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Shorty Baker

Harold “Shorty” Baker had a mellow sound and a lyrical design that was the present day successor to Arthur Whetsol within the Duke Ellington Orchestra. Originally a drummer, Baker turned to trumpet as an adolescent. An excellent section player along with a warm soloist, Baker used Destiny Marable on riverboats, Erskine Tate, Don Redman (1936-1938), Teddy Wilson’s orchestra (1939-1940), and Andy Kirk (1940-1942). He wedded Mary Lou Williams (Kirk’s pianist at that time). Baker was with Duke Ellington’s Orchestra on / off during 1942-1962 (especially 1943-1951 and 1957-1959), where he was well-featured despite getting within a trumpet section that sometimes also included Ray Nance, Clark Terry, Taft Jordan, Willie Make, and Kitty Anderson, amongst others. He was with Johnny Hodges’ group in the first ’50s, and following the Ellington years mainly led a quartet. Baker also documented in old age with Bud Freeman and Doc Cheatham.

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