Elman, Ziggy (originally, Finkelman, Harry)

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Elman, Ziggy (originally, Finkelman, Harry)

Elman, Ziggy (originally, Finkelman, Harry), jazz trumpeter, also multi-instrumentalist; b. Philadelphia, May 26, 1914; d. Van Nuys, Calif., June 26, 1968. His brash, exciting style was featured with Benny Goodman’s band on the Jewish, klezmer styled solos in the middle of “And the Angels Sing” and “Bei Mir Bist Du Schon.” Elman lived in Atlantic City from early childhood, playing local gigs on many instruments from early teens. He became a resident musician at Steel Pier, Atlantic City, during the early 1930s, originally working on trombone with Alex Bartha’s band (with which he recorded in 1932). In September 1936, he left Bartha to join Benny Goodman, remaining with Goodman through July 1940. After a month in Joe Venuti’s Band, Elman joined Tommy Dorsey in August 1940, remaining with him until 1943 when he was drafted into the Army. After the war, he rejoined Tommy Dorsey in February 1946, briefly playing baritone sax, then rejoined the trumpet section (and occasionally doubled on trombone while Tommy Dorsey played trumpet). Except for a brief period from January-May 1947 when he had his own band, he worked with Dorsey until July 1948. After again reviving his own band from August-December 1948, Elman began working on soundtracks for films and television, which occupied him for the balance of his professional career. He appeared in the film The Benny Goodman Story but through illness was unable to play (the version of his feature “And the Angels Sing” was sound tracked by Manny Klein). He semi-retired from studio work in 1957, and also ran his own music store. He died of a liver ailment in 1968. Throughout his career, Ziggy occasionally did section work on instruments other than trumpet, i.e, clarinet, baritone sax, and trombone.


Dancing with Zig (1952); Sentimental Trumpet (1956). B. Goodman: And the Angels Sing; Bei Mir Bist Du Schön.

—John Chilton/Lewis Porter

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Elman, Ziggy (originally, Finkelman, Harry)

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