A little addition to the 2003 ALX Thread. Martin Banks passed away yesterday. Kudos to Lawrence for his foresight in bringing the Texas Trumpets to the lindy dancers. Nobody else on the Committee was that familar with them, but he insisted that they would work. The Trumpets were a smash. Turned out to be our last chance to bring Martin Banks in for an event.
I knew that he played with Basie and Ellington, but I was unaware of how extensive his bio was until today, when I read the obituary.
Just goes to show, when you have the chance to dance to or see an aging legend (local or otherwise), you should take it, you just never know. Just ask Dallas (Big Al Dupree at DLX 2003); NYC (Illinois Jaquet this summer), and various markets that got Ray Charles shows (numerous gigs in 2003).
The obituary of Martin Banks:
Many of you may remember Martin Banks playing with the Texas Trumpets at last year's Exchange. In any case, he will be missed.
Master of the trumpet played with Count Basie
East Austinite toured with Ray Charles, was in house band at the Apollo
By Michael Corcoran
Sunday, August 22, 2004
The Austin music community lost a jazz giant Friday with the passing of Martin Banks, who took his trumpet from the old Anderson High School in East Austin to the bands of Count Basie, Duke Ellington, James Brown, Sun Ra, King Curtis and many more.
Banks suffered a heart attack Tuesday, a family spokesman said. He was taken off life support Friday at South Austin Medical Center. He was 68.
"He was the jazz trumpet player of Austin," said producer/musician Ojito Prevatt, rattling off some of Banks' accomplishments, including a long stint in the house band at the Apollo Theater in New York.
He also played in the backing group on the first Motown revue, bunking with a young singer named Marvin Gaye.
Banks moved from Austin to California in 1953 to play jazz. After playing in several Bay Area and Los Angeles combos, he was hired for Ray Charles' touring band, which took him to New York.
It was in the 1950s and '60s New York bebop scene where Banks' deep and spiritual style really blossomed. He became close to Dizzy Gillespie and other jazz greats during that heyday.
Banks returned to Austin in the mid-1980s and instantly achieved guru status.
"Young musicians used to sit at his feet, quite literally, to watch him play," said Victory Grill manager Eva Lindsey.
Banks' original instrument was the trombone, which his father, Buford, played with great skill in several bands, including an early John Coltrane group. But the younger Banks had arms too short to play the full range of notes on the trombone, so he switched to trumpet in the sixth grade.
One Saturday night in 1950, a 14-year-old Banks was listening to the Dr. Hepcat radio show and heard a trumpet solo that influenced him to take his music into more exploratory areas. The dark-toned solo was by Kenny Dorham, a fellow Anderson High graduate who used to jam with Martin's father.
Years later, Banks jammed with his idol, two native East Austinites of different generations having the time of their lives in Manhattan.
Banks is survived by his wife, Leslie; his mother, Rose Banks; a brother; two sisters; and five children.
A memorial service will be Sept. 12 at the Laguna Gloria Art Museum.