ELMAN, ZIGGY (Harry Finkelman ; 1914–1968), U.S. trumpeter and band leader. Elman is one of those handful of jazz musicians who has the misfortune of being known for a single recording, "And the Angels Sing," which was a huge hit for the Benny Goodman band in 1938. The song was a reworking of an Elman tune, "Frailach in Swing," that bespoke both musicians' all-but-forgotten roots in Jewish music. Elman was born in Philadelphia but raised in Atlantic City, where he flourished as a startlingly natural musician, first playing trombone with the Alex Bartha band on the Steel Pier, then joining Goodman in 1936. Elman could play any instrument he picked up, once teaching himself clarinet in a single day for a performance with the Goodman band. After leaving Goodman in 1940, he played with several other important bands, including Tommy Dorsey's and his own, basing himself in Los Angeles. Ironically, when Hollywood came calling for The Benny Goodman Story Elman, who played himself, was too ill to recreate his famous solo on "Angels"; his trumpet part was dubbed by Mannie Klein.
J. Chilton, "Ziggy Elman," in: Who's Who of Jazz: Storyville to Swing Street (1978); D. Fairweather, "Ziggy Elman," in: Jazz: The Rough Guide (1995); O. Ferguson, "The Boy from the Back Row," in: The New Republic (May 17, 1939).
[George Robinson (2nd ed.)]