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Al Killian
Background information
Born October 15, 1916(1916-10-15)
Died September 5, 1950 (aged 33)
Genres Big band, jump blues, East Coast blues
Instruments Jazz trumpet
Years active 1930sā€“1950

Al Killian (October 15, 1916 ā€“ September 5, 1950) was an American jazz trumpet player and occasional bandleader during the big band era, also known for playing jump blues and East Coast blues. Born in Birmingham, Alabama, Killian was considered one of the most powerful and exciting trumpeters of his day.

Killian got his start playing with Charlie Turner's Arcadians (mid-1930s) and went on to play with big bands led by Baron Lee, Teddy Hill, Don Redman, Claude Hopkins, Count Basie (1940ā€“1942), Charlie Barnet (off and on from 1943 through 1946) and Lionel Hampton (1945). In 1946 Killian started his own big band, but soon quit bandleading to tour with Norman Granz's popular Jazz at the Philharmonic concert series, where he played alongside such musicians as Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, and Lester Young. Following this he briefly toured with bands led by Billy Eckstine, Earl Spencer, and Boyd Raeburn, before landing a spot in Duke Ellington's band, where he toured and recorded for the last three years of his life. During this time he also led his own record session in Stockholm, and took part in one led by Lester Young, as well as participating in several jam sessions which were also recorded.

Killian's fiery style was always a crowd-pleaser, and he possessed a huge range and an enormous tone. He was also an excellent lead trumpeter, as well as a composer. He would undoubtedly have had a much longer and prolific career if not for his death. After leaving Ellington's band he settled in Los Angeles, where he was murdered by a psychopathic landlord at age 33.

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