This trumpeter appeared on close to 200 records between 1932 and 1959, but one song title in particular is brought up when jazz buffs are trying to make a point. That little number is "Li'l Darlin'," a melodically simple ballad in which Culley is allowed to linger over an especially sweet improvised passage utilizing his mute. Ironically, this was one of the few solo spots the trumpeter was given during his lengthy tenure with the Count Basie band, an event that both leader and soloist seems to have gotten their money's worth from. The piece began life as a medium-tempo bounce and it was Basie's decision to change it that is held up as an example of this bandleader's great genius: letting someone else write the arrangement, then creating something priceless from that via a few simple but musically astute decisions. As for the fine art ...
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