Andy Blakeney

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b. Andrew Blakeney, 10 June 1898, Quitman, Mississippi, USA, d. February 1992, Baldwin Park, California, USA. After learning to play the piano as a child, Blakeney took up the trumpet while living in…
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Artist Biography by

b. Andrew Blakeney, 10 June 1898, Quitman, Mississippi, USA, d. February 1992, Baldwin Park, California, USA. After learning to play the piano as a child, Blakeney took up the trumpet while living in Chicago. He played professionally there with various bands, including a very short spell with King Oliver, and he also rehearsed with a band directed by Jelly Roll Morton. This band later made the famous Red Hot Pepper sides but by then Blakeney had uprooted and travelled to Los Angeles. There, he played with many bands, obscure and famous. Among the latter were those led by Les Hite, Charlie Echols and Lionel Hampton. From the mid-30s until the outbreak of World War II he played in Hawaii. Back in the USA he played in theatre bands and showbands, his forte during the majority of the preceding years. Soon after the war, however, Blakeney had drifted to the periphery of the music business. Then, in 1947, he was invited to join Kid Ory’s band, where he replaced Mutt Carey. Although the Ory band’s musical style, hard-driving dixieland jazz, was not entirely to his liking, he persisted in this idiom, even leading his own similarly styled band in various parts of California. His location led to occasional work in motion pictures, including appearances on screen in some feature films: Imitation Of Life (1959), Hotel (1967), The Great White Hope (1970), and Mame (1974). Film making practices being what they are, in the latter film at least, his playing was ghosted by a different trumpeter on the soundtrack - in this case by Johnny Best.

Blakeney also coached young musicians and by the 70s was a respected elder statesman of jazz. In this decade he visited Europe as a member of Barry Martyn’s Legends Of Jazz, gaining many admirers. He continued to play in his 80s, working with Roger Jamieson’s New Orleanians. Although much of Blakeney’s long career was spent in jazz bands, his prime years found him either in showbands or with bands that only rarely recorded. On the basis of his playing in the 70s and afterwards, by which time he was well past his prime, he was clearly a highly competent musician with a good sense of style, but was perhaps a shade too elaborate (and, it must be said, refined) for the direct and occasionally rowdy settings in which he was latterly heard.