Charlie Shavers Day

August 3, 1917 – July 8, 1971

A birthday salute to one of the great trumpeters

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Trumpeter Charlie Shavers was born on August 3, 1917 in New York City.

Shavers, who started on piano and banjo, developed quickly as a trumpeter and by 1935 was working with Frankie Fairfax’s band in Philadelphia.

After stints with Tiny Bradshaw and Lucky Millinder, Shavers became a very valuable member of the John Kirby Sextet (1937-44), contributing arrangements, his song “Undecided,” and virtuosic muted solos that perfectly fit the atmospheric band.

He was in demand for record dates (including with Jimmie Noone, Johnny Dodds and Sidney Bechet) and jam sessions, was a member of Raymond Scott’s CBS Orchestra, and had a long association (off and on during 1945-56) with the Tommy Dorsey big band.

Shavers toured with Jazz At The Philharmonic, worked with Benny Goodman and led his own small groups for years.

Always underrated but actually one of the most exciting trumpeters to come out of the swing era, Charlie Shavers is seen on the September 25, 1958 edition of the Art Ford Show leading an all-star band on a rather wild version of “Avalon.”


Charlie Shavers, trumpet
J.C. Higginbotham, trombone
Coleman Hawkins, tenor
Pee Wee Russell, clarinet
Willie “The Lion” Smith, piano
Harry Sheppard, vibes
Dick Thompson, guitar
Vinnie Burke, bass
Sonny Greer, drums

-Scott Yanow


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