Live Jazz: Snooky Young and the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra at the Playboy Jazz Festival

By Tony Gieske

The senior legend of jazz on the Playboy Jazz Festival’s revolving stage was Snooky Young, who is 91. He learned to play trumpet when he was 6 or 7 from a man who’d been with McKinney’s Cotton Pickers, started touring after World War I with the Young Snappy Six, a family group, and his nickname is Sack.

There he was, after many more wars, sitting in the second chair of the trumpet section, the lead player’s usual chair, where he’s perched with the bands of Count Basie, Thad Jones-Mel Lewis, Gerald Wilson, Jimmy Lunceford and Johnny Carson’s “Tonight Show” band, among others.

On this day, it was the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra of Los Angeles, and Sack drew from his bag a uniquely aged spice to flavor the high-powered fellow trumpeters that paced this rich and mighty group. What a beautiful sound they all get! And every soloist said something. Because someone was listening.

Photos by Tony Gieske.

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