James Harold Kemp, 27 March 1904, Marion, Alabama, USA, d. 21 December 1940, near Madera, California, USA. One of the greatest band leaders of his generation, Kemps early death robbed the dance band world of one of its most innovative talents. Long after his demise the memory of his orchestras distinctive, staccato rhythms would be kept alive by numerous artists, particularly Henry Jerome. Kemp formed his first orchestra, a quintet dubbed the Merrymakers, while still attending high school in Charlotte, North Carolina. He also played in various campus bands while a student at the University of North Carolina. By his senior year he had found the core musicians with which he would form his first professional version of the Hal Kemp Orchestra in the mid-20s. The nucleus of this band was John Scott Trotter (piano and arranger), Saxie Dowell (saxophone) and Skinnay Ennis (drums, and later the bands featured vocalist). Strong shows in the North Carolina...
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