Boniface Ferdinand Leonard "Buddy" DeFranco (February 17, 1923 – December 24, 2014) was an Italian American jazz clarinet player. One of few clarinetists playing bebop, DeFranco was described by critic Scott Yanow as the leading American jazz musician on his instrument from the 1940s until Eddie Daniels came to prominence in the 1980s. In addition to his own work as a bandleader, DeFranco led the Glenn Miller Orchestra for almost a decade in the 1960s and '70s.
DeFranco in New York, 1947
|Birth name||Boniface Ferdinand Leonard DeFranco|
|Born||February 17, 1923|
Camden, New Jersey, U.S.
|Died||December 24, 2014 (aged 91)|
Panama City, Florida
|Genres||Swing, bebop, post-bop|
|Labels||Norgran, Verve, Mercury, Arbors|
Born in Camden, New Jersey, DeFranco was raised in South Philadelphia. He was playing the clarinet by the time he was 9 years old and within five years had won a national Tommy Dorsey swing contest.
He began his professional career just as swing music and big bands—many of which were led by clarinetists like Artie Shaw, and Benny Goodman—were in decline. While most jazz clarinet players did not adapt to this change, DeFranco successfully continued to play clarinet exclusively, and was one of the few bebop clarinetists.
In 1950, DeFranco spent a year with Count Basie's Septet. He then led a small combo in the early 1950s which included pianist Sonny Clark and guitarist Tal Farlow. In this period, DeFranco recorded for MGM, Norgran and Verve; the latter two labels were owned by Norman Granz.
During the years 1960-64, DeFranco released four innovative quartet albums as co-leader with the accordionist Tommy Gumina.
He was bandleader of the Glenn Miller Orchestra from 1966 to 1974, under the name, "The World Famous Glenn Miller Orchestra, Directed By Buddy DeFranco". He also performed with Gene Krupa, Art Blakey, Tommy Dorsey, Count Basie, Charlie Barnet, Art Tatum, Oscar Peterson, Lennie Tristano, Dodo Marmarosa, Terry Gibbs, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Eddie Daniels, Putte Wickman, Billie Holiday and many others, and released dozens of albums as a leader.
DeFranco died in Panama City, Florida at the age of 91.
- Buddy De Franco with Kenny Drew, Jimmy Raney, Teddy Kotick/Curley Russelll, and Art Taylor/Art Blakey, 1952.
- Mr. Clarinet (as the Buddy DeFranco Quartet) with Art Blakey, Milt Hinton, Kenny Drew, 1953
- Buddy DeFranco and Oscar Peterson Play George Gershwin, 1954
- Cooking the Blues with Sonny Clark, Tal Farlow, Gene Wright, Bobby White, 1954
- Sweet and Lovely with Sonny Clark, Tal Farlow, Gene Wright, Bobby White, 1954
- Generalissimo with Harry "Sweets" Edison, Bob Hardaway, Jimmy Rowles, Barney Kessel, Curtis Counce, Alvin Stoller, 1958
- Plays Nelson Riddle's Cross Country Suite, 1958
- Live Date! with Herbie Mann, Bob Hardaway, Victor Feldman, Pete Jolly, Barney Kessel, Scott LaFaro, Frank DeVito, 1958
- Pacific Standard (Swingin'!) Time, Tommy Gumina, 1960
- Presenting the Quartet, Tommy Gumina, 1961
- Kaleidoscope, Tommy Gumina, 1962
- Polytones, Tommy Gumina, 1963
- The Girl From Ipanema, Tommy Gumina, 1964
- Blues Bag with Victor Feldman, Curtis Fuller, Lee Morgan, Art Blakey, Freddie Hill, Victor Sproles, 1964
- Do You Want To Dance with The World Famous Glenn Miller Orchestra, Directed By Buddy DeFranco, 1969
- Free Fall with Victor Feldman, John Chiodini, Joe Cocuzzo, Victor Sproles, 1974
- Like Someone in Love with Tal Farlow, Derek Smith, George Duvivier, Ronnie Bedford, 1977
- Jazz Party: First Time Together with Terry Gibbs, 1981, Palo Alto Records
- Eastern Exposure Buddy DeFranco, Eiji Kitamura, Scott Villiger, 1982
- Hark with Joe Pass, Oscar Peterson, Martin Drew, Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen, 1985
- Holiday for Swing with John Campbell, Terry Gibbs, Todd Coolman, Gerry Gibbs, 1988
- Born to Swing! with Al Grey, Lin Biviano, Dave Cooper, 1988
- Nobody Else But Me, 1989
- Chip off the Old Bop with Jimmy Cobb, Keter Betts, Joe Cohn, Larry Novak, 1992
- Buenos Aires Concerts with Jorge Navarro, 1995
- Mr. Lucky, Live album with Albert Dailey, George Duvivier, Ronnie Bedford, Joe Cohn, 1981/1997
- Gone with the Wind with Todd Coolman, Jerry Coleman, 1999
- Do Nothing Till You Hear from Us with Dave McKenna, Joe Cohn, 1999
- Cookin' the Books with Butch Miles, John Pizzarelli, Martin Pizzarelli, Ray Kennedy, 2004
- Wailers with Harry "Sweets" Edison, Barney Kessel, Jimmy Rowles, 2006
- Charlie Cat 2 with Lew Soloff, Derek Smith, Howard Alden, Joe Cohn, Rufus Reid, Ed Metz, Jr. 2007
With Dizzy Gillespie
- The Complete RCA Victor Recordings, 1937-1949 (Bluebird, 1995)
- "Buddy DeFranco To Play At LVC". Lebanon Daily News. July 14, 1977. p. 22. Retrieved April 25, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.
- Heckman, Don (26 December 2014). "Buddy DeFranco dies at 91; first clarinetist to master bebop". Los Angeles Times.
- Pankin, Ted (1999). "On Buddy DeFranco's 89th Birthday, a 1999 Downbeat article, plus Interview". Down Beat. ISSN 0012-5768.
- Myers, Marc (24 May 2011). "Buddy DeFranco and Tommy Gumina". JazzWax.
- Strum, Charles (26 December 2014). "Buddy DeFranco, 91, Versatile Jazz Clarinetist, Dies". The New York Times. p. B7.