Boyd Raeburn Biography

Boyd Albert Raden, 27 October 1913, Faith, South Dakota, USA, d. 2 August 1966, Layfayette, Indiana, USA. Raeburn attended the University of Chicago, where he led a campus band, before becoming a professional musician leading a small, light music band, but in the 30s turned his attention to swing. In 1944 he formed a high-class band that featured some fine young musicians including Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Berman (trumpets), Earl Swope, Tommy Pederson (trombones), Al Cohn, Johnny Bothwell (saxophones), while older stars such as Roy Eldridge and Trummy Young played with the band that recorded for the V Disc label. Raeburn was unlucky - a fire at New Jersey’s Palisades Amusement Park destroyed the band’s library together with many of its instruments.

Undeterred, Raeburn put together an astonishing outfit that seemed, in 1945, years ahead of its time. It played numbers such as ‘Dalvatore Sally’, ‘Yerxa’ and ‘Boyd Meets Stravinsky’, and the music was as impressionistic as the titles suggest. The band’s arrangers included Eddie Finckel and George Handy. Vocalists David Allyn and Raeburn’s wife Ginny Powell found their songs placed in Debussy-like settings and although the critics loved it all, the public did not take to a band that played non-danceable music. In 1947, although signed to the up-and-coming Atlantic Records, Raeburn broke up the band. The man who fronted the band holding an ungainly bass saxophone had become disenchanted with the scene, and moved on to part ownership of a Fifth Avenue shop, later moving to Nassau in the Bahamas for more business interests. He died of a heart attack in 1966, having outlived his wife Ginny by seven years.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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