About Robert Horton
Trombonist Robert Horton was part of a generation of jazz musicians whose interests and abilities were becoming increasingly intricate; he also was in the vanguard of exposing what would become classic jazz to other cultures, traveling far and wide as a member of Leon Abbey's ensemble. Important transformations such as R&B into rock & roll and swing into bebop all have their place in this trombonist's extensive discography. Part of Birmingham, AL's extensive roster of swinging native sons, he frequently shows up in credits as just plain Bob Horton. He also used several aliases, including Everett Redius and Bob Mack, but apparently not in recording credits.
Horton's high-school years were influential musically, as he had the good fortune to play in an ensemble led by Fess Whatley, another of Birmingham's jazz legends. Heading north to New York City, the trombonist began gigging with Sam Wooding in the early '20s. Abbey used Horton on a South American tour in 1927, after which a Philadelphia job was waiting in the Wilbur DeParis Orchestra. During the late '20s the trombonist collaborated with drummer and bandleader Chick Webb, among others. Membership in Ralph Cooper's Kongo Knights certainly must have livened up 1932 and 1933. Lucky Millinder, Willie Bryant, and Edgar Hayes all came up with gigs as the decade progressed, the latter artist keeping Horton busy from 1937 onward, including an action-packed European tour.
Trumpeter Cootie Williams, one of Duke Ellington's star soloists, had his own big band in the '40s in which Horton had a perch in the brass section. It can be assumed this must have been one of the most interesting parts of this player's career, the Williams band something of a crossroads for players heading in all kinds of directions, providing the opportunity to play alongside both pianist Bud Powell and saxophonist and vocalist Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson. A spring stint with pianist Claude Hopkins was in effect a lullaby for the trombonist as a full-time player. After this he was employed during the days by the New York City parks department, gigging as a hobby with players such as Happy Caldwell. ~ Eugene Chadbourne, Rovi