Pee Wee Hunt

In 1948, trombonist Pee Wee Hunt and his band were fooling around at a Capitol recording session. They performed a satirical version of "Twelfth Street Rag" that found them playing like amateur Dixielanders and renegades of 1921-style jazz. The Capitol executives were delighted, the performance was released, and to everyone's surprise, it became a major hit! Prior to that spontaneous performance, Hunt had been best-known for his long period with the Casa Loma Orchestra. His father had been a violinist and his mother a guitarist, so music was a natural part of his life. Hunt was actually a banjoist originally; he started playing when he was 17. Soon he was doubling on trombone and playing in local bands on both instruments before eventually dropping the banjo. He was with Jean Goldkette's Orchestra for a period in Kansas City (1927-1928 after the Bix Beiderbecke period), worked with the Hollywood Theatre Orchestra in Detroit, and then in 1929 became one of the founders of the Casa Loma Orchestra, which would eventually be taken over by Glen Gray. Hunt had occasional trombone solos and was probably most notable for his good-humored (and sometimes comedic) vocals. He remained with the Casa Loma Orchestra for 14 years until departing in May 1943 to settle in Los Angeles. Hunt was a disc jockey for a time in Hollywood, served with the U.S. Merchant Marine, and in 1946, formed his own Dixieland group. The success of "Twelfth Street Rag" resulted in the trombonist recording many more dates for Capitol (up until 1962) although no further hits resulted. Pee Wee Hunt remained active into the '70s. ~ Scott Yanow

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