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A Mainstay of the Florida Jazz SceneCopyright © 2000The Scotsman, 2000
Pete Minger was best known for the decade he spent as a trumpet soloist in the Count Basie Band. He was born George Allen Minger into a musical family, in which both his grandmother and his mother played piano in church. His brother, Jimmy Minger, is a jazz pianist. He taught himself to play, firstly on saxophone, then on trumpet, and honed his skills in an army band while stationed in Japan in the late 1960s.
He enrolled at Berklee College of Music in Boston in 1969, and spent a year there before joining the Count Basie Band in 1970. He played with Basie for a decade, and is featured on many of their recordings of the period. His tenure in the group took in the stellar mid-1970s band which rekindled many of the glories of Basies vintage days. Minger was overshadowed at times by sharing the trumpet section with better known names like Clark Terry and Harry Edison, but he developed a reputation as a lucid and inventive soloist with a rich, warm sound, especially on flugelhorn.
During his time with the band, the trumpeter also worked in bands led by trombonists Al Grey and Curtis Fuller. He left the Basie Band in 1980 and settled in Florida. He enrolled in the University of Miami in 1981, and graduated with a degree in music in 1985. He taught at both school and college level at various times, but continued to perform.
He toured with the Philip Morris Superband in 1989, and with saxophonist Frank Wesss big band in 1990, and also worked with distinguished names like singer Mel Torme and pianist Hilton Ruiz, but preferred to concentrate on performing in the Miami area, where he was a mainstay of the local jazz scene, both with his own group and with the Miami-based Tropic Breeze Band.
In addition to several albums with that group, Minger also recorded under his own name on Straight From the Source (Spinster, 1983), made for a small label in Florida but later reissued with additional material by as Minger Paintings (Jazz Alliance, 1991), and Look To The Sky (Concord Jazz, 1992). These records featured his trumpet and flugelhorn in small group settings which allowed him to stretch out beyond the limitations of big band solos, and emphasised his command of both swing and bop idioms.
He is survived by his wife, Dolores; brother, James; and several nieces.