One of the more adventurous trombonists of the swing era, the distinctive Dicky Wells was somewhat innovative, playing his horn in a speech-like style filled with a great deal of color, humor, and swing.
Although he came to fame with Count Basie in 1938, Wells had been a major-league player for a decade before that. After moving to New York in 1926, he recorded with Cecil Scott (to hilarious effect on "In a Corner") and Spike Hughes, in addition to working with Fletcher Henderson, Benny Carter, and Teddy Hill; during a European tour with Hill he recorded extensively. The Basie years (1938-1945 and 1947-1950) gave him some fame and his playing behind singer Jimmy Rushing was particularly memorable. His later years were somewhat anti-climatic but there were engagements with Rushing, reunions with Basie sidemen, European tours with Buck Clayton, a stint (1961-1963) with Ray Charles, and occasional appearances (including on the classic TV special The Sound of Jazz in 1957). After about 1965, Wells' alcoholism and declining musicianship forced him to get a day job as a messenger, although he did write his memoirs (The Night People) and he came back for a final album in 1981. ~ Scott Yanow, Rovi