Flemming, Herb [Fleming] (1900-1976)

AKA: Niccolaiih El Michelle

Multi-instrumentalist, notably trombone and vocalist; his birthplace is questionable – some sources say Butte, Montana, Honolulu, North Africa, Savannah or Charleston; Garvin Bushell, his colleague in the Sam Wooding band in the 1920s claimed that Flemming was a Geechee; began playing with the Jenkins Orphanage Band at age ten; one of the most well-traveled musicians in early jazz; went to music school in New York City in 1910 and studied brass instruments, particularly trombone, cello and music theory at Frank Damrosch’s Conservatory; joined the 15th New York National Guard Band led by Jim Europe and Francis Eugene Mikell and later with Europe’s 369th U.S. Infantry Band; began his professional career with Johnny Dunn (1921); played with many bands including Lew Leslie’s Blackbirds, Ethel Waters, Will Vodery, Sam Wooding with whom he toured Europe and South America, Sestto Carlin’s Society Orchestra where he toured in Italy, Freddy Johnson, [James] Arthur Briggs, Earl Hines, Duke Ellington, Fats Waller (1940-42), Noble Sissle, Don Redman, Benny Carter, Lucky Millinder, Louis Armstrong, and Buck Clayton; started his own band, the International Rhythm Aces in 1930 and toured Europe, Buenos Aires, India, Shanghai, Ceylon, Spain and Berlin (where he made some of his last recordings); was co-leader of Josephine Baker’s revue orchestra in Paris; recorded with Johnny Dunn, Tommy Dorsey, Henry “Red” Allen (1953-58), Perry Bradford and several female blues singers; a prolific recording artist playing blues, swing and Dixieland jazz; had several stints in the Hollywood film industry and can be seen on screen in Pillow to Post and No Time for Romance; served as an interpreter for the American Olympic team and worked in California as a tax inspector; he died in New York City.

Image Gallery

Selected Albums


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