Earl Caruthers

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Saxophonist Earl Caruthers was associated with the Kansas City jazz scene for his entire career, and recorded most prolifically as a member of the Jimmie Lunceford band. He attended high school in Kansas…
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Saxophonist Earl Caruthers was associated with the Kansas City jazz scene for his entire career, and recorded most prolifically as a member of the Jimmie Lunceford band. He attended high school in Kansas City, Kansas, then studied at nearby Fisk University. In 1928, still a teenager, he began gigging with the Benny Moten band. In the early '30s he was based out of St. Louis, playing with artists such as trumpeter Dewey Jackson and pianist Fate Marable. In 1932, Caruthers joined up with Lunceford, staying put in the saxophone section of this mighty orchestra until its leader died in 1947.

Following the sad passing of Lunceford, Caruthers worked with a collaborative group led by Joe Thomas and Ed Wilcox, then hung with the latter pianist and arranger when Wilcox started up his own outfit. Caruthers eventually moved back to Kansas City, where he was active as a local musician in the '60s. The Caruthers legacy is of course most easily experienced via the Lunceford discography, and appropriately so, as this leader made excellent use of the reed player's soloing abilities on features such as the affectionate "I Love You," the raucous "Harlem Shout," and the rowdy "Organ Grinder's Swing."