Tommy Douglas

Biography by

b. 9 January 1906, Eskridge, Kansas, USA, d. 9 March 1965, Swiss Falls, South Dakota, USA. Douglas taught himself clarinet and saxophone while at school in Topeka, before studying at the Boston Conservatory…
Read Full Biography

Artist Biography by

b. 9 January 1906, Eskridge, Kansas, USA, d. 9 March 1965, Swiss Falls, South Dakota, USA. Douglas taught himself clarinet and saxophone while at school in Topeka, before studying at the Boston Conservatory from 1924-28. While there he was friendly with the group of Boston players who were to form the core of the Duke Ellington saxophone section - Johnny Hodges, Otto ‘Toby’ Hardwicke and Harry Carney. He worked with a variety of bands in the south and midwest throughout the 30s and 40s, but settled in Kansas City. He worked with Jelly Roll Morton in Chicago in 1933 and later with Bennie Moten. He also played briefly with Ellington in 1951 but usually led his own bands. His commercial records do not reflect what those who heard him describe as his more flowing, modern style. Certainly he was using some of the devices of modern jazz (such as extended chords and double time) in his own music as early as 1935 and he may have had some influence on Charlie Parker, who played with his septet in 1936 at the age of 16.