Jeter-Pillars Orchestra

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When the popular territory band led by Alphonso Trent broke up in 1933, two of the saxophonists decided to form their own small band. These musicians, friends from boyhood, were alto saxophonist James…
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When the popular territory band led by Alphonso Trent broke up in 1933, two of the saxophonists decided to form their own small band. These musicians, friends from boyhood, were alto saxophonist James Jeter and tenor saxophonist Hayes Pillars. Taking their example from Trent, they set very high standards of musicianship and owing to careful choice of sidemen and the development of a popular repertoire, they became very successful on the dancehall circuits of the mid- and south-western states. Based for many years at the Plantation Club, St. Louis, Missouri, the band played sophisticated dance band charts with considerable élan. Although it was never a jazz orchestra, over the years future jazz stars such as Art Blakey, Jimmy Blanton, ‘Big’ Sid Catlett, Charlie Christian, Kenny Clarke, Harry ‘Sweets’ Edison, Jimmy Forrest, Jo Jones and Walter Page were in the ranks. The band played on into the late 40s before disbanding. The Jeter-Pillars Orchestra had only one recording date, cutting four sides in 1937 during a period when none of its future stars was in the band. These records were unexceptional and the band’s considerable reputation rests therefore upon the recollections of those who heard it in person or on the air, and for the many fine musicians who graced its ranks.