A valuable sideman for decades, Jimmy Archey was a major if underrated trombonist for nearly 40 years. Archey began playing when he was 12 and was landing professional jobs within a year. He studied music at the Hampton Institute (1915-19), played in Atlantic City for a period, and then moved to New York in 1923. He freelanced with minor but musical bands for the next six years, including Edgar Hayes in 1927. Archey joined King Oliver in 1929, making his recording debut with Oliver in 1930. He was in Luis Russell's various orchestras from much of 1931-37 including the 1935-37 period when Russell's ensemble was essentially functioning as Louis Armstrong's backup group. Archey had stints with the orchestras of Willie Bryant, Benny Carter (1939), Ella Fitzgerald, and Coleman Hawkins, subbed with Cab Calloway, and spent 1944-45 with Claude Hopkins. Archey spent two years (1946-48) with Noble Sissle's commercial orchestra but did appear regularly on Rudi Blesh's famed This Is Jazz radio series in 1947. After touring France with Mezz Mezzrow in 1948, Archey joined Bob Wilber's band in December of that year at the Savoy Cafe in Boston. When Wilber left in April 1950, Archey became the bandleader. During the next few years, he headed the sextet, which in 1952 had trumpeter Henry Goodwin, Benny Waters on clarinet and pianist Dick Wellstood; this was one of the few times in his career when he led his own group. He visited Europe with Mezzrow again (Nov. 1954-Feb. 1955) and then spent most of 1955-62 as a member of Earl Hines' San Francisco-based Dixieland band, also playing occasionally with Muggsy Spanier. Archey freelanced for the remainder of his life with New Orleans-style pickup groups. A Storyville CD features Archey's early-'50s band on some Dr. Jazz broadcasts; otherwise his only sessions as a leader were for Nec Plus Ultra (1952), the French Barclay label (1955) and 77 (1966). ~ Scott Yanow
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