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Bailey, Buster (William C)

band kirby summer regularly

Bailey, Buster (William C), jazz clarinetist; b. Memphis, Term., July 19, 1902; d. Brooklyn, April 12, 1967. He took up clarinet at 13 while attending the Clay Street School in Memphis. He joined W. C. Handy’s Orch. in 1917, and toured with Handy until settling in Chicago in 1919. Bailey came to N.Y. in October 1924 to join Fletcher Henderson’s band. He would remain associated with Henderson through 1937, with a few breaks to take other jobs, most notably making a European tour in May 1929 with Noble Sissle, and two years back home working with Sissle’s band from 1931–33. He also played a year-long stint with Mills Blue Rhythm Band from late 1934–late 1935. After leaving Henderson, he briefly worked with other bands before joining John Kirby in May 1937. He played regularly with Kirby until summer of 1944 (except for a brief absence because of an injured hand in summer 1941), and again in 1945–46. After the war, he primarily worked worked with trumpeter Henry “Red” Allen’s band, besides occasional pitband and session work. He was regularly featured at leading jazz festivals during the late 1950s and early 1960s. Bailey’s last major position was as a member of Louis Armstrong All Stars. He joined the group in July 1965, and remained with it until the time of his death. He died in his sleep at his home in Brooklyn.

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