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About Norris Turney

One of the last great Ellingtonians, Norris Turney was the first flute soloist that the Duke Ellington Orchestra ever had. He was also a lyrical altoist influenced by Johnny Hodges and (when called for) an excellent tenor saxophonist too. He started his musical career playing in the Midwest with territory bands like the Jeter-Pillars Orchestra; he was also briefly with Tiny Bradshaw in Chicago and then relocated to New York. Turney was part of the Billy Eckstine Orchestra from 1945-1946, but fame would elude him for many years. He soon returned to Ohio and mostly played with local groups. In 1967, Turney toured with Ray Charles, but it was not until his period with Ellington (1969-1973) that his talents were fully recognized. Since that time he has been a member of the Savoy Sultans, the Newport All-Stars, various pit orchestras, and any situation where his versatility and swinging style can be most appreciated. As a leader, Norris Turney led dates during 1975-1978 for Master Jazz, the tiny Harlem label, Black & Blue, and in 1993 for Mapleshade. He died in Ohio of kidney failure in mid-January, 2001. ~ Scott Yanow

Wilmington, OH
8 Sep 1921

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