Chris Griffin, jazz trumpeter in big-band era, dies at 89 - - Tulsa, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports - |

Chris Griffin, jazz trumpeter in big-band era, dies at 89

DANBURY, Conn. (AP) _ Chris Griffin, a member of the acclaimed trumpet section in Benny Goodman's big-band orchestra, has died.

Griffin, 89, died June 18 at Danbury Hospital. The cause was melanoma, according to his fiancee, Louise Baranger.

Griffin was a member of what critics called ``The Biting Brass'' trumpet threesome in Goodman's orchestra, playing alongside Harry James and Ziggy Elman. Duke Ellington once called the three ``the greatest trumpet section that ever was.''

Griffin played with the orchestra from 1936 to 1939 and performed in the famous 1938 concert in Carnegie Hall. The concert was a critical moment for swing music, because it was the first time the music, popular with youth, played in a hallowed music hall.

Born in Binghamton, N.Y., on Oct. 31, 1915, Griffin learned to play the horn at age 12 and moved to New York City as a teen to become a musician.

After leaving Goodman's orchestra, he went on to play lead trumpet in television orchestras, including the ``Ed Sullivan Show'' and the ``Jackie Gleason Show.''

In the final years, he dictated his memoirs, ``Sitting in with Chris Griffin.'' His wife, Helen, died in 2000, and he became engaged to Baranger, a jazz trumpeter and arranger.
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