Earl Hines (1903-1983), also called "Fatha" Hines, was an outstanding American jazz pianist and bandleader. His method of piano playing was often called trumpet style, because its frequent use of single note phrases and arpeggios (fast successions of notes in a chord) resembled the style of jazz brass players.
Earl Kenneth Hines was born in Duquesne, Pennsylvania. He initially studied trumpet but switched to the piano. Hines was first taught piano by his stepmother. He then studied with various teachers in Pittsburgh.
Hines began his professional music career as an accompanist. In 1924, he moved to Chicago, then an important center for outstanding jazz musicians. After playing with several bands in Chicago, Hines met trumpeter Louis Armstrong. In 1928, the two artists made several records together that remain jazz classics, including "West End Blues" and "Weather Bird." Also in 1928, Hines made several famous jazz records with a small band led by clarinet player Jimmy Noone. One of the most notable of these records was "Apex Blues."
Band wins fame
In 1928, Hines formed his own band, which played at the Grand Terrace ballroom in Chicago for 12 years. The band became famous through radio broadcasts and nationwide tours. Many important young musicians played in the band at one time or another, including saxophonist Charlie Parker and trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie, as well as singers Billy Eckstine and Sarah Vaughan. From 1948 to 1951, Hines played with Armstrong's group, the All Stars. After then, Hines played with small groups in relative obscurity through the early 1960's.
In 1964, Hines performed in a series of concerts in New York City that revived his career. These concerts were the first solo piano recitals that he had ever given. Hines then performed regularly with his own small groups until his death.
Related Web site:
The Earl Hines Biography, by Down Beat Magazine, offers information about the musician's life and career.