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Jimmy Rowles

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Jimmy; Hunter, James George(1918-1996) Pianist

Jimmie Rowles took the name Rowles from his stepfather. He was largely self-taught, though he received lessons in jazz piano, developing a taste for the style of Teddy Wilson. He played in bands in Seattle while studying at the University of Washington, then moved to Los Angeles, where he joined Lester Young's group in 1942. During the 1940s he played with various musicians, including Benny Goodman and Woody Herman, but it was as an accompanist to singers, particularly Billie Holiday and Peggy Lee, that he became best known. In the late 1950s he played on film soundtracks and worked as a studio musician.

After performing at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1973 he settled in New York, where he worked in clubs, mainly in duos with Zoot Sims, George Mraz, and Buster Williams. He toured for more than two years in the early 1980s as Ella Fitzgerald's accompanist. He returned to southern California and in 1986 was honored in Los Angeles by the declaration of September 14 as "Jimmie Rowles Day." Rowles was a sensitive player with a swinging, mainstream style, who showed a particular liking for Duke Ellington's music. He composed many memorable tunes, one of which, The Peacocks, was included in the soundtrack to the film Round Midnight (1986).

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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