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Big Band in the Sky

October 2007

By Published: October 17, 2007
Remington worked mainly in Illinois, New York and Wisconsin, never gaining national fame. But his legacy includes 17 recording sessions with releases mostly on smaller labels, and in Chicago-style traditional jazz groups. He recorded with groups that included, at times, the pianist Art Hodes, guitarist Marty Grosz, violinist Johnny Frigo (see obituary above) and clarinetists Bill Reinhardt and Chuck Hedges.

Live at Bourbon Street, recorded at the Chicago club in 1965 and released on Decca, had the trombonist leading the Dukes of Dixieland, with Frank Assunto on trumpet and vocals and his brother, Jac Assunto, on banjo; Jerry Fuller on clarinet; Red Brown on bass, and Barrett Deems on drums.

Born October 10, 1926, in Rochester, NY, David Wilbur Remington was the second son of Emory Remington, professor of trombone and chairman of the brass department at the Eastman School, and his wife Laura, an organist. His older sister, Janet, was principal harpist with the Pittsburgh Symphony.

Enrolled in 1947 at St. Lawrence University, Canton, NY, Remington and a bass-playing fellow student, Fradley Garner, formed The Laurentians, the largest dance- and Kenton-style concert band in the university's history. His older brother, Emory Jr., played drums.

Later, Dave Remington led groups in top Chicago clubs like Jazz Ltd., Pump Room, Wise Fools, and at venues in Wisconsin. He fronted his band at both inaugural balls for President Richard Nixon, in 1969 and 1973.

After heading the Rockford (Illinois) College music department in 1970-1974, he moved to New York, joining the trombone section of the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Big Band and working as a sideman for Lou Rawls and Paul Anka. He also played in pit orchestras for the Broadway musicals Annie and A Chorus Line.

He moved to Beulah, MI, and taught jazz piano and improvisation from 1999 to 2006 at Interlochen Arts Academy. Bill Cunliffe, a pianist in Los Angeles, credited Remington with sparking his jazz career. Cunliffe had taken a master's in music theory when Remington heard him playing in a practice room and talked him into switching to jazz studies. Another Interlochen student, Jesse Elder, a musician in his early twenties working six nights a week in New York, said: "I would not be here today except for Mr Remington. In a three-hour gig, 80 per cent of it is music I learned from him.

Buddy Childers, 81, trumpeter and composer.
Belleville, IL, February 12, 1926—Woodland Hills, CA, May 24, 2007.

Buddy Childers, hailed as "one of the greatest lead trumpet players in the history of big bands by a member of the Stan Kenton Alumni Band, died May 12 of cancer complications in Woodland Hills, California. He was 81.

Childers was only 16 when Kenton auditioned him for the lead trumpet chair, in 1942. "I played about eight or nine things in a row and the adrenalin was really flying, Childers told the British critic, Steve Voce.

"I had this thing in my mind that I had to join a name band at 16 or I'd never be able to make it as a musician. I was thinking of Harry James, so young with Ben Pollack and then with Benny Goodman, and Corky Corcoran who joined Sonny Dunham when he was 16 and then became Harry James's leading soloist the next year. So I made it by three weeks.

Childers said he dropped out of high school a couple of months before graduation to go on the road. He remained mainly a big band trumpeter for the rest of a career that included stints with Benny Carter, Les Brown, Woody Herman, Tommy Dorsey, Georgie Auld, Charlie Barnet, Frank Sinatra, and the Toshiko Akiyoshi-Lew Tabackin Orchestra.

In 1993 he left Sinatra to form his own big band, continuing to perform into this century. He finished his last, still-to-be-released CD, Haunted Ballroom, in 2005. While gradually cutting back on his own playing, Childers became an even more avid listener. "To play a good solo is a joy, he told the Los Angeles Times in 1995, "but to hear one of my own arrangements played as well as these guys play is an indescribable thrill.

Thanks to Jerry Gordon, Joe Lang, Don Robertson, Mitchell Seidel and the editors of Jersey Jazz magazine for obit tips. And to Leonard Feather and Ira Gitler for The Biographical Encyclopedia of Jazz (new ed. 2007).

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