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May 26: Ziggy Elman’s Trumpet

May 25, 2015

ziggyelmankingtrumpetadZiggy Elman (Harry Aaron Finkelman), a trumpeter with the Benny Goodman Orchestra who also played klezmer with Mickey Katz, was born in Philadelphia on this date in 1914. Elman first played violin before mastering nearly every brass instrument. Goodman hired him in 1936 as one of the “biting brass trio” (with Harry James and Chris Griffin), all sharp-toned players. He remained with Goodman until the band went on hiatus in 1940, then played a while with Joe Venuti and Tommy Dorsey. He also played with Jo Stafford, Frank Sinatra, and other great vocalists, but was felled by a heart attack in 1956 and, losing his capacity as a musician, ended his life as a bankrupt car salesman and at-home trumpet teacher (Herb Alpert was one of his students). Elman died at 54 in 1968, just months after a reunion concert at Carnegie Hall with Benny Goodman. To hear his jazz-freilakh song, “And the Angels Sing,” look below.

“Joining ASCAP in 1961, his chief musical collaborator was Johnny Mercer, and his other popular-song compositions include ‘Forgive My Heart’ and ‘Zaggin With Zig.’ ” —IMDB