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MCKINNEY’S COTTON PICKERS

McKinney’s Cotton Pickers were an American jazz band, founded in Detroit, Michigan in 1926 and led by William McKinney, who expanded his Synco Septet to ten pieces. Cuba Austin took over for McKinney on drums. Between 1927 and 1931, they were one of the most popular African-American bands. Many of their records for Victor were bestsellers.

In 1927, Fletcher Henderson’s arranger and saxophone player Don Redman was invited to become the Cotton Pickers’ musical director and he assembled a band. John Nesbitt helped Redman with arrangements and rehearsals. The band in 1928 included Cuba Austin (drums and vocals), Langston Curl (trumpet), Ralph Escudero (tuba), Claude Jones, Redman (clarinet, alto saxophone, baritone saxophone, vocals), Todd Rhodes (piano, celeste), Prince Robinson (clarinet, tenor saxophone), Milton Senior (trombone), George Thomas (clarinet, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, vocals) and Dave Wilborn (banjo, vocals).

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