Willis Nelson and Dupree Bolton – a study by Mario Schneeberger
Willis Nelson (bottom left) in Pancho Diggs Orchestra, 1940.
From Barbara J. Kukla’s book “Swing City: Newark Nightlife, 1925-50″.
Swiss alto saxophonist and jazz researcher Mario Schneeberger has allowed me to publish his new study. This study is about the two early bop trumpet players Dupree Bolton (1929–1993) and Willis Nelson and their work when they were playing in Buddy Johnson’s band in the mid 1940s. From October 1944 to November 1945 both men were part of Johnson’s Orchestra and both were featured in solos.
Mario did a lot of listening and comparing to come closer to the truth in answering the question who is playing which solo, based on the two Buddy Johnson tracks where it is commonly accepted among specialists that one is played by Bolton ( “Walk ‘Em”) and the other by Nelson (“Pullamo”).
To give you an idea, how Nelson and Bolton sound, here is the Buddy Johnson Orchestra playing “Traffic Jam” at the Savoy Ballroom in NYC on October 9, 1945
Featured soloists are: Dave Van Dyke (ts), Jimmy Stanford (ts), Buddy Johnson (p), Willis Nelson (tp), Dupree Bolton (tp).
Mario has also checked whether any trumpet solos during Dupree Bolton’s time (mid december 1945 to early 1946) with Benny Carter’s orchestra following his tenure with Johnson can be attributed to Bolton.