He got started in 1942. He played until he died in 2012. That was a 70-year career.
He studied music at the College of the Pacific. Only toward the end did one of his professors discover that he could not sight-read music. He was allowed to graduate only by promising never to teach piano. That was in 1942.
He was immediately inducted into the Army. He got started with jazz when he was stationed in Europe. He played for the troops at a Red Cross show one evening. They were so enthusiastic that the Army had him create a jazz band. That was one of the truly brilliant military decisions of the war. He was in the Third Army — Patton’s command. I don’t know if Patton made the decision, but he gets credit for it.
In 1949, he was playing in the San Francisco area. This was at the same time as the beginning of the Lighthouse All Stars concerts, 400 miles south. A small record label recorded him and his trio. The owner got into financial troubles and sold the tapes. The new owners created Fantasy Records. They released a series of singles in 1949. Here is a nice one: a jazz version of the theme from the movie Laura.
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