An underrated soloist, Jimmy Nottingham was such a valuable big band and studio musician that he spent most of his life playing anonymously in the background and had few chances to solo. He first worked professionally in 1943 with Cecil Payne. While in the military (1944-45), Nottingham was lucky enough to play regularly with Willie Smith's Navy band. He was Lionel Hampton's high-note trumpeter from 1945-47 and worked with the big bands of Charlie Barnet, Lucky Millinder, Count Basie (as lead trumpeter from 1948-50) and Herbie Fields. Nottingham played with Latin bands from 1951-53 and then joined the staff of CBS in 1954, where he worked for 20 years, occasionally playing jazz on the side. Among his jazz associations during this era were Budd Johnson (with whom he co-led a band in 1962), Dizzy Gillespie, Oliver Nelson, Benny Goodman, the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra (1966-70) and Clark Terry (1974-75). Nottingham stayed active until his death at age 52; his only chance to be a leader resulted in four titles (half an album) for Seeco in 1957.
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