William "Cat" Anderson
Sep. 12, 1916 - Apr. 29, 1981
"Cat" Anderson grew from a childhood in the Jenkins Orphanage to become
the acclaimed lead trumpet player with Duke Ellington
and one of the most recognized high-note trumpet players of all time. Born in
Greenville, South Carolina, he was put in the orphanage after both his parents
died during his childhood. He soon took on the name "Cat," that would
stick for the rest of his life, for his fighting style at the orphanage. His music
career began on larger horns, like the trombone and baritone, but when he showed
considerable talent, the orphanage granted his wish: he received his first trumpet.
Anderson grew to be a standout with the orphanage bands, and his first official departure from the orphanage was
with a group of fellow Jenkins players that called themselves the Carolina Cotton Pickers. The group toured for
awhile and recorded four tracks for Brunswick Records, but the band split up after a short while.
After leaving the Cotton Pickers, Anderson played with groups including those
of Claude Hopkins, Lucky Millinder, Erskine Hawkins and Lionel
Hampton during the years of 1935-44.
Cat's primary success and fame came as a trumpet player in Duke
Ellington's big band during 1944-47, 1950-59 and off and on during 1961-71.
He recorded on many of Duke's famous recordings (Carnegie Hall Concerts, etc.),
with Ella Fitzgerald, Johnny Hodges, and recorded several albums under his name.