Harold Arnold was one of the most-respected figures in jazz; had he not chosen to work nine to five and raise a family late in his music career instead of gigging and recording, he would have been more than a footnote in the history of jazz. He grew up in Cleveland, OH's Central area and went to the now-defunct Central High School, a starting point for many jazz greats, including Noble Sissle, Freddy Webster, Tadd Dameron, Andy Anderson, Bull Moose Jackson, Ernie Freeman, Shep Shepherd, Chick McKinney, Willie Smith, and Fats Heard. He started with the piano but switched to saxophone at Central High. Born Harold Dixon Arnold in 1912, he started playing professionally in 1933 at carnivals and on Mississippi riverboats, which lasted for four years. He then migrated to New York with Columbus, OH, trumpeter Harry "Sweets" Edison, who he befriended while Edison was gigging in Cleveland. The talented pair hooked up with Lucky Millinder, who directed the Mills Blues Rhythm Band, and made a name for themselves. Arnold also either played or recorded (or both) with Louis Armstrong, Fats Waller, Charlie Shavers, Henry "Red" Allen & His New York Orchestra, Billy Kyle, Wilbur DeParis, Carmen Newsome (another Central High classmate), and others. He led several combos and later conducted young Quincy Jones' Jazz 'Round Midnight album (1958) but oddly, didn't play on the session. He returned home and found employment with the post office and as a security guard (at Harry E. Davis Jr. High). He settled in Woodmere (a small suburb of Cleveland) and retired in 1977. He maintained a membership in the Cleveland Federation of Musicians and was a member of the Townsmen, a local band with many members that has been around for more than 50 years. Arnold last major credit was performing on blues legend Robert Lockwood Jr.'s Hangin' On album in 1980. He lost his wife, Beatrice, in 1992 and passed away ten years later on May 2, 2002, at the Heather Hill Nursing Home in Chardon, OH. He was 90 years old.
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