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Bill Berry: 1930-2002
Bill Berry
Trumpet, cornet, bandleader, educator

Born: September 14, 1930 in Benton Harbour, Missouri
Died: October 13, 2002 in Los Angeles, California

Trumpeter and cornetist

Copyright © 2002 


William Richard Berry was a celebrated big band player on trumpet and cornet, and later bandleader. He studied with Herb Pomeroy at Berklee after completing military service in 1954, and joined the Woody Herman Orchestra in 1957, his first major band. He was recruited by Duke Ellington in 1961-4, a rare example of a white player joining a major black bandleader.

His other bands included stints with Maynard Ferguson and the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Big Band (he was a founder member of that group, although a move to the West Coast made his tenure a short one).

Although much of his time was devoted to session and television work, he toured in Europe and Japan with Louse Bellson and Benny Carter in the 1980s and 1990s, and led his own groups, including tours to Japan with the Monterey Jazz Festival High School All Stars, a group he led from 1981 after taking on the role of musical director of the festival.

He was a distinguished educator and promoter of young talent as well as a consummate performer on his instrument.

JJA members are invited to submit a full obituary or appreciation.

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With 2 reader comments, latest June 19, 2004