Jimmie Lunceford

Instrument

James Melvin Lunceford (June 6, 1902 – July 12, 1947) was an American jazz alto saxophonist and bandleader in the swing era.

Lunceford was born on a farm in the Evergreen community, west of the Tombigbee River, near Fulton, Mississippi. The 53-acre (21 ha) farm was owned by his father, James. His mother was Idella ("Ida") Shumpert of Oklahoma City, an organist of "more than average ability". Seven months after James Melvin was born, the family moved to Oklahoma City.

The family next moved to Denver where Lunceford attended high school and studied music under Wilberforce J. Whiteman, father of Paul Whiteman, whose band was soon to acquire a national reputation. As a child in Denver, he learned several instruments.

In 1927, while an athletic instructor at Manassas High School in Memphis, Tennessee, Lunceford organized a student band, the Chickasaw Syncopators, whose name was changed to the Jimmie Lunceford Orchestra. Under the new name, the band started its professional career in 1929, and made its first recordings in 1930.[5] Lunceford was the first public high school band director in Memphis.

Jimmie Lunceford's band differed from other great bands of the time because it was better known for its ensemble than for its solo work. Additionally, he was known for using a two-beat rhythm, called the Lunceford two-beat, as opposed to the standard four-beat rhythm.

Lunceford and his orchestra were in Seaside, Oregon, to play at The Bungalow dance hall on July 12, 1947.[14][15] Before the performance Lunceford collapsed during an autograph session at a local record store. He died while being taken by ambulance to the Seaside hospital. Lunceford was 45.