Buddy DeFranco February 17,1923
New Jersey native Buddy DeFranco is widely considered one of the top jazz clarinetists. Paving the way for aspiring clarinetists, DeFranco began playing the clarinet at nine years old, in a time when the popularity of swing music and big bands was fading fast.
At fourteen, Buddy DeFranco managed his first brush with fame. After winning a national swing contest, Buddy appeared with Gene Krupa on Saturday Night Swing Club. His appearance lead to Johnny "Scat" Davis taking an interest in him and his abilities, and the two began a road career together in 1939.
In 1966, DeFranco was appointed the leader of the Glenn Miller Orchestra, a post he would hold until 1974. After leaving his position as the leader of the Glenn Miller Orchestra, Buddy found fulfillment in conducting clinics, as well as concert and festival appearances all over the United States and Europe.
Throughout his illustrious career, DeFranco won twenty Downbeat Magazine Awards, sixteen Playboy All-Stars Awards, and nine Metronome Magazine Awards. Especially notable, DeFranco was awarded the title of "NEA JAZZ MASTER" by the National Endowment for the Arts in 2006, recognizing DeFranco's unique and important contribution to the American Jazz tradition.