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Cary, Dick (actually Richard Durant)

Cary, Dick (actually Richard Durant)

Cary, Dick (actually Richard Durant), jazz pianist, alto horn player, trumpeter, arranger; b. Hartford, Conn., July 10, 1916; d. Glendale, Calif., April 6, 1994. He played violin from early childhood, appearing with the Hartford Symphony Orch. while in high school. Later he specialized on piano, worked with Joe Marsala (1942), and played solo residency at Nick’s in N.Y. in 1942–43. He arranged for Benny Goodman in 1943, played for a month in the Casa Loma Band (August 1943), then worked with Brad Gowans before serving in the U.S. Army (1944–46), during which time he recorded V-discs with Muggsy Spanier and Wild Bill Da vison in 1944 and 1945. After the war, he played in Billy Butterfield’s Band in 1946 and recorded with him playing alto horn, then led his own band in Meridan, Conn, (late 1946). He was the original pianist in Louis Armstrong’s All Stars (Aug. 1947–Jan. 1948). He also worked with Jimmy Dorsey (1949 and spring 1950) and Tony Parenti (late 1949). He did studio work during the early 1950s (including a stint in Jerry Jerome’s TV Band), while also working with Muggsy Spanier (late 1952) and with Eddie Condon at his N.Y. club and on Condon’s TV show, playing alto horn as well as piano. He was with Bobby Hackett Band (alto horn and arranger) from November 1956. He worked with Max Kaminsky during 1958, and was also active as arranger and composer. He moved to Los Angeles in 1959, did prolific composing and freelance arranging, and worked with Bob Crosby, Red Nichols, and Ben Pollack. He toured Far East with Eddie Condon in spring 1964, then worked for a while in Los Angeles with Matty Matlock. He temporarily ceased doubling on brass in the early 1960s, but continued to work regularly on piano; was featured at several U.S. jazz festivals in the late 1960s. Occasionally, he led his own band (1970–71), playing trumpet, alto horn, and piano. He toured Europe (1977) and America in the 1970s and 1980s, working with the Barrelhouse Jazzband in 1975 and heading his own groups. For over 20 years, he sponsored an informal Tuesday night get-together for L.A.-based jazz players at his home; the group played out at the L.A. Classic Jazz Festival in 1992. He also did some arrangements for the Rochester Symphony Orch.


Dixieland Goes Progressive (1957); Hot and Cool (1958); Dick Cary and His Dixieland Doo (1959); Amazing Dick Gary (1975); California Doings (1981).

—John Chilton, Who’s Who of Jazz/Lewis Porter

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