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Eddie Chamblee

Edward Leon Chamblee, b. February 24, 1920 in Atlanta, GA, d. May 1, 1999 in New York, NY, tenor and alto saxophonist, and occasional vocalist, who played jazz and R&B, active 1940s – 1990s. Music was Chamblee's second choice, having begun to study law. In the early 40s, during his army service, he became deeply involved in music, playing the tenor saxophone, and performing in, and sometimes directing, army bands. From 1946 until he joined Lionel Hampton in 1955, Chamblee led a small band in Chicago. His tenure with Hampton lasted two years but it was long enough for him to build a reputation in Europe. Married briefly to Dinah Washington, he recorded with her, sometimes singing duets in a style similar to that which Washington adopted for her later successes with Brook Benton. Chamblee continued to lead small groups into the mid-70s, when he again visited Europe with both Milt Buckner and Hampton. In the early 80s he switched to alto saxophone for a short stint with Count Basie. Although derivative, Chamblee's playing has an urgent, earthy quality that blended well into the hard-swinging Hampton style. He died in New York in 1999 at the age of 79.


Eddie Chamblee Biography by Ron Wynn

Eddie Chamblee was a good, sometimes inspirational player who made contributions in both big-band and small-combo settings as well as early R&B. Chamblee studied law at Chicago State University, then played with several Army bands from 1941 to 1946. He headed a small group in Chicago from 1946 until the mid-'50s, then worked for two years with Lionel Hampton, recording and touring in Europe in 1956. Chamblee went back to small combos, and backed vocalist Dinah Washington on many superb dates in 1957, 1958, and 1963. (He and Washington were also briefly married.) Chamblee worked with Milt Buckner and Hampton in the '70s, returning with them to Europe in 1976, 1977, and 1978. He also recorded with each musician, and did some sessions with his own band in 1976. Chamblee played for a short period in Count Basie's orchestra in 1982.