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Cat Anderson

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Biography

Cat Anderson was arguably the greatest high-note trumpeter of all time. His solo on "Satin Doll" from Duke Ellington's 70th Birthday Concert is a perfectly coherent chorus consisting of notes that are so high that it is doubtful if another trumpeter from all of jazz history could hit more than one or two. He first learned trumpet while at the Jenkins Orphanage in Charleston and toured with the Carolina Cotton Pickers, a group in which he made his recording debut. During 1935-1944, Anderson played with many groups including those of Claude Hopkins, Lucky Millinder, Erskine Hawkins, and Lionel Hampton. Hampton loved his high-note mastery, although Hawkins reportedly fired Anderson out of jealousy. In 1944, Cat Anderson was first hired by Duke Ellington and it ended up being the perfect setting for him. Ellington enjoyed writing impossible parts for Cat to play, and Anderson received publicity and a steady income. He was more than just a high-note player, being a master with mutes and having a fine tone in lower registers, but no one could really challenge him in the stratosphere (although Maynard Ferguson, Jon Faddis, and Arturo Sandoval have come close). Anderson was with Ellington during 1944-1947, 1950-1959, and off and on during 1961-1971. Occasionally he would go out to lead his own bands but he always came back. After Ellington's death, Cat Anderson settled on the West Coast where he often played with local big bands, including an exciting one led by Bill Berry. ~ Scott Yanow
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