Willie Dennis

Willie Dennis

Infobox musical artist
Name = Willie Dennis

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Origin = Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Genre = Jazz
Years_active = 1950–1965
Label = Debut Records
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Willie Dennis, born William DeBerardinis (January 10, 1926 – July 8, 1965), was an American jazz trombonist.

Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Dennis was known as a big band musician, but was also an influential bebop soloist. After working with Elliot Lawrence, Claude Thornhill, and Sam Donahue, Dennis also performed with Charles Mingus, appearing on two of Mingus's more successful albums in 1959, "Blues & Roots" and "Mingus Ah Um". In 1953, Dennis recorded "Four Trombones" (released in 1957) for Mingus's Debut Records. The other three trombones were J. J. Johnson, Kai Winding, and Bennie Green; Mingus played bass. The fullest recorded example of Dennis's solo work, however, is on a little-known 1956 Savoy disc by English pianist Ronnie Ball (like Dennis, a student of Tristano), "All About Ronnie", in the company of Ted Brown, Wendell Marshall and Kenny Clarke.

In the late 1950s Dennis returned to his big band roots, joining Buddy Rich in 1959 after stints with Benny Goodman (with whom he travelled to the Soviet Union in 1962) and Woody Herman. In the 1960s, Dennis also performed often with Gerry Mulligan. He was married to singer Morgana King.

Dennis was renown for his extremely fast articulation on the trombone, obtained by means of varying the natural harmonics of the instrument (a tecnique known as "against the grain"). He died in a car crash in New York, 1965.

External links

* [http://www.trombone.org/articles/library/evojazz3-3.asp Evolution of the Jazz Trombone, Part Three: Bebop] , by David M. Wilken

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