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Ray Nance Ray Nance

Ray Nance was a multi-talented individual. He was a fine trumpeter who not only replaced Cootie Williams with Duke Ellington's Orchestra, but gave the “plunger” position in Duke's band his own personality. In addition, Nance was one of the finest jazz violinists of the 1940s, an excellent jazz singer, and even a dancer.

He studied piano, took lessons on violin, and was self-taught on trumpet. After leading a small group in Chicago (1932-1937), spending periods with the orchestras of Earl Hines (1937-1938) and Horace Henderson (1939-1940), and a few months as a solo act, Nance joined Duke Ellington's orchestra. His very first night on the job was fully documented as the band's legendary Fargo concert. A very valuable sideman, Nance played a famous trumpet solo on the original version of “Take the 'A' Train” and proved to be a fine wa-wa player; his violin added color to the suite “Black, Brown and Beige” (in addition to being showcased on numerous songs), and his singing on numbers such as “A Slip of a Lip Will Sink a Ship” and “Tulip or Turnip” was an added feature.

Nance is also one of the well-known vocalists from the Ellington orchestra, having sung not the first version (that credit goes to Ivie Anderson), but arguably the definitive version of “It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing).” It was his contribution to take the previously instrumental horn riff into the lead vocal, which constitute the now infamous, “Doo wha, doo wha, doo wha, doo wha, yeah!” He was often featured as vocalist on “Jump for Joy,” “Just A-Sittin' and A-Rockin'” and “Just Squeeze Me (But Please Don't Tease Me)”.

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Albums

Album Body and Soul by Ray Nance

Body and Soul

Mighty Quinn Productions
2006

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Huffin'N'Puffin'

Abracadabra Music
1974

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Body And Soul

Abracadabra Music
1970

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Quartet & Sextet

Abracadabra Music
0

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A Flower Is A...

Abracadabra Music
0

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Huffin' 'N' Puffin'

Abracadabra Music
0

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