b. 28 February 1921, Norfolk, Virginia, USA, d. 11 February 2003. Although he played clarinet as a teenager and during military service, Gwaltney briefly turned to the vibraphone when he suffered lung damage. After the war he started to play the clarinet again, performing in and around Washington, DC, often in name bands passing through the region, including those led by Benny Goodman, Bobby Hackett and Billy Butterfield. Gwaltney was also active in concert and festival promotion and in the mid-60s opened a club in Washington, Blues Alley, at which he assisted in re-launching the career of Maxine Sullivan. In the late 60s he began a long association with the Manassas Jazz Festival, recording for impresario Fat Cat McRee’s Fat Cat Jazz label with several veteran performers, notably Wild Bill Davison, Zutty Singleton and Willie ‘The Lion’ Smith. Despite a sound playing technique and a deep and abiding interest in the development of early jazz, Gwaltney’s work was largely unknown by the wider jazz public. Although few in number, his albums blended differing jazz talents with great skill owing to his own intelligent arrangements.
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