born on 12/9/1916 in Greenville, SC, United States
died on 29/4/1981 in Norwalk, CA, United States
Alias William "Cat" Anderson
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William Alonzo "Cat" Anderson (12 September 1916 29 April 1981) was an American jazz trumpeter best known for his long period playing with Duke Ellington's orchestra, and for his extremely wide range (more than five octaves), especially his playing in the higher registers.
Born in Greenville, South Carolina, Anderson lost both parents when he was four years old, and was sent to live at the Jenkins Orphanage in Charleston, where he learned to play trumpet. Classmates gave him the nickname "Cat" (which he used all his life) based on his fighting style. He toured and made his first recording with the Carolina Cotton Pickers, a small group based at the orphanage. After leaving the Cotton Pickers, Anderson played with guitarist Hartley Toots, Claude Hopkins' big band, Doc Wheeler's Sunset Orchestra (1938–1942), with whom he also recorded, Lucky Millinder, the Erskine Hawkins Orchestra, Sabby Lewis's Orchestra, and Lionel Hampton, with whom he recorded the classic "Flying Home No. 2".
Anderson's career took off, however, in 1944, when he joined Duke Ellington's orchestra at the Earle Theater in Philadelphia. He quickly became a central part of Ellington's sound. Anderson was capable of playing in a number of jazz styles, but is best remembered as a high-note trumpeter. He had a big sound in all registers, but could play in the extreme high register (up to triple C) with great power (he was able to perform his high-note solos without a microphone, while other members of a big band were individually miked). Wynton Marsalis has called him "one of the best ever" high note trumpeters. More than just a high-note trumpeter, though, Anderson was also a master of half valve and plunger mute playing. He played with Ellington's band from 1944 to 1947, from 1950 to 1959, and from 1961 to 1971, with each break corresponding to a failed attempt to lead his own big band.
After 1971, Anderson settled in the Los Angeles area, where he continued to play studio sessions, to gig with local bands (including Louie Bellson's and Bill Berry's big bands), and occasionally to tour Europe. Although his erratic behavior over the last decade (or more) of his life was well documented, it took many by surprise when he died in 1981 of a brain tumor.
33 vinyl album format
- A 'Chat' With Cat - Columbia FPX 259 (Published in Paris)
- Cat Anderson in Paris - Inner City Records IC 1143 Recorded in Paris March 20, 1964
- Cat Anderson Plays at 4 AM - emidisc C 048-50665 Recorded in Paris October 30, 1958
- Cat on a Hot Tin Horn - Mercury MG 36142 Recorded in NYC August 23, 1958
- Old Folks - All Life Records AL004 Recorded in Paris April 17, 1979
- Cat Speaks - Classic Jazz CJ142 Recorded in Paris June 4, 1977
- Ellingtonia - Cat Anderson and the Ellington All Stars - Strand Records SL 1050 Recorded Recorded 1962
- Americans Swinging in Paris - EMI Music 5396582
78 rpm format
- Swinging the Cat/I Gotta Go Baby - Apollo Records 771 May 14, 1947
Featured on albums
- Mingus Quintet Meets Cat Anderson - Unique Jazz UJ20 Recorded in Berlin November 5, 1972
- A Flower is a Lovesome Thing - Ray Nance, Cat Anderson and the Ellington Alumni - Parker Records PLP827 Recorded 1959 for the Charlie Parker Label
- Cat Anderson, Claude Bolling & Co. - Phillips Records B 77.731 - Recorded in Paris January 1965
Currently on CD format
- Cat's in the Alley
- Definitive Black and Blue Sessions
- Plays WC Handy
A list of albums appearing on at Discogs.com.
With Gene Ammons
- Free Again (Prestige, 1971)
With Lionel Hampton
- Lionel Hampton and His Jazz Giants 77 (CBS MasterWorks, 1977)
- Jazz: the Rough Guide (2nd edition). The Rough Guides, 2000. ISBN 1-85828-528-3
- [Cat Anderson at All Music Guide "Cat Anderson"] — by Scott Yanow for Allmusic
- "The Real Way to Play the Cat Anderson Trumpet Method" — A completely re-written version of Cat's high note method with step-by-step instructions for each exercise by Geoff Winstead, an 8-year student of Anderson's.
- Trumpet Kings. Dir. Burrill Crohn. Perf. Wynton Marsalis, Louis Armstrong, et al. Video Artists International, Inc., 1989. Videocassette.
- Cat Anderson Discography at Discogs. Discogs.com. Retrieved on 2012-03-21.