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Red Norvo

31 - Red-Norvo-1908-1999

Red NorvoRed Norvo

March 31, 1908, Beardstown, Illinois – April 6, 1999, Santa Monica, California

Kenneth Norville (Red Norvo) was one of jazz’s early vibraphonists, known as Mr. Swing.

Began piano lessons, switched to xylophone, then marimba, and later vibraharp; began career in Chicago with marimba band, 1925; worked as a tap-dancing xylophonist in vaudeville; did radio staff work in Milwaukee, Kansas City, Detroit, Minneapolis, and with Victor Young in Chicago, 1927-29; released first records as leader, 1933; led small group at New York’s Hickory House and Famous Door, 1934-1935; expanded to 12 pieces with wife, Mildred Bailey, as vocalist, 1936-40; organized trio, 1949.

Norvo recorded with Mildred Bailey (his wife), Billie Holiday, Dinah Shore and Frank Sinatra, among others. Together, Red and Mildred were known as Mr. and Mrs. Swing. He also appeared in the film Screaming Mimi (1958), playing himself, and in Ocean’s 11, backing Dean Martin’s Ain’t That a Kick in the Head?

Occasionally he appeared on TV in 1950s and 1960s, in the 1960s in west coast and Las Vegas. He featured on 1974 Benny Goodman TV special.

More on:

Red Norvo Octet – Blues in E Flat 1935

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