cannot be considered the most famous of jazz trumpeters by any standards; the average fan of the genre will probably think a group of male ducks is under discussion when confronted with the jazzman's surname. If tenor saxophonist Lester Young
is a fan's main man, then the situation would change -- although fowl references would still be in flight. From the late '40s through the mid-'50s, Drakes
was an almost constant sidekick of Young
's in various excellent small gaggles; the brilliant and eccentric Young
was fond of referring to these young sidemen as his "little chickees." The masterful drummer Roy Haynes
was a youngster playing behind the horns in these groups, literally pecking out a tempo around the edges of Young
's rubato ruminations.
himself was educated at Juilliard, kicking things off as a professional jazz player in the Savoy Sultans
circa 1945. The trumpeter was often associated with brilliant drummers -- J.C. Heard
, Louie Bellson
, Sid Catlett -- but also worked as a member of the rhythmically limpid Harry Belafonte
band. One of his final gigs was in a Miami dance band which in the late '50s operated out of the swank Eden Roc hotel, not only continuing the bird analogies but enlarging the wingspan considerably. Another career highlight was joining the Duke Ellington
trumpet section for March of 1956. Discographical data indicates Drakes
' final recorded squawks occurred in 1961; his date of death remains a mystery.