Edmond Hall Biography

15 May 1901, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA, d. 11 February 1967, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. Hall was born into a highly musical family: his father played clarinet and four of his brothers became professional musicians, mostly on reed instruments, the best known of these being clarinettist Herb Hall. After playing clarinet in his home-town with Buddy Petit, Lee Collins, Kid Thomas Valentine and others in the early 20s, Hall headed for the north and a marked change of musical scene. From 1929 and throughout the 30s he became one of the most respected and sought-after clarinettists in jazz, playing in a manner which, while never losing the intrinsic qualities of New Orleans jazz, allowed him to play an important role in the swing era. Among the musicians with whom he worked during these years were Claude Hopkins, Lucky Millinder, Zutty Singleton and Joe Sullivan. In the early 40s Hall played in the band of Henry ‘Red’ Allen, made some excellent quartet records with Charlie Christian, Israel Crosby and Meade ‘Lux’ Lewis (who played celeste), recorded with Sidney De Paris and Wilbur De Paris’ orchestra and turned down an offer to join Duke Ellington. Instead he became a member of Teddy Wilson’s marvellous sextet, and after leaving Wilson in 1944, he led his own band in New York and Boston and was then a member of the house band at Eddie Condon’s club.

In 1955 Hall joined Louis Armstrong’s All Stars, bringing to the band a much-needed fire and excitement at a time when it was beginning to sound a little jaded. He left Armstrong in 1958 and two years later, after living briefly in Ghana, began a sustained period of international touring which ended with his death in February 1967. A fluid and inventive soloist, Hall’s playing exhibited a marvellous blend of New Orleans earthiness and Benny Goodman esque polish. He was one of the outstanding clarinettists of the swing era, as his recordings with his own groups testify, and those he made with the Wilson sextet, are Probably among the best ever by a small mainstream jazz combo.

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

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