Trombonist Al Grey was famous as the last of the big time plungers, for his mastery at using a plumber's plunger to manipulate the color of his instrument. The result was a soulful quality that sounds as if he's singing the blues.
Grey rose to prominence as a soloist and gifted accompanist to singers, particularly on bluesy numbers. His unique style developed over years spent playing with many great bands ‚Ä such as those of Lionel Hampton and Count Basie, ‚Ä and his illustrious career spans some of the great periods in the history of jazz, including swing and bebop.
Grey came from a musical family. His father, a multi-faceted musician himself, was determined to have young Al learn to play a brass instrument. As a child, Grey often resented being forced to practice, but soon realized its benefits by landing well-paying jobs. Later, while playing in the Navy band during World War II, Grey met trumpeter Clark Terry. The two became lifelong friends and would eventually play in various bands together.