One of the most colorful trombonists of all time, Tricky Sam Nanton's expertise with the plunger mute (emitting a large assortment of growls and colorful tones) was a major part of Duke Ellington's original sound and has rarely been duplicated since (although Quentin Jackson sometimes came close). He gained early experience playing with bands led by Cliff Jackson and Elmer Snowden, and recorded with Thomas Morris, but after mid-1926 Nanton was only heard with Duke Ellington's orchestra and small groups; he never led a record date of his own. Nanton made for a perfect team with trumpeter Bubber Miley and, when Miley was replaced by Cootie Williams in 1929, Nanton helped to inspire the younger trumpeter to build on Miley's role. He was well featured on many classic recordings (including "East St. Louis Toodle-oo" and "Black and Tan Fantasy") and was a major attraction with Ellington up until his premature death in 1946.
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