Swing Guitar

Dedicated to pre-bebop jazz guitar.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Al Casey RIP

Al Casey was always one of my favorites.
Click here to listen to some Al Casey tracks, especially "Buck Jumpin'" - one of the great acoustic swing guitar solos of all time.

September 13, 2005
Al Casey Dies at 89; Early Jazz Guitarist

Al Casey, a guitarist whose playful acoustic rhythms and solos were a defining feature of Fats Waller's band in the 1930's and 1940's, died on Sunday in Manhattan. He was 89.

The cause was colon cancer, said Albert Vollmer, leader of the Harlem Blues and Jazz Band, with which Mr. Casey played until 2001. He had been hospitalized at the Dewitt Rehabilitation Center for about a year.

Born Sept. 15, 1915, in Louisville, Ky., Mr. Casey joined Waller's group in the early 1930's and was Waller's main guitarist until Waller died in 1943. Mr. Casey also worked with Teddy Wilson's big band in 1939 and 1940 and recorded with Billie Holiday, Frankie Newton and Chu Berry.

Mr. Casey played and recorded with Louis Armstrong in 1944 when both were recognized as leading jazz musicians in the Esquire magazine readers' poll, Mr. Vollmer said.

Along the way he switched from acoustic to electric guitar. Over the next decades he freelanced in swing and blues venues and from 1957 to 1961 played rhythm and blues with the saxophonist King Curtis.

In 1981, Mr. Casey was coaxed out of retirement to join the Harlem Blues and Jazz Band, said Mr. Vollmer, who founded the band.

Mr. Casey is survived by his wife, Althea, and his son, Al Casey Jr.

A 90th birthday celebration for Mr. Casey, scheduled for Thursday evening at St. Peter's Church, 54th Street and Lexington Avenue, will now be his musical memorial service, open to the public.


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  • At 5:59 PM, Anonymous molehill said…

    Did you ever check out the Terry Gross "Fresh Air" interview with Marty Grosz where they call up Al Casey? Great broadcast!


  • At 10:54 PM, Blogger Jonathan Stout said…

    As a matter of fact, I did hear that great interview. I'll move your link to the front page. Thanks!

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    Just testing


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