All About Jazz

Home » Musicians » Buster Bailey

Buster Bailey

Buster Bailey - clarinet

A highly virtuosic clarinetist from the formative years of jazz, Buster Bailey was a distinguished professional and one of the great figures of jazz clarinet.

Born William C. Bailey, 19 July 1902, in Memphis, Bailey was one of two famous jazzmen to be taught by the Chicago-based classicist Franz Schoepp, the other being Benny Goodman.

After working with bands led by W.C. Handy, Erskine Tate and King Oliver, Bailey joined Fletcher Henderson's orchestra in New York in 1924. He remained an important member of the band until 1937, playing alongside outstanding reed players such as Coleman Hawkins, Hilton Jefferson, Russell Procope and Ben Webster.

After leaving Henderson, Bailey moved to John Kirby's musically distinguished sextet. It was in this setting, in association with perfectionists such as Procope, Charlie Shavers and Billy Kyle, that the clarinetist came into his own and the exemplary technique developed during his tuition under Schoepp was allowed to shine. The stylish playing of the Kirby band earned it great and justified popularity, both in concert and on record. Apart from minor breaks, Bailey stayed with Kirby until 1946, where after he played in a number of traditional or mainstream bands including those led by Wilbur De Paris and Henry “Red” Allen.

In 1957, Bailey was a member of the Henderson All Star big band assembled for the Great South Bay Jazz Festival

Read more


Album Review
Read more articles


Complete Recordings...

Atlantic Records


All About Memphis

Atlantic Records




Shop Amazon

All About Jazz needs your support

All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded albums and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, limited reopenings and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary step that will help musicians and venues now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the sticky footer ad). Thank you!

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.