DOC CHEATHAM Biography - Musicians


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Name: Adolphus Anthony Cheatham                                                       
Born: June 13, 1905 Nashville, Tennessee                                               
Died: June 2, 1997                                                                     
Adolphus Anthony Cheatham, much better known as Doc Cheatham (13 June 1905-2           
June 1997) was a jazz trumpeter, singer, and bandleader. While a reliable player       
in some of the top jazz groups from the 1920s on, Cheatham's career enjoyed an         
unusual flowering of renewed creativity and acclaim in his later decades; Doc         
himself agreed with the critical assessment that he was probably the only jazz         
musician to create his best work after the age of 70.                                 
Cheatham was born in Nashville, Tennessee. He noted there was no jazz music           
there in his youth; like many in the United States he was introduced to the           
style by early recordings and touring groups at the end of the 1910s. He               
abandoned his family's plans for him to be a pharmacist (although retaining the       
medically inspired nickname "Doc") to play music, initially playing soprano and       
tenor saxophone in addition to trumpet in Nashville's African American                 
Vaudeville theater. Cheatham later toured in band accompanying blues singers on       
the Theater Owners Booking Association circuit.[1] His early jazz influences           
included Henry Busse and Johnny Dunn, but when he moved to Chicago in 1924 he         
heard King Oliver. Oliver's playing was a revelation to Cheatham. Cheatham             
followed the jazz King around. Oliver gave young Cheatham a mute which Cheatham       
treasured and performed with for the rest of his career. A further revelation         
came the following year when Louis Armstrong returned to Chicago. Armstrong           
would be a lifelong influence on Cheatham.                                             
Cheatham played in Albert Wynn's band (and occasionally substituted for               
Armstrong at the Vendome Theater), and recorded on sax with Ma Rainey before           
moving to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1927, where he worked with the bands of       
Bobby Lee and Wilber de Paris before moving to New York City the following year.       
After a short stint with Chick Webb he left to tour Europe with Sam Wooding's         
Cheatam returned to the United States in 1930, and played with Marion Handy and       
McKinney's Cotton Pickers before landing a job with Cab Calloway. Cheatham was         
Calloway's lead trumpeter from 1932 through 1939.                                     
He performed with Benny Carter, Teddy Wilson, Fletcher Henderson, and Claude           
Hopkins in the 1940s; after World War II he started working regularly with Latin       
bands in New York City, including the bands of Perez Prado, Marcelino Guerra,         
Ricardo Ray (on whose catchy, hook-laden album "Jala, Jala Boogaloo, Volume II",       
he played exquisitely (but uncredited), particularly on the track "Mr. Trumpet         
Man"), Machito, and others. In addition to continuing Latin gigs, he played           
again with Wilbur de Paris and Sammy Price. He led his own band on Broadway for       
five years starting in 1960, after which he toured with Benny Goodman.