Bubber Miley's hot trumpet was featured - growling and moaning - on the nightly broadcasts of Duke Ellington's Washingtonians from the Kentucky Club, New York City in the twenties. He wrote the bands early theme-tune, “East St. Louis Toodle-oo,” and was pivotal in the transition of the Washingtonians from a sweet society band to the hot jungle band which sparked national attention. This period of Ellington's music saw the recording of much fine traditional/classic jazz featuring Miley.
James Bubber Miley was born in Aiken South Carolina on 3 April 1903 and his family moved to New York when he was six. The family was predisposed to encourage his musical development; his father was an amateur guitar player and his sisters performed as a professional vocal group (the South Carolina Trio). Bubber first studied trombone in school then switched to trumpet. In 1918, at age 15, Bubber joined the Navy, where he served 18 months as a band boy. After his discharge, in 1919, he returned to New York and got his first professional job with a band called the Carolina Five. By early 1921, he was playing with Willie Gant's band. The band was heard by Mamie Smith, and she hired Bubber to replace Johnny Dunn. For the next year, Bubber toured and made recordings (Bubber's first) with Mamie Smith and Her Jazz Hounds.