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Bill Hughes

Trombonist Bill Hughes, the Director of the Count Basie Orchestra since 2003, was born in Texas in 1930 in the midst of the Depression. Hughes’s family moved to Washington, DC when he was nine years old. His father, who worked for the Bureau of Engraving, began playing the trombone, and performed in the Elks Club marching band. After attending rehearsals and marching band gigs with his dad, Hughes began playing the trombone at the age of 12 or 13.

His musical skills progressed rapidly, so much so that by 16 he was jamming at a jazz venue called the 7T Club�”it was located at 7th and T Street. There he played with many great musicians, including his friend Frank Wess. During his last year in high school, his father took him to New York, where in 1947 or ’48 he saw the Count Basie band live for the first time. Although he had heard the band on the radio, this live performance mesmerized him. Although he loved playing music, he didn’t think that he would become a professional musician, especially after marrying his college sweetheart. He thought becoming a pharmacist would be his ticket to career stability, so he graduated from the Howard University School of Pharmacy in 1952. Hughes began working at the National Institute of Health under the direction of Dr. Arnold W. Pratt. Interestingly, Dr. Pratt would have the staff take breaks in which they would sight sing! By this time, Hughes was raising a family with his beloved wife Delores.

But in 1953, he got what he described as “The Call.” At the time, Hughes was still jamming with musicians in DC clubs such as the Howard Theater, and was noted for his prowess at swinging. His homeboy Frank Wess was performing with the renowned Count Basie Orchestra and had told the Count about Hughes when a need surfaced for another brass player for the trombone section. When Basie called and said that he had heard about him, and wanted him to come to try out for the band, Hughes thought it was a prank call. He hung up without committing to audition. Basie called right back for confirmation, and Hughes realized that it was actually the great man himself!

So he joined the Count Basie Orchestra in September 1953. Around this same time Hughes was also invited to join the Duke Ellington Orchestra but chose Basie where he would be more comfortable with friends like Frank, Eddie Jones and Benny Powell.

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Bill Hughes: Director of the Count Basie Orchestra

Read "Bill Hughes: Director of the Count Basie Orchestra" reviewed by Victor L. Schermer

The Count Basie Orchestra is a “big band phenomenon that has become a tradition. Their unique sound, combining blues and swing with an intensity and rhythm all their own, is and always has been immediately recognizable. For over half a century they have been generating thrills in concert halls, universities, nightclubs and festivals around the globe. Like the immortal Louis Armstrong, they have become our goodwill ambassadors, representing the jazz idiom to delighted audiences everywhere.

When Basie passed away in ...

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Bill Hughes, bandleader and director of the Legendary Count Basie Orchestra Announces Retirement

Bill Hughes, bandleader and director of the Legendary Count Basie Orchestra Announces Retirement

Source: Dawn Singh Publicity

Trombonist, Bill Hughes, bandleader and director of the Legendary Count Basie Orchestra, has announced his retirement on September 12, 2010. Hired by William “Count" Basie himself, Hughes first joined the Orchestra in 1953 and devoted nearly his entire career to the band. He assumed leadership of the band in 2003 following the passing of his musical companion and fellow trombonist, Grover Mitchell. William Henry Hughes was born in Dallas, Texas, on March 28, 1930, and graduated from Armstrong High School ...


Performance / Tour

Harlem Speaks Welcomes Basie Big Band Leader Bill Hughes Feb. 22nd 6:30PM-8:30PM

Harlem Speaks Welcomes Basie Big Band Leader Bill Hughes Feb. 22nd 6:30PM-8:30PM

Source: Jim Eigo, Jazz Promo Services

The Jazz Museum in Harlem 104 East 126th Street New York, NY 10035 212 348-8300 Bill Hughes, Trombonist/Band Leader Feb. 22, 2007 6:30pm-8:30pm Trombonist Bill Hughes, or “Mr. B" as he's affectionately called by the younger members, joined the Count Basie Orchestra in September, 1953 on a recommendation by the legendary saxophonist/flautist Frank Wess. Hughes will be the guest of Harlem Speaks on February 22, 2007. A 1952 product of Howard University School of ...

Coley Bryce Stegall




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