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Miles Davis circa 1955; Duke Ellington; Louis Armstrong; Cover of Sheet Music by Fats Waller
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Johnny Collins

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Elbert (1913- ) Guitarist

John Collins gained valuable early experience playing for his mother, the pianist and bandleader Georgia Gorham, and began his professional career in 1935 accompanying Art Tatum. He then worked with Roy Eldridge (1936-40), Billie Holiday (1940- 41), Lester Young (1941), Fletcher Henderson (1941), and Benny Carter. After army service he was a member of Slam Stewart's trio (1946-8) and played with Erroll Garner, Billy Taylor, and Tatum. The longest association in Collins's career was that with Nat "King" Cole (1951-65), after which he spent a brief period with the singer Patti Page, then until 1971 worked with the pianist Bobby Troup. Thereafter he played with Carmen McRae, Snooky Young, and Ray Brown, and settled in the Los Angeles area as a teacher. Collins has worked principally as a rhythm guitarist, but he is also known for his sophisticated solo lines.

The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz, Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For personal, non-commercial use only. Copying or other reproduction is prohibited.
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