"Visited Europe in the late '50s" is the final sentence in jazz critic John Chilton's biography of this artist, not that noteworthy in itself unless Rudy Traylor never came back, as seems to be the suspicion amongst certain segments of the community tracking the activities of jazz drummers. The latter is a breed that, among other things, has been noted for going to Europe and not coming back. Traylor, however, is much more than just a jazz drummer. Critical appraisal of his discography does indeed include the pungent point that classic Earl Hines sides such as "Up Jumped the Devil" and "Jersey Bounce" include so-called "hot drum breaks" by Rudy Traylor. Nearly two decades later, however, Traylor was being praised for his clever combination of reed instruments "subtly and unobtrusively" backing the wonderful vocals of Johnny Hartman. Traylor went back to music school after the second World War--not just any music school, either, this was Juilliard--but may have been just as able to become an arranger and conductor as result of his professional experiences, including countless hours of work as a studio musician as well as performing with bandleaders such as Hines, Jimmie Lunceford and Ella Fitzgerald.
Traylor was still a teenager when he began drumming professionally in his native Philadelphia, including house musician status at a night club under the auspices of clarinetist George Baquet, a New Orleans jazz dynasty member whose instrumental specialty was clarinet. The drummer's trail subsequently led north, to Harlem and Hines in the early '40s as well as several other players with evocative nicknames such as "Hot Lips" and "Humpy." Traylor served in the army from 1942 through 1946 and was associated with musical commanders Lunceford and Noble Sissle during subsequent peacetime.
Sissle's sessions lasted into the early '50s, Traylor putting in a brief Boston period prior to returning to New York City and employment in Broadway pit bands and CBS recording studios. Jazz discographies begin phasing his activity circa the late '50s. Like some of his peers he was put to good use in the vocal music and
pop of that time period as well, including hits by Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers as well as the aforementioned Hartman orchestrations.