Zilner Randolph was more important as a teacher than as a musician although his involvement with Louis Armstrong during a brief period has insured him a place in the jazz history books. Randolph studied at the Biddle University in North Carolina, the Kreuger Conservatory in St. Louis and the Wisconsin Conservatory in Milwaukee. Randolph played in Milwaukee-based territory bands including four years with Bernie Young. After moving to Chicago, he became the musical director for Louis Armstrong during Mar. 1931-Mar. 1932 and a bit in 1933 and 1935. The first association resulted in some notable recordings in which Randolph is heard in the band that backs Armstrong. Randolph, whose song "Old Man Mose" became famous due to Armstrong (who recorded it in 1935), also played with Carroll Dickerson and Dave Peyton in 1934 and led his own orchestra in Chicago during the second half of the 30's. He contributed arrangements to a lot of big bands (including Earl Hines, Woody Herman, Fletcher Henderson and Duke Ellington) and led his own quartet in the 1940's but never recorded as a leader. Randolph was primarily a teacher from the 1940's on although he did record on piano in 1951. Zilner Randolph, who lived to be 95, was one of the last of the Louis Armstrong alumni of the 1930's.
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