Jack Sheldon Day

November 30, 1931 – December 27, 2019

A tribute to the colorful performer

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Trumpeter and singer Jack Sheldon was born on November 30, 1931 in Jacksonville, Florida.

He started playing trumpet when he was 12 and was performing professionally within a year.

Sheldon moved to Los Angeles in 1947, attended Los Angeles City College, served in the Air Force (playing in military bands), and began working regularly in the L.A. area in 1952.

The trumpeter worked with many of the local greats on the West Coast scene in the 1950s including Jimmy Giuffre, Wardell Gray, Jack Montrose, Dexter Gordon, Chet Baker, Art Pepper, the Dave Pell Octet and Herb Geller.

He was also a member of bassist Curtis Counce’s quintet, the Stan Kenton Orchestra (1958), and Benny Goodman’s band (1959), returning to Goodman several times in later years.

An underrated singer and a natural-born comedian (whose wisecracking monologues in clubs were often both tasteless and hilarious), Sheldon occasionally worked as an actor including starring in the 1966-67 television series “Run Buddy Run,” being part of the Merv Griffin Show’s Orchestra, and appearing in the Bette Midler movie For The Boys.

While Sheldon was with Benny Goodman at the clarinetist’s 40th anniversary Carnegie Hall concert in 1978, was a member of the Bill Berry big band in 1976, and occasionally appeared with all-star groups, he mostly worked for years at the head of his own combo (which often included pianist Ross Tompkins) and led a top-notch big band which featured Tom Kubis’ arrangements.

In recent years, a major stroke has knocked Jack Sheldon out of action but his musical legacy is secure on records, films, and the memories of his contemporaries.

Here is Jack Sheldon back in 1984 playing and singing “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore.”


Jack Sheldon, trumpet, vocals
Dave Frishberg, piano
John Pisano, guitar
Dave Stone, bass
Frank Capp, drums

-Scott Yanow


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