In the early 20s, St. Louis-based violinist Wilson Robinson formed a band that he named the Syncopaters. By 1924, the band was in New York and, now directed by another violinist, they were engaged as the house band at the Cotton Club. Incorporating the club’s name in its title, the band was known as Andy Preer And His Cotton Club Orchestra. When the band was replaced at the club by Duke Ellington, Preer’s group changed its name yet again, this time calling itself the Missourians. After Preer’s death, the band secured another prestigious New York engagement, this time at the Savoy Ballroom under the leadership of George Scott. The band retained a good measure of popularity with dancers at the Savoy, playing with a propulsive, free-flowing swing that reflected its now-distant Midwestern origins. Early in 1930, the band backed singer Cab Calloway on record dates, and soon thereafter became his permanent band, changing their name to the Cab Calloway Orchestra. In its early years at the Cotton Club, the band did much to foster the type of music that was associated with that venue and which Ellington later refined. The band had a number of fine soloists, among them trumpeter R.Q. Dickerson, whose use of the plunger mute helped to establish the so-called ‘jungle’ music with which the Cotton Club showbands were associated.
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