McRae, Teddy (actually, Theodore; aka Mr. Bear)

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McRae, Teddy (actually, Theodore; aka Mr. Bear)

McRae, Teddy (actually, Theodore; aka Mr. Bear), jazz tenor saxophonist, arranger, composer; b. Philadelphia, Jan. 22, 1908; d. N.Y, March 4, 1999. Brother of Bobby (guitar/trumpet) and Dave (alto/baritone saxes). He worked in a family band while studying medicine, also doubled regularly on guitar and trumpet. From 1926, he worked with June Clark, and also led his own band at the Club Ebony, N.Y, in 1927. After spells with Chick Webb, Charlie Johnson, and again with June Clark, he joined Elmer Snowden in 1932. After a brief time with Stuff Smith in 1934 he joined Lil Armstrong from 1935 to spring 1936, then he joined Chick Webb. He remained with Webb’s group after the leader’s death to work for Ella Fitzgerald (briefly as musical director) until late 1941. He then worked with Cab Calloway, then briefly with Jimmie Lunceford in late 1942. He worked as staff arranger for Artie Shaw, then two stints (on alto and tenor) with Lionel Hampton in 1943. He was musical director of Louis Armstrong’s Big Band for a year from spring 1944, then formed his own band in 1945. During the 1950s and 1960s he arranged for many bands, and also for a time (in partnership with Eddie Wilcox) ran the record company RaeCox. He subsequently retired from music.


Chronological Chick Webb (1935–38); The Indispensable Artie Shaw Vol. 1-2 (1938–39); Satisfy You (1946); Peek-a-Bob/The Bear Hug (1955).

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

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McRae, Teddy (actually, Theodore; aka Mr. Bear)

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