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Jimmy McPartland

Jimmy McPartland (James Dugald McPartland) was an American cornetist and one of the originators of Chicago Jazz. McPartland worked with Eddie Condon, Art Hodes, Gene Krupa, Benny Goodman, Jack Teagarden, Tommy Dorsey and other jazz veterans, often leading his own bands.

McPartland's father was a music teacher and baseball player. Family problems caused Jimmy and his siblings to be partly raised in orphanages. After being kicked out of one orphanage for fighting, he got in further trouble with the law. Fortunately, he had started violin at age 5, then took up the cornet at age 15. He credited music with turning him around. He confessed that if it weren't for music, he probably would have been “a hoodlum.”

McPartland was a member of the legendary Austin High Gang with Bud Freeman (tenor sax), Frank Teschemacher (clarinet), brother Dick McPartland (banjo/guitar), brother-in-law, Jim Lanigan (Bass, Tuba and Violin), Joe Sullivan (piano) and Dave Tough (drums) in the 1920s. They were inspired by the recordings they heard at the local malt shop, The Spoon and Straw. They would study and try to duplicate what they heard on recordings by The New Orleans Rhythm Kings and others, and would frequently visit with Louis Armstrong (only a few years their senior) and King Oliver's band at Lincoln Gardens.

After playing through high school, their first musical job was under the name The Blue Friars. In 1924, at age 17, McPartland was then called to New York to take Bix Beiderbecke's place in the Wolverine Orchestra. Bix quietly sat in the back of the club during the audition, later revealing himself with the compliment, “I like ya, kid. Ya sound like me, but you don't copy me.” They became friends and roomed together while Bix gave McPartland pointers. At that time, Bix picked out a cornet for McPartland that he then played throughout his career.

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