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Bradley, Will (originally, Schwichtenberg, Wilbur)

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Bradley, Will (originally, Schwichtenberg, Wilbur), jazz trombonist, leader; b. Newton, N.J., July 12, 1912; d. Flemington, N.J., July 15, 1989. Raised in Washington, N.J., he played in the local high school band. He moved to N.Y. in 1928 and did local gigs before joining Milt Shaw’s Detroiters; he then worked with Red Nichols and later joined the CBS studio staff (1931–34). He was with Ray Noble (1935–36), then returned to studio work, until forming his own band (July 1939); he changed his name because Wilbur Schwichtenberg wouldn’t fit on a marquee. This band, which was co–led with Ray McKinley, remained together until June 1942. It was a white jazz–orientated dance band whose big hit “Beat Me Daddy, Eight to the Bar” fueled the boogie–woogie fad. (Nicolas Slonimsky used the name of this piece to illustrate the American meaning of the word “bar” to a sceptical British musicologist.) “Celery Stalks at Midnight” was one of the 78s smashed by juvenile delinquents in the 1955 movie Blackboard Jungle . Through the 1950s, Bradley worked regularly in N.Y. studios, occasionally organizing his own bands for specific engagements. He did a brief spell of touring with the Sauter–Finegan Band (1953). In later years, he composed several extended classical works. His son, Will Bradley Jr. (b. N.Y., Feb. 15, 1938), was a jazz drummer who played from about 1954 on with Woody Herman (recording in 1956), Tony Scott, J. R. Monterose, George Wallington, and Tony Fruscella.

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