World-renowned trumpeter, Wallace Davenport, was adept at a variety of styles in addition to the traditional jazz that he was most famous for in his native New Orleans. He played in brass bands as a young man; branched out into swing and bebop when jazz itself was changing, before returning to his roots in his later years.
Davenport's resume reads like the history of jazz itself. The list of musicians he performed and/or recorded with include the Young Tuxedo Brass Band, Oscar “Papa” Celestin, Lionel Hampton, Count Basie, Ray Charles, Lloyd Price, the Zion Harmonizers, Earl “Fatha” Hines, Quincy Jones, Sammy Davis, Jr., Arthur Prysock, Phil Upchurch, and Frank Sinatra. He even recorded the blues with Junior Wells on the harmonica player's 1968 release, “Coming At You.”
Wallace Davenport was born on June 30, 1925. His mother gave him his first trumpet when he was seven years old and he was known to say on that day, “I threw down my baseball bat and picked up my horn.”
His formal musical education began at Tommy Lafon Elementary School but continued on the streets of New Orleans where he played with the Young Tuxedo Brass Band in 1938 and with the legendary cornetist Oscar “Papa” Celestin in 1941.
At the age of 17, he joined the navy when the United States entered World War II. During his tour of duty, he spent four years in the Navy Band.
In 1953, he met vibraphonist Lionel Hampton at a New Orleans nightclub where he was promptly invited to join Hampton's band. He performed with Hampton for several years and recorded two albums during the 1950's “Lionel Hampton Live in Vienna-Volumes 1 and 2.” He would return to perform and record again and again with Hampton resulting in two more albums in the 1960s, one in the 1970s and one in the 1990s. His last recording with Hampton was the 2001 release, “Flying Home.”