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Ray Nance

Ray Willis Nance

Trumpeter, Cornetist, Violinist, Vocalist, Bandleader

(1913 - 1976)

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CD--"Body and Soul" at allaboutj...


Photo at wikimedia.org

Ray Nance was an integral part of the Duke Ellington orchestra from 1940 to 1963 although he took a break in the early ‘40s to lead his own groups. A multi-talented artist who played trumpet, cornet and violin, he was given the nickname of “Floorshow” because of his ability to also sing and dance. His trumpet solo on the first recording of “Take the A Train” in 1941 is memorable. In fact, when he left Ellington, his replacement, Cootie Williams, continued to play it note for note. Nance himself developed his own distinctive style on plunger when he earlier replaced Williams who had learned to use the plunger in the style of Bubber Miley.

Nance was a virtuoso jazz violinist and Ellington took care to feature him on many of the band’s numbers. Particularly outstanding are his contributions to “Moon Mist,” “Come Sunday,” and “Black, Brown and Beige.”

As a young man in Chicago Nance studied piano and violin but taught himself to play trumpet. He combined all of his talents into a solo act before joining Ellington, who also occasionally featured him as vocalist. He performed on over 200 recordings, mostly with the Ellington band. However, he lends fire and grace to the recording efforts of fellow band members Paul Gonsalvez and Johnny Hodges and singers Ella Fitzgerald and Rosemary Clooney.

- Sandra Burlingame

Body and Soul

Ray Nance

Best of Ray Nance

Ray Nance


Duke Ellington (Includes Ray Nance playing violin on "Autumn Leaves")

Ellington At Newport 1956

Duke Ellington

Duke Ellington /Original Jazz Legend: Everybody Loves Duke Ellington / Vol. 5

Various Artists, The Ellington Orchestra 3. Take The "A" Train, Dexter Gordon 4. Lotus Blossom, Paul Gonsalves/Ray Nance 5. Stompy Jones, Ben Webster 6. Lush Life, Archie Shepp The Ellington Orchestra 2. Smada

Mostly Fats

Earl Hines, Ray Nance

Ellingtonia Moods & Blues

Paul Gonsalves, Johnny Hodges, Ray Nance

Village Vanguard Live Sessions - Volume 1

Chick Corea, Dizzy Gillespie, Elvin Jones, Mel Lewis, Ray Nance, Pepper Adams, Richard Davis

Black, Brown and Beige

Duke Ellington
Reading and Viewing

At Amazon.com you can often buy used for a fraction of the new price

Stanley Dance

The World of Duke Ellington

Da Capo Press

(Includes a nine page chapter on Ray Nance)

Muggsy Spanier, Joe Sullivan

Swing Era

Idem Home Video

DVD (Includes Ray Nance playing violin on "Caravan")

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