The Benny Strickler Story explores the legend of a gifted, hardworking trumpet player who developed his own classic-jazz horn style and had a unique ability to unify a Jazz ensemble. Though he played for Bob Wills, Joe Venuti, Wingie Manone, Ben Pollock and Seger Ellis, Strickler made few records, most never issued in his short lifetime.
Taken from the best known photograph of Strickler.
The legend long persisted of a young Jazz trumpet player out of Arkansas who in a mere half-decade made a lasting impression on his contemporaries. For nearly a year he wrangled an 8-piece horn section of the best Bob Wills Texas Playboys orchestra, and in San Francisco briefly led the wartime Lu Watters' Yerba Buena Jazz Band . . . before collapsing from tuberculosis at age 25 and soon dying.
All the existing recordings by this little-known trumpeter add up to barely two dozen sides, most never issued in his lifetime. The main argument for Strickler’s greatness is a half-dozen recordings made with Lu Watters' Yerba Buena Jazz Band, but issued only after his death nearly a decade later with little fanfare.
Don't miss . . . The Benny Strickler Story - Tulsa, exploring his 11 months in Bob Wills
Texas Playboys as told by his friend and fellow trumpet player, Danny
The Benny Strickler Story - Tulsa, presents a
detailed and intimate portrait of Ben -- and a thrilling
behind-the-scenes peek into a unique musical organization. He played
first trumpet, was "Straw Boss" (informal band director) and starred in a
Bobcats-style Dixieland sub-unit. All the existing recordings of this
little-known trumpeter add up to barely two dozen sides, about 1/3
recorded with Wills' large Swing orchestra of 1941-42.
Noon broadcasts, KVOO Tulsa, OK During his tenure in Tulsa Benny was broadcasting with the band, five days a week at noon from Cain's Dance Academy, the Wills informal HQ at that time. Benny is the trumpet on the left with mute, Alex Brashear to his left and they’re sitting behind Woodie Wood
Poor Benny. His greatest performances with the Yerba Buena Jazz Band in 1942 were issued on an extended play 45-rpm album in 1953, a half dozen years after his death from tuberculosis.
An unanswered question? Did Strickler recover enough to sit-in with Bob Wills band?
Yes, according to this clip from Danny Alguire describing a phone call he had with Benny in late 1945 or early 1946. Strickler told Alguire that he felt great, was getting his lip back and had sat-in with the Wills band. Clearly, this good health was short lived as he was gone by the end of 1946.
The CHOIRS of BRASS recordings contain Benny Strickler’s only known recorded trumpet solos with a ‘30s Swing band. Featuring 7 or 8 brass instruments and one reed player, Irving Fazola, it was the short-lived orchestra of former crooner, Seger Ellis. They had some notably good arrangements: some by Spud Murphy, others by pianist Stan Wrightsman, and a few by trombonist King Jackson, an Oklahoma native inspired by Jack Teagarden.
The band had lots of rehearsal time, made some recordings (mostly unissued at the time) and played lots of one-nighters. But it never got the ‘residency’ (a regular several-nights-a-week engagement) that large bands needed to survive.
Nonetheless in 1936-37 CHOIRS of BRASS made a few 78s and numerous transcription recordings in which Strickler was principal trumpet soloist.