McKinney's Cotton Pickers
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McKinney's Cotton Pickers were a United States jazz band founded in Detroit, Michigan in 1926 by Bill McKinney, who expanded his Synco Septet to ten pieces.Read More...
William " Bill" McKinney (September 17, 1895 - October 14, 1969) was an American jazz drummer born in Cynthiana, Kentucky. He worked as a drummer in a circus band, then after serving in the United States Army in World War I settled in Springfield, Ohio where he took over leadership of the Synco Jazz Band. After hiring drummer Cuba Austin, McKinney worked as leader and business manager. After touring the U.S. Midwest, they got a residency at the Arcadia Ballroom in Detroit, Michigan in 1926. In Detroit they were heard by bandleader and music promoter Jean Goldkette, who arranged a more lucrative home base for the band in Detroit's Greystone Hotel Ballroom. The band was renamed "McKinney's Cotton Pickers" (see also).
After the band broke up in 1934 during the Great Depression, McKinney for a time led and played with a dance band in Boston, From 1937 on McKinney managed a Detroit Cafe with a dance floor and live bands who McKinney booked; he also booked bands for other locations on the side.
Bill McKinney retired in the 1950s and spent his last years in his childhood hometown of Cynthiana.
In 1927 Don Redman left Fletcher Henderson's orchestra to become the Cotton Pickers' musical director, and he assembled a band which rivalled Henderson's and Duke Ellington's. Aiding Redman with arrangements and rehearsals with the band was the talented trumpeter-arranger John Nesbitt. Between 1927 and 1931, they were one of the most popular African-American bands. Many of their records for Victor were best sellers. Among the many jazz greats who recorded with the band were Coleman Hawkins and James P. Johnson.
In 1931 Redman left to form his own band and was replaced by Benny Carter. The Cotton Pickers disbanded in 1934, unable to make money during the Depression. Manager of the band was Jean Goldkette.
A New McKinney's Cotton Pickers was organized in the early 1970s by David Hutson, using the original Don Redman arrangements. They recorded several albums and featured original banjoist Dave Wilborn, who was believed to have been the only surviving original member at the time.
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