Louis "King" Garcia

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The temptation for a jazz trumpeter to shed the name "Louis" for something less associated with an established star on the instrument is understandable; so is the urge to reach for the royalty rung in…
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The temptation for a jazz trumpeter to shed the name "Louis" for something less associated with an established star on the instrument is understandable; so is the urge to reach for the royalty rung in a genre populated with Dukes, Counts and even other Kings. Louis "King" Garcia was best known as a sideman in bands led by the Dorsey Brothers, individually or together. Garcia came from Puerto Rico, where he began playing trumpet in high school and then joined the Municipal Band of San Juan. He came under something of a heavy jazz influence in this context, at least in terms of family ties, since band director Manuel Tizol was the uncle of Juan Tizol, famed Duke Ellington sideman and instigator of knife fights.

Following some work with the Victor Recording Orchestra, Garcia relocated to the United States in the early '20s. In the middle of that decade he was working with the Original Dixieland Jazz Band, then moved on to an orchestra led by Emil Coleman. While Garcia's relationship with the Dorsey Brothers had the major impact on the trumpeter's discography, his involvement with Coleman was more wide ranging and he would return to this orchestra for regular work in the '40s. Studio activity increased markedly in the '30s, including not only the Dorsey sessions but sides under Garcia's name as well as back- up for a forgotten but interesting vocalist named Amanda Randolph.

Garcia played in 1935 with the Vic Berton Orchestra and with Richard Himber the following year, edging out of jazz into the world of society dance bands. Things heated up a bit more in the next years, however, as he moved from several years of musical intoxication with the Nat Brandwyne outfit to the full-out antipasto serving of the Louis Prima Big Band in 1939. He was still doing a a variety of studio calls in the '40s, in the latter part of that decade leading his own Latin band. After an exodus out to California in the '60s he faded from the scene, his health no longer allowing much playing. He is no relation to trumpeter Louis Garcia of the band Nueva Creacion.