL.

 

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

December 29

Harlem Square Club, Miami. FL.

 

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

December 30

Camp Bartow, FL.

Afternoon.

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

 

December 30

Elite Theater, Winter Haven, FL.

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