January 16, 1966 – January 17, 1974
Buddy is generally credited with leading the way for jazz clarinetists from the exciting era of swing to the exhilarating age of bop. Along the way he has set the example for all jazz musicians for technical brilliance. Improvisational virtuosity and creative warmth. He is one of the most imaginative clarinetists playing today.
Born in Camden, New Jersey, Buddy was raised in South Philadelphia and began playing the clarinet at age nine. By age fourteen he had won a national Tommy Dorsey Swing contest, and appeared on the Saturday Night Swing Club, sharing the spotlight with Gene Krupa. He was soon discovered by Johnny “Scat” Davis and began his road career with him in 1939. He joined Gene Krupa in 1941, Ted FioRito and Charlie Barnet 1942-43, Tommy Dorsey 1944-45, Boyd Raeburn 1946, Tommy Dorsey again in 1947-48. In 1950 he joined the famous Count Basie Septet.
Buddy, one of the world’s greatest jazz clarinetists, was appointed leader of the Glenn Miller Orchestra 1966-1974. With musical tastes changing and new songs never associated with the Miller music becoming hits, Buddy faced a dilemma. Like many who knew Glenn well, DeFranco realized that musically Miller would never have stood still. And so now and then he struck out in new directions, not merely extending the Miller style to current songs but also using new voicings and modern rhythms that bear little resemblance to the familiar Miller sounds.
Buddy DeFranco has the unprecedented distinction of winning twenty Downbeat Magazine Awards, nine Metronome Magazine Awards, and sixteen Playboy All-Stars Awards as the number one jazz clarinetist in the world.