An excellent trumpeter who was in brilliant form on four recorded titles with Luis Russell in 1926, Bob Shoffner had a long career but was always somewhat obscure. He grew up in St. Louis, started playing drums when he was nine, took up the bugle and then switched to trumpet in 1911. After two years in the Army (1917-1919), part of which he spent playing trumpet in a military band, Shoffner worked with Charlie Creath and toured the Midwest with Tommy Parker. In 1921 he moved to Chicago where he played with John H. Wickcliffe, Everett Robbins' Jazz Screamers, and Mae Brady. After a stint back in St. Louis with Creath, Shoffner was in Chicago working with Honore Dutrey's group and in June 1924 becoming Louis Armstrong's first replacement with King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band. Other than brief stints with Dave Peyton and Lottie Hightower's Nighthawks, Shoffner was with Oliver until February 1927. After recovering from lip problems that knocked him out of action for a few months, Shoffner played with Charles Elgar (1928), Erskine Tate, Jerome Carrington, McKinney's Cotton Pickers (1931), Tate again, and Frankie Jaxon (1932). In 1934 he moved to New York and had short stints with Fess Williams and Fletcher Henderson. After playing with Hot Lips Page's band in 1938, Shoffner eventually moved back to Chicago, working with local groups before getting a day job with the State of Illinois. After the mid-'40s (including a recording session with Richard M. Jones), Shoffner retired from music until 1957 when he joined Franz Jackson's Original Jazz All-Stars, gigging with Jackson until 1963 when erratic health forced him to become a part-time player. Shoffner recorded in the '20's with Lovie Austin's Blues Serenaders, Jimmy O'Bryant, Ida Cox, and Russell, among others, cut two songs for Mercury in 1945 (obscure selections in which he is joined by vocalist Earl Jones) and recorded a few albums with Franz Jackson in the early '60s.
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