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A Noted Big Band Trumpet ManCopyright © 1999The Scotsman, 1999
Privin, BernieBernie Privin was a redoubtable big band trumpet soloist and lead player who made his name with some of the most famous bands in the business. His employers included Artie Shaw, Benny Goodman and Glenn Miller, and he was a member of the Army Air Force Orchestra which Miller brought to Europe prior to his mysterious disappearance on a flight to Paris.
Privin's own career almost ended just as abruptly on the band's first night in London, when the house assigned to them in Sloane Square was struck by a bomb. By good fortune, Miller had asked for the musicians to be moved out of the city on their arrival, and they had been relocated in Bedford.
Privin took up trumpet as a teenager after hearing Louis Armstrong at the Apollo Theatre, and was entirely self-taught. He joined Bunny Berigan's band in 1937, then took over from Charlie Spivak in the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra. He joined the high-flying Artie Shaw Orchestra in 1938, and was the featured soloist on a number of their hits, notably 'Traffic Jam'.
He went to work for Benny Goodman when Shaw broke up his band in 1941, and spent a year with him before moving to Charlie Barnet's band, this time as lead trumpet rather than soloist. He was called for military service in 1943, and served his time in the ranks of Glenn Miller's AAF Band, once again as trumpet soloist.
While serving in the band, which was taken over by Don Haynes after Miller's death, Privin recorded some small group sides in Paris, including a session with the famous guitarist Django Reinhardt and his AAF colleagues Peanuts Hucko and Mel Powell.
On his discharge from the forces, he returned to New York and worked with Goodman for two years before settling into the more secure life of a studio musician. He joined the CBS staff orchestra in the late 40s, and remained in that post for 25 years, although he continued to play in jazz settings at every opportunity.
They included working with Sy Oliver, Charlie Parker, Woody Herman, and a reunion with Artie Shaw, and he made his own debut album as a leader in 1954, with a small group which also featured saxophonist Al Cohn. In later years he worked with all-star touring bands like the Kings of Jazz, The World's Greatest Jazz Band, and the New York Jazz Repertory Company, where he and trumpeter Joe Newman were featured in a tribute to his original hero, Louis Armstrong.
Privin, who suffered from Parkinson's Disease in the final years of his life, died from cancer of the colon. He is survived by his wife, Ethel; two daughters; three grandchildren; and nine sisters and brothers.