(Weldon Leo Teagarden), 1905–64, American jazz trombonist and singer, b. Vernon, Tex. One of the earliest white bluesmen, he came from a jazz-playing family and was mainly self-taught. He sometimes played with his brothers, trumpeter Charlie and drummer Cub, and sister, pianist Norma. In his twenties Teagarden wandered across America's Southwest, playing in several jazz groups, and arrived in New York in 1927. He played in bands led by Ben Pollack (1928–33), Paul Whiteman
(1933–38), and Louis Armstrong
(1947–51), and also led his own groups (1939–47; 1951–57). He began recording in the late 1920s and made many albums throughout his career. Teagarden was one of the great horn players of the mid-20th cent.; his trombone playing, seemingly effortless yet extremely accomplished technically, was uniquely smooth and lyrical. In addition, his somewhat gruff, drawling voice was ideal for singing the blues.
See biography by J. D. Smith (1976, rev. ed. 1988); study by H. J. Waters (1960).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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