I was born in 1941 and have lived in Chicago, Baltimore, Tulsa, New York and LA, mostly LA. These days I divide my time between Santa Monica, California, and Lynbrook, New York. I began to play the clarinet and saxophone in high school, took up the flute in 1960 and the oboe (at the instigation of Plas Johnson) in 1966. Composition came later.
In 1960 I moved to Tulsa and after a brief period with a band that made some pretty funny sounds, I joined the Ernie Fields Orchestra. Ernie's band had existed since the early 1930s, flirted with success briefly in the 1940s, and even won the Pittsburgh Courier poll in 1947 over the Ellington and Basie bands. (The Courier was then the most widely circulated African-American newspaper in the country.) By the late 1950s the band had shrunk to eight pieces and a remarkable singer, Ann Walls. In 1959 a former member of the band, René Hall, arranged a swing era tune, In The Mood, recorded it with Hollywood studio musicians, and released it under Ernie's name. The record became a hit and revitalized the band, if only briefly....
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