During his youth, Lunceford studied music with Wilberforce J. Whiteman, father of bandleader Paul Whiteman , and became proficient on all reed instruments. He earned a degree from Fisk University Nashville, Tenn. There he formed a student band in that featured several talented young players who stayed with the band when it turned professional in During performances, musicians would spin, toss, and catch their instruments with drill-team precision, incorporate dance routines or glee-club-style singing, and end each show with choreographed bows. Yet showmanship was always secondary to the music. Lunceford proved to be a much better leader than manager of his band. Morale in the band was low by , and members felt they had been overworked and underpaid. Jimmie Lunceford.
His family moved to Oklahoma City before Jimmie was a year old. The Luncefords eventually settled in Denver, where he went to high school and received instruction in music from Wilberforce J. Whiteman, the father of bandleader Paul Whiteman. The band quickly achieved professional stature, and recorded in Memphis for Columbia in and for Victor in By , the band—now merely Jimmie Lunceford and his Orchestra—had acquired its distinctive discipline and polish, with the tight section work for which it was to become celebrated. The Decca recordings, featuring arrangements by Sy Oliver and Eddie Durham, represent a consistently excellent body of work. The Lunceford Orchestra was a show band, and their musical precision was enhanced by the choreographed movements of the band in performance.
Watch the trailer. In Hell, Satan appears to tell us that rhythm is coming to life again, then we're taken to a sound stage where Jimmie Lunceford conducts his dance orchestra. He's in black tie and a tuxedo of white tales and black trousers. He announces that rhythm is our business, and that's the orchestra's first number, with vocal, sax, bass, and trumpet solos.
James Melvin Lunceford June 6, — July 12, was an American jazz alto saxophonist and bandleader in the swing era. Lunceford was born on a farm in the Evergreen community, west of the Tombigbee River , near Fulton , Mississippi. Seven months after James Melvin was born, the family moved to Oklahoma City. The family next moved to Denver where Lunceford went to high school and studied music under Wilberforce J. Whiteman, father of Paul Whiteman , whose band was soon to acquire a national reputation. As a child in Denver, he learned several instruments. After high school, Lunceford continued his studies at Fisk University. In , while an athletic instructor at Manassas High School in Memphis, Tennessee , Lunceford organized a student band, the Chickasaw Syncopators, whose name was changed to the Jimmie Lunceford Orchestra. Under the new name, the band started its professional career in , and made its first recordings in