Talented multi-instrumentalist Frank Humphries -- credited with playing trumpet, trombone, and saxophoneon jazz recordings beginning in the '20s -- came from a musical family who also included Hildred Humphries, a brother whose name sounded like a sister, also doubling on trumpet and alto saxophone. In addition, nephews Teddy Humphries and Roger Humphries were professional musicians on piano and drums, respectively. Family bands were a logical outgrowth, beginning in 1928 with the Original Humphries Play Boys. The brothers also formed a nice horn section for bandleader Vernon Stern in the same period. The brother's horn combination was also part of the Pittsburgh Harlemites combo in 1931.
The two horn-playing siblings grew into the Jack Spruce Ensemble for two years beginning in 1933, fronted their own orchestra between 1935 and 1938, and bit into the Ham Williams group in the early '40s. They were discovered next by Christopher Columbus. Finally Uncle Sam effected a separation as the Second World War commenced; Hildred, but not Frank, served in the Army. Meanwhile the latter Humphries continued gigging with excellent leaders such as Lucky Millinder, Cootie Williams, Don Redman, and Tab Smith. He also performed as part of the Louis Jordan band, which required a bit more of an early rock and roll feel. Following the end of the war, the brothers got back together again on-stage, beginning a new version of the Humphries Brothers Band who carried on for more than three decades.