Jimmy Lytell

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One of the most underrated clarinetists in jazz history, Jimmy Lytell was one of the first clarinetists to really swing, but he never really achieved much fame. He began playing professionally at age…
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One of the most underrated clarinetists in jazz history, Jimmy Lytell was one of the first clarinetists to really swing, but he never really achieved much fame. He began playing professionally at age 12. A member of the Original Indiana Five in 1921, Lytell was a member of the Original Memphis Five, with whom he recorded extensively from 1922-25. He also spent part of 1922-24 as a member of the declining Original Dixieland Jazz Band. After the late 1920s, Lytell was found more often in the studios and orchestras (including being on NBC's staff) for radio programs than in jazz settings, although he managed to combine the two by being the musical director for "The Chamber Music Society of Lower Basin Street" in the early 1940s. Starting in 1949 and continuing off and on for a decade, he often gigged with the new Original Memphis Five. He recorded with Connee Boswell in the late 1950s and performed in public as late as 1971. As a leader, Lytell recorded 18 songs from 1926-28 and six others for the London label in 1950.