EDGAR SAMPSON (1907 - 1973)
Edgar Sampson was touring with Duke Ellington’s band by the age of eighteen. Between 1928 and 1932 he played clarinet, alto sax and violin with Charlie Johnson’s Paradise Ten at Small’s Paradise in Harlem and saxophone with Fletcher Henderson’s band. It was during this period that he perfected his skill as an arranger.
He joined Chick Webb’s band in 1933 and really came into his own as an arranger and composer, collaborating with Webb on the perennial jazz favorite, “Stompin’ at the Savoy” (1936), and writing the tune “Blue Lou” with Irving Mills in 1935, which became one of the band’s features. Much credit is given to Sampson’s arrangements, which contributed to the distinctive sound of the Webb band.
In 1936 Goodman began using arrangements written by Sampson and featured Sampson’s arrangement of his song “Don’t Be That Way” (lyrics by Mitchell Parrish) at the now legendary 1938 Carnegie Hall concert. Many of Goodman’s hits during the ’30s were arranged by Sampson, including his 1934 composition (with Irving Mills), “If Dreams Come True”.
Sampson produced another highly popular tune in 1938, “Lullaby in Rhythm,” written with Clarence Profit, Walter Hirsch, and Benny Goodman.
As an in-demand arranger Sampson worked for several other bandleaders, including the Count Basie Orchestra and Tito Puente’s Latin group. As a performer Sampson was featured on saxophone with Billie Holiday, Teddy Wilson, and Bunny Berigan. During WWII he entertained troops, touring with Al Sears’ band. He led his own band from 1949 to 1951.
Sampson’s music remains alive and well today having been featured in three Broadway shows: Bubbling Brown Sugar (1976), Black and Blue (1989), and Swing! (1999).
-- Sandra Burlingame
Courtesy of JazzStandards.com