One of the great trumpeters of the 1920s, Bubber Miley was a master with the plunger mute, distorting his sound quite colorfully. He was largely responsible for Duke Ellington's early success and was the most prominent voice in Duke's Jungle Band of 1926-1928, teaming up with trombonist Tricky Sam Nanton; Cootie Williams and Ray Nance would follow in the tradition of Miley. He grew up in New York and played professionally starting in 1920. Miley was with Elmer Snowden's Washingtonians as early as 1923 and freelanced on recordings during 1924-1926. He was influenced a bit by King Oliver and Johnny Dunn, but was quite distinctive by 1926 and an innovator in his own way. Miley co-wrote "East St. Louis Toodle-oo" and "Black and Tan Fantasy" and starred on the majority of Ellington's recordings during 1926-1928. Unfortunately, he was an alcoholic and by early 1929 was becoming increasingly unreliable, leading to Ellington reluctantly firing him. Miley worked in France with Noble Sissle, played in the U.S. with society bandleader Leo Reisman (taking a memorable solo on "What Is This Thing Called Love"), and formed his own band in 1930, recording six titles. Bubber Miley played in a few shows in 1931, but died the following year of tuberculosis at the age of 29.
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