Blue But True - Dud Bascomb©2002JCMarion


Wilbur Odell Bascomb was born on May 16 of 1916 in Birmingham, Alabama. The musical influences of his family rubbed off on young Wilbur and by the time he was a teenager, he left high school and had joined his brother Paul in the Bama State Collegians formed at Alabama State Teacher's College in 1932. Two years later the band was under the leadership of Erskine Hawkins and Wilbur, now known universally as Dud, went with the band to New York. Dud developed into a fine lyrical trumpeter with the band and had an important part in the band's 1939 hit record of the original version of "Tuxedo Junction". Most listeners assumed the trumpet solo was by Hawkins, but Bascomb delivered the noted trumpet styling on the record, combining a fuller tone and concentrating on the lower register in his solos. Dud remained with Hawkins through 1944 and was present on the band's hit records of the time including "Miss Hallelujah Brown" (Bluebird #7810), "Easy Rider" (Bluebird #10029), and "Gabriel Meets The Duke" (Bluebird #10671).

After leaving Hawkins in 1944 Dud joined brother Paul and they co-led a big band for three years before going their seperate ways in 1947. Dud did some replacement duty with the orchestra of Duke Ellington for short periods in the late 1940s. In 1946 he recorded under his own name for the DeLuxe label based in New Jersey. The sides were : "Time And Time Again" / "Victory Bells" on #2004, and "Let's Jump" / "Somebody's Knocking" on #2005. The next session in the recording studio had Dud with jazz and R & B stars Avery Parish (piano), Tiny Grimes (guitar), and "Big Sid Catlett on drums sitting in for two sides for the Alert label - "After Hours" (a remake of Parish's great tune), and "Walkin' Blues" with Dud on vocal on #200, and "Sweet Georgia Brown" and "Indiana" on #201. Also in 1946 Dud led a small combo that backed up vocalist Merle Turner on two sides for the Sonora label - "Just One More Chance" and "Not Bad, Bascomb" on #103, and "Late Hour Rock" and "That's My Home" on #105. After that in the late forties he seldom recorded, but had steady work leading a small combo that was the house band for more than three years at Tyler's Chicken Shack in Northern New Jersey into the early fifties.

In 1950 the Dud Bascomb Combo backs up blues shouter Wynonie Harris on a number of dates in the Northeast including an extended stay at Philadelphia's Club 421. The next two years see Dud doing a steady number of area appearances especially in Philadelphia at Pep's, the Powelton Cafe, Bill & Lou's, and the Carver Bar in the Glen Hotel.By 1954 Dud is back in the recording studio for the Tru-Blu label in New York. "Danny Boy" and "Blue But True" is released on Tru-Blu #415 in May, and "Dud's Theme" and "Alley C" are released on #418 two m onths later. In the mid and later fifties Dud found work as a session musician for a number of R & B and mainstream rock 'n roll acts such as The Shirelles, Isley Brothers, Joe Tex, and others. In 1958 he went on tour with his combo backing up Nappy Brown, Annie Laurie, and Little Jimmy Scott. In the late 1950s Dud records with a band that includes trumpeter Taft Jordan and a killer sax section including Reuben Phillips on alto (long the leader of the house band at the Apollo Theater in New York) and two veterans of the Alan Freed days - Sam "the man" Taylor on tenor and Haywood Henry on baritone. Unfortunately only two records were released from these sessions - a new version of "Tuxedo Junction" and "Geechie Blues" on Savoy #1580, and "Happy Horns" and "Grumpy" on Sharp #111 in 1960.

For the rest of the 1960s, Dud toured with small combos backing up vocalists such as Dinah Washington and Carmen MacRae. In the late sixties he played trumpet in a band led by Buddy Tate. He also toured Japan and Western Europe winning over a new generation of fans with his trumpet style. He had plans to keep up the music into the 1970s, but his death on Christmas Day in 1972 stilled the voice of this most lyrical of horn men. Praised by musicians such as Dizzy Gillespie and Billy Taylor, and writers Stanley Dance and Whitney Balliet, Dud Bascomb was a positive force in the musical soundtrack of America from the early thirties until his death four decades later.

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