Harry "Sweets" Edison
Trumpeter Harry Edison (1915-1999) was given the nickname “Sweets” by tenor saxophonist Lester Young when both were in the Basie band. The name perfectly fit the way that Edison bent notes and the feeling that he put into each solo. He became renowned for his ability to say the most by playing the least, often repeating the same note for dramatic effect.
Edison was born and grew up in Columbus, Ohio. He played locally, was with the Jeter-Pillars Orchestra in 1933, gigged in St. Louis, and moved to New York to play with Lucky Millinder’s big band. As a major soloist with Count Basie during 1938-1949, Edison became internationally famous. Although always a swing stylist, he kept his style open to the influence of Dizzy Gillespie, “borrowing” ideas that fit his conception while always being instantly recognizable.
Sweets was very busy in the 1950s, working in the studios, touring with Jazz At The Philharmonic, having reunions with Basie sidemen, and recording both jazz dates and commercial sessions including appearing on a few of Frank Sinatra’s records. One of Edison’s recordings, Jawbreakers, was made for Riverside and for the first time teamed him with tenor saxophonist Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis.
Edison rejoined Basie’s orchestra for a few special occasions in the 1960s and in the mid-1970s recorded regularly for Norman Granz’s Pablo label. Edison’s Lights and Simply Sweets document his occasional musical partnership with Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis, competitive outings that feature the two highly individual stylists pushing and inspiring each other. Edison also recorded a duet album with pianist Oscar Peterson, teamed up with tenor saxophonist Zoot Sims on ’S Wonderful, and recorded For My Pals in 1988.
Up until the end of his life, Harry “Sweets” Edison was one of the most beloved of all jazz trumpeters.