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Claxton, Rozelle

played chicago count pianist

Claxton, Rozelle, jazz pianist, organist, arranger; b. Memphis, Term., Feb. 5, 1913; d. Chicago, III., March 30, 1995. A member of a large musical family, Claxton’s sister taught him to read music, and he played piano from the age of 11. From c. 1930, he played in trumpeter Clarence Davis’ Rhythm Aces, and worked with this band when they toured with W. C. Handy (1932). He played and arranged for Harían Leonard from c. 1934, and performed many solo residencies in Chicago during the late 1930s, and later worked with Ernie Fields (1939), briefly subbed for Count Basie in summer 1939, and played with Eddie South. He played at Elmer’s, in Chicago (1940), then with Walter Fuller from September 1940. From September 1946, he worked with George Dixon’s quartet. A prolific freelance arranger, Claxton scored for Count Basie, Earl Hines, Red Norvo, Jimmie Lunceford, and Andy Kirk, and also worked as accompanist for various singers, including Pearl Bailey in 1958 and again from 1978–83. From 1959 through the late 1960s he worked on and off with saxophonist Franz Jackson. He also played solo gigs at various Chicago-area clubs through his retirement in the late 1980s. He sometimes was confused with another Chicago pianist, Rozelle I. Gayle.

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