Anderson, “Cat” William Alonzo (1916-1981)

Began musical studies on brass instruments, notably the trombone then later the trumpet; born in Moscow, Indiana states a CJI supporter who knew/played with Anderson (though some say Greenville, South Carolina) and later, a resident at Jenkins Orphanage; his brother, “Kitty” played trombone in the Jenkins bands; an all-around great musician, he was noted for his unique high-note work and was arguably the greatest high-note trumpeter of all time along with being a master with mutes and having a strong tone in the lower registers; his high-note playing was unmatched – no one could challenge him though Maynard Ferguson, Jon Faddis and Arturo Sandoval have come close; Cat joined the Duke Ellington band in 1944 and was with the band until 1947, 1950-59, and periodically during 1961-1971; Anderson hit notes so high on his solo on Ellington’s “Satin Doll” that it is doubtful that any trumpeter in all of jazz history could hit one or two (Duke Ellington enjoyed writing impossible notes for Cat to play); a founding member of the Carolina Cotton Pickers (1932-36), a touring band of former Jenkins Orphanage Band musicians where he made his recording debut; played with the Sunset Royal Orchestra (1936-41) and did some arranging and worked with Lucky Millinder, Erskine Hawkins (it is reported that Hawkins fired Cat out of jealousy), Claude Hopkins, and Lionel Hampton (1942); an early recorded composition was with a band led by trombonist, Doc Wheeler called “How About that Mess”; he also wrote tunes for the Ellington Orchestra – one is “A Gathering in a Clearing”; he settled on the West Coast and played with local big bands including one led by Bill Berry and died in Norwalk, California.

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