Music database


Al Grey

Al Grey - © Jean Geiser

born on 6/6/1925 in Aldie, WV, United States

died on 24/3/2000 in Phoenix, AZ, United States

Al Grey

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Al Grey (June 6, 1925 – March 24, 2000) was a jazz trombonist who is most remembered for his association with the Count Basie orchestra.

Grey is known for his plunger mute technique (comparable to Tricky Sam Nanton, Bob Hunt and Wycliffe Gordon), and also wrote an instructional book called Plunger Techniques.

As states Scott Yanow in his artist biography on Allmusic,[1] Al Grey's trademark phrases and often humorous use of the plunger mute long made him quite distinctive. After getting out of the service, he was with the orchestras of Benny Carter (1945-1946), Jimmie Lunceford (1946-1947), Lucky Millinder, and Lionel Hampton (off and on during 1948-1953). Grey was a well-featured soloist with the classic Dizzy Gillespie globetrotting orchestra during 1956-1957 (taking an exciting solo at the 1957 Newport Jazz Festival on a blazing version of "Cool Breeze"). He was with Count Basie's orchestra on three separate occasions (1957-1961, 1964-1966, and 1971-1977), led a band with Billy Mitchell in the early '60s, and had a group with Jimmy Forrest after leaving Basie in 1977. In later years, Grey performed and recorded often with Clark Terry, made a CD with the Statesmen of Jazz, and for a time led a quintet that featured his son Mike Grey on second trombone. Al Grey recorded as a leader for Argo (1959-1964), Tangerine, Black & Blue, Stash, Chiaroscuro, and Capri, and co-led an excellent Pablo date in 1983 with J.J. Johnson. He died of complications from diabetes on March 24, 2000.

Music career

Al Grey was born in Aldie, Virginia and grew up in Pottstown, Pennsylvania. During World War II he served in the Navy where he started playing the trombone. Soon after his discharge, he joined Benny Carter's band and later the trombone section of Lionel Hampton.

After some solo work Grey joined Dizzy Gillespie's big band in 1956.[2] In October 1957, Count Basie needed a fill-in for his European tour and hired Grey. After 1961, Grey performed only occasionally with Basie. He is featured on Count Basie recordings with Ella Fitzgerald or Frank Sinatra and recorded "Snap your Fingers".

Apart from leading his own combos, he appeared with many jazz greats such as Herbie Hancock, Quincy Jones and even Ray Charles. His trombone skills were also featured on the soundtrack for The Color Purple.


Al Grey's early trombone style was inspired by Trummy Young. He developed a wild, strong and full sound. Solos often consisted of short, pronounced phrases with precisely timed syncopation. When playing with the plunger, however, he would produce the most mellow fill-ins and shape melodic answers to the lead voice. This aspect of his playing can be heard to great effect in response to Bing Crosby's vocals on the 1972 album, Bing 'n' Basie ("Gonna Build a Mountain" and "Put Your Hand in the Hand").


As leader/co-leader

  • Dizzy Atmosphere (Specialty, 1957) with Billy Mitchell and Lee Morgan
  • The Last of the Big Plungers (Argo 1959)
  • The Thinking Man’s Trombone (Argo, 1960)
  • The Al Grey - Billy Mitchell Sextet (Argo, 1961) with Billy Mitchell
  • Snap Your Fingers (Argo, 1962) with Billy Mitchell
  • Night Song (Argo, 1962) with Billy Mitchell
  • Having a Ball (Argo, 1963)
  • Boss Bone (Argo, 1964)
  • Shades of Grey (Tangerine, 1965)
  • Al Grey et Wild Bill Davis (Black & Blue, 1972) with Wild Bill Davis
  • Grey's Mood (Black & Blue, 1973-75 [1979])
  • Struttin' and Shoutin' (Columbia, 1976 [1983])
  • Al Grey Featuring Arnett Cobb (Black & Blue, 1977) with Arnett Cobb, Jimmy Forrest
  • Live at Rick's (Aviva, 1978)
  • Truly Wonderful (Vintage Jazz, 1978)
  • Night Train Revisited (Storyville, 1978 [1999])
  • O.D. (Out 'Dere) (Grey Forrest, 1980)
  • Things Are Getting Better All the Time (Pablo, 1983)
  • Al Grey and Jesper Thilo Quintet (SLP, 1986)
  • The New Al Grey Quintet (Chiaroscuro, 1988)
  • Al Meets Bjarne (Gemini, 1988)
  • Christmas Stockin' Stuffer (Capri, 1990)
  • Fab (Capri, 1990)
  • Live at the Floating Jazz Festival (Chiaroscuro, 1990)
  • Me N' Jack (Pullen, 1995)
  • Matzoh and Grits (Arbors, 1996)
  • Echoes of New Orleans (Progressive, 1998)

As sideman

With Count Basie

  • The Atomic Mr. Basie (Roulette, 1957) aka Basie and E=MC2
  • Basie Plays Hefti (Roulette, 1958)
  • Sing Along with Basie (Roulette, 1958) - with Joe Williams and Lambert, Hendricks & Ross
  • Basie One More Time (Roulette, 1959)
  • Breakfast Dance and Barbecue (Roulette, 1959)
  • Everyday I Have the Blues (Roulette, 1959)
  • Dance Along with Basie (Roulette, 1959)
  • String Along with Basie (Roulette, 1960)
  • Not Now, I'll Tell You When (Roulette, 1960)
  • The Count Basie Story (Roulette, 1960)
  • Kansas City Suite (Roulette, 1960)
  • Back with Basie (Roulette, 1962)
  • Pop Goes the Basie (Reprise, 1965)
  • Basie Meets Bond (United Artists, 1966)
  • Live at the Sands (Before Frank) (Reprise, 1966 [1998])
  • Sinatra at the Sands (Reprise, 1966) with Frank Sinatra
  • Basie's Beatle Bag (Verve, 1966)
  • Basie Swingin' Voices Singin' (ABC-Paramount, 1966)
  • Basie's Beat (Verve, 1967)
  • The Basie Big Band (1975)

With Ray Bryant

  • Madison Time (Columbia, 1960)

With Arnett Cobb

  • Keep On Pushin' (Bee Hive, 1984)

With Dizzy Gillespie

  • Dizzy in Greece (Verve, 1957)
  • Birks' Works (Verve, 1957)
  • Dizzy Gillespie at Newport (Verve, 1957)
  • I Needs to be Bee'd with (with Basie, 1958)

With John Hicks

  • Friends Old and New (Novus, 1992)

With Johnny Hodges

  • 3 Shades of Blue (Flying Dutchman, 1970)

With Quincy Jones

  • Golden Boy (Mercury, 1964)

with Melba Liston

  • Melba Liston and Her 'Bones (MetroJazz, 1958)

With Joe Newman

  • Counting Five in Sweden (Metronome, 1958)

With Oscar Pettiford

  • The Oscar Pettiford Orchestra in Hi-Fi Volume Two (ABC-Paramount, 1957)

With Pony Poindexter

With Paul Quinichette

  • Like Basie! (United Artists, 1959)

With Randy Weston

  • Tanjah (Polydor, 1973)


  1. ^ "Al Grey | Biography & History | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 2017-01-14. 
  2. ^ "Swing Music History", last accessed Jan 12, 2010

Al Grey discography:

Al Grey with Harry 'Sweets' Edison & Junior Mance. Centerpiece: Live at the Blue Note (Telarc 20 CD-83379) Recorded at the Blue Note, New York, March 23-26, 1995.

External links

Media related to Al Grey at Wikimedia Commons

This page was last modified 21.08.2018 19:47:25

This article uses material from the article Al Grey from the free encyclopedia Wikipedia and it is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.