Anderson, “Cat” (William Alonzo), jazz

views updated

Anderson, “Cat” (William Alonzo), jazz

Anderson, “Cat” (William Alonzo), jazz trumpeter associated with the later career of Duke Ellington; b. Greenville, S.C., Sept. 12, 1916; d. Norwalk, Calif., April 29, 1981. Anderson was the spectacular high note specialist of Duke Ellington’s band for most of the period from 1944 through 1971. After being orphaned at the age of four, Anderson was raised in the Jenkins Orphanage of S.C., where he acquired his nickname after beating up a bully. He played various instruments in the school band from the age of seven before concentrating on trumpet, and toured with the band in 1929. Three years later he and several other band members formed The Carolina Cotton Pickers. He left in late 1935 to join guitarist Hartley Toots in Fla., then left Toots in 1936 to play with various bands before joining the Sunset Royals Orch. in the spring of 1942. Anderson next toured with a Special Services Orch., then was briefly with Lucky Millinder before joining Lionel Hampton in 1942. Anderson also played with Erskine Hawkins, then with Sabby Lewis from March 1943, before rejoining Lionel Hampton in 1944. He joined Ellington from September 1944 until January 1947, then formed his own band until 1949. He worked again with Sabby Lewis and gigged with Jimmy Tyler in Boston early in 1950, before rejoining Ellington. In late 1959 Anderson again left to lead his own band, and he freelanced in Philadelphia in 1961. He was with Ellington on and off from the summer of 1961 through early 1971, and for special occasions after that. During the 1970s he was extremely active in studio work and nightclubs around Los Angeles, and toured Europe several times.


Carolina Cotton Pickers (1935); Cat on a Hot Tin Horn (1958); C. A. Plays at 4 A.M. (1958); C.A. and The Ellington All Stars (1958); Plays W.C. Handy (1977); Molde Concert (1981).


The C.A. Trumpet Method: Dealing with Playing in the Upper Register (Los Angeles, 1973).


S. Dance, C. A., The World of Duke Ellington (N.Y. 1967); D. Ellington, C. A., Music Is My Mistress (Garden City, N.Y. 1973).

—John Cholton Who’s Who of Jazz/Lewis Porter

About this article

Anderson, “Cat” (William Alonzo), jazz

Updated About content Print Article