Big Al Dupree

b. 1923, Dallas, Texas, USA, d. 4 August 2003. By the time Dupree started to attend Booker T. Washington High School in Dallas in the 30s, he was already an accomplished tenor saxophonist. He had also…
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Artist Biography

b. 1923, Dallas, Texas, USA, d. 4 August 2003. By the time Dupree started to attend Booker T. Washington High School in Dallas in the 30s, he was already an accomplished tenor saxophonist. He had also taken part in impromptu sessions in the infamous Deep Ellum area of the city, renowned as much for its crime rate as for being the breeding ground of blues musicians such as Blind Lemon Jefferson and Buster Smith. Through these sessions he became acquainted with trumpeter Doug Finnell, who asked Dupree’s parents if their prodigy could join his band. The group, properly titled John R. Davis And His Dallas Dandies, enjoyed a residency at the Café Drug (so-called because the café also traded as a pharmacy). Dupree continued to play with the group until he left Dallas, aged 16, to attend Xavier University in New Orleans. While there he joined a succession of touring combos.

During World War II he entered service and worked on aircraft engines. Although he professed to be semi-retired on his return to Dallas after the war, Dupree still played regularly as the frontman of the Heat Waves Of Swing, a big band blues aggregation. He also took to the road to back artists including T-Bone Walker and Pee Wee Crayton. However, when he tired of the organizational hazards of Walker’s touring schedule, Dupree opted for a more comfortable existence working as a singer/pianist in cocktail lounges. He finally released his debut CD in 1995, a year after making his first festival appearance at the Texas Blues/Soul Barbecue.