April 3, 1903 – May 30, 1932

Renowned Musician


James Wesley “Bubber” Miley was bornaPRIL 3, 1903 in Aiken, South Carolina, he moved to New York at the age of six and and educated there. He eventually went into the Navy. Whie in the Navy he studied music. The musical instruments was the trombone and the trumpet. When he came out he started doing revenue with band and became known as the master of the plunger mute. His solo performances often are refered as mezmarizing and supernatural for his way of playing with the growling, drunken wah-wah sounding trumpet. He was employed by Duke Ellington and i largely responsible for Ellington ‘s early success and was the most prominent voice in Duke’s bands throughout the years of 1926 to 1928. He grew up in New York and played professionally starting in 1920. In 1921 he took over Johnny Dunn’s spot in Mamie Smith’s Jazz Hounds and toured and recorded with her off and on until 1923. Miley joined banjoist Elmer Snowden’s Washingtonians in 1923 and stayed on when Duke Ellington took over. He was influenced by King Oliver, but developed his own distinctive style of playing with mutes and derbys. James Bubber Miley co-wrote “East St. Louis Toodle-OO” and “Black and Tan Fantasy” and starred on many of Duke Ellington’s recordings during the years 1926 to 1928. James addictions to alcohol made him an unreliable band member, which led Duke Ellington to release him from playing with his orchestra in 1929. He was employed again with Zutty Singleton and toured France with the Noble Sissle Orchestrain 1930. Bubber played in a musical review in 1931. Shortly after James Wesley Bubber Smith passed away On May 20, 1932at the age of 29, the cause of death was the virus Tuberculosis on Welfare Island in New York today that island is called Roosevelt Island.


James and the Duke Ellington Band

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