Bonnie Wetzel

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One of the few female instrumentalists of the ‘40s and ‘50s to regularly perform with top notch male jazz players, Wetzel worked with guitarist Herb Ellis, trumpeters Charlie Shavers and Roy Eldridge,…
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One of the few female instrumentalists of the ‘40s and ‘50s to regularly perform with top notch male jazz players, Wetzel worked with guitarist Herb Ellis, trumpeters Charlie Shavers and Roy Eldridge, and the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, among others. Wetzel was born Bonnie Jean Addleman. She studied violin in her youth and taught herself the double bass. In the mid ‘40s she played in an all-female band led by Ada Leonard; she also worked in the trio of guitarist Marian Grange. The bassist married trumpeter Ray Wetzel in 1949; in 1951 the couple worked together in Dorsey's band. Wetzel joined drummer Elaine Leighton in pianist Beryl Booker's trio in 1953. In 1953-4 the group toured Europe and recorded under its members' names for the Discovery label. They also recorded with tenor saxophonist Don Byas. Wetzel subsequently worked freelance in and around New York.